designing for conscious consumers – UX Planet
This case study is about my second project during the UX Design Immersive course at General Assembly, London
Being a conscious shopper
Over the past 5–6 years, I started becoming aware of the damage some of my favorite brands were causing to our planet, and, as a result, I decided to start making more of a conscious effort to become a better shopper and reduce my negative impact to a minimum (hopefully to zero one day).
Unfortunately, in my effort to do so, I found most conscious and sustainable brands were not very affordable, or not easily accessible to where I was residing. My mission with this design project was to design a mobile app that would make it easier for conscious shoppers to shop more responsibly.
To validate the problem area I was trying to solve for, I conducted 5 interviews with target users. I chose the interviewees by sending out a screener survey to my network on Facebook, asking about their shopping preferences and how a brand’s ethical practices affects their decision to buy its products.
During the user interviews, I asked them about their shopping habits, motivations and concerns with corporate social and environmental responsibility. Initially, I assumed I would hear responses and concerns around the lack of access (financial and geographical) to ethical brands. However, after completing user interviews and affinity mapping interviewees’ responses, I learned that the problem for my target users is around lack of information available on the brands they currently shop at.
So instead of designing a mobile app that would try to change user habits by helping them access and locate ethical shops, I learned that I should be designing one that would help users find answers to the questions they have about the brands they like and currently shop at.
After aggregating all the information on my users, I created a persona that would encompass all the user’s needs, goals and motivations. This persona, Selma, is concerned with corporate practices and how they impact our planet and environment.
Selma wants to shop more ethically and consciously as part of her lifestyle, and needs to be able to do that easily, because often times, the lack of information on brands’ practices causes a hindrance to shopping ethically.
I drew a journey map of Selma’s experience dealing with the problem of having to shop consciously with very limited information available to her.
Defining the Problem
Problem Statement | Conscious consumers need a way to learn more about environmental and social impact of where they shop because they don’t have access to that information easily when trying to make conscious consumption decisions.
How might we | make it easier for users to make more conscious decisions when shopping or consuming?
Hypothesis | By creating a mobile app that provides users with environmental and social impact information about brands and companies, users will be able to make more conscious shopping decisions easily. We will know this to be true when users start using our app to help guide their decision making.
Ideation and solutions
During the ideation phase, I sketched out as many ideas as I can in a short period of time. In the first round, I sketched my best ideas and in the second round, I sketched my worst ideas. Peers had to vote on each other’s best best ideas and best worst ideas for the individual projects we were working on.
From the design studio and the voting process, I had a rough idea of what I wanted to do. I took those ideas to pencil and paper to start sketching some wireframes of some of the main screens for the user flow.
Solutions implemented from design studio sessions:
1- Ability to search by brand/company and by industry
3- Brand impact on wildlife, labor, sustainability, and environment.
4- Following brands to stay updated
5- Discovery/explore feature showing various brands and industries
After I completed the paper prototype, I took it to Invision to begin testing. During the testing process, I asked the users to find information on a brand’s impact on wildlife using the paper prototype.
Insights from paper prototype testing
- The copy used in the low-fidelity paper prototype made it slightly difficult for users to go through the task easily. The copy that caused most confusion was : “Add to favorites” option for brand pages, “Impact on Wildlife” (good or bad impact?), and “Impactful brands of this month” in the explore page
- Users were unsure how the numerical rating system to rate company/brand ethical practices worked, which in turn created some mistrust
- The dollar sign on brand pages and searches was not important to users
- The favorites navigation bar item wasn’t clicked by most users
From the paper prototypes, I moved on to digitizing the wireframes on Sketch and adapting the changes from the usability test.
In the low fidelity prototype, I
- swapped home from the navigation bar with a search bar, to avoid redundancy, as its purpose was causing confusion among some users in the paper prototype testing
- changed the copy in the cases where it was unclear
- removed the $ sign associated with brands
- added a “how brands are rated” page to build more trust with the users
- got rid of the “favorites” from the navigation bar and instead gave users the option to follow brands they are interested in, and access their following list from the profile
Testing the low-fidelity prototype
After testing the low-fidelity prototype, I noticed a big improvement in the ability of users to go through the app without too much confusion. However, I still needed to redesign the homepage as I noticed users spend too much time trying to figure out how to start. After reiterating once more, I was ready to start thinking of the visual design.
I started out with thinking about what brands The Good Shop affiliates with and how it compares in terms of branding, tone and visual design. I put together a mood-board (below) of images and inspiration of visuals, photos, typography and general feel that I would like to incorporate in the design of the app.
As for the style guide, I selected fonts that are easy to read on mobile devices, as well as consistent with the brand image of being slightly informal, yet informational. The colors I chose are nature inspired with a warm pink and earthy green to create a pleasant and comfortable experience for the users.
Below are some of the final mockup screens from each of the bottom navigation items (search, explore and profile)
Reflection and next steps
As this was my second project at General Assembly, I was really excited to be working on an open project without a brief, and designing something I care about. During this process, I learned the importance of letting go of my assumptions and listening to users’ stories to find the little dots that I would connect later. In connecting those dots, I also learned to NOT create or think of solutions while I was in the discovery phase, which reminded me of an Arabic saying that goes “كل شي حلو بوقته”, which translates into “Everything in its time is sweet”.
Moving forward, my next steps for this project would be to test the product with users, enhance the rating system, and potentially add a social/interactive feature or element.