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The Pistachio App

Social media is positioned as the forefront platform for disseminating information in the future, with user-generated content (UGC) as its guiding force. In this dynamic environment, agents who adeptly manage influencers and creators for campaigns will occupy a crucial market position. As far back as 2004, the initial wave of online influencers and content creator agents emerged. Fast forward two decades, and the market now witnesses escalating competition. The task of establishing a more efficient management system to entice additional brands and creators for collaborations stands as a common challenge for numerous agents.



Pistachio serves as a SaaS-enabled marketplace that bridges the gap between brands and creators, facilitating content generation for social media and e-commerce platforms. Pistachio is designed to assist brands grappling with content creation and production demands. Pistachio achieves this by connecting them with skilled content creators (distinct from influencers) and offering services such as unboxing videos, reviews, and more.


During the initial stages of their business, Pistachio only a select few creators became part of the platform. Consequently, Pistachio could meticulously assess the qualifications of each creator and provide personalized recommendations to the brands. However, as the creator community expanded to surpass 200 members, the manual vetting process for credentials and job opportunities became unfeasible. This constraint significantly curtailed the ongoing expansion of the business.

Pistachio is enthusiastic about automating the assessment of creator credentials and job prospects, while also extending their reach to a wider community of creators via their own mobile platform.


UX Researcher/Designer, Graphic Designer


Ellie Fountain as the project management lead;

Isabel de Moraes as the research lead


3 weeks of research, testing and design

Understanding Our Client

Confirming the Pain Points


Pistachio is one of the competitors that entered the content creator agency industry relatively late. Their business has been evolving, with the number of core creators steadily rising to over 200 within a year, which is a commendable achievement. However, they are currently facing a noticeable technological bottleneck.


During our Zoom communication meetings, they highlighted the following pain points, and are actively looking for solutions:

  • Terminating manually vetting and approving;

  • Automating the matching between creators and brands;

  • Making the process for creators less arduous and more personalized;

  • Retain a certain level of behind-the-scenes administration;

  • Distinguishing itself from other platforms by offering tailored connections between content creators and brands, focusing on quality over quantity.

We can sense that among all the operational pain points described by the clients, 2 are the most urgently in need of resolution. The first is the qualification vetting of creators, and the second is the issue of matching between brands and creators. These two aspects directly constrain any efforts for Pistachio to expand its business.

Creator Qualification Vetting & Approval

Pistachios currently continue to undergo comprehensive manual review for new joining creators. This does indeed help the platform to better understand each of the joining creators, but the problems it simultaneously triggers are that the efficiency is very low and the collected creator information is non-standardized. Moreover, looking at the manual review process provided by Pistachio, this set of procedures itself is very complex. All of this constrains Pistachio's further development as a creator platform and also brings extremely painful work experiences for the platform's employees.

Brand-creator Matching

Similar to the qualification vetting process for creators, Pistachio currently recommends its affiliated creators to their respective brands manually. Pistachio believes that this approach is more akin to the role of traditional agents, allowing for a more precise response to client needs. However, this manual matching method, besides being inefficient, also places direct responsibility on Pistachio for the promotional outcomes of the brands.

Understanding the Creators

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Affinity Mapping

Creators are one of the core stakeholders in the entire user-generated content (UGC) industry, and they are also the primary group that Pistachio aims to serve effectively in this round of business upgrades. Their perspectives on the industry are of utmost importance.


We conducted 8 usability tests with a diverse group of real-life internet UGC creators who have varied experiences in promoting products for different brands. Our interview framework focuses on the following key dimensions:

  • Their experience as content creators;

  • Their specific needs;

  • The challenges they face as content creators.


From this, distinct patterns have emerged.

Interview Insights


Here are some significant sentiments from creators about their profession:

  • Take advantage of: Creators are tired of unclear contracts and compensation, poor communication, and lack of respect.

  • Passionate and picky: Creators want to contribute to projects that align with their unique interests and values.

  • Crave community: Creators are looking to connect with others in the industry.

I Statements

The ​I statements below help us understand the core expectations of the creators:

  • I want to be passionate about the content I create.

  • I want my work to be impactful.

  • I want to be compensated fairly for my work.

  • I want my content to be valuable.

First-round C&C Analysis

Given that the industry of internet content creators or influencers has already been around for 20 years, it's possible that the market has long been divided among a few major competitors, resulting in well-established and closed operational practices. Gaining a timely understanding of the actual market conditions is particularly important.

We conducted the first round of a competitive and comparative (C&C) analysis, aiming to comprehend the situations of key competitors in other markets. This was done in order to eliminate or ascertain the uniqueness of the issues Pistachio is facing.

​Identifying Direct & Indirect Competitors

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We quickly identified 4 main competitors in the US market, whose business models are almost identical to Pistachio's. They are (from left to right) Trend, JoinBrands, Billo, and MiniSocial, all categorized as direct competitors.

indirect competitors.jpg

Additionally, the Spanish company Influencity has come into our view. Unlike Pistachio and the other 4 mentioned companies, Influencity exclusively focuses on becoming agents for influencers and does not engage regular content creators. With 18 years of operation and a portfolio boasting millions of partnered influencers, Influencity serves as a valuable subject for indirect competition research.

Key Findings

We gathered user reviews of target competitors from third-party software review websites, such as Trustpilot and the Apple Store, to the best of our ability. After analyzing the latest 50 user reviews for each competitor, we have drawn the following conclusions.

Creators' complaints:

  • Payment and Compensation Issues;

  • Inconsistent Quality Control;

  • Unfair Removal or Blocking of Creators;

  • Lack of Communication and Transparency;

  • Limited Growth Opportunities;

  • Issues with the creator referral program;

  • Communication Imbalance;

  • Job Availability and Selection;

  • Clarity in Job Descriptions;

  • Communication with Brands.


We also noticed some universal complaints from the brand side:


  • Customer Service Responsiveness;

  • Content Quality Control;

  • User Interface.

Problem Statements

Taking into account Pistachio's platform business vision and creators' expectations regarding their working environment, we identify several key challenges that the current business upgrade of Pistachio needs to address:

  • Content creators seek an improved approach to discovering compatible brands, as they presently face the dilemma of compromising their standards for steady assignments.

  • Yearning for purpose in their work, content creators face issues like brand disengagement and unforeseen alterations in compensation terms.

  • Content creators aspire to engage with and influence their cherished communities, receive equitable remuneration, and foster connections within the content creation realm, all while upholding their artistic integrity.

So, how might we...

  • ...connect creators to brands that share similar values to them?

  • ...improve communication between creators and brand?

  • ...ensure creators hear back from brands whether they are hired for the job or not?

  • ...increase opportunities for community impact?

  • ...empower creators to feel like the artists they are?

  • ...quantify the effectiveness of a creator's work outside of follower count?


Second-round C&C Analysis

To find solutions for the aforementioned challenges, we conducted a second round of C&C analysis. How do our direct and indirect competitors manage to provide efficient service to users while also achieving feasible automation for user vetting and approval?

Three popular applications from the three markets have come into our view.


Hinge and Bumble are currently the most popular dating applications on the market. There is no doubt how crucial user profiles are for achieving the business goals of such apps. Therefore, as non-direct competitors, the profile-building processes implemented by Hinge and Bumble serve as highly inspirational to us.

Both of these applications employ a strategy of requiring users to create a personal profile upon their initial use. Without completing this process, users are unable to access any features or view other users' profiles. However, this procedure is quite time-consuming and involves numerous steps, which can easily lead to user frustration. Although both of these applications have invested significant effort into enhancing the visual appeal of the user interface to mitigate this frustration, we aspire for Pistachio to avoid an excessively lengthy user portfolio creation process.


Another significant inspiration comes from our direct competitor, JoinBrands. They have shown us what elements a reasonable personal portfolio for a UGC creator should encompass, especially the essential information that a basic portfolio must provide. This has guided us in streamlining our user profile collection process, offering a valuable reference to avoid the overly lengthy situation seen in Hinge and Bumble.


The personal tagging selection features of Tumblr and Mucho have also provided us with inspiration, allowing users to independently choose the types of job opportunities they are interested in and the ones they would like to avoid. This embodies our application's commitment to serving creators.

This Is Our Solution

The Pistachio creator platform will provide a strong onboarding experience and portfolio builder, allowing creators to highlight their niches and interests.

This way, creators can be matched with businesses looking for their unique talents and continue promoting products that align with their values.

Allowing users to create strong, detailed portfolios will give them the agency they crave in their partnerships while streamlining the matching process with brands.


Meet Natalie, Our Glamorous Beauty Creator



User Flow



We will only collect 10 pieces of information from users during the account creation process to establish a basic personal portfolio. Some time-consuming data, such as the uploading of users' previous video works, will be deferred until after the account is created. Through user testing, we found that most testers are able to complete the entire process within 4 minutes.

Journey Map



Natalie is an experienced UGC creator actively seeking an agent to elevate her business. Pistachio is one of her target agents.


Natalie will create her account on the Pistachio mobile application and simultaneously begin building her portfolio. We tried to find out her feelings during her onboarding process.


We've discovered that the most dissatisfying aspect of the entire process for users is largely centered around the data input stage. This procedure is both dull and time-consuming, yet unavoidable. We can only attempt to minimize and disperse this process as much as possible, implementing visual and toning strategies for a smoother experience.

Design Studio


Mi-Fi Prototype

A Mi-Fi prototype of the Pistachio app was created and usability testing was conducted. 


Usability Testing

We conducted 5 usability tests, with 2 involving real-life UGC creators. Encouragingly, in our initial round of testing, all users successfully completed our tasks.

Nevertheless, certain frequently raised concerns have been identified.

PROBLEM 1: Asking for too detailed personal information.

SOLUTION: Remove the requirement to provide personal phone numbers, emails, and addresses until direct communication is necessary. Address information will only be required to include country, state, and city.

PROBLEM 2: Users are confused by the terms "profile" and "portfolio".

SOLUTION: We initially designed each user to have a profile and a portfolio. However, many users expressed confusion over the distinction and considered it redundant. In the end, we removed the concept of a profile and opted for a single portfolio that includes personal information.

PROBLEM 3: Users have no clue if their information or content was uploaded successfully.

SOLUTION: We added some popup windows as a confirmation that information or content was uploaded.

Moreover, we dedicated time to refining the tone of all user messages. We concentrated on achieving a uniform and impactful tone throughout the onboarding process, ensuring it was friendly, motivating, conversational, informative, and succinct.

Hi-Fi Prototype

Now, let's take a look at our final Hi-Fi prototype:

Pistachio iPhone Mockup 2.png


For more details, please try out our interactive prototype below.

Final Prototype

Next Steps

  • Create a creator community functionality, including forum and messaging system, to increase connection for creators;

  • Try to find find out how AI can improve creator vetting and brand-creator matching;

  • Conduct more usability testing to polish the prototype.

What I Have Learned?

We believe that although the online creator agency industry has a history of 20 years, it is still far from being set in stone. Even newcomers like Pistachio can rise to the top with the right operational strategies. On the other hand, this also implies that the industry can continue to provide ample creative space for UX designers, enabling them to design better user experiences without limitations. We are excited about this prospect.

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