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First Stop

Product Design/ User Experience Design/ User Experience Research


Design methods: User Interview/User Experience Research/Wireframing/Design thinking/AB Test

Designer tools: Adobe Creative Suite/Sketch


Alberta Hardiman, Echo Lu, Eunice Yuk ling Lam, Eva Yipeng Chen, Eve Marenghi, Mianying Chen

Problem Shooting/

"NJ Entrepreneurs feel confused during the business formation process."

The NJ government offers resources and services to help businesses get started and succeed in the state. However, entrepreneurs face many demands on a daily basis and may not have time to navigate the state’s offerings. Through our research and interviews, we discovered that: 

  • The online registration application is difficult to find and includes undefined terms 

  • The NJ portal is not a one-stop application; it directs users to the IRS and census websites for EIN and NAICS codes

  • Entrepreneurs outsource formation processes to LegalZoom to avoid doing it themselves 

  • “It would be helpful if there were explanations or a video explaining how to set up a business” - David Margulies, SBDC Kean University 

Why so important?/

"Cumbersome processes limit business growth, a priority for the state."

  • Governor Murphy’s administration prioritizes innovation and has announced multiple initiatives to spur growth including the Incubator and Collaborative Workspace Rent Initiative, a modernized R&D tax credit, the STEM Loan Forgiveness Program, and N.J. Career Accelerator Internship Program

  • Making the business formation process accessible and easy for entrepreneurs falls in line with this mission 

  • “From 21st-century innovation-friendly policies that ensure New Jersey is prepared for the future of work to a new permitting reform initiative to identify and streamline outdated, cumbersome processes, we believe that we can position New Jersey and its businesses to thrive in our new economy.”  

  • - Governor Murphy’s Innovation Economy Plan Project mission 

Current challenges/

Digital resources are complicated to navigate.

  • Important information is not clearly highlighted

  • Resources lack hyperlinks 

  • Navigation is complicated for business owners 

  • No mechanism for data collection. It would be helpful to know:  

    • Which information site visitors search for 

    • What keeps visitors on the site 

    • Where visitors drop off the site


The presentation of information can be overwhelming.

  • Overwhelming information architecture with small text and uniform formatting 

  • Use of jargon creates barriers to entry for new business owners 

  • No one-stop for visitors to gather information and clarify next steps

  • Lack of customization for various businesses and industry types 

  • Information is spread across multiple agency websites


Lack of transparency makes it difficult to create a plan of action.

  • Some NJ state requirements, e.g. annual license renewal, are not explicitly advertised 

  • A complicated agency structure that is not clearly explained makes it difficult for entrepreneurs to understand agency interaction 

  • Terms are not clearly defined, which is especially challenging for non-native English speakers

  • Many entrepreneurs are not aware of the state’s business development resources, leading to underutilization 


Current user path/

Through interviews, we identified difficult steps.

  • Conduct market research 

  • Write a business plan 

  • Secure funding 

  • Choose a business structure 

  • Choose a business name 

  • Register with federal, state, and/or local government 

    • Register as a veteran, woman, minority-owned, or small business

  • Get federal and state tax IDs

    • Collect and report sales tax 

  • Apply for licenses and permits 

  • Hire workers

    • Independent contractor vs. employee?

They are doing better/

Los Angeles has an organized website.

  • LA’s website is visually appealing with menus, bold fonts, and headers to help with site navigation.


  • LA’s portal has search functionality to help users locate information quickly. 


  • LA provides a step-by-step guide to help users navigate the system efficiently.


New York provides customization.

  • NY asks questions to create a targeted plan and avoid presenting irrelevant information.

  • NY allows customers to create an account so their information is saved when they return to the site.

  • NY allows customers to chat with a human online if they can’t find the information they’re looking for. 


San Diego has filtering functionality.

  • San Diego allows customers to find specific information, e.g. “I need to apply for a business license.” 

  • San Diego collects feedback to identify what works well on the site and what needs to be improved. 

  • San Diego provides a custom app to keep customers engaged and help them when they’re off the site. 


Key learnings from other localities

  • Visually appealing websites 

    • Menus 

    • Bold fonts 

    • Headers 

  • Search functionality 

  • Step-by-step guidelines

  • Clear navigation 

  • Definitions, context, and background information

  • Creation of a customized business plan

  • Account creation to save information 

  • Chat functionality (digitally or by phone) 

  • Time estimates 

  • Filters 

  • Data & feedback collection 

User Journey Map/

"Cumbersome processes limit business growth, a priority for the state."

Brian, age 31. Aims to open a vegan cookie shop in Jersey City.

Proactive services help tight budget entrepreneurs reach their goals.


The website with filters in personalized language for better understanding.


Unfamiliar terms and process drain users' energy and time.


SmartSearch and Chatbot to offer proactive real-time help.


Solution Design/

Based on research, we identified the need for an integrated solution.

A digital knowledge base stores resources and documentation to provide information to NJ entrepreneurs when they’re starting a business. 

A Chatbot is a computer program powered by artificial intelligence that can answer questions and communicate with visitors to a website. 

Inner Logic


User flow



Hover to play

Keyword detection logic 1

Keyword detection logic 2

Suggested questions


  • Giuseppe Morgana, Shyamala Ramakrishna, Kai Feder, Ross Dakin, Beth Noveck, New Jersey Office of Innovation 

  • Melanie Willoughby, Donald Newman, Steven Stegman, Trudi Gilfillian, New Jersey Business Action Center

  • James Fruscione, Peter Lowicki, Robert Benco, Jennifer Maloney, New Jersey Department of the Treasury

  • David Margulies, Small Business Development Council at Kean University

  • David Trotta, Owner of Wealth and Co.

  • Travas Clifton, Owner of Modcup Coffee

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