There are several moments during a product design process when a team needs to make decisions because they have hundreds of ideas but no time to test them all. They can be really awkward because debates based on personal preferences and “I am the boss so I decide” can cause unnecessary conflicts within the team. Even with the good old “let’s vote” method, we can easily forget users’ needs. In addition, week-long discussions and decision procrastination can damage the product. So we have to be quick.
In this case study, you can follow a five-step guide to how we simplified complex design problems and made quick decisions to speed up the process.
A Berlin investor company found UX Studio and gave us two months to completely rethink and redesign Bebino, their online baby diary web application. The goals were to collect the most validated learning about users with the least effort, decide which features to keep and which to kill, and redesign the website based on user needs.
The challenge: The baby market is crowded with other direct and indirect competitors, so we needed hard research to figure out how to differentiate ourselves.
Step 1: Define how people currently solve a problem
Visiting moms-to-be and parents during their daily lives
Everyone has an idea (at least from the Facebook feed) how people save and share memories about their babies. But we took this project as an experiment, and as if we were completely new to the topic. We started with a one-page plan summarizing our research questions:
Who writes baby diaries? What motivates them? What problems do they have and how do they currently solve them?
How do we map digital behavior of parents (memory saving, sharing, development tracking, ToDos)?
We carried out a total of twenty interviews in homes, in our office and on Skype. To warm up these interviewees, we started with a “day-in-the-life” activity that involved asking parents to describe their days, from morning to evening, and all the interactions they had with technology and their kids.
We also asked them to show us their baby diaries and tell us when and what they wrote and with whom they shared. It was impressive how openly they talked about those things.
Identify the “aha!” moments and surprises
It was time to meet with our client for a one-day workshop. Based on the interview results, we created an experience map to understand users’ motivations and pain points and how the baby diary fits into their daily actions?
So we mapped the mothers’ experience in different phases of motherhood to diagnose what they wrote about and which issues they faced. We identified the various touch points in the process, as well as key emotional peaks that help focus our attention on the aspects that matter most, “moments of truth”.
“Sometimes I just feel tired and bad…so I want to write those things out of myself.” – One interview participant
The most important lesson was that they expressed motherhood was not only about happiness. They wanted to write down their honest thoughts but felt baby diaries were too childish for that.
We grouped the observed activities into five different categories and checked how typical they were.
“Time flies so quickly. Once the moment is gone, you can not go back to take pictures.”
Step 2: Go broad and brainstorm possible solutions to users’ pain points
We collected possible solution ideas and inspirations. The basic rule was that nothing was technically unfeasible. This session was to generate possible approaches and solutions for the users problems.
We sorted the ideas into different groups according to the Kano model: basic, delighter, and one-dimensional based on our assumptions. We used it as a concept to test and validate with users during the user interviews and tests.
Bebino is not just a baby diary but a family diary to provide parents a private feed for their intimate feelings
We concluded that we would create a memory saving and development tracking app where mothers and fathers can also note their private thoughts. Users can share memories, but only with the added family members and friends. We didn’t need another social network app, so chat and most of the community features were killed.
By this time, we already knew what problems we wanted to solve and we could estimate how much effort each solution needed from us. The plan was to start the testing and validation with the most painful and the easiest problems to fix because the highest business value can lie there.
Step 3: Learn from competitors and differentiate
We looked at other competitor products to check their value propositions, business models, feature-sets and design patterns. That also proved to us that merging memory saving and development tracking activities held good potential.
Step 4: Iterate on the prototype with usability tests
At this stage, having gathered and analyzed insights — and identifying needs we thought we could address — we were ready to start sketching, testing and iteratively building up solutions. After every four or five tests, we discussed the usability issues and their severity with the team, and we concluded with the possible solutions together.
Step 5: Design brand identity
Be friendly but not childish
We all agreed that this web app is for parents and not kids, so we avoided childish illustrations and colors. Bebino should behave and communicate like a nanny: friendly, family-oriented, smart and clean. We designed three versions and asked the users for feedback in the form of a five-second test.
We ended up with the pineapple-mint design.
The trick is to involve users and summarize the finding in a way that avoids having to decide because the results speak for themselves. To start using this method, begin with the step one and progress step by step.
- Define how people currently solve a problem with interviews and summarize learnings in experience map
- Brainstorm solutions to users’ pain points and prioritize them with Kano model or ‘pain for the user and effort from us’ matrix
- Learn from competitors and differentiate
- Iterate on the prototype with usability tests
- Design brand identity and capture users first impression
Any question about this process? Feel free to ask in the comment section below!