Redesigning Please Assist Me App case study : Summer Internship project

John Rodrigues
Aug 23 · 10 min read

Problem statement

Americans today are suffering from high levels of stress andless expendable time, the PAM app is designed to solve this problem and help users have a work life balance. According to Huffington post over 55% of working Americans state that household organisation is a constant source of stress.

while over $5 Billion was spent last year on demand home services, in order to manage all house hold needs, users must use multiple app, this requires coordinating various times & getting each new contract up to speed on preference

Overview

PAM is designed to handle all household chores. Users no longer need to manage multiple providers, and all tasks are completed by a dedicated personal assistant team.

Internship duration : Five months--this was my first summer internship.

About the company: Please Assist Me is a fast-growing home tech startup that allows users to come home to everything done. Please Assist Me was recently 1 of 25 companies accepted into Backstage Capital’s Accelerator Program out of 1,800 applications. Please Assist Me is available in Washington DC and Nashville with plans to expand nationwide.

My Role

This project was part of summer internship program. I had the pleasure of working directly with the CEO and founder, Stephanie Cummings. Our user experience design team included myself and Vincent Casciato as UX designers andRachel Keyser as the graphic designer. We were mentored by Liz Brown who shared her expertise with us during the initial stage of the process.

I helped the company with the UX strategy, defining the process,wire farming prototyping and interaction design.

Toolbox

My toolbox included Sketch for wire-framing and creating the mid fidelity prototype, and overflow for representing the app flow. The app had about 130 screens, and it was necessary to have dedicated flow representing software. used Invision and Marvel apps for creating clickable prototypes. I used my iPad for ideating, taking notes and recording the meetings, and took feedback over slack. This took a lot of trial and error to set the workflow.

Approach strategy

When we joined the team we were the first user experience design team, and it was challenging knowing where to start. We followed double diamond mental model and defined our strategy.

The first version of the MVP was already built and the problem statement was defined. Our strategy was to first understand the business goals, company’s vision, and user pain points before heading into the current app design critique session.

Understanding the business gaols and needs

We went through various company documents, the business plan, and survey data, and also conducted the competitor analysis.

Insights

  • Highlight the companies unique selling proposition, value, and vision during the on-boarding process
  • Provide multiple services in one app
  • Allow the users outsource household work
  • Make the process of order — submit- leave notes — review easier
  • Help users keep track of their orders
  • Real time customer review is the key component
  • Solve the problem of managing multiple services
  • Clearly show the user the pricing for the service

We also discussed PAM operations with Stephanie and how users are currently using the service.

Understanding the users pain points and their needs

Once we understood the company’s needs and goals, we wanted to hear from the users and understand their pain points and frustration. Our focused group was made of busy professionals, so it was challenging to find time to talk to the users, however we managed to talk to few users and make the user persona to understand their pain points and needs.

User person of Stephen
user persona of Audrey

Interview insights

The user interviews highlighted needs of a standard channel of communication, easy tracking of the services, customising the services, and something that is quick and easy to use and has an effective way of providing feedback on services that they use.

Destruct to construct : App design critique sessions.

Pictures from the app design critique sessions

We went through the first version of the app and conducted a design critique session to list the improvements to be done. We went through each and every screen and listed the usability and user interface issues.

This process also helped us to frame better questions along the way.

Some of the insights and notes we listed included:

The current app missed the on-boarding experience, which talks about the company and it’s value.

  • The current app missed the on-boarding experience, which talks about the company and its value.
  • Customising of services was not an easy experience
  • The app had a lot of educational elements to it which had to be gamified
  • App was text heavy and lacked visual communication
  • Managing multiple services and tracking orders was missing
  • The app was missing delight and aesthetics

Organising information

Rose, bud and throne

We gathered all this information and created three categories rose: good things about the app, thorn: pain points, and Bud: key opportunities.Isights

  • Key opportunities were in improving the order tracking
  • Effective pay of communications
  • Improving the feedback providing flow
  • Improving the visual communication
  • Improve the app flow
  • Making the pricing clear
  • Making the add-ons experience better
  • Mapping the customers Journey
Journey Map of the PAM users

We created journey maps of the users in order to further understand users pain points, thoughts, emotions, knowledge, and goals. This helped us to further understand the pain points and what the users were looking in the service.

What users feel, think, see their pain points.

Empathy Map

We created the empathy map to further observe the pattern in the pain points and what they feel while using the service. They had a good feeling about the quick responses they received, however, they were looking for more efficient ways. We repeatedly saw patterns for the need of customisation

Filtering down the features

At this point we had direction on what we needed to improve and what were the customers needed. In the developer and UX designers meetings we decided on must have, should have, could have, and won’t features, based on the users needs, business goals, timeline, and budget. We created the following matrix and finalised the features before prototyping.

Moscow matrix

Mapping the information flow

The onboarding experience included login and sign up. During the sign up process we show users the company’s vision, and we ensure that the users learn more about the bundle service since the bundle service was more profitable for the users as well for the business.

on boarding information flow.

The app had thirteen services. We decided to clearly map out these services in order to organise the information and arrange them accordingly based on popularity of the services.

Information architecture for the bundle customer

The app had two paths/flows, one was path was for the bundle customers and the other was for the non-bundle customers. The experience for the bundle customers was slightly different than the non bundle customers. he non bundle customers had an adhoc page where they could sign up for the bundle and the language changed in these two experiences, which is clearly seen in the app wireframes

Ideation process

We went through various modifications on the app content, possible interactions on the app interface, ran this through the workshops (meetings), and collected all the needed feedback before we head into the wire-framing. Certain ideas went forward and a few; this step helped to clarify the app flow, possible layout for the app, and the content.

Screen shots from the ideation process

Ideation on paper helped us to filter down the content, interactions and the app flow in a quick and easy way at its initial stage .

fail fast learn quick

Outcomes

  • Through the ideation meetings the team got the better understanding of the business operations.

Initially we considered the users goals, needs, and pain points; however, we missed considering the operations of the company. This process helped the team to clearly understand the service operations.Wire-farming and prototyping

We wanted to handoff deliverables to the visual designer so we created the mid-fidelity prototypes to clearly communicate the user interface and the app flow.

Wire-farming and prototyping

We wanted to handoff deliverables to the visual designer, so we created the mid-fidelity prototypes to clearly communicate the user interface and the app flow.

wireframes. 3 out of 130 screens

App flow.

screenshot of the app flow

The app had a complex interactions and many screens to navigate; we used overflow to map out the app flow and effectively communicated our idea.

This approach helped the team to finalise the content, patterns, and app flow at the same time.

closer look of the app flow

Experimental Interactions

We created many iterations to make it the app delightful and communicate the information to the users in an effective and clear way,.hile some interactions went ahead, some didn’t, but we learnt what works and doesn’t through this process (part of the design process).

Onboarding experience

We wanted to create an onboarding that talks about the company’s vision, unique selling proposition, and the educational component of the service.

we created the following flow.

High fidelity prototypes

We had visual designers on the team who took care of the high-fidelity prototypes, however I tried to some make high fidelity prototypes on my own . The goal for the visual design was to bring in the companies brand experience in the app and maintain visual consistency throughout the app.

These were some of the high fidelity mockups we recommended to the visual designer on the team.

Outcomes and summary

What value we added to the company

Through the design process we redesigned the app, improved the app flow, content, interactions and the visual design, and handed off the designs to the developer. The app having 130+ screens could have resulted in a lot of confusion with the flow, the content, and patterns on the screen. We worked on prioritizing the app features, and filtered them out based on the users need, business goals, and feasibility of developing them.Through the design process we worked on it to solve most of the problems at its early stage

Future work

The duration of this internship was for five months. In this time we did the user research, built a UX Strategy, and did the prototyping and visual design with a team of three. Future work would be conducting the usability test to validate out prototypes, implement micro interaction and motion to make the app a bit less text heavy, provide information to the users when needed,bring in some delight in the app, and create better deliverables for the developers

what I learnt from the internship.

This was my first summer internship, and I was looking for some real world projects. I believe this experience gave me some good insights. The good thing about working for startups is the amount of exposure you get in multiple parts of the design process: we got to work directly with the CEO which gave us a better understanding of the business and learnt about the operations, which was very helpful to decide the app flow. The important thing I learnt from this internship is team work. I worked with people from different cultures and experiences, it was a bit hard to understand each other but over time we learnt to work with each other. I had a bit too much of energy ; I learnt how to tone down that a bit and work collaboratively as a team to add value to the company.

Thank you for reading.

Believe in the process

John Rodrigues

User experience and interaction design intern at Please Assist me

M.S at user experience and interaction design student at Thomas Jefferson University | Founder of D&D SmartLabs | Portfolio : designwithjohn.com

John Rodrigues

Written by

User experience and interaction design student at Thomas Jefferson university | Founder of D&D SmartLabs| Product designer at Blackstone Launchpad Jefferson

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