Owl Calls: Using Design Thinking to create a consultation tool for today's workspaces.


Owl Calls is a mobile design that I created in order to help freelancers in co-working spaces more effectively monetize their skills and personal networks in order to efficiently and enjoyably share knowledge and opportunities.  

Problem to Solve: The very casual and friendly attitude of most co-working spaces can come at the price of not having a standardized structure for commercial transactions among freelancers. Tools like slack are too disorganized and traditional consultant networks are too cold.  Freelancers need a professional tool that provides them with a clear transactional structure, but remains emotionally honest to the lateral, informal networks that govern most co-working spaces.  

Tools Used:  Balsamiq, Sketch, Invision, Usability Hub and Craft Manager.

Designed Solution: My solution to this problem was to create a branded experience that brings the best of co-working informality into a unique mobile app that lets freelancers securely make paid consultation calls to a range of experts in whatever field they require assistance with. The interactive prototype can be seen here.   A more complete overview of how I employed the design thinking process to test and improve the prototype can be seen on Behance. 

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Lessons Learned

 I am now well aware of the complex social, functional and financial needs that come with conceptualizing, testing and implementing the kinds of digital products that both build upon and mediate the micro-marketplaces within every co-working space and indeed every individual's social network. New technologies and tools are turning the informal networks of today into the marketplaces of tomorrow. But every marketplace has its own unique norms, values and codes of conduct that must be understood in order to succeed within them.  Design thinking is a very useful framework for doing just that.  

Further Reading

In recent years, thinkers such as Niall Ferguson and Jeremy Rifkin have put forward very compelling and well-researched theories about to what degree our world's informal networks have impacted the structure of marketplaces, communities – and in turn – everything else. Their ideas helped me more thoughtfully conceptualize certain aspects of this application. Anyone seeking to understand the economic impact of the social commons and the informal, largely lateral networks that both individuals and large global institutions rely on each day should give their books a read.