Starting over again — Redoing a product

I’m writing this blog on behalf of the amazing team at @boldvc. This work was done in late 2014, early 2015 together with the @hipcask team.

When we started working with the Hipcask team, the only thing we really knew for sure was that we needed to relook at everything on the product! As an app, in its early days, while the Hipcask platform allowed for content browsing and perhaps (with diligent effort) alcohol discovery, but it wasn’t over all very conducive to a good user experiences with screens that looked like they were designed in the very early days of screen layout standardizations.

Essentially, we started out with relooking at the entire concept of a database for liquor. What kind of people will find this most useful and in which situations?

And what expectations would they have in such cases? We spoke to some existing users based out of the parent city of Mumbai while keeping an eye out for potential users in Delhi, where Hipcask was then planning to launch soon. We wanted to stretch far and go deep into the thoughts of these flavor seekers.

Pretty soon we realized that this user base was too vast to generalize research findings from. We had to restructure the way we understood our users and then figure out which specific type of people we really wanted to target the app to. While pondering over this data, we came to realize that the Maslow’s need hierarchy map was a great analogy. We saw our users also as base level comfort zone drinkers that consume the same alcohol repeatedly before some of them move on to the stage of Experimenters which start exploring what else they could possibly drink that suits their taste palate. At this stage, while there are many drop offs for sure, some people actually start enjoying the varieties they have been tasting and start discovering other flavors, liquor types and ways to drink. This may allow for some of them to move on to becoming eager learners. Up until now the main factors for people discovering new drink types versus dropping off were mainly based around pocket sizes, opportunities to explore, and somewhat dependent on the company one keeps.

Structuring the user base for better understanding of their needs

We realized that for all practical purposes, Hipcask was currently made in such a way that only the power users (connoisseurs / sommeliers) would be able to actually benefit from it. We needed to simplify the application and make it more user-friendly and approachable for the both comfort zone drinkers to be able to directly find and order for their 6 pack for this evening as well as for the experimenters to discover and explore variety of drinks based on their mood for the evening.

This is not to say that we left the power users behind, in the road map of the product we had plotted enough gamification and personal data visualization to be able to charm them off their feet.

We also had to create a fine balance between the content that hipcask offered for consumption, along with the discovery of alcohol that it allowed for. While both were equally important, monetization had to be thought of. The app went from looking like this on the left as a homepage with this on the right as the main discovery page, which was now the home page.

Moving away from content based discovery to a mood based tag search.

Even the wine detail page was rethought of to have better representation of the information hierarchy and better readability / glancability.

Introduced a cleaner, more structured wine detail page which allowed for better content hierarchy.

We added tags as a way of understanding which all were associated with this wine, and they were also tapable and would lead to other wines in the same category which has the same tag attached. We also broke down the detailed information into different tabs so that the information doesn’t clutter the primary screen and also allows for interaction and exploration.

But we firmly believe that no new idea is the best or the final idea and thus are constantly looking for feedback and further exploration into developing and delivering a better experience. Feel free to write back and let us know what you think of our approach, design and execution.