Synopsis —

Established in 1982 the BC Craft Brewers Guild was born alongside Canada’s first craft brewery: Horseshoe Bay Brewing. Since that time the guild has grown close to 100 breweries across British Columbia. Some are small and others smaller but they all brew flavourful local beer with passion and dedication. The mission of the Guild is to support the ongoing creation and discovery of truly great BC Craft Beer.

Our team was challenged to build an app that would help promote the fast growing list of guild breweries and a tool to help educate on the world of craft beers. Since self guided, multi brewery day trips have become a popular choice for exploring the various options in Vancouver, we focused on helping people plan and execute a trip smoothly.

Team —

While we all contributed equally on the project, there were areas we each lead the others with our own expertise.

The Beginning

Strategy —

We started by exploring anything and everything we knew about beer, and the craft brewery scene in Vancouver. This helped us figure out what assumptions we where making and to see some blind spots we needed to learn more about. We built out a survey and set of interview questions in order to fill these gaps, and gather more information on our audience.

Competitively we found this market was lacking. There were a few apps available for searching out beer (Untapped etc.) as well as some rather restrictive and costly guided bike tours. The most comprehensive was a Vancouver Growler Guide out in print form. We could see that there were some great area’s of opportunity created by these market shortfalls.

In addition we begrudgingly conducted a “Contextual Inquiry” into the process of visiting a few breweries over the course of an afternoon. It was a tough task, but we decided it had to be done. We were able to document a number of logistics and variables that would help inform our final design. But most notable was right from the get go when we hopped in the car and pulled out our phones.

After googling ‘Craft Breweries’ the results we received were a mixed medley of restaurants, liquor stores and few breweries. Of the top 15 results, only 6 were actual craft breweries. It was clear to us that even the first basic step (figuring out where these breweries are, and what options you have) would be a major pain point for most people trying to spend an afternoon sampling beer.

The Middle

Discovery & Planning —

We compiled the data from our survey and user interviews then produced persona’s, user stories and scenarios. Our plan was to draw parallels between this information and features we had imagined after seeing such a gap in the market.

Persona photo’s borrowed from the wonderful The Great Discontent. Check them out, real inspiring.

We were able to pull some larger trends, both motivational and frustration based out of our data that helped us evaluate our list of possible features.

The Second Middle

Flow & Wireframes —

We brain stormed a loosely structured framework of the app. We focused on maintaining simplicity in the trip build function, incorporating important features supported by our data and keeping in mind the desires and pain points of our three persona’s.

Design Studio —

To Develop the nuts and bolts of our main user flow,
we all brought different wireframes to the drawing board — Each explained our perspective and reasoning, then we proceeded to merge the best of our wireframes into one cohesive flow that would serve the following needs:

A major hiccup in this process was the debate within our group on different directions to take the user after adding their first brewery to a trip. What would be the best option to keep the user engaged?

a. Notify them via “cart” pop up — this would provide feedback for clicking the button, but no clear next action for the user.
b. Pull them to the “cart” screen and show the added brewery, with clear next steps option to add more breweries and build out their trip — this would provide feedback as well as discovery of the feature for building trips.

Our initial sketches went with option B, in the testing stage we found that users continually tried to back peddle to another brewery discovered in previous browse mode, or became confused as to what functionality of the app they were using. This caused us to back peddle and return to option A. We changed the language, button feedback and pop up window to give the user a clear idea of what actionable options they had after adding a brewery. All without leaving their current browsing position.

We continued user testing to iron out the final kinks in our flow, the majority of other changes included refining our iconography, making the verbage more consistent, removing unused features and evolving the tutorial screens to clarify functionality of our trip planner.

Current on tap offerings, favourite feature and Iconography
Versions 01 and 02 of the tutorial screens
Version 01 of the trip build, followed by a more detailed Version 02

Final Stages —

We strongly felt that this app needed a individually branded image separate from the Brewer’s Guild, as the app would benefit from a personality of its own. We gathered a mood board, and from that built a very basic visual brand foundation. For the name, we struck a bit of luck and came to a solution after a short amount of brainstorming and wordplay. We felt this concept could be built out significantly more, playing on the idea of scouts, maps, badges and discovery of new things.

End Result —

An engaging and informative trip planing app. So that both locals and tourists could easily explore, learn and build custom tours for the increasingly popular small brewery scene in Vancouver B.C.

Next Steps —

With only two weeks to put this project together, naturally some things were missed. Here is what I would love to revisit.

  1. Visual refinement, develop the app’s personality more.
  2. More user testing with existing flow, there is still lots to be simplified.
  3. Testing with the tutorial aspect of the app. Build them into the flow in a more organic fashion, not so interruptive.
  4. Explore adding transit, start and finish times to trips.
  5. Add a call taxi button, or some built in safe ride home feature.
  6. Explore options for beer glossary and helping users learn more about beer organically throughout the flow, without having to seek it out.
  7. Look into curated and sponsored trips. Users could share the trips they have built with others within the app community.

Find more of my work on Behance.
Persona photo’s borrowed from the wonderful The Great Discontent, one of my favourite publications.

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