Solving for a user’s need from research to prototype to presentation in 3 days
My challenge: Create an app that will solve a need articulated by my partner Sarah
Phase 1: User Interviews
‣ I interviewed Sarah for 30 minutes
‣ I quickly found out that music is a life long passion of hers
‣ Due to limited time, I knew that even though I could ask her more questions about other parts of her life, that I had already hit on a big source of joy for her that likely would have a pain point somewhere.
‣ My critique of my interviewing approach for this first interview is that I asked ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions that could have been more open ended.
I had some ideas immediately after the interview.
Sarah stressed that she:
‣ Hated missing getting tickets to shows because she didn’t hear about the sales in time
‣ Yet, she didn’t want to be overwhelmed by too many alerts on her phone or email newsletters
So how would she strike the balance between making sure she heard about her top shows with not being on notification overload?
I thought about my own experience (Yes, I know I’m not the user!) about how I would sometimes buy tickets ahead of knowing who would go with me. Sarah reported that she would do this too but most times was able to find someone to go with her. I took the liberty of thinking about the problem scenario of having extra tickets with no one to go with you. And thus the second part of the problem/solution statement was born:
How can Sarah have the best chance of selling the extra tickets she buys upon hearing about a ticket sale to someone that she would like to go with?
Sarah had mentioned that going to shows was a nice way to deepen friendships with existing friends or people in her network. I wondered how the app I could design for her could enable Sarah to post to a wider net of people she knew beyond her inner circle of friends.
I went home and brainstormed in written form what the app would do and boiled it down to these three main functions:
‣ Help Sarah get notices about only selected top shows
‣ Help Sarah alert her inner circle of friends that she had extra tickets they could buy
‣ Help Sarah alert a wider network (her FB friends) that she had extra tickets they could buy
The seeds for Groupie were planted!
Phase 2: Competitive and Comparative Analysis
Competitive: I researched existing music platforms that I thought might have a feature to alert users about upcoming shows.
Spotify — Has a concert finding feature on their web app and app and sends occasional emails about upcoming shows but you can’t control what kinds of emails you receive and there is no ticket selling feature.
Songkick — This was the closest competitor to my Groupie app idea. Sarah said she felt overwhelmed by the thought of going through all the bands that it pre-populated for her. It also didn’t have a sell tickets feature.
Comparative: I also researched services that do similar things to the Groupie app but not in the music field.
HotelTonight — This model would help Sarah get cheap or last minute tickets. But she was more concerned about getting the tickets than she was about cost.
Classpass — This model would be great for people who go to a lot of shows and are in explore more. I realized that Sarah would want more control over which shows she sees and that the variety of a Classpass model wouldn’t be ideal for her needs.
It was nice to know that there wasn’t an existing app easily discoverable that did the same things I had dreamed up for the Groupie app. This motivated me to press on.
Phase 3: Sketching Storyboard Ideas
‣ I realized that I wanted to solve for a few different use case scenarios, which would make storyboarding a bit more challenging.
‣ I wasn’t too precious in terms of planning out each particular drawing in advance or even charting out the spacing in between panels. I am hoping that my tendency to dive into things without worrying too much about perfection will aid me in being able to rapidly iterate as a UX designer.
‣ Drawing was fun! And I was pleased that I wasn’t too hard on my drawings. I know that I am not a trained fine artist.
After seeing a few other storyboards that my peers had sketched, I realized that I could make my storyboard even more comprehensible if I reserved cartoon Sarah’s thought and speech bubbles just for her emotions. I could then use space below each panel to provide the context and narrative:
Phase 4: Paper Prototyping
I had already identified several different user flows within the Groupie app.
People would need to be able to sign up — which would include the integrations with Spotify, Facebook and Venmo or Paypal.
People would need to select their top bands they want to track and the friends they want to include in their inner circle of people to send first invites to.
People would need to be able to receive alerts from their friends who bough tickets and either decline or claim tickets.
Since I didn’t have time to do usability testing for all scenarios, I decided to focus on the user flow that most directly addressed Sarah’s problem: Receive alerts about tickets being newly on sale, buy them, and alert your friends.
Phase 6: Refinement
The main changes I would end up making based on the feedback from the testers was around copy and core functionality.
I heard that calling your selected inner group of friends “Groupies” might be confusing. So I changed the call to action to be “Alert your Friends”. The word Groupie would only appear as the apps name.
I heard mixed opinions about which very to use: “sell” vs. “invite”. I wanted to make sure it was clear that you were selling tickets on the app to friends, but I didn’t want it to feel impersonal. One tester pointed out that the language to the main ticket holder could be “Sell” but the language extended to the friend could be more friendly. I thought this was a great idea!
Core functionality examples:
One tester made it know that she would like the ability to have more options for which segment of Facebook users she would like to send alerts to.
One tester suggested that the notification to friends could be synced with the user’s phone messages so that the alert came as a text message, a more personal delivery method.
I took both of these suggestions to heart and decided that they would be features I would test in future usability studies.
Takeaways from incorporating user feedback
‣ It was easy for me to understand the perspective of the testers and I found myself quick to take their suggestions as directives of what to do.
‣ It wasn’t until I heard two testers share different opinions that I remembered that there isn’t a one size fits all model and that I should take pause before immediately taking one tester’s suggestion as the best solution (i.e. someone thought your“Groupies” should be changed to “Friends” and someone else thought having distinct jargon for the app was cute and that “Groupies” was preferred).
‣ Having a main user to focus on (Sarah) was helpful because if I received conflicting opinions about something, I could simply consult Sarah to see what she preferred. This helped in the decision making process. **I realize this is very rarely the case that someone is designing an app for one person.**
Phase 7: Presenting
‣ Putting my presentation together was fairly straight forward. I mapped out the slide order and took to Keynote to quickly design a brand feel for Groupie. I wanted to focus on the storytelling aspect of the presentation, which would entail stressing Sarah’s emotional journey.
‣ I was 13th to present out of 17 people. I had the luxury of time so that I could make a few tweaks before presenting. The main thing I realized was that I was so focused on telling the story of the user’s journey, that I didn’t dedicate any slides to show how the app actually worked.
‣ After I presented, I was re-reminded of how presenting always ends up running longer for me than I anticipate. I had done 3 minutes in my practice presentation but once I was up there (and after adding a few more slides last minute) I ended up going over the 5 minute time limit. Whoops!
‣ I attribute the original omission of the slides that showed how the app worked to a confusion about who my audience was. I was told to present to “Influencers” so I was thinking more about an entrepreneur who would pitch to investors “Shark Tank” style. I thought that going into the functionality of the app might bore the audience. Once I saw that pretty much everyone else included more information on how their app worked, I had to quickly adjust.
‣ I enjoy presenting. Embellishing the story was fun and trying to add some humor to the presentation was a delightful challenge.
Presentation feedback — “glows” and “grows” — had large themes:
Glows: I had an engaging presentation style and they felt captivated by the story
Grows: The colors on my presentation were hard to read and I ran out of time to explain more about how the app worked and who my competitors were
I am pleased by how much I was able to learn and do in just three days.
Sarah said that she really would use an app like Groupie which makes me feel like I was successful in my efforts.
If I were to do this again I would ideally like to spend more time interviewing Sarah. Moving forward with the Groupie concept, I would do usability testing for each user flow. It would be great to get a prototype up and running so that testers could actually use it to find shows and see if they’d actually use it in their regular life.
Applying this process to other ideas:
I am someone who has business ideas often. It’s nice to have experience with prototyping and usability testing as tools I can apply to any future ideas I want to develop further.
The big ingredient this week that might be more challenging to find out “in the wild” are willing test participants. It’s clear that having people’s feedback and input is so so critical to user-centered design.
A personal challenge of mine is getting more comfortable putting thoughts into visuals. As you can probably tell from this (rather lengthy) written retrospective, I am more comfortable with words than in images.
Coming around to the idea that you don’t have to be an artist to be a designer is going to be important for me moving into the UX designer identity. This project helped me dive in, leave insecurities behind, and just DO.
Thanks for reading about the mini-journey of my first week of the UX Design Immersive at General Assembly. More to come! ❤