Project Type: UX Problem Solving
Tools: iPad, Sticky Notes, Balsamiq
Skills: Interviewing, Research, User Centered Design
Context > Interview > Analysis > Problem > Ideas > Feedback > Solution
User Centered Design is one of the most important parts of User Experience because you have to design for the human and not for yourself, your ego, your ideas or your assumptions. It’s all about the user and their needs. In fact, it’s about unmet needs and solving problems. In order to really dig in and solve problems we need to have large amounts of empathy and be able to remove ourselves from the situation we are designing for. In this project, we examine the common act of gift giving. We explore this from someone else’s perspective to see where there might be issues or problems, define a hypothesis, and finally arrive at a solution.
An in-person interview was conducted to inquire about the gift giving process. The following questions were asked in order to get a better understanding of the process and begin to see where there might be opportunities to dig a little deeper:
- When was the last time you gave a gift?
- How did that go?
- What was your favorite part of the process?
- Least favorite part?
- Why did you want to give a gift?
- When do you like to give gifts?
- Where do you primarily get your gifts?
- How do you usually give the gift?
Once this qualitative data was gathered we could go back to a few of the questions and ask “Why?” in order to get more context and start to reveal any problems that may not be so obvious. In doing this, we were able to capture some interesting data. Here are where the problems lie:
- picking the best gift options amongst so many choices
- knowing precisely what someone needs without having to ask or guess
- the best part of the entire process is just knowing what someone wants
- there’s a lot of emotional stress not knowing what someone wants/needs
With that analysis, it was time to come up with our problem statement:
People need a way to get indicators of the things their friends/family want or need and select the best option from amongst these choices because having an idea and making sure they selected the best option will reduce stress and friction when giving a gift.
We now had some ideas of what a potential solution could look like. In our case, we decided on a technology-based approach due to the fact that we found “online” shopping as the most popular choice with this particular audience. Here’s an outline of our initial solutions and some sketches:
- Our first idea was to develop a plugin for the web browser which would place a tiny little gift icon next to images or items on a webpage. The plugin would also guide the user in creating a contact list on their phone or computer that included people who would be buying gifts. When the user was online and they saw something they liked, they could click on the little gift icon and it would email the group letting them know that the user liked something and it would have a link to that item. The folks on the contact list could then have an idea of things they wanted or needed.
- Our second idea was similar. We would create a plugin for the web browser and it would again place a little gift icon next to products, images, etc. on any website that the user was on. Instead of an email and contact list, there would be a service called a “Gift Registry” which would collect all of the items the user liked/clicked on. Friends and Family could then go to this Gift Registry and see what the user liked and of course have an idea of what to buy.
- Our final idea was a mobile app. The user would install the app on their phone and then it would walk the user through creating a “gift” contact group which would be a grouping of people likely to be shopping for gifts for this user. Whenever the user saw something on their phone which they liked or wanted, they would tap on it and the app would pull up an email template that would email their gift contact group and insert the item with a link into the email. Thus, people would always know what the user liked, wanted, needed.
We presented the user with the three solutions to get feedback. At this point, we did not give any indication of a particular one we liked. We listened to the feedback without criticism or ownership of any one design. Additionally, we decided that it could end up that none of them would work for the user so we prepared for that to happen as well.
For option #1 the user was not comfortable with the idea of sending out emails as it felt too much like continually asking for things from friends and family. The user also wondered how people would find all these emails when it came time to give a gift.
For option #2 the user generally liked the idea better than option #1 but wondered if people would remember to go to the registry and also wondered if the little icons on websites would get in the way of web browsing.
For option #3 the user did not like the idea of sending out emails due to the concerns as with option #1.
It was good to get this feedback. Initially we thought the email idea was a good one, however, when listening to the user, it was clear that this idea wasn’t such a good one for their own experience. Once we got all of the feedback we went back to the drawing board. Here’s the solution we came up with:
- Option #2 seemed like one of the best for the user but needed some modifications
- There would be a web browser plugin which would be installed by the user as well as a “gift registry” website/portal that the user would get access to.
- When the plugin was installed, the user could choose to either have the little gift icons be present at all times or be revealed when they hovered over an image/item they liked.
- Upon clicking the icon, it would add the item to their registry
- We would also give the user a way to set up events which were birthdays or other times that they would expect to receive a gift.
- The user would also be able to create contact groups for each event and add friends and family to this group.
- 30 days prior to the event, the gift registry would send a single notification to these contact groups with a link to the portal for this user.
- After an event, the user would get a reminder to clean up their registry.
This solution addressed the initial shortcomings and concerns that the user had. Here’s the wireframes of the solution:
Thank you for reading. While this was a relatively simplistic project, the results were not what we originally expected and the user was also pleasantly surprised. In the end, it’s about solving a problem for the user and that’s what makes great design.