Case Study — Golf on the go!

This case study outlines the UX research and strategy process I went through at RED Academy for a mobile app dedicated for buying and selling golf equipment and accessories. The project is by far closest to my heart as it was introduced to us as an uncertain idea and me and my team gave life to it.

Work delegation

Patrick Weberman (UX) : Research and Design
Sucheta Mehra (UX) : Research, Rapid prototyping, Solution design
Anton Itkin (UI): UI and Logo Design

Problem

We met with Karen, President and CEO, Curzon who introduced the GolfLinks business concept to us. Her husband being a golfer, the idea originated from her own problems. While most budding golfers aren’t able to afford the latest and greatest equipment, existing golfers find it hard to part with old equipment due to low trade in value. Even though a lot of online golf marketplaces exist, there’s no one place where a user can buy and sell pre-used golf equipment or trade old equipment with newer models. Also, what they lack is a full-fledged golf community with resources and a continuous stream of inventory to buy and sell.

Opportunity

This unique opportunity lies in creation of a unique buy and sell interface that will let golfers take pictures, post, chat, and sell gently used golf equipment that buy and sell quickly and locally.

Research and Design Process

We followed a five-step process from research to business UX strategy. Me and Patrick dove into domain research, C/C analysis and surveys to understand the landscape of existing golf trade market. By understanding the pain points of existing users we could start solving problems. By identifying key selling points, we could then start positioning different features, designing wireframes and performing usability testing. With that we came up with our minimal viable product i.e. an app and a customer acquisition landing page. As an additional deliverable, we also planned to provide Karen with a business UX strategy as she plans to move ahead.

Research and Challenges

With new discoveries came new problems. We started our research by digging into a pool of websites and online platforms that serve the same purpose as Golflinks would — directly or indirectly. Surprisingly, a majority of golfers were found happily interacting on Facebook, reddit, eBay and Kijiji. While these were more like open source forums, we also found dedicated platforms such as PGA value guide, 2nd Swing and 3 balls. So, we definitely needed something different and unique to stay afloat.

Competitive Landscape

We looked at different perspectives — what golfers liked about these platforms and what is it that they would want to improve. A typical golfer journey starts with google search. Graph drops first as the user is confused to see so many platforms. Some top results they discover include Kijiji, Facebook groups and eBay. User is then happy to see the level of engagement and decides to creates a listing. However, when he’s about to make a deal, he gets concerned about payment and shipping. The graph then drops again. He goes back to google again and this time tries to look for dedicated and secured golf platforms. This time he finds a plethora of sites and is happy again! However, sadly, these platforms charge a high processing fee and extremely low trade in value which is why despite having access to so many different platforms, the user remains an unsatisfied user.

User Journey Map — Before Golflinks

With that we moved on to our surveys with golfers on Facebook and Reddit. We had responses from 45 golfers and some of the most fascinating results were —

A whopping 78% of sellers had never used a dedicated online marketplace for golf. 74% would consider buying and selling pre-owned golf equipment. Again, some interesting numbers there for those who are willing to trade- in online as opposed to physical retail stores. We also asked them if they would consider using a buying and selling app specifically for golf and 46% said yes while another 40% answered may be, depends on the benefits.

Survey Responses — User behaviour

Based on the survey results and idea generation, a common user persona that came up was — David. Current banker and financial strategist, David (45) began playing golf at the age of 15. Lives with his wife and two children. Is also a member of Islington Golf Club, Etobicoke and loves to play golf during weekends. Even though David has a fixed amount of time to dedicate to the game, he has been steadily improving and is highly competitive in nature.

Being an adept golfer, David is very particular about the quality of clubs and accessories he uses. He likes to be informed about new product launches and often puts his pre-owned equipment on eBay and Kijiji and get some cash towards buying newer stuff. Finds the process time consuming and complicated.

User Persona

Feature Prioritization and Planning

Now that we had the survey results and we looked at so many different platforms, we did feature prioritization to come up with the most desirable features and why should golflinks exist. A reliable and easy to use payment gateway is definitely what we need. Listing products with their brands, enabling easy interaction between buyers and sellers, creating a dedicated mobile app for golfers and creating a feature that would allow only genuine golfers to sign up are definitely some of the must have’s.

During our research we also noticed some of the pain points of golfers. Some common ones being fading interest in the sport leading to lack of knowledge for new golfers, complicated shipping and payment gateways, tedious bidding and auction features resulting in low trade-in values and of course, shady instinct of buyers and sellers online has been a major concern always.

What Makes GolfLinks, GolfLinks?

We dived deeper into strategy especially with making the buy and sell marketplace more like an interactive community for golfers and could see a clear illustration of poshmark combined with facebook which would give us exactly what we need to come up with our first low fidelity prototype.

Strategy and Design

We wanted Golflinks to differentiate itself from the rest of the herd; we did this by optimizing our selling and buying and we knew it could identify real opportunities and un-met needs. For instance, while other sites usually depended on a separate menu to sell an item, we put the camera and ‘Sell your Gear’ functions on the navigation bar and made it available on each screen, this would push users to sell where ever they are in the app and eliminated extra steps.

A/B testing fuelled the design and helped in identifying flow of how each feature will function.

Usability Testing

We tested our two sets of wireframes by giving users a clickable prototype. We gave two main tasks: Create a listing and buy an item. With this feedback we could start designing multiple iterations of the wireframes before handing them off to our UI. We began documenting our tester’s behaviours, where they were clicking, where they got stuck, and what wording confused them. With this feedback we began constructing a user flow of how our product could function.

An instant camera and ‘Sell your Gear’ function was a major hit on improving usability and we made it purposely available on the home screen, this would encourage golfers to sell easily and quickly. They could even use this functionality on any other page on the app. Anton chose a lush green background (as in an actual Golf course!) as the app background which made it feel like its exclusively for golfers.

The design has been kept simple, modern, and sleek with warm and inviting colours. The colours used are a hybrid of elegance and substance.

User flow for buyer — https://share.proto.io/NPO9BT/

User flow for seller — https://share.proto.io/KYBKGA/

Business UX Strategy

Just like for any startup, golflinks will need a step by step business development strategy and different phases of growth which I personally worked on as an additional deliverable for Karen —

First phase, after having the MVP includes picking your options for Shipping and Payment and choosing a ready to use e-commerce portal or hiring a web dev to build it from scratch.
Second phase is essentially user acquisition. Encourage your friends and family to get a feel of it. Reach out to golf clubs and allow golfers to use this app. Build a level of trust at this stage. If feasible, provide them free shipping or charge a lower transaction fee and create a market exclusively for Golflinks.
Third phase focuses on leveraging zero cost marketing to grow large scale. At this stage you might also want to consider upgrading your CRM and ecommerce platform to a higher level for improved services.
Phase four calls for continued growth — it’s time to hire growth marketers not only for strategy but also for retaining existing users. Zooming into advanced user centric marketing tactics will help scale up deals and provide more analytics for further research and marketing purposes.

Summary

We stepped into the shoes of our first users, which is karen and her husband and prepared a short skit to demonstrate interaction between a buyer and seller in the real world. She absolutely loved this part of the final presentation and was really impressed with the execution. It meant a lot when she gave us a standing ovation and comments —

“Guys, this is exactly what I wanted to see!” — Karen Wishart

I love innovations that solve real-life problems and it actually felt great to be given this opportunity to bring an idea to life in a unique way and receive such positive feedback. Our UX strategy will definitely be a smooth roadmap in making Golflinks a reality. Can’t be more proud of my team!

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