StoreFronts: A Case Study

StoreFronts is a scrapbook-like app, where users are encouraged to take photos of restaurants’ and bars’ storefronts to visually discover, capture, and organize the shared dining out experience.

Research

To begin the design process, research was conducted to evaluate the value proposition of StoreFronts. Research took the form of two interviews and a competitive review of four similar apps. It was found that StoreFronts would be of added value in the market. Two personas were also created to personify the user and their needs.

MasonKern_Persona

A moodboard was created to illustrate the desired look and feel for StoreFronts.

MoodBoard_StoreFronts

Interaction Design

From class critiques and discussion, a key experience was developed:

  1. Capturing shared dining out moments through photographic collages of the entire dining experience: an establishment’s storefront, food & drink, decorum, and companions.

This guided all other deliverables, but, first, it lead to the creation of an experience map that visually shows this archetypical experience.

ExperienceMap_StoreFronts

A flow diagram was also created to outline the overall behavioral structure of StoreFronts and it demonstrates the primary task.

FlowDiagram_StoreFronts

Final Prototype

After more critiques and discussion, the original wireframe was iterated upon and an iPhone mobile app prototype was created. This iteration is an example of StoreFronts’ MVP. It is intended to cover the experience outlined in the flow diagram.

StoreFronts_Prototype

The IoT, Beacons, and Creating a Seamless Information Experience

iBeacon

With the “Internet of Things” (IoT) on the rise, we can now tangibly conceptualize our information spaces like never before: digital and physical lines have become blurred. The IoT makes this a plausible reality by having constant internet interconnectivity embedded in everyday objects. According to the Oxford Dictionaries, the IoT is defined as: “The interconnection via the Internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data.” 

As part of this IoT, technologies, such as beacons, have been developed. “Beacons are wireless devices utilizing Bluetooth 4.0 (BLE- Bluetooth Low Energy) protocol to broadcast tiny radio signals around them, allowing Bluetooth 4.0 enabled devices to “talk” to them within proximity of three inches to 150 feet.” In other words, beacons are small bluetooth sensors that interact with smartphones or tablets. Beacons are hailed as “game changers” and are “poised to transform” how organizations communicate with people indoors. Beacons are becoming popular among retailers because they provide customers with product information, deals, and accelerate the check-out process.

Beacon

In London, beacons are even being used to help guide the blind through the Tube. The Royal London Society for Blind People teamed up with Ustwo, a design firm, to create Wayfindr, “…a system of Bluetooth-equipped beacons that guide the visually impaired through the Underground using audio directions.” These examples demonstrate the powerful capabilities of beacons.

Furthermore, beacons can play a major role in the creation and designing of seamless information experiences —experiences that transcend both digital and physical information spaces. According to a recent New York Times article, museums (i.e., very tangible information spaces) have recently started to install beacons. While the beacons can be seen as disrupting the sanctity of the gallery spaces, they also “amplify the experience” for visitors. For instance, beacons would allow visitors to comment, review, and post reactions to exhibitions and even individual pieces in a digital space. So when other visitors are in that same physical space, they can view the feedback and join in the conversation digitally — seamlessly bridging the gap between physical and digital spaces. Beacons are arguably capable of revolutionizing the in-museum information experience for visitors.

Museum

It is important to note that this current discussion of beacons relates to previous posts by my colleagues (see: Service Experience Design, Back Pocket Apps, and Experience Design for Art Fairs). It seems that beacons may be able to provide the technological underpinning to enable seamless information experiences in a myriad of contexts. However, I don’t want to hail beacons as the “be-all and end-all” technology because there are obvious limitations, such as not everyone has a smartphone or access to the internet. Nonetheless, the use of beacons in London to help guide the visually impaired through the Tube presents a pertinent model for UX professionals and specialists: use a technology that would traditionally isolate a group of individuals and make it more inclusive and accessible. At the end of the day, isn’t accessibility a foundational facet of UX? (See: Peter Morville’s Honeycomb)

Sources

BEACONS: What They Are, How They Work, And Why Apple’s iBeacon Technology Is Ahead Of The Pack

8 Must-see UX Diagrams

The Game Changing Nature of Beacons

IoT Definition

Museums Turn to Technology to Boost Attendance by Millennials

Top UX Predictions for 2015

Social Listening and UX: Enhancing the Customer Experience

 

Social Listening Image

In his 2013 Medium article, Kevin Ashton wrote, “Social media is not a bullhorn for broadcast but a coffee shop for conversation.” He goes on to outline how he has used social listening to better inform the design of different products to create a beautiful user experience:

“User-generated reviews are the best possible way to understand how customers use products… Negative reviews are even more valuable than positive ones. Bad reviews draw attention to previously unknown bugs, unacceptable trade-offs, or missing features.”

For most organizations, “views,” “likes,” and “followers” are a metric of success. For instance, Chipotle’s short-film titled, “The Scarecrow,” reached 6.5 million views on YouTube in less than two weeks after its premiere and is currently at 14.1 million views. Nonetheless, Ashton demonstrates how UX professionals can use social listening to glean meaningful insights by analyzing sentiment, conversations, comments, and reviews.

Social listening is essentially the process of monitoring digital media channels to strategically influence the customer. With customer experience (CX) increasingly becoming more prominent and valued, social listening platforms are allowing teams of UX professionals and marketers to gather and analyze social listening data to improve the customer’s experience (See: Top UX Predictions for 2015).

There are a large number of tools available so here are just three freely available options:

1. Hootsuite’s social listening platform is an easy to use interface that allows you to manage up to three social profiles from a single dashboard; schedule messages to post ahead of time; and get real-time analytics reports.

Hootsuite Dashboard
2. Social Mention “is a social media search and analysis platform that aggregates user generated content from across the universe into a single stream of information.” Social mention monitors over eighty social media properties directly like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Photobucket. Social Mention provides some basic analytics and daily social media alerts. Social Mention doesn’t even require registration.

Social Mention
3. Similar to Social Mention, Topsy is a social media search, analytics, and trends tool. They have been indexing Tweets since 2006. Topsy allows you to search the social web by links, tweets, photos, videos and influencers all in real-time.

Topsy Homepage

When searching, it’s helpful to not only search for your own brand name, but also try any variations/abbreviations of the name, key words/key messages/key items, and a slogan/motto.

Referring back to Ashton, he ended his piece with: “The important word in “social media” is not “media,” but “social.”  For UX professionals, listening is our bread and butter. This is just another way of listening, but with a more modern twist. However, it is important to note that there are obvious limitations to this method (e.g., limited sample size). Therefore, it can be thought of as another tool in the UX professional’s tool belt.

Sources:

Defining Social Listening

5 Essential Social Media Monitoring Tools for Beginners

5 Social Media Listening Tools That Every Business Should Be Using

How These 10 Marketing Campaigns Became Viral Hits

Social Media is for Listening: How we use Social Media to Develop Products

The Top UX Predictions for 2015

Image Sources:

Social Listening Image

Hootsuite Dashboard

Social Mention

Topsy Homepage