Improving Starbucks for Mobile— Part 1 

An app redesign for the largest coffee chain in the world

I frequently go to Starbucks for work and study sessions. Great drinks aside, the warm ambiance and friendly baristas truly make my Starbucks experience enjoyable. Also from a branding perspective, I think Starbucks’ designs are top notch.

Since mobile is becoming more and more integrated with our lives, I think its just as important to provide customers with a good experience over their devices as in the physical store. Unfortunately for Starbucks’ iOS App, this is where they fall short. I pay for my drinks using my iPhone but the same warm and friendly feeling I associate with the brand is lost when I use the app.

As I’ve mentioned before, design is about solving problems. I think there’s a lot of room for improvement with Starbucks’ mobile app and so I’ll be starting a mini blog series on how I would redesign it. The focus of this redesign is not just to create pretty pixels, but to show how I think the user experience of the app can be improved. There is also a lot more value I think Starbucks can offer through their app, which I will be touching upon as well.


To start off with some user research, I looked at App Store Reviews. Ignoring most of the functionality and bug complaints, below are some of the design and user experience related feedback that I gathered.

The general feedback is that the app is outdated, and I completely agree. The design and quality is just not up to par to suit the image of a multi-billion dollar company.

Redesigning The Cards Screen

To me the core value of the Starbucks app is that it provides me with the ability to pay using my iPhone. 9 out of 10 times, I open the app solely to access my Starbucks card.

Currently this is the default screen that loads when the app opens up. I think this makes sense as customers trying to pay with the app will want to access their cards quickly. For the redesign I made the gold card a little more personal, and also added a count of how many free drinks are available (which I usually miss). Besides that, I think the functionalities currently offered on this screen makes sense.

Vertical phone orientation
Horizontal phone orientation

When the phone is turned to horizontal orientation, the back side of the active card is shown with a large and easy to scan barcode. I also included the cardholder’s name for the barista’s convenience.

In the upcoming parts I’ll be providing some more detailed analyses on why I think certain features should be added, kept, or removed from the app (Disclaimer: these will be thoughts and opinions of my own). I’ll also try to explain more about the thought process behind my designs. I’ve got several ideas that should make the app much more interactive and value-adding, so look forward to it!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for announcements on when the next parts for this series go up!

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