Background

HopPlotter is a mobile app that helps you discover and visit craft breweries you may not have heard of before.

The app had been built a few years back and was becoming obsolete in the changing brewery industry. Our goal was to find out why and to propose changes to make the app relevant in today’s market.

The app is on iOS, Android, and web. Brewery finding is available on all apps, but planning a trip was not available on Android.

This meant that their secondary feature was unavailable to a big chunk of their users. We needed to find out how important this missing feature was.

The information available was pretty basic. Users were able to see a map of ALL breweries in the area, and see location information about them.

This functionality is basically just a filtered down version of Google maps. How could this feature serve a real user need?

Analyze

My goal as user researcher was to identify and understand a core problem relating to selecting a location for brewery goers.

I planned on doing this by performing business and competitive analyses, interviewing users, and performing contextual inquiry. Once we knew what users struggled with, we would be able to pivot the design to address those struggles.

Competitive Analysis

Together with our interaction designer, we compared the features available in competitive apps in the brewery/beer space.

1.

Many app features started off with a map as a way of choosing a brewery.

The map features were minimal but present across the board.

2.

Many competitors featured badges, checking in, and rating beers as their primary features.

The competition was focusing on different goals and features than HopPlotter.

?

Our question became - what can HopPlotter do uniquely that others are not doing that also fills a primary need for the user?

Heuristic Evaluation

I facilitated a heuristic evaluation by four usability experts to determine the main problems in the existing application.

1.

The most reported issue was “visibility of system status”.

Meaning the users were not confident that their actions were being achieved and had to rely on trial and error to navigate to their desired location.

2.

Some issues were reported only on a specific OS.

This meant they may not be system wide problems, but rather indicators that pointed to specific implementation problems.

Heuristic Evaluation Significance:

What we learned from the heuristic evaluation was that there were small ways we can validate users decisions and clarify actions that they intend to make.

This also gave us a great baseline to use to compare any future changes and iterations against.

Empathize

I conducted four twenty-minute qualitative interviews with a set list of questions to kick off user discovery.

We explored the findings from the interviews as a team so we could find meaning and define the problem HopPlotter users are facing.

User Interview & Affinity Map Findings:

  • Users need to see food and drink (tap list) information.

  • Users generally already knew of a place or type of setting they wanted to go to when looking for a brewery.

  • Users were falling into one of two main categories - casual beer drinkers and enthusiasts (this was the start of our personas).

Creating Personas

Brianna Campbell (primary persona)
31 years old | Advertising Coordinator | Enjoys travel

Brianna is our main persona. She’s a casual visitor to breweries who’s primary desire is to spend time with her friends and family, socialize, have a good time out, and try new things!

We can serve Brianna by keeping features simple and clear, providing the right amount of customization, and being fun and informative.

Michael Rivera (secondary persona)
23 years old | College Student | Microbrew Hobbyist

Michael is our secondary persona who is still important, but not our main focus. He’s more likely to do research on beers and seek out deeper information about production, tasting notes, and company culture.

We can serve Michael by giving him control over customization, treating him like the expert, and providing cutting edge info.

Problem & Hypothesis

We have observed that HopPlotter’s map filters and feature priority is leaving users lost and confused which is causing distrust in the entire app and a sense of uselessness for the user.

We believe that by prioritizing map filters on the home screen will accommodate brewery finding and selecting, resulting in a sense of satisfaction for our users.

Develop

As a team we evaluated all of our research and prioritized the features we were going to address for improvement. Our interaction designer, Michelle Hsu developed the following wireframes to propose new solutions.

Map Feature

Our team developed a map feature with more filtering to meet the user’s needs.

Event Features

Events were a main area of interest for target users so our interaction designer planned a section for seeing events and custom tours.

Plot Assistant

The plot assistant was designed to send push notifications recommending locations near you when the assistant is on.

Interaction Design by Michelle Hsu

Usability Testing

Because the features were shifting directions, we needed to get user feedback on the value they might add to the user’s lives and find areas for improvement for the next round of iteration.

I developed a user testing script and recruited target users for usability testing on two iterations the InVision prototype. The testing script consisted of three primary tasks for users to complete based on the user flows developed by our Interaction Designer.

First Iteration Successes:

  • Test participants were really enjoying the Brewery details pages and how they were laid out.

  • They found that the search function was working as they expected and was a helpful tool.

  • They were interested in the concept or idea of a brewery crawl planner.

First Iteration Pain Points:

  • There were terms across the entire app that were unclear (plot, top 10, and search).

  • The largest pain point was the functionality of the Plot Assistant.

  • The majority did not understand the tutorial screens and didn’t know how to use the feature.

  • Once the feature was explained, they did not like the notification system of receiving suggestions.

Design Iterations

Our Interaction Designer took the findings from the usability tests and developed a final round (for this sprint) of design which I tested with an additional two users to verify that the design successfully addressed user concerns.

She made big improvements to the landing screen, location of event details, and a totally new concept for custom brewery recommendations (no more plot assist).

Version 1 - Landing Page
Version 2 - Landing Page
!

The original landing screen provided a good overview of features, but was essentially just an extra step to get to a user’s goal.

Our redesign ditched the original screen and sent users straight to the map so they could begin their search for a brewery.

Version 1 - Events Feature
Version 2 - Events Feature
!

The users initially reported a strong interest in brewery events, yet were not able to locate them in the redesign.

The updated version turned events into it’s own “To Do” tab where users can browse events in their area.

!

The original plot assistant tested poorly in function, but users were interested in seeing customized recommendations.

The updated version incorporated custom recommendations on the “To Do” tab as a way of recommending ideas and suggestions based on a user’s preferences.

Interaction Design by Michelle Hsu

Visual Design

The visual designer orchestrated a brand refresh and we applied it to the wireframes to create hi-fidelity mock ups.

Branding & Icons by Whitney McDaniel

Reflections

Results

The project resulted in an app that was more relevant in today’s brewery marketplace. The research will act as a foundation to build upon for future iterations - getting closer to users needs instead of veering further from them. The design solutions resolve many of the heuristic problems we initially found so the app is measurably more usable!

Lessons Learned

I saw that the more clear and meaningful the delivery of the research, the more on-target all successive steps in the project were. I felt deeply connected to the users after conducting user interviews and initial research - This allowed me to reflect on concepts and ideas with my team and speak as a clear channel for what the users need.

I also learned that I can trust the research to inform our next steps and that I can release personal expectations and judgements - whether they align with the findings or not!

Next Steps

Our next priority is to continue to perfect the content and labels, ensuring that the navigation is incredibly clear.

We also want to develop the settings section that populates the personalized suggestions on the To Do screen.