Potlucky Mobile App — Case Study

UX/UI Design

This case study documents the design process and key learnings I experienced as I worked through a 3 week Project sprint to design a mobile app MVP for a client as part of The UX Design Professional Program at RED Academy.
Project Timeline | 3 weeks

0.1 — The Team

The Potlucky team was made up of 3 UX designers: Myself, Carolos Comparan and Gwen Gong and one UI designer Rachel Heo!

0.2 — The Challenge

Our client came to us with the opportunity to design the ultimate mobile potluck planning app. There are numerous event application on the market but until now there is no dedicated app that aids the process of organizing a potluck. Our client also wanted users to be able to use Potlucky to raise money for local charities.

0.3 — Client Goals

  • A mobile App to make organizing Potluck’s easier and more fun
  • Ability to create private traditional potlucks and public potlucks where guests can choose to order food from local restaurants to share.
  • Ability to create fundraising potlucks with tickets that give guests the ability to raise money for charities and community projects.
  • Potential market, anyone who organizes potlucks with friends family and their community organizations. Specifically designed with the client’s Vancouver Changemaker community in mind as an initial early adopter and test community.
  • Way to input and manage dietary restrictions of guests

0.4 — Team Goals

  • Build something that was better (both easier and more fun) than a google doc, or series of facebook messages)

1.1 — Domain Research

We started by getting familiar with most common event planning applications. We took a close look at, Facebook & Eventbrite which assumed and then confirmed through research were the most commonly used event apps for our demographic. We also kept coming back to the meeting planning web & mobile app Doodle. We imagined potlucky at least at the beginning would be used in edition to a facebook or Eventbrite event. We liked Doodle so much because it doesn’t force users to download the app or make an account. After the host makes the event they can send the signup link to invites via the app or just facebook message, email or post the links for friends to signup. The tool ads real value to organizers without attempting to take over the event space from facebook and Eventbrite.

1.2 — Organizational Research

Our client is an avid potlucker. Although we have all gone to our fair share of potlucks our client invited us to one of the monthly potlucks he hosts with a group of business leaders in the city. We used the opportunity to conduct a contextual inquiry and observe how users interact in the natural potluck environment. We then were able to stage a few impromptu interviews to ask potluckers questions and learn more about their experience.

1.3 — User Interviews

Next we reached out to potential core users from the client’s community who host monthly potluck meetups as well as current and past avid pot luck users who who attend 5+ potlucks a year. We completed 16 interviews total. We started by asking users to tell us about a typical potluck experience for them to understand the process for organizers, guests and people with different levels of potluck or cooking experience. We dug in and asked users about feelings they might typically experience a each parts of the process. We also wanted to learn about the motivations and anti-motivators for participating in a friends potluck.

We learned learned that there are a ton of human emotions tied to each aspect of the potluck process for hosts and guests, and that these are likely to be different for the same person at a different potlucks if other variables are changed. Understanding and matching expectations of the social group, or trying to accurately predict expectations are a key potluck stress factor for guests. These expectations include

Guest Pain Point — Worrying About Matching Expectations

  • Food culture and effort expectation of the group (Are you going to show up with no-name frozen bagel-bites from No-Frills, when everyone else made free-range kale and squash artisan quiche with a home-made glutten free pie crust.

Guest Pain Point — Prep

  • Planning and prep time was big factor for many people. Many interviewers accounted that sometimes they would cancel last minute because the night before or day of they realized they didn’t have the time or ingredients to make the item they said they would bring.
  • Others told us about they guilt they felt when they bought pre-made salad from whole foods and put it in their own dish or Tupperware to make it less obvious that they had bought it on the way instead of making it themselves.
  • Others said they would sometimes cancel last minute because they didn’t have enough time to cook, and felt they needed to bring something homemade

Host Pain Point — Food Planning, Attendance,

  • Key concerns for hosts was worrying about people actually coming and bringing a reasonable mix of food instead of 6 people showing up with salads or 6 bags of doritos
  • Managing and keeping track of who is actually coming, what everyone is bringing
  • Guest who arrive too late, after everyone has already eaten
  • Guest who cancel rather than showup with something they bought

Motivation — Sharing Time Together

  • Over all while a few people were concerned about the person who only ever brought chips, almost everyone we interviewed identified that single most important part of a potluck was a tool to bring people together and share each others company. Except for a few types of potlucks it was more important that people showed up empty handed than didn’t show up at all.

1.4 — User Persona

After interviews we identified two key user personas.

Dillon — The Avid Potlucker
The professional potlucker who hosts a few potlucks a year, loves to makes a homemade dish from scratch but still gets stressed out sometimes when she signs up for a friends potluck and realizes that she doesn’t have enough time to make the thing she said she would bring.

Ryan —The Chip Guy
The Potluck guest who is least connected to the potluck social circle, isn’t the best cook or planner, worries about what to bring and ends up buying a veggie platter or bag of chips at the last minute or not coming at all because they feel like they can’t show-up with just a veggie platter or bag of chip


2.1 — Ideation & Possible Solutions

We started by white boarding and discussing to ideate on possible ideas to solve our users needs and celebrate our users motivations. 
Download or no download.

2.2 — Scope

We quickly identified the creeping scope of this project. There were a lot of really good ideas and the fact that the four of us really believed in this app kept us motivated to achieve them all. Time however we realized, was not as flexible as we were. There were two key areas we neeed to talk about. There was the core potluck app MVP which would allow users to setup a potluck, plan out the number guests plan out the ideal number of each type of dish, invite guests, allow guests to confirm their attendance and signup for a dish.

Dietary Restrictions
We began to go figure out how dietary restrictions could be implemented and accounted for. We identified it would be possible but quickly realized it would significantly increase the complexity of the application. In the interest of time we realized it should not be part of the initial MVP we were developing.

Fundraising Potlucks & Public Order In Potlucks
It’s important to note that the ability to create fundraising potlucks, where hosts can use the app to raise money was a core client goal on the brief. This feature would massively increase the scope of the project as we would need to account for (restaurants, restaurant food options, prices, guest payment, and guest donations options. We would also need spend time exploring the experience of paying for a potluck and also contributing food which we flagged off the bat as feeling like paying twice. First we would finish the regular potluck half week sprint. Then we would tackle the Fundraising potluck flow.

2.2 — Featuring Prioritization

We used a customized feature prioritization chart to scope down the project and discuss which features would make it on to the MVP. We separated the regular Must Have, Nice to Have, Not Have chat into two sections. One for standard event features we would likely need to use, a second for features that were specific to planning potlucks. In the interest of wanting to just contribute something new and unique to the world (not just another generic event app) we prioritized all significant Potluck planning features in the MVP.

2.4 — MVP User Flow

We used design studio to map out each user flow, identify and discuss issues and converge on an agreed upon flow to start testing.
[User Flow Digram Goes Here]

2.5 — Design Challenge: Charity Potlucks


3.1 — Paper Wireframes

[Paper Wire Frames Go Here]

3.3 — Testing User Flow with Paper Prototype

  • Need to know how many people in order to plan allocate dishes
  • Confirmation screen should be moved to right after event info otherwise testers were confused about what they were confirming or wondering or felt like they had already moved on from this.
  • We moved the potluck specific features to the beginning, in-order for the app to stand out from other event apps, hook users by first adding the easy information, front loading the most fun and interesting screens.
  • Need to add tutorial screens

3.4 — Mid-Fidelity Wireframes

1 Types of Potlucks — Words go here

2 Potluckers Delighter — Words go here

3 Scaling (Potluckers Delighter)— Words go here

4 Potluck Planning— Words go here

5a Alternative Contributions (Chip in) — Words go here

5b Alternative Contributions (Talent) — Words go here

5c Alternative Contributions (Other) — Words go here

6 Restaurant Dish Options— Words go here

7 Potluck Info Page— Words go here

8 Host Dashboard— Words go here

4.1 — What User Goals We Accomplished

  • A mobile App to make organizing Potluck’s easier and more fun
  • Ability to create private traditional potlucks and public potlucks where guests can choose to order food from local restaurants to share.
  • Ability to create fundraising potlucks with tickets that give guests the ability to raise money for charities and community projects.
  • Way to input and manage dietary restrictions of guests (Out of Scope)

4.2 — What I learned

  • Learning to say no and defend design decisions to UI team
  • Outline process, defining roles and decision areas of UX & UI team-
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