How might we help consumers learn about the best spots in their neighbourhood and share their experiences?
During the pandemic, several of my favourite local spots had to close their doors. The others struggled to stay afloat. There was a need for support and a design opportunity. Kumi was born from the desire to strengthen the local community and provide a space for growth. Our goal was to create a product that amplifies the digital presence of local businesses to help bring them closer to their loyal customers.
Through our research we noticed that users need ways to support local businesses without spending money and push them to engage even at times they normally wouldn’t. Currently, not everyone can afford to make purchases to support their local businesses. People are also hesitant to engage in spaces they aren’t used to. In addition to consumer-facing needs, we noticed that many small businesses still used paper card rewards which get lost easily or forgotten. This made it even harder for them to stay up-float especially during the pandemic.
What if we could digitize and centralize the traditional rewards system while retaining business individuality to provoke consumer engagement and provide non-monetary forms of support?
Keeping both consumers and businesses in mind, we developed a gamified rewards platform to connect local businesses and their communities. Our product is:
We conducted 8, 30-40 minutes semi-structured interviews (focusing on post-secondary students in the GTA) to gain insights on what community means to our participants and current user pains and needs on their methods of engaging with local businesses. We wanted to learn how individuals can be engaged to strengthen their community.
Our research goal was to learn how individuals can be engaged to strengthen their community. We wanted to understand the broader perspective what encouraged people to engage with local businesses and what were their obstacles.
From here we asked the question: what could help community members overcome these barriers?
Taking what we learned from our research, we brainstormed various ideas surrounding new ways to engage consumers such as influencers, scavenger hunts, memberships, and contests. We then did the crazy 8's exercise in which I drew inspiration from sources such as Pokemon Go and Duolingo for my initial sketches. The intersection of all of our ideas was a gamified rewards app made specifically for local businesses.
To strengthen our ideas, we looked at several competitors for rewards apps. I created a chart that reflected gaps in the market.
We developed two primary personas based on our insights to help anchor our use cases. To create a viable and sustainable product, we knew our product had to be: Commuter friendly, Budget friendly, and exciting for young adults.
After defining our main features, we sorted our main features into a simple User Flow outlining the basic navigation of our app.
Then we sketched and designed low-mid fidelity wireframes.
I created a UI Kit and implemented a design system to instill consistency in our high-fidelity designs. Our product typeface, Open Sans, was a decision to keep our design clean and simple knowing that there will be lots of customization on profile pages and badges. I made sure to contrast check our colours to keep our product accessible.
We conducted two rounds of user tests and wanted to not only test the functionality of our app but also if it served its intended purpose. Our second round of testing focused on two user flows:
Although issues in the first round of testing was resolved, we noticed new pain points emerging.
We used the MOSCOW framework to prioritize which suggestions to implement.
Having completed my capstone project, I had two key takeaways:
1. Product design requires a balance of functionality and aesthetics
2. Remote collaboration requires dedication and accountability
Although I had my vision for the design, I had to learn to communicate that clearly with my team members while making sure it delivered the content intuitively and stayed accessible. I realized that compromising takes time and is a necessary step that helps the group become more productive in the long run. Concise and documented communication was crucial for our remote collaboration. I find that having a visual document on-screen during meetings helped keep our group focused and made sure no decisions and comments were left unheard. When audio is not reliable over video chat, having additional visual feedback is essential. When your team members aren't in the next seat from you, delegating after every meeting is crucial to keep everyone accountable. Having a visual organization tool such as Notion allowed us to organize our documents and assign tasks to each member in our Kanban. Although this project took lots of learning and problem solving, I'm proud of our final product and happy to be leaving with a few new friends!