Forecast joy: deliver delight based on the weather to transform ecards into a meaningful experience
Forecast joy with Happy Days: a service to deliver delight based on the weather. Send gift cards to local companies in minutes to be delivered via text when your chosen weather conditions are met.
- ROLE: UX / UI Design
- TIMELINE: 3 months
- TOOLS: Sketch, InVision, Principle, After Effects
- MADE TO THE SOUND OF: Marianas Trench - Ever After
Challenge / The Goal
Create an app to make gift cards a meaningful experience rather than a last resort.
The twist: No plan (or support) for user research. Oh and there's a brand new checkout flow to be designed from scratch and a service that spans users, businesses, and people who may never have heard of the app before.
- Guerrilla user interviews: There was no budget or time set aside for user research. What's a girl to do? Ambush unfortunate people I met on the train to and from work, that's what! Combined with online studies, short interviews helped develop a picture of people's giving habits, budget, and emotions around gift cards.
- Competitive research: So. Many. Apps. My phone's memory did not appreciate the downloading spree but testing a variety of existing shopping, gifting, and weather apps helped identify what was working and where there were opportunties.
- Referencing user needs: Bringing all the user research together, I boiled down the personas into cheat sheet index cards with a simple user story and outcome to keep on display as a constant reminder.
- Lean prototyping: The first prototype was scans of wireframes linked up on my phone. Each progressive iteration followed a similar ideal of testing the simplest version possible to incoporate user feedback at every stage.
Solution (and alternatives)
Brainstorming turned up many an option but nothing stuck until walking home brought the immortal lyrics “save it for a rainy day” to mind (and I was in Northern Ireland so yes, it was raining). What if you could deliver gift cards to friends and family based on the weather? Transform a simple transaction into an experience. Send your long distance girlfriend coffee on the next cold morning or ice cream for your best friend on the first day of summer?
- Quickly getting up to speed on a business area: A mechanism to combine gifts with the weather requires venturing into new territory and research. LOTS of research. From marketing essays on gift cards to help identify target audience to testing a mess of shopping and weather apps.
- No support for research: With no budget or support, gathering critical user research required more unconventional methods: guerrilla research on the train interviewing fellow commuters (captive audience FTW!).
- Designing for the entire service and external touchpoints: Sending a gift card is only one part of the equation. There is the person sending, the person receiving, and the businesses whoses gift cards are being sold as well as our own platform. Each part of the system and how to make their interactions seamless and delightful, from signing up to the text those (who may not use the app) receive with their shiny e-gift card, needed to be considered.
- E-commerce from scratch: Crafting a checkout flow which involves setting weather conditions with shopping for gifts means LOTS of experimentation and testing. Commerce flows are meaty problems at the best of times and Happy Days combined it in a concept that is fresh for the user. The flow needed to be seamless and convey the idea with the right emotions. Do you select the target first or the gift? What about the weather trigger condition? Categorising gifts was also an issue. Do you group by brand name? Categories? What labels are meaningful to the user? And how do you find this out when there is no budget for research? Keep testing, iterating, and deconstructing the best patterns to see what can be learned.
Guerrilla research proved successful (and strangers were surprisingly receptive). Optimum research conditions? Not exactly but one has to get creative. Precious insights helped build personas and iterate to find the optimum customer journey. The final design drills the entire shopping process into three simple steps. Setting the weather becomes an almost tactile experience with a thermostat dial inspired by user feedback.
The final design guides the user through sending a gift, suggesting surprises based on the weather and making shopping, paying, and sending only a few taps away. Balancing playfulness with trustworthiness, the interface uses faux 3D elements and bright colours mixed with plain language and professional design. Want to send your friend a coffee the next time it rains? Easy:
- Spin the thermostat to set the weather trigger: gifts are suggested based on your choice
- Choose or search for a gift then select the brand and amount: the perfect surprise for any day!
- Choose a contact to delight: gifts can be delivered via text, messaging app, or email so no need for phone numbers.
- Confirm & Pay with Apple Pay or by scanning a card: forecast complete!
- Emotion is critical to experience: How do you quantify delight? One of the pivotal design challenges with Happy Days was balancing the hard issues of designing an e-commerce app with the emotional design and unquantifiable ideas of ‘forecasting joy’. How do you craft not just an interface but an experience that elicits the desired emotion? If I did it again, I would focus less on designing delightful elements into the interface and more on the overall emotions of the end-to-end user experience of both giver and sender and the external touchpoints.
- Approach research like a design problem: No support? No problem! Tackle research like any other design challenge to figure out what you need to learn, why, and how you might get those answers (even with zero budget).