Skipiit, formerly known as Blackbook prior to the company’s rebranding, is a hospitality based startup aimed at simplifying the drink ordering process at high volume bars, restaurants, and clubs. Skipiit is one of the first apps of its kind to directly target drink ordering rather than food, and differentiates itself by streamlining the ordering process rather than acting as a delivery service with a courier or delivery person.
Increase user retention and promote habitual usage by redesigning the app’s user interface, while effectively making the ordering process as clear as it can be, for all users involved.
Hi-fidelity application mockups that solve the app’s most glaring usability issues while attracting new users.
For the research component of this project, it was important to explore the current landscape of the nightlife industry, as well as any gaps that may exist in the overall customer experience. By effectively identifying the ideal target demographic, the more I could understand how to alleviate their pains and create a more rewarding customer experience.
To begin, I conducted extensive market research on alcohol consumerism trends, technology in the service industry, the popularity of food ordering applications, and millennial reliance on technology to justify a three prong answer as to why people are likely to use this application and in what context. My conclusion, from my secondary research alone, is that with a steadily increasing market of on-premise liquor sales, a clear growth trajectory in terms of online food and drink ordering, and a large demographic of millennials (22-38) who regularly drink at bars and nightclubs, there is much room left in the service industry for technological growth and sufficient demand. In addition, there are still many ways in which the ordering process in bars and restaurants can be more closely integrated with technology as premiumization becomes a major trend in 2019.
I then analyzed Skipiit’s most direct competitors in a comparison table below, and created provisional personas based off the data to further identify consumer needs and differentiate the needs of different user groups within the same demographic. The competitive analysis examined what Skipiit’s most direct competition is doing and what changes the company can make that will set it apart from its competition in a significant way to attract customers and leverage its position to potential sponsors. Reviews from the app store were also taken into consideration.
My competitive analysis produced the following insights:
From the competitive analysis, I was able to create provisional personas to further organize pain points and identify specific, or potentially overlapping, goals between different subgroups of users within the same demographic.
Empathizing is a crucial step in the design process, and in this case, the app has two subsets of users to consider: the bartenders using the app to serve drinks (the producers), and the users who use the app to order them (the consumers). While most of my research centered around the consumers, it is essential to survey bartenders in order to hear their pains, work to solve as many of them in-app as possible, and identify where the overlap with consumer pain points may be.
Some unique perspectives bartenders bring are:
“It’s frustrating when customers don’t understand the menu, or there is a lack of proper communication between server and customer.”
“Customers will order one drink, and then decide to order one more or something else after I have already begun to prepare the first order. They don’t understand this is something that is generally frowned upon, and really annoying.”
“Sometimes customers will ask me to “surprise them”, or say,”Make me something good,” because they can’t make their own decision or even narrow down a spirit or flavor they like, but as a bartender, I don’t know what their taste palette or tolerance is like, or what they would actually like.”
Interview Findings – Common Problems
After having surveyed the bartenders, it was important to conduct a usability test with the current released version of the app to identify why first time users had not turned into habitual users, and address any issues that may have arose during the assigned task (i.e. ordering a drink). Below were my test specifications.
Scenario: You are hanging out with your friends on U Street and you see a huge crowd of people at the bar. Your friend tells you about an app they’re using called Skipiit that allows you to enter your credit card details and order a drink without having to physically order or wait in line. Instead of fighting the huge crowd at the bar, you would like to use Skipiit to order a beverage instead.
1. Sign up for an account and select which establishment you would like to order from.
2. Order your drink of choice and add a tip.
Test Subjects: Three participants between 22-38
Procedure: The usability test was conducted on an iOS device, participants were asked to speak aloud as they performed the test, and were encouraged to make comments as they went through the assigned tasks while keeping exploration of the overall app to a minimum.
Usability Test Conclusions
Overall users felt it was a useful and self-explanatory app idea. However, users also felt the aesthetics were boring and outdated, many had difficulty signing up due to the verification email not sending, there were many in-app glitches, complaints about too much text, and that it wasn’t ideal for someone to use while intoxicated. Many users also commented that the menu was confusing and disorganized, and they were unable to fully customize their drink order. While the users were able to accomplish the tasks, it was not without difficulty, with one user even commenting,”There was an obstacle in every step.”
For the final persona, I combined the qualitative research, as well as the market research, I had conducted to form Nick’s persona. Nick is a recent college graduate who works as a consultant in Washington, DC, and enjoys being seen at the trendiest bars and nightclubs in the city. He is the life of the party and can often be found drinking with friends on the weekend. His biggest frustration is having to wait for drinks, search for his wallet while intoxicated, and compete for the bartender’s attention. His highest priorities are to spend as much time partying, interacting with friends, and having fun as possible.
During the ideation stage, my priorities were to generate innovative ideas, identify necessary features for the initial MVP, and disrupt our typical assumptions when it comes to ordering drinks at a bar in order to fill any gaps that may presently exist in the market.
Below I created a task flow based on the task in the usability scenario. I incorporated the various ways in which a person could customize their drink as I felt this was something missing in the app’s original task flow. Lack of customization ultimately led to a poor menu design that a) lacked specificity, b) was ambiguous, c) did not incorporate every single drink option that could be ordered, and d) inhibited bartender flow when it came to complex drink orders.
After establishing a clear hierarchy of information, I began to brainstorm ways in which blocks of information could be visually conveyed by sketching my initial ideas out on paper. These are my initial, low-fidelity wireframes in their barest form.
I tend to treat my initial sketching process as my beginning wireframe, and then build medium fidelity wireframes based on my sketched concepts. To do so helps me spatially organize page content, establish hierarchy, prioritize functionality, and actually begin planning my designs on a grid. It also forces me to be realistic about how much information I can include on any given page.
During my medium-fidelity wireframing process, I try to plan my micro-interactions as much as possible so I can get a basic flow for how each interaction within the application works. This also helps when I go on to animate my hi-fidelity prototype later on.
After settling on a dark theme with blue undertones to further compliment the neon turquoise accent color after my initial iteration test, I added a gradient because the dark blue with the neon accents felt a bit extreme on the eyes. I wanted a visual experience that was subtle and enjoyable, especially when being used at night. However, I also wanted it to feel like a luxury experience, with minimally jarring colors.
A nonnegotiable parameter as set by the client, I had little room to flex in terms of picking the accent color. Most of the colors I chose focused around the neon turquoise shade, including the background color and separating containers.
One of the most common complaints from the usability test was that the app contained too much text, and that it was confusing to use, especially when intoxicated. Start to finish, it was important to keep the ordering sequence as simple as possible, with clear text directions at every step, while still giving users the freedom to fully customize their drink orders. I wanted there to be no ambiguity when the user went to complete their task (ordering a drink).
I also wanted the ordering process to mimic real life as closely as possible, which included adding drinks to the user’s pre-existing tab. The user then either a) chooses to close the tab themselves, or b) the app does it automatically when the closing time of the bar is reached. This encourages the user to keep purchasing drinks throughout the night because they do not have to waste time re-opening a tab, while ensuring bartenders are tipped out properly for forgotten tabs, much in the same way that open tabs are dealt with at the end of the night at bars in real life.
Some items I could see myself tackling in the future for this project are…
I would like to have had the time to animate my design using InVision so stakeholders could interact with and view the effectiveness of the app’s redesign, while exploring micro-interactions within the app. Now that the basic structure of the app has been designed, as I a designer, I am now free to work on enhancing each digital interaction within the app rather than focusing more broadly on the app’s entire interface.