A concept project to discover the interests of an assigned user to then identify a problem that could be solved with the design of a simple and effective mobile application. My assigned user regularly redecorates her home and recently found herself having to return her purchases. Through experience mapping, sketching, storyboarding, rapid prototyping and usability testing I created an interior design app solution to avoid this.
UX Researcher, UX/UI Designer
THE CHALLENGE | TO SOLVE AN EVERY DAY PROBLEM
For this 2-week research and design sprint, I was paired up with a fellow GA UXDI student; Vandana Bailur. I was tasked to create a simple mobile application that could help a common problem she faces in her day-to-day life.
I’ve applied the Double Diamond framework for this project. The Double Diamond, in short, is a visual map of a design process, divided into four distinct phases — Discover, Define, Develop and Deliver. The first diamond helps to confirm the problem definition through Research and Synthesis, and the second diamond helps to create the solution through Ideation and Implementation.
Due to the time constraints of this end-to-end project, I time-boxed all research and design tasks. The complete process is outlined step by step below and my key learnings are to be found at the end of this case study.
1. DISCOVER: THE RESEARCH PHASE
Goal: To get to know Vandana
As I’d never spoken to Vandana before and had no background information, our initial conversation was about getting to know her, find out about her day-to-day life and how she spends her time. After my first interview of 15 minutes I learned the following about her:
Vandana is a professional living in London with her husband and two sons.
She loves to spend quality time with her family.
She enjoys redecorating and reorganizing her living space, especially when a new season arrives and/or when she has visitors staying over.
She regularly has close relatives visiting from India, her home country.
USER JOURNEY, TASK ANALYSIS & EXPERIENCE MAPPING
Goal: To define Vandana’s pain points, frustrations and discover other key insights from her overall experience
For our second 15 minute interview, I prepared interview questions based on the previous findings with the goal to dig deeper and identify any pain points. As she enjoys redecorating, I asked her to describe one of her most recent experiences of redecorating her home and then visualised this on a journey and experience map. Here I found out that she experienced a rather disappointing shopping incident as shown below.
By mapping out her tasks, thoughts and emotions I recognized she felt frustrated when she visited the store that particular weekend. The carpet she came to collect did not look like as expected, causing her and her husband to spend the rest of their free afternoon to search for an alternative. I also discovered that she’d encountered similar scenarios in the past before, where she purchased an item, only to find out that it either didn’t physically fit or was aesthetically suitable.
2. DEFINE: THE SYNTHESIS PHASE
Goal: To define the problem and provide focus
When synthesizing all my observations from the initial phase I then created the following problem statement to guide me through the second phase:
''Vandana needs a practical and time-efficient way to redecorate and reorganize her home so that she can spend more quality time with her family''
Goal: Generate solutions
Now I defined what problem to focus on I time-boxed myself to quickly sketch six potential solutions that would meet her needs.
The ideas I came up with focused on different stages throughout her redecoration journey:
Storage: A way of keeping visual track of all of her furniture and home decorations, as Vandana keeps some in storage for later use.
Floorplan: An app that creates a floorplan with the help of her phone camera & measurements input.
Virtual Reality: An app that can show how a new piece of furniture/home decoration looks like in a current room, by means of inputting an
Shopping: To inspire Vandana in the form of an automated created mood board when uploading a photo of a room with shoppable suggested items.
Troubleshooter: An app that thinks along with Vandana when she faces common space/redecoration problems.
Inspiration: Community shared video content on ‘how-to’ and other inspirational redecoration topics.
After analysing and presenting the ideas to Vandana I concluded that the third idea would best meet her needs. She was excited about the ‘Virtual Reality’ app as it would avoid her future shopping frustrations.
Goal: To visualise a day in the life of Vandana with the proposed solution
I created a storyboard to help recognize the gap between Vandana’s current situation and the desired outcome.
USER FLOW & TASK CREATION
Goal: To visualise a day in the life of Vandana with the proposed solution
After deciding what type of solution I was going to build I created a user flow to break down how Vandana would actually use the app. The initial flow was done on post-its so that it would be easy to re-arrange and adjust.
For this particular user flow, the task would be:
Create a new redecoration project
Create a floorplan of the living room
Remove the carpet from the living room
Add in a sofa that she’d found online
(L) First draft of user flow (R) Final 'Happy Path' user flow
3. DEvelop: THE ideation PHASE
LOW-FI WIREFRAMES, USABILITY TESTING, ITERATE & PROTOTYPE
Goal: To test and iterate a usable screen flow for the end-users
With the user flow as a base for the screens and the happy path being pre-defined, it was time for me to start sketching wireframes on paper to test with Vandana. To get to the final paper prototype I did several rounds of usability tests and iterations of the back from several users feedback. When observing users going through the paper prototype I noticed the following that I needed to iterate on:
Some users were slightly confused with the initial wording when going through the task of selecting a new re-decoration project.
When creating the floorplan most users said that it was not entirely clear that they had to take a panorama photo of the room.
When moving furniture in and out of the room users were tapping on all the objects in the room as to try if these were actually editable.
(L) Usability testing (R) Paper low-fi wireframes
See below for the low-fi prototype:
4. DEliver: THE implementation PHASE
Goal: To give MiCasa a brand identity that Vandana could relate to and feel comfortable interacting with
I looked for brands that have a reliable reputation orientated towards families and women and wrote a statement in that tone of voice that personalised MiCasa’s mission.
Goal: To visually communicate MiCasa in terms of look and feel
I wanted to create an experience that resembled as being invited into a friends’ home that is light, warm and welcoming.
UI STYLE GUIDE
Goal: To ensure a consistent user experience
Teal is often used in home decor as it represents calmness, balance and restfulness. Terracotta represents sociability and warmth, and in addition, I picked taupe to neutralize the two. The main typeface being Montserrat which is both functional and contemporary.
See below for the hi-fi prototype
I focused a lot of time on the branding and UI on the sign-in page and landing page when logging in, which resulted in an incomplete screenflow for the hi-fi prototype. Next time I will allocate a specific amount of time to each task, to avoid trailing off.
I found it quite challenging to identify an everyday problem for Vandana, and the ‘5 why’ method really helped during the research stage.
Feedback and usability testing is crucial to get rid of any assumptions.
Save iterations during the process, as these show progress and helps explaining design decisions.
For future iterations, I would like to explore the need for sharing projects with partners/family and observe how actual users use the app in their natural environment to see where I can further improve the app.