StudySoup's brand and website were designed by their developers as the need arose. For this reason, the brand had no style guide or visual identity consistent across their products.
Also, the fact that it was difficult to understand what you could do on the website created a sense of doubt on users, decreasing the number of registrations.
Initially as a UXD and then as the Lead UX designer, my job was to take a step back and start from the beginning, creating a style guide for the brand that could be applied on all the pages and pieces of marketing.
Then I was able to design engaging and easy to use interfaces that could explain the purpose of the site. The overall experience would have to be rethought, from the Sign Up widget to the user Dashboard.
It was impossible to understand what you could do on StudySoup just by looking at their homepage. There were no explanations except for the "Buy & Sell Study Materials". Testings revealed that students didn't trust the website because they had no idea what to do, and the amateur design made it look like a scam.
To build the trust on the website, we removed all the notes from the homepage and used the space to inform and educate the users. Testimonials from other students and links for articles from Forbes and TechCrunch were added to the page to show that StudySoup was trustyworthy.
Another challenge was the main search bar. At first the user had to select the correct institution and only then type the document he was looking for. Working with the dev team, the search was completely revamped, allowing for smart searches that identified the institution the user wanted by using geolocation and better keywords.
At the end of my 11 months working at StudySoup, their userbase had increased had went up by 300% and the number of documents uploaded by 500%.