Application Design, Usability
DESIGNING FOR COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
The Gardener mobile application was my final project for my General Assembly UX Design class.
Problem#1: How might we connect gardeners with each other and share knowledge in an app?
Solution: Responsive application that integrates desktop tools with app functionality.
Process: I conducted comparative and competitive research on desktop and mobile in the gardening, plant care and horticulture space. Because there is crossover into several different market segments, research was also conducted in home care, hobby and the health and wellness spaces. User interviews were conducted in person and surveys were sent via email.
Once this data was collected and synthesized, it provided unique insights. Some users cited a need for verifiable advice, others cited decision fatigue when searching for the solution to their issues and nearly all of them expressed frustration with the lack of images and consolidated information available.
Problem #2: How might we provide an incentive for users to contribute and participate?
Solution: Loyalty badging system that rewards participation for users.
Process: Mid-way through our second round of usability testing, one of the test subjects completed their tasks with the prototype, she asked simply “what’s in it for me?”.
The insights we received at this stage of the process were repeatable and obviated the need to review the stated business and user goals for the project. In order to make the most of this “pivot” the team pursued parallel paths:
Re-evaluate how the user journey can be optimized to drive full engagement and align to business goals
Research and validate the findings on a “badge” or rewards program for users in order to answer the questions we had received during usability testing.
But there were questions around the viability of a badge or rating system. I researched findings from several studies of the badging system and related HCI studies. Once this analysis was complete, the findings were clear:
“Independent research cited the importance of group identification, status/affirmation and reputation as key components of user engagement through a badge system. This system is a proven method for reinforcing users’ sense of belonging and community”
And with those words, the FLAIR program was born!
- For each post that a user completes, they receive a piece of flair
- With each response to a fellow gardener, the user receives an additional piece of flair.
With this exciting new feature in place we conducted additional usability testing. With each round of testing our iterative design methodology allowed us to optimize the user experience and provide a more robust engagement with the application.
From here I was able to move into wireframes and develop the high-fidelity prototype for the Gardener app.