I never thought of myself as a party planner, but I realized that I end up going to a lot of parties, both formal and informal. I even end up planning some for myself, friends and family.
There are birthday parties, dinners parties, various holiday parties, graduations, baby showers, wedding showers, bachelorette parties, and so on. I also realized that you don’t have to be ‘into’ party planning to attend these events or even to plan some.
With this perspective in mind, I decided to do a design project exploring the party planning space to see what parties are about. I wanted to see how I could improve parting planning experiences.
Below, I share my design journey from the research phase to the prototype phase. I outline my thought process, research findings and analysis to show why I made the design choices I did.
First, I will show my research and analysis phase, followed by the design solution I reached complete with video demos of the prototype app.
Product Definition Statement
A Coordination, Collaboration, and Communication App for Party Organizers and Party Goers.
I started exploring the party planning space on a broad level to get my bearings.
- I interviewed five people that differed in age, profession and party planning interests and styles.
- I wrote a survey that focused on gathering information about how and why people plan parties to see what themes arose across individuals. I collected 18 responses.
- I also went to a few different party stores, watched people while they shopped and approached them to ask them a few questions.
- Additionally, I studied party oriented shopping websites and apps and read through many party planning blogs to get a sense of the space as a whole.
At first, I was thinking about how to help people plan parties more effectively with some sort of shopping and inspiration aspect. However, my research showed that not many of the people I interviewed and surveyed planned many formal parties that included decorations or themes.
Instead, many people had frequent informal parties or ‘get-togethers’ such as, game nights, movie nights, picnics, camping trips, dinner parties, and smaller birthday parties. I shifted focus and did follow up interviews as well as interviewed new people regarding their experiences planning and going to these types of informal parties/events.
Anna is a composite of 7 individual interviews and 18 surveys, and represents my research findings. The app was designed for her use in mind.
I took my research findings and brainstormed different ways to address the problems and user goals I found. After ideating, I settled upon creating a mobile app that helps make planning get-togethers easier and more efficient.
A shared checklist where the party organizer and guests can collaborate, and coordinate party details.
User Stories capture User Goals, Pain Points and Motivations that highlight potential features that would help the user reach his or her desired goals and why.
Comparative Research and Analysis
Before designing, I looked at a variety of different apps to gain context, understanding and inspiration. I studied:
- Event planning apps
- Checklist apps
- Registry apps
- Collaboration apps
Design Elements and Wireframes
Design Solutions to User Pain Points and Goals
Pain Point: Difficultly keeping track of event details
- Design Solution: The event details, invites, collaborative checklist are all in one place.
Pain Point: Duplicate Items/Lack of coordinated items
- Design Solution: With an easy shared check list where everyone can see what everyone else is bringing. Guests can add their own items to the list under “Guest Requests” on the Event Screen, so the party and planning process is inclusive and collaborative.
- Design Solution: The user can quickly see who is responsible for what request by having the ‘taken’ requests colored in with the guest’s initials and physically separated from the ‘not taken’ requests, which remain uncolored. This feature aids coordination.
Pain Point: Central Communication
- Design Solution: Guests and the organizer can communicate by making comments on requests and by responding to each others comments.
User Goal: Flexibility
- Design Solution: A user (guest or organizer) can take on as many or as little requests as he or she wants.
User Goal: Get a sense of the party as a whole without having to search too much.
- The user can see all the items on one scroll able screen and fill in any gaps.
User Goal: Staying organized and Keeping track of details
- The user is always represented by the color purple (a different color from everyone else), so the user can easily identify his or her own activity on the app.
- The user knows what requests he or she signed up for because it is listed on the “All Events” screen for easy reference.
Interesting Design Challenges
Can You Fill This Out Please?
One interesting challenge was figuring out how to make filling out the event information simple but not too boring (“Create Event” screen located above). Filling out forms can be tedious, and I had fun coming up with a way for 1) the process to move along quickly and 2) for the user to know exactly where he or she is during the setup process. I used the check marks as a feedback mechanism and to indicate forward momentum so the user feels they know were they are, where they are going and what they need to do to finish.
May I Access Your Contacts?
Another interesting challenge was figuring out how organizers could invite guests. I decided that the app only asks for access to a user’s contacts if the user taps “Show Results from iPhone Contacts.” That way, the user knows exactly why the app wants access to his or her contacts - to help him or her invite guests. The permission notification only pops up in direct response to a user’s action.
This design choice is instead of having the app immediately ask for permission to access contacts when the user opens the app, which can feel encroaching. I had very positive feedback regarding this choice during user testing. I found that when the ‘permission notification’ pops up within a context the user understands, the user tends to feel more comfortable giving the app access.
Next Steps and Takeaways
One thing I learned from my last experience user testing was that I can test smaller interactions and UI elements as well as the overall concept and flow. Going forward, I would want to do more testing on parts of the experience and interface elements.
I would also play around with the graphic design elements of the app now that I have a solid flow, concept and set of features. For layout, I would think about ways to make the top part of the event page (with the event description, time and location) feel less crowded.
I designed the app in iOS as a starting off point. If it were to go further, I would design a responsive web application and Android application so the app is not just for iPhone users.