UX Journeys: Unexpected, Yet Better Products (Part 1)

Allowing design concepts and research to take a project to unexpected, yet welcome, directions

Often, while investigating product feasibility or working within the concept phase, two equally valuable approaches might come forth. Its our practice to find the clarity becuase of them and then we can allow the second item to continue to develop — albeit at a different pace — to inform current and future work. This is a part of what we’d like to call UX Journeys.

During an early phase of one project, it was clear we were looking at two distinct product directions, with their own user flows and product market fits. This article will take a look at part of the path we didn’t choose, and some of the decisions it enabled for the primary product and future offerings.

Sketching the Flow

“We want to make it easy for someone to find someone to cook a meal for them.”

The initial premise of a solution is well grounded in a problem stated simply. The idea that spawned both products started with a simple question of how to utilize one’s own community to get a meal. The challenge here is that starting point. For the product, we wanted to approach the solution from the vantage point of someone who might not know others in the area, but the scope of a Yelp is too far and wide.

Part of design is exploring for questions. Sketching what might and might not work. Asking and revising perceptions and expectations. As with any other project, this one started with a scenario grounded within the context of a group who commonly uses WhatsApp to broker the food request, the resulting meals, and any payments.

Initial sketch for ‘Neighborhood Cuisine’ app

This context works. Though it fails when mapping out other points of entry (what about the cook needs to be known; what kind of challenges will integrating location services be; will we have to consider food laws if there’s a delivery option; and others). So, we framed things even tighter: what about those looking to supply food for a small gathering (6–20 people, house party type of gathering). This doesn’t answer all of the concerns, but does get up to a place where we can start to sketch some parts of the interactions and develop better questions.

UX behaviors realized during this phase:

  • Sticking on ideation thru sketching
  • Clarifying the key problem that’s trying to be solved
  • Developing a loose — then tighter — framework of what the steps of the process/product engagement will look like

Understanding Major Themes

This product came out of the thoughts for similar, there were some major themes which needed to be clarified and refined. Some of this is not all that difficult — how should persons find a chef; what kinds of handles do platforms allow a service like this to leverage; etc. Some of these are pretty difficult (correctly segmenting the audiences — chef, consumer, other; are there food delivery laws which might affect services and/or pricing; realistic goals for re-engagement after this is used once; etc.). These themes also needed to be mapped out — but here’s where several types of research needed to be put forth in order to test what had been assumed through earlier sketching.

Some of the findings through questions and research of similar solutions began to come to the surface:

  • Competition in services such as UberEats, Yelp, etc.
  • The audience is likely the personal chef/caterer more than the person(s) consuming the meal
  • Trust has to be brokered during the transaction

In Part 2, we cover how this design thinking process altered our approach on this theme and presented issues which landed the overall product in a state of revised expectations.

How might Mindboard assist your organization or product team clarify product directions on their next project? Get in touch with us and let’s start that UX Journey together.

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