Critroom.co

Scope

Web design, event planning, content writing

timeline

Meetup started 2020. 1 month spent on the Website, launched in Apr 2021.

role

Co-founder, current sole organizer. Web designer.

Credits

Andrew Calnan (Co-founder), Kate Kudya for website's inspiration, CritRoom cycle 4 members for feedback.

A venue for architects exploring digital product design and development.

what is critroom?

CritRoom is a community meet-up that I currently lead for architects transitioning into product design and technology at-large. We share our side-projects and discuss anything we want for two hours every Sunday morning. We also have guest critics who had made a similar transition join us in fire-side chats and share their experiences of making similar journeys.
It is unique in that it is long-running and requires members to make an 8-10-week long commitment (cycles) but in small groups of around four people in a break-out room. This is to encourage in-depth conversations and to allow people to get to know one-another.
The name “CritRoom” is pays homage to the room in architecture schools where design critiques take place. Though we might now be designing for pixels rather than for brick-and-mortar, we don’t see why the constructive critiques should stop. The whole point is to “throw things out there” and allowing others help us fine-tune our work.

project title

CritRoom

Scope

Web design, event planning, content writing

timeline

Meetup started 2020. 1 month spent on the Website, launched in Apr 2021.

role

Co-founder, current sole organizer. Web designer.

Credits

Andrew Calnan (Co-founder), Kate Kudya for website's inspiration, CritRoom cycle 4 members for feedback.

The Problem

After operating for a year on a Notion page, promoting ourselves on Slack, and accepting application through google forms, it became clear to us that this wasn't enough.
1

Many prospective participants said it was very difficult to locate CritRoom.  We needed to be searchable online.

2

We needed to formalize our public presence to articulate what we do and who is involved if want to make progress, like finding partnerships.

3

We needed a platform to promote future opportunities and conduct any further lean experimentations.

the purpose of having a website

In the last cycle, I had used the time to also build our web presence, in response to multiple feedback from people who said that they had heard about us but couldn't find us until it was too late. We need to improve our SEO, but to do so, we need an actual website.

the challenge

Because we were going to run a public Pecha Kucha for our last session, I wanted to ensure that I could complete the website in time for the public announcement. By the time I decided on the program, I had one month to build it outside my full-time job. I needed to keep the scope to an MVP (we can always add to it). At the same time, since we claim to be designers, it also can't look too shabby...

time management

I created an outline of the website, brainstormed what needed to get done and boiled it down to the essentials. This helped me time-track, avoid feature-float, while making sure that I literally “check all the boxes.”

Scroll down ⬇︎

⛑  under construction 🚧

Oops. I'm still creating the content artifacts for this area. For now, check out what the final product looks like. These are static mockups for you to scroll through them to get an impression. You can also find the links to the actual web page below each of the frames.⬇︎

Solution

Here's a video of the experience scrolling through the website.
The new website gave our community a name and a face was a push in the right direction. By consolidating everyone’s stories, projects, and our talk agendas, we have taken the first steps to clarify and articulate our community's topical interests, strengths, and common pain points.

The results

1

The website indeed helped us “passively” collect useful contacts even during the down seasons when I'm not actively promoting our org.

2

In a way, the website made itself. It is like a mirror reflecting upon who we are as a community and revealed our uniqueness.

3

Raised our credibility and legitimacy, and became a vehicle for conversation when reaching out to individuals for potential partnerships and collaborations.

reflection

What kept this going?

CritRoom is a massive investment in time, and it might be too “nerdy” or “geeky” to even speak of in front of friends and family. However, I am reluctant to abandon it because I kept being reminded of its value by different individuals.

Each time I catch myself in self-doult, someone pops up and reminds me that CritRoom could help them in some ways. We have also seen our members improve their work drastically and clarified their career directions over the 8-week sessions.

I personally benefited from it by meeting amazing people worldwide and getting concise and constructive feedback from them regularly for projects that I am working on. I needed the feeling of “not working in a silo” so much that I kept it going, even if it means keeping it to a low-commitment level at times. I believe that my time is worth it as long as it serves a real purpose, and for once, I definitely feel that with CritRoom.

Thank you for your time!

CritRoom a passion project that I do in my free time. Below are projects I did for a living.