UX Design

UX Designer & Researcher, Visual Designer
Jason Gong
Leah Chen
August 2021

How might we design a solution to empower the community and small business owners?

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.


Design Considerations

  • Accessing in low-bandwidth conditions for those without high-speed internet.
  • Simplifying functions to make actions intuitive for non-English language-speakers.
  • Adding meaning to personalize functions and allow for emotion.
  • Promoting others through personal connections and touch points.

Say no to complicated onboarding.

  • Option to continue as a guest user to browse instantly.
  • Go straight to exploring nearby shops for last minute reservation without being distracted.

Learn more about your neighborhood.

  • Discover local's favorite where you're staying.
  • Filter results to align with your interests.

Plan trip and save favorite spots.

  • Easily save interesting places to your profile.
  • Curate your own collection to be shared with friends and family

Design for Accessibility

  • Clear and intuitive settings menu including extensive support for various accessibility features.
  • Built-in language switching feature.

Be part of the community.

  • Collect points when you shop at local businesses in your area.
  • Easy to scan for points when making purchases.
  • Write reviews and share your experience with friends.
  • Join discussion group who shared similar interests with you.
  • See updates and promotions directly from shop owners.
01 — Empathize


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.

02 — Define


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.

03 — Define


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.

04 — Ideate

User Journey Map

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.

05 — Ideate

Competitive Audit

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.

06 — Prototype


In contrary to the popular approach to force users to complete a set-up wizard asking several questions to personalize contents, we believe that most users already has in mind what they are looking for, and to personalize content on the first try can be counter-productive. Thus, we decided to opt for a more streamlined process to get right into the action as quick as possible.

Sign up
Search and Filter

To address our main focus on small businesses discovery, we decided to design three different flow for the search feature alone. Firstly, the user can search via easily locatable search bar by entering shop's name or keywords. The user then have the option to filter out results by tapping on desirable value as represented not only by text but also with icons and slider bars for more intuitiveness. Secondly, the user has the option to view nearby shops on an interactive map accessible via the bottom navigation bar. Instead of highlighting popular shops across large geographical area, we focus on showing the users the shops that are within their immediate neighborhood. This way, consumers are encouraged to explore their neighborhood by foot and smaller businesses will have more chance to compete with large chainstores. Lastly, users can quickly browse by categories by tapping on the button visible beneath the search bar on the home screen. Our search flows are designed to ensure that the user can concentrate on each search methods without feeling overwhelmed by several features in one complicated screen.

Saved Items and Collection

With the bookmark and collection feature, users can easily plan their next visit or even create a unique collection to be shared amongst friends or family who might join them next time they visit the neighborhood.

Profile and Rewards
Community Feed

We designed Spotlite to encourage users to visit their favorite stores repeatedly with the rewards feature to establish stronger relationship with small local businesses. We incorporate profile feature as a way to express acknowledgement for users' contribution to the community which gives them a sense of belonging. Users can choose to claim rewards at other stores not exclusive to where they usually shop to foster cooperation amongst business owners in the neighborhood and motivate users to try out new places.

Accessibility Features

We believe in inclusivity, where we must treat all people with dignity and respect. This is where many services failed to deliver today, and we aimed to changed that simply with a dedicated multilingual feature and other sensory enhancements via thoughtfully structured menu.

07 — Prototype

Visual Design

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.

08 — Prototype

High Fidelity Prototype

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.

Click here to view prototype.


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.


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