I decided to update this project in 2019 by designing it in a higher fidelity, building it out in a design system and then going a step further and building out the interactions. I’m in the process of updating this page, but you can find the work I’ve done so far on Medium:
- Part One — The Design Sprint (Repeated here, below. See “November 2017”)
- Part Two — Building the Design System
- Part Three — Exploring Interaction Design
In Part Two, I discuss how I begin to approach constructing a design system in Sketch:
In Part Three, I discuss how I approach interaction design in Flinto:
Here’s a close-up of one of the interactions while still in experimental phase:
And here’s the end result:
I hope you’ll find some value from these articles. I look forward to your comments on Medium!
You might be wondering why I’ve included a low-fidelity prototype in my portfolio.
- Through the Design Sprint framework of Map, Sketch, Decide, Prototype and Test, we researched, prototyped and tested Bloom Box’s website in five days.
- BloomBox was ‘seeing a large drop-off rate once the users got to the product page and tried to customize their Bloom Box’.
- Based on our research, our solution limited cognitive overload by presenting only essential data through a pictorial, rather than text heavy, user interface. We also ensured user flow was as streamlined as possible and Bloombox’s existing social media marketing (Instagram, Facebook) had multiple points for onboarding to the main site.
- Iterations across multiple media and throughout the process provided unique insight, while revisiting the project brief ensured the client’s and more importantly their user’s goals, needs and pain points were front and center across our entire process.
Over the course of a week, a team consisting of me and two colleagues proposed a redesign of a regional flower shop’s online purchasing experience. Through the Design Sprint framework of Map, Sketch, Decide, Prototype and Test, we researched, prototyped and tested Bloom Box’s website in five days.
Our task was clear: BloomBox was ‘seeing a large drop-off rate once the users got to the product page and tried to customize their Bloom Box’. They wanted the shopping experience to be as simple, fresh, and fun as their flower boxes were.
Mapping — Day One
The first step in the process is to map out the existing user experience. We first conducted user research by analysing surveys and quantitative data.
With five interview transcripts and 51 survey respondents, we noted demographics, user needs, and pain points and came away with key pointers with which to establish a target user — a persona towards which we could orient our design process. Why?
Designing for everyone is designing for no one.
How we did this was not complicated: drill through the data and find common themes. Users reported freshness, personableness and product availability as important. We chose to target males, 25–34 because they were 35% of Bloom Box’s users at large and were 75% of the survey respondents. Moreover, this is a demographic Bloom Box can grow with.
An interesting takeaway at this point was that some in our team were more oriented towards qualitative analysis while others were drawn to the user interviews. With any research, it’s easy for confirmation bias to affect even a methodical process and we can contaminate the results through our analysis if not through the data collection itself. Best practices encourage us to let the data do the talking: quantitative data should be used to mine the qualitative, and vice versa.
If an interesting story is not backed up by data, it’s not that interesting. If the data is not captured in your interviews, it’s best to take a second look at that data.
We next mapped out pain points that users (customers) might have with the current experience based on our own navigation of their site informed by our research.
HMWs (How Might We’s)
With a good bit of insight, it was time to begin thinking up solutions…. Wrong!! [I had you there for a second, huh? :-)] . As we transitioned into ideation, the key was in not trying to think up solutions too quickly. First of all, a user experience designer doesn’t think up solutions out of thin air — that’s not UX. There is however plenty of creativity involved; the trick is to have that creativity driven by the research.
If user experience design is cooking, the ingredients would be the research. Asking “How Might We” questions would be the first step in the recipe, something akin to getting the pan hot. ‘How might we…begin to address a user’s pain points’. If a user thinks the checkout process is too complicated, a ‘How Might We’ is not “add a checkout car on the home page”. A ‘How Might We’ is ‘simplify the checkout process’:
Lightning Demo Presentations
Next, we compared the offerings and features of direct and indirect competitors to dig deeper into user pain points, needs and our How Might We’s. Blindly copying a feature will likely lead you down a path in the wrong direction, but taking what works elsewhere, applying it to the current situation, and then improving on top of that, is a win-win-win.
We came away with a map of target event features we could implement:
- Limit cognitive overload
- Star rating system
- More prominent pricing and product availability. More visible product options.
- More customer feedback and/or live chat
- Clear error messaging
Next, we stopped to review the project brief.
It’s important to revisit your client’s goals and their user’s needs and problems often.
For this project, we had forgotten why Instagram was a starting point of our customer map and remembered that BloomBox marketing was heavily focused on Facebook and Instagram. Instagram was a pain point and dead end in the map because there were no links back to product pages from specific Instagram posts.
Sketching — Day Two and Three
Sketchnoting and Crazy 8s
Next we ideated three times in close succession:
- We sketchnoted, or put ideas down on paper pictorially, to help creativity flow. You can often communicate your ideas better when drawn.
- Crazy 8 iteration #1: 5 minutes to put down eight ideas (40 seconds each).
- Crazy 8 iteration #2: We reviewed each other’s crazy 8 ideas (24 ideas total) and then went back at again for another 5 minutes and 8 ideas. One of my key takeaways here was that I combined two of my previous ideas into a single, better idea during this phase.
Although it might be frowned upon as a keep-your-email-inbox-clean best practice, touching ideas multiple times in different ways is one of the great benefits of a design sprint and user experience design as a whole.
By not taking the time to move through the design process step by step after thorough user research, you’re probably putting down some nice things you saw on some website, rather than innovative ideas applied to your client’s and their user’s specific context.
Now we took the time, first on our own, to design a solution based on all of the research, feedback and ideation we’d done so far:
We set up a solution gallery (think art gallery) of different ideas and highlighted (with dots) ideas that we liked. This created a heatmap of sorts where the best ideas rose to the surface.
Deciding — Day Three
Now on day three, it was time to put those best ideas into a storyboard that captured the current user flow (with pain points) to see where those ideas might best be applied. Thanks to Jorge’s handiwork, the result looked great:
Storyboarding helped us finalize which solutions we’d implement and further refine our customer map.
It’s important to clarify the user’s thoughts and emotions being conveyed in each board before jumping into the actual sketching.
Day Four — Prototyping
We’re really iterating now!
The best way to describe the benefits of paper prototyping, is by showing you the two prototype iterations below:
- Our aim was clear: with the groundwork laid through research and ideation, it was time to prototype, first through hand drawn sketches.
- Using the Marvel app, we created a mobile, interactive version of the paper prototypes.
- Before testing outside of the bootcamp, we sought feedback from our instructors and colleagues.
As just shown, we were able to immediately improve our prototype based on early feedback. Since they were done in paper, making changes was quick and we weren’t too attached to resist the changes.
Our final screens, ready for Day 5 User Testing!:
Day 5 Part One— User Testing
“Why isn’t it moving to the next thing when I clicked the thing.”
I first interviewed a friend of mine that was in our target demographic, especially considering his experience with ordering things online. Before even beginning testing, I gained feedback by his noting that he doesn’t like to order things on his phone often because he’s worried about making mistakes based on past experience. A full screen desktop experience provides him with more space to review and click.
Another takeaway was that due to issues on his end, it took 20 minutes just to get the test started as we conducted the test via internet. (He was on a friend’s computer and could not remember his log-in information to join the Google Hangout session I had created to conduct the test via video and audio.) I ended up creating a work around by sending an invite through a different conferencing service, Zoom and will remember to have multiple platforms and pathways available when interviews are not conducted in person.
A final great piece of insight from this interview was that he wanted to see an “are you sure?” (as he described it) page after placing an order before it was 100% ordered. That way he could correct any errors. It’s a feature we three had all used before, but did not pick up on during our research, competitive analysis and ideation as we were juggling so many different ideas and features. User feedback is great since you’re not just depending on your own ideas or even your own memory.
Day 5 Part Two — User Testing
Now it was time to take our prototype to the streets!
One of the key learnings here is was that not everyone has the time or interest to be a tester. (After this experience, I gained a lot more empathy for those sidewalk marketers.) However, when you find someone interested, it can often be an excellent experience, both as a designer and as a human being.
We met a middle aged gentleman named Jeff who provided really great insights since he ordered flowers online often. He wanted to see multiple location checkpoints for deliveries, where you could pick the flowers up on your way home from work. We hadn’t considered an operational feature like that as well as several of his other ideas: “add a back button there”, for example. He even came back 5 minutes after we had finished testing with him to give us some more pointers.
Jeff, if you’re out there reading this, thanks!
We pooled all of our insight together and then pitched our ideas:
This concluded the five day design sprint.
With more time and the resources to begin implementing our solutions; we’d move our prototype from low/mid fidelity to high fidelity and begin connecting our prototype to existing front-end and back-end client systems.
- In a design sprint — and in the wider world of design in general — it’s easy to start thinking up solutions too early when the problem needs to be further explored.
- 85% of usability experiences are discovered when researching and/or testing five users. Don’t believe me? Don Norman told you so.
- Trust the process. Without taking the time to do proper research and all of the necessary steps to break down the ideation phase, you’re not doing UX design. You’re just making things look pretty and they probably won’t be that pretty.