Axure / Illustrator / Photoshop
UX / UI
Teams were tasked with creating a fully-developed product concept for an app in three weeks addressing issues with the gift-giving experience.
EXPLORE AND LEARN
I began digging into research methods to finding out more about gift-giving frustrations along with my team. The research plan includes domain and market research, competitive analysis, and exploratory interviews. The research objectives act as a guide for the development of our interview questions, and for keeping our goals on track.
The competitive analysis indicated a space in the market for platforms dealing with giving experiences or services and also room for gift customization. It could also be drawn, sharing and favorites lists are features that are highly liked by users and may need to be included in the design.
Interviews are conducted with people who practice gift giving and are familiar with the process. Questions focused on the journey the interviewee goes on while deciding, buying, and giving a gift.
Interview responses are sorted into trends through affinity mapping. This helps organize the information in a way that spotlights users’ needs and frustrations with the current process. It was found users want to deliver gifts quickly, but don’t always know how to determine what the recipient wants. The overall consensus was many quick gifts seem impersonal yet people often don’t have time to shop for the “perfect gift”. Significant amounts of people are on a budget however personally made gifts take too much time.
Empathy tool development
Two user personas emerged from the research: Lucy the busy mom, and Amy the sentimentalist. These were used as empathy tools to refer to and think about during concept development. Once developed, each persona’s journey through the gift-giving process was mapped out and assessed to identify exact pain points to be potentially resolved.
Key to understanding the pain points and desires of our personas, we developed journey maps from the donor and nonprofit perspective. This gave further insight into where our product can step in to alleviate pain points, or change the gift giving game all together.
At this phase we knew enough information to identify a problem statement and design principles. The problem statement gives light to a root issue that we can focus on solving while design principles forms a design framework to most effectively solve the problem in a way that tailors to the user.
People want to give personalized gifts yet often don’t think far in advance from the point of gift-giving or know enough about the recipient to understand what a personalized gift for that person would mean.
Solutions were conceptualized individually for either one persona or both, and as a group assessed for viability. Before discussion, each concept was made into a clickable prototype and presented to the team and instructor. Two concepts were chosen, one designed around Lucy, and one designed around Amy. These two prototypes were moved forward to concept validation testing.
Concept 2: Lucy
Local Gift: An app built around providing recommendations and quick, local delivery to alleviate Lucy’s frustrations when it comes to gift giving
Concept 1: Amy
Gift Tape: An app built around providing a quick and easy DIY gift giving experience, to solve Amy’s gift giving pain points
Due to 1.5 weeks time to complete UX research and development, one round of testing was conducted. Test participants were overall more delighted with the concept of Gift Tape. All users tested found value in creating a gift that was very personal and customizable. However our work was not done; many users also found the app difficult to navigate and lacking in visual hierarchy.
Based on a better understanding of user needs after concept validation testing, a new task flow was developed to make sure we were supporting the user’s journey and givng the app a clear flow. Also taken into consideration were feasibility, and viability. It was decided to bring in Spotify API as the intended purpose of our application was not to be a content provider but an action-enabler. The app would include a simple interface to step-by-step create, share, and explore different mixes
Sketching out the wire flow helped ensure we included each screen and error state needed. From the wire flow we created a final clickable Axure prototype as a team and then individually began UI exploration to create a high fidelity mockup.
USER INTERFACE DESIGN
UI development was done individually. My fist step was to understand what my goal was in bringing this prototype to life. I defined our concept as “A digital revitalization of the mix tape” and wanted to ensure my branding and design fit that. As a starting place I created a brand and logo for the concept, which I renamed to Mimix.
I developed two potential design directions. The first concept, reflecting back to the era of the mix tape, had a playful vibrant feel calling back on a color pallet popular in its hay day. The second concept came from the actual classic tape package, with the black, gold and cream tones on the cassette, plastic wrapper, and paper insert to hand-write the songs recorded on the soon-to-be mix tape. This concept had a much more sophisticated tone, appealing to a more mature audience. After presenting, our instructor recommended moving forward with my second concept. The high-fidelity mockups were intentionally interactive, delightful yet subtle and sophisticated
Start to finish
As one of my first UX / UI projects, being directly involved from start to finish helped me shape my design process. I better understood the effectiveness of an agile design process and learned to work smart.
Get to know your neighbors
As a team I would have liked to go back and speak to each team member about personal work styles. We learned each others best group working styles after a few days into the project. It would have created a more efficient working dynamic from day one if we had stopped to address who each individual was and how we each best worked with others.
Don't reinvent the wheel
Bringing in Spotify API to our app was an idea that came after concept validation and reminded us there are tools and patterns in design that can be utilized to build on current technology. Why reinvent the wheel in addition to creating your own concept when what we have now can be utilized as a tool or improved?
To get practice and gain familiarity with the prototyping tool Axure, clickable prototypes were developed before assessing concept viability. I learned the quickest way to communicate a concept and make rapid changes up front is through sketching iterations, which is how I will lead ideation and initial viability assessment in future projects.