I was presented with a semester long project to study techniques of design thinking. Under the guidance of Sue Tan, a Co-Founder and former Ideo employee, my team and I had to create a software solution to a problem.
The semester was structured to follow 2-week sprints following the phases of design thinking. We split up the semester by our three primary phases:
Within each section there were sub-phases of divergent and convergent exploration of the subject at hand. Early on we knew that our idea would be based on group dining. As students in 2018, we face the complexity of covering dining costs and Venmo payments for group meals. Our goal was to investigate the processes around group dining that could be improved through an app. Through strategic discovery, we narrowed down our challenge towards the area of payment management.
Our next step was to dive into user research. The research process was the most in depth and intensive process of the semester. By employing a variety of user research methods, we gained a knowledge about students that we were initially blind to. After doing surveys, mapping excercises, and studies, I found that the most impactful area of research was in interviews. I was pushed to go out and interview students in the environment that they would be in.
Team members mid FaceTime interview
I performed multiple interviews getting food with groups of complete strangers. This showed me what similarities all students and young adults were sharing. We were students ourselves, and because of this we had initial asumptions that were untrue. Our personal spending habits didn’t reflect that of other young adults. What did remain true was that people deal with the hassle of group payments. Hence the name, ASAP.
We recorded every little piece of information fromour experiences and synthesized them. From our findings, we formed our questions to solve:
How might we remove the complexity, pressure, and time of a typical payment interaction?
How might we reintegrate the payment experience
without shattering the social experience?
We took our questions and returned with crudely drawn wireframes of concepts, from conservative to outlandish, trying to answer these questions. We then picked which aspects of these ideas were worth testing.
Early UI designs
Our app was decided to be a platform that connects with the point of sale software of a restaurant. The unique visual code provided a one-time connection to a tab. Whenever an item is added to the tab, the tab could be viewed by anyone with the code. From there the bill could be managed. The charge wouldn’t have to go through until later that day.
The main value proposed in this was that
a. a bill could be split from any member’s phone and
b. a bill could be split after the dinner
Prototype connections in Figma
Both of these key features solve our how-might-we statements. We created lo-fi wireframes with Figma to perform basic user testing. This helped us quickly realize blaring UX issues. Each page had way too much complexity. There were multile ways to “pay”, and some labels were unreadable.
Video from our final presentation
These fixes along with simple navigational changes led to our streamlined app. Overall this project gave me experience following the design thinking framework from start to finish.