For the last 6 months, Moonlight has been running off of emails, Google Forms, and Google Sheets. We were able to prototype what the contractor experience should be without writing a line of code. Today we're finally launching contractor sign up and profiles, as the first step towards an automated contractor marketplace.
The design process
Because we were able to take the time to prototype a low-tech Moonlight experience, we learned a lot about how companies hire contractors. As remote workers ourselves, we started out by connecting companies we had personal connections to with the Moonlight network of contractors. We were manually doing all the matching and project management, so we soon had a detailed process document that functioned as a pattern for every project that came in. This was a huge lesson we learned from YC Startup School office hours; do things fast and manually, test out what works early on.
Our first 6-months of user research came in the form of customer support over email. Each Monday we do weekly check-ins with both clients and contractors on active projects. This is a quick way for us to make sure projects are moving forward as expected, and also is a built-in form of user testing. When someone emails us with a product suggestion or complaint, we usually try to solve it by email or a quick phone call. Since the Moonlight team is so small, it's been easy to stay close to the problem and quickly iterate to develop the ideal process.
The original Moonlight user interface was a combination of email, Typeform, Google Forms, and Google Spreadsheets. While this was a manual process, it set up a tried and trusted system for accepting projects, finding contractors, reviewing proposals, and making a final match. By the time we created web app wireframes, it was really just a visual manifestation of something we had already done many times. We still have so much more functionality to build out before the process is fully automated, but the path forward seems relatively clear. Check out the public profile pages for the Moonlight founders Emma and Philip!
Contractor onboarding and profiles are the first steps towards a fully functional web app, where users can search and match with specialized software contractors. In the next few weeks, we'll be building out client tools for submitting projects, finding contractors, and managing projects.