Danny J. Williams





Pursu.it is a crowdfunding platform for amateur and semi-pro athletes. The platform helps athletes raise funds to support training and travel expenses. Since launch, Pursu.it has helped 8 athletes compete at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, several more at the 2016 Rio Olympics and has raised over $700,000 for 100+ athletes to date. View live project here.



Pursu.it brought me onboard to lead product growth and user experience design as the company shifted its focus on growing campaign creation and donations. Up until August 2016, I led efforts to address a plateau in user growth, retention and donations. By the project’s end I had conducted a full on-boarding teardown and redesign and managed paid marketing channels to boost campaign creation by 10% within 1 month of the new design launch.



When I joined the team, Pursu.it was seeing ⅓ of its campaigns exceed goals, raising $6,348 on average (2.5x more than its closest competitor).

“Move fast and break the glass ceiling.”

At the same time, the company hit a plateau in new campaign creation and donations; increasing the number of campaigns created per month, while maintaining or increasing its average donation total per athlete had become Pursu.it's primary challenge.



To break through Pursu.it’s growth problem, we started by focusing on platform success. In other words, "What were we doing right"?

“Start with why. Then how. Then what.”

Pursu.it established itself as the crowdfunding platform with the highest average dollars raised per campaign. By comparison, Pursu.it had also raised more total donations in roughly the same time as it’s competition, and directly contributed to over a dozen athletes’ ability to compete at the Olympic games.

Using the company’s successes as a frame of reference, I ran the team through a brainstorming exercise. We began by asking the obvious question:

"Why has Pursu.it’s growth plateaued?"

We continued to ask ‘why’ of each consecutive answer until we uncovered what appeared to be the root cause. Only after exhausting possible causes of slowed growth, did we ask how, and what to complete the brainstorming exercise.

Although this may sound like an overly simplified exercise, structuring the brainstorm this way allowed us to establish several hypotheses to test.

As a result, we were able to improve Pursu.it’s user experience in a scalable, measurable way.

Some of our root "why's":

  • Signup form is really long.

  • Time consuming for users to create compelling campaign stories.

  • Many amateur athletes are hesitant to ask others for money to train.

  • Many athletes acknowledge they don't know how to market their campaigns effectively.



Given the primary challenge of increasing campaign creations, I wanted to see how users currently interacted with the platform at first visit. Performing an analytics audit of the web application, I identified a significant drop-off of users at a particular point in the on-boarding process. The signup form.

“Sign up needed some love.”


After identifying a digital indicator of Pursu.it’s growth problem that aligned with some early assumptions, I performed several on-boarding tear-down exercises with Pursu.it’s team members and users.


"A long sign-up form was frustrating users."

After conducting brainstorming exercises, building hypotheses, performing analytics audits and usability tests, I established a baseline interpretation of user engagement during the on-boarding process.

Key insights from research:

  1. Pursu.it had a lengthy, single-page application form to create campaigns.

  2. The campaign creation form had ~80% bounce rate and no method of saving user progress. It was all or nothing.

  3. Many users recorded the sign-up form in separate documents as a means of saving progress.

  4. Several form fields in the application process were interpreted as unnecessary by users and became a point of frustration.



We rebuilt the on-boarding process, stripping away much of what Pursu.it's original sign-up listed as required info. Focusing on necessities made sign-up significantly easier for users and allowed Pursu.it's team to follow-up with one's who only made it part of the way through sign-up.

Replacing text heavy sections with imagery and making user progress more visual reduced cognitive load for users and sped up their progress through sign-up.



Pursu.it had built an incredible service for athletes, but neglected aspects of its user experience by not regularly using the platform themselves or by exposing themselves to users on a regular basis.

"Eat your own dog food."

Without user empathy, it is incredibly difficult to understand the nuances and pain-points of your product or service.



Say hello. Let's do cool stuff together.