OUR CLIENT & BRIEF

BOUTIQ LIFESTYLE APP

Boutiq, a recently launched mobile application, which is trading on social currency with the aim to increase user numbers and engagement and encourage recommendations of great travel and food destinations. In March 2017, Boutiq the app was launched on the iTunes Store. The initial brief asked us to work on tools and mechanisms to drive user engagement and gamification strategies. Following its launch, Boutiq needed to grow user numbers and content in readiness for business user engagement.

The Boutiq team were also looking to user research and design outcomes from us to launch the next iteration development sprint in May 2017.

DISCOVERY & RESEARCH

CLIENT:

 

Boutiq

 

 

INDUSTRY:

Travel

 

 

TEAM:

3 People

 

 

PROJECT SKILLS:

Client Engagement | Project Management | Statement of Work| Heuristic Evaluation | Competitive/Comparative Analysis | Testing Guide | Usability Testing | User Interviews | Online Survey| Data Analysis and Synthesis | Persona Creation | Journey and Experience Mapping | Feature Prioritisation | Paper Prototyping| Digital Prototyping | Presentation

 

HEURISTIC EVALUATION

We reviewed the app against usability heuristics, particularly those of learnability and error management to identify usability problems in the UI design. We found:

  • Pleasing aesthetic and minimalist design.

  • Misleading language may lead to issues around recognition, matches between the system and the real world and consistency and standards, although familiarity with other social media functions from Instagram and Facebook may assist users.

  • No ‘Help’ provided and as a result error prevention appears weak, particularly in results for search fields.

  • No support for error management and error recovery not offered for key tasks.

  • Inconsistent load times, possibly related to development sprints, may pose a risk to the visibility of status.

  • Search results and map zoom do not appear relative to the user location.

  • No simple function to share the app or place with a new user.

COMPETITOR ANALYSIS

The travel, lifestyle and social networking app market is vast with literally 1000s of websites and apps catering to different users and user journeys. Looking at a number of key competitors and comparators throughout the project we tested Boutiq’s true point of differentiation. Our analysis included a high-level feature and functionality audit as well as identification of where the app fit on the customer journey. Our findings contributed directly to our research findings and design solution.

ASSUMPTIONS VETTING AND PRIORITISATION

We challenged the key assumptions of our client and UX team via a questioning exercise. We posed questions to challenge ideas around how the app might be used as well as users behaviours around social media and sharing recommendations :

1. What are our known risks within the business model and the current app?

2. What are our unknown risks?; and

3. What is the likelihood that these will occur?

Plotting these on an Assumptions Issues Matrix helped us to identify our highest priorities to guide the development our research tools.

USABILITY TESTING: TESTING GUIDE

We developed a testing guide and used this to test overall usability, perceptions and key tasks within the current app with existing users and testers who had never used the app before.

The testing guide was used throughout our learn, test, build process.

USER CENTRED METHODS

USER INTERVIEWS, SURVEY & WORKSHOP  

Insights into what we could fix/streamline as far as the in-app experience was clear but before synthesising data we needed to dig deeper to understand how and why people share and discover new places.

  1. Thirteen users were questioned using an interview topic map covering:

    • how people are currently discovering new experiences:

    • where/ whom they like to receive it:

    • what detail they seek:

    • how they currently share those experiences, if at all; and

    • what motivates them to do so.

  2. Prepared an online survey using Google Forms to increase our sample size, validate our assumptions and interview learnings.

  3. Consolidated secondary research online, around social media, gamification and user motivations.

  4. Facilitated a workshop, challenging two small teams to generate creative ideas to drive new user engagement for game stormingBoutiq.

GAMIFICATION WORKSHOP 

DEFINE & SYNTHESIZE

RESEARCH & INSIGHTS

We organised our research data into meaningful key insights – used affinity mapping, google sheets and pivot tables as tools visualise our data.

Key Insights

Most travel and foodie apps are built with curated content and maps with a focus on reviews rather than recommendations.

  1. Very few travel/foodie apps relying on social currency.

  2. Varied levels of overall usability with many providing help through onboarding.

  3. No social networking app focused purely on recommendations of places people love

This validated that assumption that Boutiq’s unique offering is authentic and trusted recommendations of places to go.

HOW DO YOU CURRENTLY SHARE YOUR TRAVEL EXPERIENCES ?

25%

FACE TO FACE AFTER

55%

SOCIAL MEDIA IN THE MOMENT

21%

I DON'T SHARE

PERSONAS & CUSTOMER JOURNEY MAP

PERSONAS

Through our data patterns and behaviours confirmed three personas to represent the different user types of the Boutiq app.

  1. The Organised Planner (primary user persona)

  2. The Spontaneous Traveller (secondary user persona)

  3. The Business Owner (primary business persona)

These personas helped our team to determine what to design for them.

WIREFRAMES & ITERATIONS

DESIGN STUDIO METHOD

As a group, we developed a list of potential features and improvements using a speed thinking exercise ‘Ideas Blitz’ and prioritised based on our persona and business needs.

From there we developed a Journey Map for our primary persona and identified these opportunities along the customer journey. Using a recommendations matrix, ideas were rated by how easily they could be implemented as well as how critical they were to both the business and to benefit the user.

 

Paper & Digital Prototyping

Focusing our efforts on what we felt would deliver the best value through this project we began prototyping using a design studio activity to sketch ideas. We began testing these paper prototypes using Marvel.

Following our first round of usability testing, we designed our next iteration of interactive digital prototypes using Sketch and Invision.

USER TESTING

We conducted usability testing on 4 users in 2 further iterations of our design.

Problem 1: Users did not find the app value proposition compelling and navigation features intuitive.

We took the guesswork out by introducing an onboarding tour and in-app progressive onboarding. We also made changes to some language and iconography to reduce ambiguity and confusion. We tried to increase the social connectivity felt within the app by using friend profile shots instead of like numbers on the ‘Place Details’ to increase authenticity.

Problem 2: Users found the idea of a Wishlist confusing as this suggested a shopping list and the ability to book.

We proposed and tested a bucket list to replace the Wishlist function which tested very well with users.

Problem 3: The current app does not provide functionality for all common tasks users would need to perform.

We redesigned the ‘Recommend a Place’, ‘Place Details’ and ‘Search for a Place’ pages to provide key features including:

  • the ability to use current location (search function)

  • the ability to manually add a new place if it doesn't appear in search results

  • a ‘been there too button’ to allow additional recommendations on existing place pages

Problem 4: The intention of the app is for users to share positive recommendations which challenged the usefulness of current recommendation features.

We tested Emoji icons in place of review stars and increased iconography for place types to reduce ambiguity. As pictures tell a thousand words we enabled multiple photo and video uploads.

Overall users were able to complete the tasks and understood how the new features would cater to their needs. To sum up, we received positive overall feedbacks from users.

ONBOARDING

We took the guesswork out by introducing an onboarding tour and peppered progressive onboarding in the app. We also made changes to some language and iconography to reduce ambiguity and confusion. We tried to increase the social connectivity felt within the app by using friend profile shots instead of like numbers on the ‘Place Details’ to increase authenticity.

RECOMMENDING A PLACE

We redesigned the ‘Recommend a Place’, ‘Place Details’ and ‘Search for a Place’ pages to provide key features including:

 

1. The tester has the ability to use current location (search function).

2. The tester can manually add a new place if it doesn’t appear in search results.

3. A ‘been there too button’ for users friends to allow additional recommendations on existing place pages.

SUMMARY & NEXT STEPS

We presented our client with sketch files and recommendations ready for their next development sprint. However, we felt our research findings indicated a much more strategic approach to the core objectives of the business was needed. In addition to our ‘quick win’ design changes we recommended Boutiq develop a user engagement strategy to guide further developments to the app which may include:

  1. A Facebook messenger ChatBot to generate new user interest.

  2. Gamification ideas that capitalise on social currency and motivations of users

  3. Most critically we felt Boutiq needed to undertake further research to understand how most effectively support the business user and solve their problems.

 
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