This project is a result of a collaboration between me and my friend in Creative Jam design tournament organized by Adobe and Instagram. The challenge was to design an accessible third-party app for Android mobile devices that highlight local and undiscovered small businesses.
In order to complete the challenge within the given time frame of one week, we screened our participants meticulously to make sure that each of them would provide us with valuable insights from both business owners' and the consumers' perspectives. From our secondary research, we learned that small business in big cities are already facing with expensive rent and losing customers to online platforms. The largest portion of shift towards online shopping are observed in the financially independent young adults. Hence, we decided to interviewed two participants from two of the busiest and expensive cities in the world, male and female, age 24 and 37 to understand better what is stopping them from shopping locally. On the other hand, we looked towards small business owners who have abundant experience and possibly at the height of their career that offer different products and services to identify their challenges.
From the extensive conversation we had with each participant, we extracted the findings and sorted them as insights and pain points which will further inform our next steps. From the consumer's point of view, we learned that they appreciate the warm welcome when visiting local store versus online shopping but time constraints are a major drawback to the experience that drives them away. We found out that both consumers and owners enjoy the sense of community and would hope their presence to be more acknowledged whether it is by visiting the store more often or through personal interactions.
To assist us with further ideation, we created two personas, one for each stakeholder of a local community. With the personas, we were able to narrow down our findings and highlight their goals and frustrations based on previous researches. The quotes were also taken from the actual words of our participants, while the backstory and profile were synthesized from our understand of their behaviors.
Since business owners are already invested in being part of the community, their problems such as usability and lack of exposure are more straightforward compared to a consumers' complex behaviors. In order to identify key opportunities, I mapped out the journey for our consumer persona into three key phases. From this user journey map, we were able to identify the point of intervention where we could improve the existing experience such as searching, and solve specific problems such as complicated user flow in the process.
Lastly, we gather likely primary and secondary competitors for usability and heuristics evaluation. While we include the well-known Google Maps due to its archetype status as a location discovery and navigation app, we also decided to analyze some of the less popular services such as Culture Trip and The Yellow Pages for their unique perspectives. Airbnb were chosen for its ability to build relationship between hosts and clients, TripAdvisor and Yelp were chosen for its review and booking mechanics. To make sure that we would stay focus on our goals, we came up with our own criteria to compare similar key features for both browser and mobile device version of each service. From this research, we were able to learn from the best practices and to identify opportunities for improvement unique to our problems.
A good identity system is part of a brand's success and we can build that from the insights that we gained from the previous stages. To establish a memorable brand, I advised against using purely symbolic logo mark. I proposed to emphasize on logotype that embodies an original, catchy, and meaningful name for the service. The result is a combination of the word spotlight — to illustrate the discovery of small businesses, and the word lite — which is commonly referred to the lighter version of many products. Together, the brand conveys the pleasant feeling of discovery without burden and hints at the light-weighted and accessible design of the app to support older devices, slower connections, multilingual, and people with disabilities.
To have a more recognizable identity, I deconstruct the typeface and created three small dashes to represent the light beam coming out of the letter O to illustrate a simplified shape of a spotlight. The color cyan were choses for its blend of green and blue representing the mix of the environment, the community, the progressiveness, and technology. The simple color palette also translates to versatility, even in black and white, the brand is still highly recognizable with its accented geometric dashes. I see this also as an opportunity for the brand to grow more dynamic by replacing cyan with other key colors such as orange or purple.
The typeface Proxima Nova Bold were chosen for its excellence clarity. Being a geometric typeface with consistent structure, it allow for the logo not to be overly intrusive or drawn unnecessary attention away from the content. The Inter typeface has similar characteristics but offer more legibility which is appropriate for smaller headings and paragraphs. The two typeface might appear to lack in personality compared to other expressive variants but it is this humbleness that perfectly capture the solidarity of the communities we are trying to serve.
The last prototype aimed to show the encouragement for users to explore their neighborhood and support local businesses with friends and family. The gamified royalty systems combined with community features tailored for interaction with closed ones allow for a more sustainable way for people to bond with their immediate environment, nurture communal relationships, and spread word-of-mouth.
After distributing the prototype to my participants, I learned that most users enjoy using the map feature because they are already familiar with such mechanics on other apps. Hence, to push this project further, I might want to add more interactive elements to the map, such as icons, to highlight recent popular places versus newly opened ones. I might also want to implement real-time data visualization to bring the map alive, such as showing a heat map in the neighborhood to easily join the enthusiastic shopping crowds or move away to a secluded corner of the street. My next challenge here is to rethink how future maps could function to encourage different consumer behaviors and not restrict to past best practices of navigation services.