Designing for Mielee — the solution that cares about your employees.

Ella Forté
13 min readDec 18, 2019

A UX/UI Case study

Nice introduction picture of young people laughing in what looks like an informal meeting

Hi there. Before anything, let me ask you a question:

Do you feel committed to your work? 👨🏻‍💻

If the answer is no, don’t worry you’re not alone. Only 6% of French employees feel committed to their work, or to say it in an even more concerning way: 94% of people don’t.*

Believe me, the purpose of this figure is not to make you have a mid-life crisis, even if I understand that it can raise some unsolicited existential questions.

But let’s just stop a second and consider that percentage — we can’t help but notice that commitment at work is a huge current issue that should be tackled. But how?

Shedding lights onto employees 🔦

Six months ago, Minh Pham founded Mielee from this exact observation: being happy in your job and committed to it can be so challenging that employees tend to leave companies for others or decide to work as freelancers. That not only results in a big turnover rate and unhappiness at work but it also reshapes considerably the job market environment. A lot of reasons are to take into account to explain those consequences, and we will not cover all of them now, — but from Minh’s perspective, one of the paths of action to address this was the CE one.

What is a “CE” you ask?

If you’re not French of Belgian, you probably never heard of this weird yet short acronym. CE stands for “Comité d’Entreprise” and can be translated as Perk Management Committee.

From January 2019, you can even read more about “CSE” which is the new legal way to name it. For habits issues, let’s continue with “CE” in this article.

To put it in a nutshell, the CE is the organization that will offer you deals, leisure activities, perks, yearly packages to spend on specific products or services, etc. It’s usually managed by employees themselves that are thus representatives of the rest of the team and it can be very much developed depending on the company size. For example, in big structures, the CE is a major part of the proposed perks for employees in their recruiting package. Big companies have more budget to allocate to that and it contributes to the general “comfort” that talents are looking for in such structures.

But, why?

When prospects have to choose to take a position in a company, a lot of different factors come into play: salary, job offer, position in the company, the culture of the company and… perks. From the company’s side, offering perks to its employees is a way to attract more talent and to retain existing ones. Sometimes employers cannot meet the expectation of higher salaries, but if they grant you financial perks for activities in your free time, at the end of the day, it helps you save more of what you are owing in your paycheck. It’s usually presented by HR as a package in job interviews, something to convince talent on a financial level but also a selling argument to promote the company’s culture.

CE are a big part of the company’s own brand. It’s basically a way to tell your employees that you know they have a life outside their job, to show that you are aware that they don’t always have the purchasing power to enjoy the remaining personal time they have left outside from work hours with cool activities. And that you, as an employer, can participate to their work-life balance.

In Minh’s mind, the desire to reinvent what we know of the traditional CE was clear since the first hypothesis and observations he had of it was something quite old-fashioned, traditional and not personalized.

As a result, he decided to introduce to the world:

What is Mielee?

What do I have to do with all of that? 🤔

When Minh and his co-founder built Mielee some months back, they had to focus on the business side of it and put all their effort into making the business plan work and get the company starting. After working on a first MVP (Minimum Viable Product) focused on the HR side of the platform, they asked for help to create the employee side of it as they needed to design the whole flow from your personalized dashboard to booking activities and spending your dedicated leisure budget allocated by your company. This is when I entered on stage and offered them my help as a UX/UI Designer for a 2 weeks-sprint.

This implied several tasks such as:

  • Conducting in-depth User Research,
  • Defining the target and the main problem we need to address,
  • Ideating to find a matching solution that would both answer user needs and work with business constraints,
  • Building a prototype that evolved according to user testing insights
  • Gathering inspirations to create a moodboard that would convey the value and atmosphere of the platform to-be.
  • Adapting while respecting the existing Design Guidelines to current needs and introducing new design elements into the Style Tile
  • Refining the prototype to deliver a hi-fidelity version of it.

Let’s get to it!

Following the Design Thinking Process, my role was first and foremost to focus on Research on the business side to understand the market.

What are others doing? 🏁

Bringing novelty into perks management is something that Mielee shares with a few other competitors on the market. But if we look closer into it, we see that most of the players are still traditional in the way that they offer some catalog deals and partnerships and have an overall proposition that remains very general and not that customized for the final user. But some big players like HelloCe or some modern ones like Clan can be threatening because they are aiming more and more towards Mielee positioning, that is to say, at the crossroads between an outsourced service and a personalized offer as you can see on the diagram below.

Competitors quadrant to have an overview of the market

Having Mielee’s market goal in mind and knowledge about the state of the competition, I was ready to give a voice to the ones the platform will be dedicated to the employees.

Meeting with users 🙋🏻‍♀️

Since I had time constraints to work with, I had to jump rapidly on the User Research part of the process, and it started with recruiting users. After our kick-off meeting with Mielee, I had an idea of their target and expectations.

The first obstacle that I had to deal with was that the database I could be provided with for the interviews was not necessarily matching the first user type we talked about. That is to say, someone in a rather small structure company (>50–250 employees) at the beginning of his/her professional life. After stating with Minh that the users at hand were more diverse and from big structure companies (>50–5000 employees), we decided to orient the research in that direction and we agreed that it would help us understand how bigger companies deal with CE and test out other several assumptions we had.

What are our hypotheses?

  • Big companies have an allocated budget to CE and big partnerships that allows them to propose very interesting deals.
  • Most CE are targeting families and don’t have a very diverse offer for employees who don’t have children.
  • CE platforms, should it be a website, an app, a dedicated office, are very old-fashioned and process are time-consuming.
  • Perks such as the CE is a criterion in interviews.
  • The CE participates greatly in the company’s brand reputation.
  • The CE benefits more of those who have been in the company for a long time.
  • First access and understanding of the CE are very opaque unless a colleague guides you through it.

Let’s ask employees

I went and interviewed 10 people in total and it was impressive the number of insights they could give me on the subject. The CE is so common for employees that have been used for years to benefit from it, that they never really took time to dissect the way it works, until now!

What came out of the interviews both validated some of our assumptions and brought nuance to others — here 4 representatives user quotes.

Research insights quotes from 10 users interviewed

Overall, the users I met all agreed on the fact that the CE is a very valuable part of the perks they might have as employees. When they have a developed CE offer, they all say that the deals catalog is diverse and generous and contributes to the increase in their purchasing power. Even if it’s part of the package they are offered when signing a job, the job offer, salary and career perspectives are the criteria that matter the most when signing up a job.

More on the negative side of things, two main issues were tackled:

  • They all struggled when they arrived in their job position to have proper information regarding their CE rights. It was so opaque that without a colleague’s or a manager’s help, they would not have knowledge of the offer and would have missed nice opportunities. Some of them even think that the companies do so on purpose to give fewer perks to employees. Talking about a counter-productive company reputation.
  • They admit that until now, it has not been a very inclusive service because it benefits more specific employees and excludes others. It’s especially what happens with employees without kids (a.k.a. 100% of my user target) who don’t necessarily need deals on Disneyland Paris Park for kids or discounts for family trips.

That results in employees not enjoying their CE offer to the fullest but settling for it because they know it will not change and they are already privileged to have a CE.

“I don’t want to see my boss in a bathing suit”

My first reaction to a user telling me that was to laugh. But digging the topic deeper with the interviewees, it’s true that in some companies, when you book a trip sponsored by the CE you might end up stuck all day in a tourist bus with your colleague or by your boss side at the swimming pool, and it’s better to know that before buying the plane ticket.

Most of them don’t want to spend holidays, even a weekend with their colleagues because they are deeply attached to this mighty work-life balance and prefer to separate things. However, they know that growing links with your team is essential and that it needs to be done by actually doing stuff with your colleagues.

To put it in a nutshell, taking part in activities with colleagues during the week is nice, spending summer holidays with them, much less.

It was important for me to confirm or infirm the trends that came out of those interviews with a broader audience. I thus designed an online survey to gather quantitative data and here are the main results:

About the CE offer, process & role.

Survey insights on how people view their CE
Results to be put into perspective with the number of respondents.

About how they view their CE

Survey results on how people view their CE
Results to be put into perspective with the number of respondents.

Not only this data go in the same direction that the qualitative user research made with interviews but it also confirms the first observations Minh made when he founded the business. This is the big proof that there is an opportunity for the 2.0 CE.

Answering Emilie’s needs 💁🏻‍♀️

Emilie Barnes, Mielee’s persona

Emilie has been a business manager at a finance consulting company for 6 months now and still tries to fit in and find her way around. She wants to evolve in her career. The most important thing at this stage in her life is to find meaning in what she does and that applies to the company she works in.

Her major pain points are for her to find clear information and get used to inefficient processes. She would also like to manage her time and budget and in a better way than she does today.

All in all, Emilie the ambitious and dynamic employee needs to fit in. She would like to know her CE rights and share moments with her colleagues for team-building purpose even though she can’t find any clear information right now of what she is offered.

Sliding into your CE 🏄🏼‍♂️

That’s where Mielee swoops in with the perfect solution for her. An online platform on which she can connect all the time even when she’s not at work.

That is tailored to her needs with consistent information linked to her profile and not general content.

This is also a tool for her to have a clear overview of how much money the company is granting her for her activities and how her requests and bookings are being taken care of.

Mielee offer’s scheme

*Source: Gallup, 2018.

Visual proposal 🎨

For that solution, we needed to convey Mielee’s brand value and vision.

Dynamic, modern, young and enthusiastic, diverse and fluid are the adjectives we wanted to convey in the moodboard and then in the overall UI.

Moodboard proposal composed of 7 colorful pictures that match the brand values
V2 of the moodboard after the client’s feedback.

After talking and showing a first version of the moodboard, we agreed on this V2 with the client, as the choice of the pictures and the colors corresponded more to the actual graphical elements they were already using.

Indeed, another freelancer designer helped Mielee defined a logo, colors, fonts, and types of illustrations. This was defined within the scope of a first project to design the HR side of the platform and during the kickoff with Minh, I defined with them what needed to be kept and what could be areas of creativity for me all the while respecting Mielee’s branding.

That led to the following Style Tile, here separated in 3.

Mielee’s project style tile part 1 — colors, buttons, typograhy

I kept the existing typography and color guidelines since they are intrinsic to Mielee’s brand. I played with the button to give them a more rounded shape and adding UI elements for the filters.

Mielee’s project style tile part 3-icons, tags, illustrations

The illustrations were previously chosen by the former designer but used mostly on the landing page and not on the platform itself. I decided to give them a new space. I reviewed some icons and introduced a completely new element: tags. It was not needed until now, but the employee’s side of the platform needed quick UI elements to identify the activities categories and tags were the easiest way to do that. I conducted research with testers on which color they would attribute more to each category. According to the accessibility guidelines and the research insights, this was the result.

Mielee’s project style tile part 2 — cards, tags, templates

Here, I kept some existing elements notably regarding the graphs and progress bar but changed the shape of the cards and rearranged elements. The idea being still to provide Emilie and effortless experience.
Those templates were useful as they helped the client visualize how the platform would look like.

Ok, but what’s the end result? 🤔

Prototype scenario

  • Emilie is at work, she has a break and goes to her CE website.
  • She arrives on her dashboard on which she has a complete follow-up of her actions and budget.
  • She heard her colleagues talk about cool trips offers so she goes to “Subventions” and checks what’s here.
  • She is very interested in the trip to Norway and clicks on it. Here she has all the trip description and sees how much money she has left on her trips budget.
  • Reading all the steps she understands that she will be able to choose how much of this budget she wants to use and complete with her credit card. She goes on with the checkout process.
  • Her information is already there because her profile is synchronized. She has a recap on the side and can go to the next step. There she can choose her budget amount and decides to use 100€. She sees the recap being updated and continues to her credit card information. She enters her card, continues, and then she has all of her info for her to verify before paying. And that’s it she has her order confirmation.
  • She goes back to her dashboard, sees her new trip booked and her updated budget.
  • She receives a notification, it’s about new offers in the activities section. She checks and wonders what is organized on the 25th of September. It’s a yoga class for beginners. Yay, she always wanted to try!
  • She gets info on the class and the teacher, she’s available on this day and decided to register. Last info about the session, and done!
  • Once again back on her dashboard, everything has been updated in real-time.

Testing with users 🤜🏼🤛🏼

This prototype was tested on 4 users and what was nice was to hear that the flow was fluid and easy to use. However, some wording can still be confusing and unclear and it will take another iteration to make sure everything is crystal clear for everyone.

2 of them told me that if their CE were like this, “it would be a game-changer” Means we must be on the right path!

Desirability testing feedbacks from 23 users.

As for feedback regarding the design, from the 23 users to whom I showed it, what came out the most was “clean” (x12) and “friendly” (x12), followed by “trendy” (x9) and “clear” (x10). This is really great because that was the number one goal, to make it clear modern and inviting to use.

What’s next? 🧐

Short-term

  • A/B testing for the dashboard organization and cards type
  • Profile page with features and info

Mid-term

  • Onboarding flow
  • Responsive version on Mobile

Long-term

  • Partners interface and flow
  • Branding guidelines review for accessibility matters

Thank you for reading! ☀️

Make sure to visit my website: www.ellaforte.com
You can also add me on LinkedIn: in/ellaforté

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Ella Forté

Product Designer based in Paris. Huge fan of Friends. How you doin?