GiftEasy — finding the perfect gift.
A UX Case Study with remote testing during the Covid-19 lockdown.
This case study is an outcome of participating in the User Experience (UX): The Ultimate Guide to Usability and UX Course available on Udemy. I would like to thank David Travis for his active guidance through this course, from which I learnt a lot.
Gifts are usually a way to express our feelings and thoughts for someone. That feeling of being a reason for someone’s happiness can be quite satisfying for many people. But, thinking about the right gifts for our loved ones can be tough and time-consuming. It is also quite common to forget planning for gifts altogether and regret later.
The idea behind GiftEasy is to suggest gift ideas based on what someone knows about the person they want to get a gift for. It aims to solve the tedious nature of gift-finding and make it all the more pleasurable and rewarding. Additionally, it reminds people to think about gifts well in time, by reminding them with appropriate suggestions.
The sole purpose behind this project was to learn more about and practice the UX process. For this reason, I assumed that a fictitious company has an astonishingly accurate recommendation system for suggesting gifts, as proposed in the course. I decided to go wild with ideas and not limit myself by thinking about the technical feasibility of features, for this project. Please read on to find out how GiftEasy helps people to easily find the perfect gift for a loved one.
To understand what people think about the gift-giving process, I began by asking around 20 people to describe their gift-finding experiences in 3 words. It was insightful to find that so many people experienced the process to be frustrating and time-consuming.
User Interviews and online research:
This research was focused on gifting experiences only with loved ones and not with any formal relations.
Initially, I went on to Quora to read about experiences and preferences of people with regards to gift-giving. To validate what I learned through Quora, I created a subjective questionnaire with open questions to reach around 20 people, regardless of their age, to find out about their experiences with gift-giving. I asked them questions like:
- What was the last gift they got for a loved one?
- How did they go about deciding a particular gift?
- How was the experience?
- What kind of problems they faced?
- What did they like and so on..
Through this I got to know that the younger, office-going generation was the one that could really use some help with gift finding. The older people seemed to be comfortable with the idea of either already knowing what to gift or just handing over cash.
To validate this hypothesis of the younger, office-going generation needing help with gift-giving, I interviewed 5 people about their gifting experience. I asked them similar questions but had the opportunity to go with the flow wherever needed and not necessarily stick to a fixed pattern and order of questions. I also wanted to do some contextual inquiries but due to the lockdown, I managed to observe only one person to see how he decides what gift(s) to give to someone. But, this helped, nevertheless.
The following are the main insights I found from all the research:
- People tend to think about the likes, dislikes, hobbies of and relationship with the person they want to gift to, along with their spending limit, while thinking about gifts.
- Ending up with too many generic options or too few appropriate options can be frustrating for people. Resorting to gift-cards is an easy alternative for some, while for others it is usually the last option when they don’t find a meaningful gift.
- Often people forget or are late in planning a gift which leads to disappointment.
- Many times it helps people to recall if someone mentioned something that they like or want to have.
At this point, I wondered if many people keep notes on their phones to record important things and if it was a good idea to use notes within GiftEasy. So, I used Instagram to ask people if they ‘usually write notes on their phones to remember anything’. Interestingly, 27 out of 35 people responded with a ‘Yes’.
Based on the research, I identified three kinds of people when it comes to gift-givers. First, people who love to give and get gifts. They thoroughly enjoy the process of gift-finding and giving (Megan). Second, those who gift only because they have to, but still try to make the gifts meaningful as much as possible (Viaan). And third, the ones who don’t care much about gifting and are happy with generic gifts such as gift-cards or even cash. So, I tried to think more about the first two types by creating personas based on my research.
Based on my research, I tried to identify the key tasks or the red routes that could help people like Megan to find appropriate gifts easily. These red routes are depend upon how many people would do something and how often would they do it. Then I also tried to include what could be important for people like Viaan.
From these red routes, I then created user stories to define the most important user requirements in a more concrete manner.
- Megan says, “As an enthusiastic gift-giver, I want to get gift ideas based on some criteria that I specify so that I can find the perfect gift for my loved ones.”
- Megan says, “As a gift-giver, I want to know where can I buy a gift so that I can actually place the order.”
- Megan says, “As a watchful planner, I want to be able to note down any information I receive at anytime, about people important to me, so that I can use this information later to help me look for appropriate gifts for that person.”
- Viaan says, “As a busy person, I want to automatically get reminded about important dates with suitable gift suggestions so that I don’t miss out planning and sending/buying gifts well in time.”
Let me show you how my desk looked like after all this back and forth of discover and defining. This was definitely not a linear process.
After doing the research and having an understanding about the gift-givers, I went to thinking about the solution. For this, I did some rough sketching in order to think of ideas about what the application could do to solve the problem. I came up with the idea of having a three-fold solution.
- Gift-Finder: A place where people could feed-in information about the person they are finding a gift for. Based on this information, the finder would recommend suitable gifts.
- Profiles: To allow people to keep notes about people who are important to them and later use these notes to find a suitable gift.
- Reminders: Enable people to set reminders for important dates and get gift suggestions based on their saved profiles when the dates are closeby.
I created a paper prototype to validate my ideas with users. My intention was to check if people would like to use these features and if they find them useful. Surprisingly, I got a very positive feedback and people said that wonder if there is something similar that they could already use.
Testing the prototype even with two users helped to quickly uncover some problems with the design. The main ones were:
- Users seemed to be overwhelmed with too much text and information simultaneously on the gift finder screen (see image above, part 3).
- About maintaining profiles of people, one said that she would rather use her phone to take notes.
- I was trying to combine reminders which were set to 5 days or 10 days for example. This information was irrelevant for the users.
Based on the testing of my paper prototype, I thought about redesigning the main flow of finding the gift. Instead of asking for all the information in one go, I thought about asking them questions in batches, leaving the possibility of skipping whichever questions they do not wish to answer. Along with the website version, I also thought about having a mobile version this time.
Hypothesis*: People prefer to use mobile phones for quick to do tasks like setting reminders or taking notes. But, people prefer to use bigger screens to explore various options presented to them.
To be able to really validate my ideas about the application, I needed to test something which could mock the real application. Something that could give a feeling of using the actual application to the users. For this, I then created the digital interactive prototype. Because of the demand gathered before, I decided to make two versions of it: web-based and mobile.
Then, I tested these using some tasks that people had to do. I designed the tasks in a way that the users are able to experience the main functionalities of the app and I am able to gather as much feedback as possible. Due to the lockdown situation, unfortunately, I could not test as much as I wanted to but as they say, some testing is better than no testing at all. So, I went forward with it anyway.
I arranged calls with 4 people remotely and individually on Zoom. Because we were testing remotely, I asked them to assume that I am their mobile or laptop and they should tell me each and everything they would like to do to interact with the application like clicking on something, scrolling, tapping, etc. I also asked them to think-out-loud and tell me what they thought about the application while they were using it.
There were 3 main tasks, one of them focused on the gift-finder, the other on creating and editing profiles and the third one on reminders. Depending on the task, I gave them an option to pick whichever device they thought they would use to do such a task.
After the tasks were done, I asked them to fill the SUS Score based on their experience with GiftEasy (mobile or web or both, depending on what they used). The average SUS score for GiftEasy came out to be 86.25. The choice of devices also proved my hypothesis* mentioned above.
Even though it was remote testing, I found the sessions to be highly productive and I could gather very useful feedback from them. To be able to analyze the feedback in a systematic manner, I used affinity mapping to cluster the points from all the people who tested GiftEasy.
Then, I prioritized the issues using the following 3 factors and the decision tree I learnt about, in the training:
- What is the impact of the problem?
- How many users are affected by the problem?
- Will users be bothered by the problem repeatedly.
Due to other time commitments, I could not get a chance to actually address the problems. But, if I could, I would start with the critical ones and then address the serious problems. This is how I would address these problems.
GiftEasy is about giving ideas, was not clear immediately
The names of websites can be replaced with their logos. By the Gestalt law of familiarity, people might then think that they can go to Amazon or Ebay from here.
Account Part is missing.
Yes, I definitely got more indulged in the 3 main parts GiftEasy provides (Gift Finder, Profiles and Reminders) and forgot to include the account portion in the mobile app. Adding it would be the necessary solution.
‘Use saved profile’ option was overlooked.
The option to use a saved profile instead of entering data each time, should be present before asking for any information from the user. We already know that people usually read from left to right and from top to bottom.
Wow, what an interesting journey and I got to learn so much on the way.
- First of all, I got a pretty good revision of what a UX process could look like. Realized yet again that it can not be a linear process and you have to revisit your ideas and designs, time and again.
- I managed to test my paper prototype remotely, while trying to mock some interactions.
- I found myself prompting a user, in terms of pointing to things she could interact with to do something, just because I had the mouse control. But, I quickly realized this in the first test and tried my best to not repeat the same mistake in the following tests.
- I learnt that testing an application on two devices, that too remotely, is a massive task. So, I decided to focus on the UX aspect and not bother about the minor things like the look and feel of UI elements.
Thanks for your time. If you enjoyed reading this, please give me .