If you’re in the freelancing world or aspiring to join it, someone has probably suggested joining Upwork because of its vast freelancing opportunities. Upwork is a digital marketplace that bridges the gap between clients who need remote work done and freelancers who offer a multitude of services from writing to graphic designing to web and app design; you name it.
UX changes Upwork should make in 2023
If you are 18 and over, with a laptop/desktop and a stable internet connection, Upwork should be the pool where you dip your proverbial toe. However, as a freelancer who has been on the platform since it was launched, there are a few overdue changes in user experience that I feel would benefit both clients and freelancers in the long run.
Upwork is designed so that all communication between prospective, new, or returning clients and freelancers is done centrally. There is no need for integration with other third-party apps. It is one of the policies every user must follow – all communication should be done on the site; otherwise, culprits risk getting banned. This is a reasonable rule unless you’re trying to scam Upwork out of their commission but the platform has become notorious for its error messages and glitches.
On many occasions, I’ve been unable to maintain a smooth conversation with a potential client because the messages took too long to load or open. In some cases, a timeout error message appears on my screen. Error messages are frustrating, especially when you’ve yet to land the client and are competing with others who may not be experiencing this problem.
I’ve had frustrated clients ask to use other apps to communicate because they don’t have the patience to deal with the shaky Upwork messaging feature, even while the contract was still running on Upwork. In addition, while Upwork can be used on both a desktop and mobile phone, the synchronization between the two could be better. The site generally takes longer to load on the mobile app, and when it does, it’s often clunky.
“Previous Prospect” tag
To apply for jobs on Upwork, you need Connects, which, while pretty affordable, you try to use as efficiently as possible. The basic/free Upwork plan comes with ten free monthly connects, while the paid plus plan comes with 80. To increase your chances of landing a job or an interview, you have to apply for as many jobs as possible.
However, this means we freelancers often end up pitching a client we’ve been unsuccessful with before (whether or not we reached the interview phase) or even applying for the same job twice or more because clients sometimes post the same job multiple times.
It would save freelancers Connects if Upwork added a “Previous Prospect” tag in the Job Feed showing that this is a job posted by a client you’ve applied to before (whether you got an interview or not), just like we currently have a “Previous Client” tag showing that this is a job posted by a client you’ve been hired by before. This would also save clients from having to sort through proposals from freelancers they’ve previously not found compatible.
Crypto payment integration
There is still a lot of suspicion and resistance surrounding crypto and its legitimacy because of how unregulated and volatile it is. But as someone who has taken the time to thoroughly read about cryptocurrency, trade it and use it as a form of payment, I firmly believe Upwork is missing out on a unique opportunity to continue revolutionizing the world of remote work.
For a modern work platform like Upwork, which has been at the forefront of flattening the work culture across the globe, cryptocurrency payments should be their next big initiative.
I did a fair amount of research, and to my surprise, there are other freelancing platforms dedicated to crypto payments budding right and left. However, none has the same vast network of clients and freelancers or the social trust and legitimacy. Upwork has a unique opportunity to diversify its payment system beyond banks and PayPal.
There are several stablecoins like USDC and USDT that Upwork can introduce, allowing clients to receive deposits using a stablecoin address. Even if a freelancer is paid in USD, Upwork can allow them to withdraw it in crypto.
Upwork could even explore introducing its own stablecoin (perhaps in partnership with a reputable crypto institution) that users on the app can use to pay freelancers and buy connects.
What is Upwork already doing right in 2023?
I’ve used several freelancing platforms over the past decade, and Upwork has given me the best remote work experience, growth, and clientele. Here are my top three features;
Meeting scheduling and Zoom integration
As I mentioned, all communication between freelancers and clients can be done on the app. You can even schedule and join a Zoom meeting in your chat with a client. All you have to do is book a time and date for an appointment, and it’ll reflect on both of your calendars.
Number of proposals and hires on a job
Upwork lets you see how many proposals have been submitted for a particular job. This feedback system is an excellent way to help freelancers decide whether to apply for a job. If, for instance, you have little to no experience for a job and it already has over 40 proposals, chances are, you’ll have half a mind to bow out gracefully. In addition, Upwork will also show you if someone has already been hired for a job you are viewing.
This is Upwork’s latest UX update, having just been introduced in early March, 2023. You can now see when clients view your proposals. This is perfect for tracking the success of pitching efforts and dealing with the anxiety that comes with applying for a job.
I am a big believer in constantly improving and being a pioneer for change. Upwork is a great platform that has truly revolutionized work as we know but it can definitely get even better!
Gerald Ainomugisha is a freelance Content Solutions Provider (CSP) offering both content and copy writing services for businesses of all kinds, especially in the niches of management, marketing and technology.