I took on the mission to create an application that facilitates on-demand or booked service of essential service personnel like plumbers, electricians, hairdressers for regular households. Time and again, there happens to be a scenario where people struggle to attend/fix such a service-based issue because they aren’t qualified enough to pull it off or find it difficult. The challenging part of this design endeavor is in knitting together a platform that seamlessly ties both ends of the thread – an opportunity for the service personnel and the user’s need.
The design process by HFI was my guiding Northstar in solving this particular problem; my role was to actively understand the facet of how the problem was being solved at the moment and how to design a simpler, more accessible solution. Since the design process of HFI was new to me, I had a mentor to guide me through each stage of the design process.
It took me about 8-12 weeks to actively carry out the detailed process that incorporated design strategy, user research, task profile & persona creation, scenarios & task flows, information architecture, wireframing, and user testing. The fully interactive high-fidelity wireframe served as the final deliverable.
Design Process Framework
HFI User Centered Design
Designed A Tried & Tested Method Solution – Uber for X
An idea is always good as a starting point.
But, to expand our vision about the idea and have a reference point- we need to build a design strategy to understand the opportunities and limitations that the idea has. In other words, a method to refine and collect all prime factors that bring the idea to life.
This strategy documentation was pivotal in the journey ahead because it acted as a reference point for us to analyze the opportunities for improvisation or any progression and digression.
Some of the key insights of this phase were that it:
- Helped us outline target users & tasks related to them.
- Envision the critical success factor
- Identified methods by which we can give a shout out (marketing/advertising)
- Channels by which revenue could arrive
Once the documentation is set as a checkpoint, it was time to dive deeper into the details.
Outlining the Basics by Building Task Profiles & Personas
Educated assumptions always play a part in the early ideation phases of product design. And, based on the brainstorming research method, we assumed and documented the categories of users and the tasks these users were likely to perform with the application.
We decided to categorize the user group primarily into 2 – the service personnel and the general user. A total of 3 personas were created, of which 1 persona represented the basic customer and 2 represented the service personnel. Since basic knowledge of smartphones was a requirement, we constrained the age group to 18-55.
General Customer Persona
Service Personnel Personas
In addition, the task profile allowed us to streamline into one place all the various tasks that each user category could perform. This allows us to validate whether the fundamental functions are included while we design the product.
But, it isn’t as simple as it might sound, because there is always the challenge of validating these claims by actually performing field studies.
Field Studies – Which Drew Us Close To The User.
This particular phase was quite challenging to sail through since the project was being done during the pandemic. Understanding the potential user base is vital to validate the assumptions we made, and research methods that involved direct contact were not an option. Hence, we decided to stick to telephonic interviews and online surveys as our research methods.
In telephonic interviews, we focused on having an open-ended discussion with a structured questionnaire built around topics surrounding their daily life, work routine, difficulties in jobs, similar services they might’ve been familiar with, etc.
In the online surveys, we concentrated on providing more direct and close-ended questions to make a simpler process.
We identified and interviewed around 3-5 users per user group and had the online survey attended by 5-10 potential users.
The interview and survey were quite a revelation since they helped us capture many genuine suggestions and opinions. It also made us correct our assumptions and think again about what we could offer.
A couple of interesting insights that we gathered were:
- Service personnel had multiple occupations, which was something contrary to what we were thinking.
(This insight helped us rethink the onboarding process to have a multi-select option instead of a radio button)
- Service personnel were more interested in pay per work than a monthly salary.
Users showed lesser reservation and more confidence in choosing our application if the work attended by SerWiz personnel could be rated & reviewed and get quick customer support if ever the unfortunate happens.
(This made us think of bringing in an insurance coverage security for the work that was done.)
- User’s prefer branded hairdressing salons.
(An opportunity for business partnership for us. Discounts for the users.)
Snippets of Interview comments & Inferences
Snippets of Interview comments & Inferences
Snippets of Survey Results
Once we felt we had a pretty solid understanding of the expectations of the user base, we began the journey of connecting the dots that involved crafting the bits and pieces that made the product.
The creation of task flows helped us visualize better how a particular task is executed and what pages and checks stay as the medium.
Task flows were created using draw.io as the tool; some of the flows sketched out were the standard user booking flow, authorization to begin work once personnel arrives, tracking personnel, onboarding personnel, etc.
Task Flow of Onboarding and Service Booking
Task Flow of Authorising Work, Tracking Service Personnel and Rating Personnel
Before we hopped into the wireframing phase, there was one more crucial step left.
The information architecture to sort out the hierarchy
We began initially by creating a primary noun architecture for the application.
As the name suggests, primary noun architecture consisted of the nouns that described the service the application offered and its associated actions, attributes, and primary view.
Primary Noun Architecture
Based on the primary noun architecture outline, we began setting our grouping of all possible labels and categorized them with a parent label to act as a started point.
Then we used the optimal workshop to conduct an online close card sorting to analyze how participants grouped these labels.
3-5 Participants from both categories of users were called upon to attend this activity.
This activity was an insight, as it helped us uncover how users viewed the labels and gave us the room to re-arrange those labels into different groups.
(Before Card Sorting Exercise)
(After Card Sorting Exercise)
After the re-arrangement of labels, a hierarchical view of the information architecture was created to exhibit the relational properties of each group.
The journey was long, but definitely, it helped gather the details that make a solid design founded on research and data. Speaking of design, we have arrived at the final phase of this process.
In this phase, the tool of choice was Adobe XD; XD is renowned for its efficiency and wide range of interactive capabilities. Moreover, it was a good learning experience trying various micro-interactions on different pages.
The wireframes were fully interactive and high-fidelity in information. So that, once it is out for testing, users could feel closer to the end product.
The wireframes concentrated on translating the task flows like standard booking flow, tracking personnel, authorizing personnel to begin work and viewing/editing information on the user profile page.
This fully interactive wireframe was then taken for testing and was iterated upon to accommodate feedback.
Link to prototype: User Flow – SerWiz
Onboarding and Sign Up
Home and Service CategoriesQuick Booking Feature and Post-Booking View
Profile and Help
“Part of the journey is the end”
But in a design process, the end is only the beginning of something more insightful, as we always find something new to tweak, and there is always space to improve on.
Not to mention, the feeling of making decisions based on research and data rather than gut is so much more gratifying.
The field studies were one of the phases that I was excited about; the opportunity to interview “strangers, but potential human beings who would experience the product you design” was indeed an eye-opener.
The research phase helped me develop the skill of preparing structured questionnaires (thanks mentors) for the interview and interaction with people. It also taught me that my assumptions could be broken, and openness to diverse thoughts and suggestions is always required.
In fact, every phase of this design project was a learning experience, and sailing through a well-thought-out process demanded discipline and patience since you keep the end design out of the equation until you find a solid base.
Further, as time allows, some of the future scope planned for this project would be to improve:
- Learning user base more to extend the reach of the product to more cities (initially, we only considered a small block of the city to have a focused and primary understanding of the potential user base)
- The partnerships with branded salons to cater more offers
- The onboarding experience, so people can set preferences on what services they usually expect. And based on that data, we can cater more recommendations, service personnel, and offers
Breathing life into these plans is unquestionably going to be exciting as this means yet another opportunity for me to run another lap in the pursuit to do the process better and that is something I’m eagerly looking forward to.