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Case Study

GramCity Google Ventures Design Sprint

GramCity is a mobile photo editing app that helps users make their photos awesome before they share it on social media. Now GramCity wants to take this a step further to help users take better photos by showing them great places to take photos near them.

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The Problem


GramCity is a mobile photo editing app that helps users make their photos awesome before they share it on social media. Recently, GramCity has decided to help its users beyond just editing their photos. They want to help users take better photos by showing them great places to take photos near them. These places include anywhere that one can take great photos. In addition to this, GramCity aims to create a community so people can find and share their favorite locations.
 
My Role

I ran a solo Design Sprint to work on the new feature of GramCity. I followed the 5 day Google Ventures Design Sprint


Day 1: Map
Day 2: Sketch
Day 3: Decide
Day 4: Prototype
Day 5: Test

Perfectionism paused: Design Sprint is a fun process that taught me how to let go of my perfectionism. It was a good practice for sticking to strict deadlines and not getting too attached to ideas and designs.

Users’ reactions are precious: Usability tests allowed me to see not only the crucial issues but also the parts I have missed out during the Design Sprint. It made me realize once again that no matter how well you think you design, users’ reactions will prove you wrong.

Improved user experience of GramCity: Improving the user experience means users will easily find great photo options to either save it for later or directly go to that location. It will help them plan their photos better before travelling as well as allowing them to decide a nearby photo location and go there immediately.

What’s next for GramCity: More tests need to be done in order to see if the solutions will help fix the problems that came out from the first usability test. This will also possibly reveal more issues that need to be worked on in the next iteration.

Insights From Research

  • Some people like taking photos in touristy places, some people prefer less known places to take photos.

  • Some people look for eye-catching, visually appealing locations to take photos rather than typical touristy places.

  • Some people are willing to go out of their way to find great photo locations even if it’s a far location, some will prefer taking great photos at nearby locations.

  • Some people plan their trips according to photo locations, others will just go with the locations that are nearby.

  • There are people who like finding locations according to their significance.

  • There are people who have a fear of missing out on a good photo location when they are travelling.

  • There are people who look up for photo locations and different photo angles on social media to get inspired. While doing that they don’t want to spend too much time going through average photos.

  • People don’t like spending too much time on social media for photo locations because they also want to enjoy the travel experience.

  • People need to be able to find the address of the photo location details easily.

Secondary Research 

According to the research within the previous 5 years, more than 1 million immigrants come to USA every year and the 10 most common problems they are facing are:

  1. Language barriers

  2. Employment opportunities

  3. Housing

  4. Access to local services (health care, legal advice and access to mental health or social services)

  5. Transportation issues

  6. Cultural differences

  7. Raising children

  8. Prejudice

  9. Isolation

  10. The weather

Secondary Research 

According to the research within the previous 5 years, more than 1 million immigrants come to USA every year and the 10 most common problems they are facing are:

  1. Language barriers

  2. Employment opportunities

  3. Housing

  4. Access to local services (health care, legal advice and access to mental health or social services)

  5. Transportation issues

  6. Cultural differences

  7. Raising children

  8. Prejudice

  9. Isolation

  10. The weather

Lightning Demos

As the experts at GV suggest, I started going through existing apps to have inspirations.

Apps that inspired me: These apps included similar apps that are out there to find photo locations like Depalo and Fotospot, event location finder apps like Splacer, travel apps like Airbnb and Instagram for searching photos. On all these different apps, I looked for how:

  • the photos and their locations are shown

  • the search functionality works

  • save for later functionality works

  • to directly go to a place.


Photo results: The way photos are displayed on Depalo is efficient, the photos have the ideal size and it shows how far the location is. When selected, you can see other photos that are taken in the same location; however, there is no option to filter or sort all these photos. The bottom navigation bar for Depalo is not very clear and the app forces to user to login or sign up on launch.

Search functionality: Airbnb gives importance to its search bar, it’s the first thing that a user sees on the homepage.

Filter and sort feature: Yelp has filter and sort features that help filter out restaurants and cafes and this could be easily adapted to the GramCity app. Instagram gives the user the ability to see top rated photos which allows the user to see good photos without going through average photos.

Map feature: The other apps integrate the map view in their app to make it easier to locate a place.

Crazy 8s

After deciding the user map and getting inspirations, I worked on Crazy 8s to sketch the most critical screen in the user map.

The critical screen: I chose the results screen as a critical screen that shows photo ops with filter and sort functionality. This screen is critical because users need a way to go through the photo options quickly and easily. Filter and sort allows the user to find what they are looking for, faster. I also decided to show these photo ops with some details under them.

Crazy 8s technique is really crazy: Crazy 8s allowed me to sketch 8 different variations of this critical screen in 8 minutes which was crazy but it worked. Out of 8 variations, I picked one screen that resonated more with personas’ goals.

The Crazy 1: The screen I picked had the filter chips instead of a filter dropdown which made the filters more eye-catching. This screen has 2 columns of photo options with details like the name of the place and the distance. It also has a map for the users that want to have a more geographical display.

User Map

The user map shows the user’s end to end experience with the GramCity’s new feature. It shows the journey of how a user finds a great photo option. The journey ends up in 2 different ways:
 

  1. Save the photo option for later (this forces user to sign up or login)

  2. Open on maps to go to that location(this directs the user to the map)

Secondary Research 

According to the research within the previous 5 years, more than 1 million immigrants come to USA every year and the 10 most common problems they are facing are:

  1. Language barriers

  2. Employment opportunities

  3. Housing

  4. Access to local services (health care, legal advice and access to mental health or social services)

  5. Transportation issues

  6. Cultural differences

  7. Raising children

  8. Prejudice

  9. Isolation

  10. The weather

Secondary Research 

According to the research within the previous 5 years, more than 1 million immigrants come to USA every year and the 10 most common problems they are facing are:

  1. Language barriers

  2. Employment opportunities

  3. Housing

  4. Access to local services (health care, legal advice and access to mental health or social services)

  5. Transportation issues

  6. Cultural differences

  7. Raising children

  8. Prejudice

  9. Isolation

  10. The weather

3 Panel Storyboard

3 Panel Storyboard has the screen that comes before the critical screen, the critical screen itself and the screen that comes after critical screen. It shows how these screens would work in real life.

Before the Critical Screen: User searches for locations and puts filters.

Critical Screen: User sees a map, filters and photo options with details and selects a location.

After the Critical Screen: User sees the photo options in the same location with details. User has the option to filter or save the photos and open on maps.

10 Panel Storyboard

10 Panel Storyboard explains how users will interact with the app, starting from the homepage. Homepage allows the user to search for a location for the photo ops and put filters for it. The photo op filter has been added to the homepage to streamline the filtering process. Users also have the chance to apply or remove these filters on the second page where they see the photo ops for the locations chosen.

The map is removed: The map that was seen on the 3 panel storyboard is now removed. The reason for this is because the map clutters the results page and does not directly serve for red routes.

No forced login and sign up on launch: Note that the app only forces the user to login when it comes to saving photo ops. The reason for this is, I want users to find photo options faster and this also gives them a chance to see what’s in the app before they commit to it by signing up.

The Prototype

GramCity Prototype was created with the purpose of testing the red route. By only building out the bare essentials, the prototype allowed to test the functionalities of GramCity’s new feature. This prototype helped identify aspects of this new feature that could be improved and ensure that it meets the needs of users.

Red Route: Looking through photo ops to either save them for later or open on maps to go there.

The Validation

For the usability tests, I ran moderated tests and interviewed 5 people that includes friends and people from Springboard community.

I tested the following features:

  • Searching photo locations (for travel planning or nearby locations)

  • Filtering photo locations (different categories of photo locations for instance: touristy, less known, trendy etc.)

  • Sorting photo options (most liked, recently posted)

  • Saving a photo option to see it later (saves it in the app)

  • Opening a photo option location on map (directs the user to maps)


The Findings

I learned a lot during the usability tests. Tests did not only show me what users are struggling with, it also helped me realize the missing parts and parts that need to be changed on the app.

Here are the major issues:

  • Save button on photos is not visible enough

  • Open on maps button is not visible enough

  • Filter chip states confuse users

  • Users have hard time navigating to previous pages


Here are the minor issues and concerns:

  • Home and Search on the bottom navigation bar takes the user to same screen

  • Like icon under images makes users think there is a like feature on the app and makes users click on like icon instead of save

  • There is an address on the image locations but the exact address might change depending on different spots on same location

"How might we help users find great photo options easier and faster?"

DAY 1

DAY 2

DAY 2 

DAY 2 

DAY 3

DAY 4

DAY 5

DAY 5

DAY 5

DAY 5

SUMMARY

THE INTRODUCTION

DAY 1