3-week group client project for a photo digitisation company
Eppik is a storytelling platform that safeguards your memories onto a single private website. Telling stories is the best way to protect them, and Eppik are building tools to do just that. They employ museum grade digitisation, using state of the art cameras and specially designed software, to preserve and safeguard your most precious memories, be it an old photo album, loose photographs, films, slides or negatives.
Customers are not returning to the website once they have scanned in their physical images or albums. There is not much interaction happening with the images, besides sharing them to individual family members via email occasionally.
Our primary objective was to increase long-term engagement through the design of an iOS mobile app. This would be achieved in 2 phases. Firstly, by data entry and secondly, by data utilisation. Given the timeframe, our priority was to get phase 1 right, which was encouraging users to add data to their already scanned in photographs.
Survey, Competitor Analysis, Feature Analysis, User Interviews, User Testing, Persona, Experience Map, Problem Statement, How-Might-We Statements, Design Studio, Card Sorting, Information Architecture, App Map, User Journey, Userflows, Screenflows, Sketching, Wireframing, Low-fidelity Screens, Mid-fidelity Screens, High-fidelity Screens, Prototyping, Testing, Style Guide
- Project completed on time and to quality
- New simplified taxonomy
- Positive feedback from users
- Client buy-in
We used an iterative approach with four phases, discover, define, develop, and deliver. The idea being to diverge and gather information and ideas, then converge to distil this into actionable insights to take to the next phase.
My teammates and I had an excellent working relationship, which made it a very efficient and effective project sprint. We were all very task and deadline focused, detail oriented, diligent and good communicators, which helped us overcome disagreements effortlessly and deliver to tight deadlines with ease. Given my background as a Graphic Designer, I took the lead on all visuals, from the UI of the app to the final presentation to the client.
The discovery phase began by reviewing the business requirements and project scope with the client before exploring user needs through qualitative surveys and interviews.
In order to get better insights into how people use and interact with their physical and digital photographs, we set out to develop a survey. We then sent this out to our own network as well as Eppik’s current customer base and received 119 responses within 3 days. Some of our key findings were that:
- People’s main motivation for keeping photos is to preserve memories
- The main reason people share photos with others is to show friends & family what they’ve done, to commemorate a special memory or to exchange photos from a joint experience
- The most common way to share photos is through WhatsApp and Instagram
- Features that people find most useful in existing apps are location services, sharing and the ability to save a photo
- When uploading a photo people tend to add a description, location and who they were with
To better understand the market and see which features were key in brining customers back into the app, we looked at a variety of direct and indirect competitors. Through this, we discovered a few common threads between the bigger social platforms
- Very intuitive, simple clean layout and accessibility across multiple devices
- Strong mobile-first app
- Username identification which enables a network effect
- The use of notifications to bring users back to the platform
Next, we set out to interview current Eppik users, as well as prospective customers to better understand their behaviour and motivations in regards to photos. We conducted 5 interviews with non-Eppik users and 4 interviews with current Eppik users. This helped us gain better insight into their relationship with keeping, preserving and sharing photos.
Having conducted all of our interviews, we wrote down all of our key insights on to sticky notes and then grouped them into categories. This process is also often referred to as affinity mapping and was done to help us expose patterns and trends within our research. Some of our key findings were:
- The main motivations for keeping photos are to preserve memories, connect with others and feel joy
- Main triggers to go look back at a photo include notifications, memories and widget features
- WhatsApp is the main medium for sharing photos, due to its ease and speed of sharing to both individuals and groups
- The greatest need is having all photos in one place
- The biggest pain point is searching and locating a specific for photo
While running our interviews with the current Eppik users, we also conducted a usability test of the existing website. This was done to get insights into the users current experience with the platform.
Users unanimously loved the museum-grade image quality of the images and thought that the platform was a great way to re-discover old photos and memories.
However, some key features they wished the site had were the following:
- Better and easier sharing options, especially to social media platforms and WhatsApp
- An easier way to add and view metadata
- More intuitive layout and navigation
- Accessibility across multiple devices (especially mobile), not just desktop
- Ability to add audio recordings to their images
- Personalised categorisation
- Smarter search
To help keep the user’s needs front of mind throughout the design process, we created a fictional persona which was based on the findings from our survey, interviews and usability testing. To put ourselves in our persona Karen’s shoes, we considered what a typical scenario might be that she would encounter.
Karen has found a shoebox of old photos at her parents’ house. She wants to digitise them so she can preserve the memories and share them with her family and friends
To show us what Karen’s emotional journey would be throughout this scenario and expose paint points for us to focus on in our design sprint, we created an experience map. It is clear from the journey below, that Karen’s greatest frustration is around organising, selecting and sharing photos. Thus, our mission became clear, making it easy to add metadata to already scanned in photo albums and images and the ability to easily share them with her family and friends.
Ideation and Sketching
We took the above problem into our design studio which we held with our client. To help us spark ideas, we created what is called ‘how might we’ statements to aid us in thinking of ways in which we could help Karen solve her problem
- How might we prompt Karen to add information to her photos?
- How might we add structure to Karen’s photos using AI?
- How might we make organising photos more fun for Karen?
As you can see from the sketches above, we all came up with a variety of ideas, which sparked discussions and thoughts about possible features for the mobile app. Having collected and talked through all of our ideas, we dot-voted to narrow them down to a list of features for consideration.
Feature list and prioritisation
Following the design studio, we created a list of features and identified those that had to be included in the first iteration of the app. The ‘must features’ selected were quick wins that were essential for creating an engaging experience to get users coming back into the app again and again.
The key is engagement — the hook model
To further understand how to best engage Eppik’s users, we analysed these features through the lens of a “hook model” which at its core is about creating user habits through four stages: A Trigger, an Action, an Investment and Variable reward. By actioning all of these, platforms keep users coming back again and again.
Our testing with Eppik customers showed that the existing website layout was not very intuitive, thus we need to re-think the navigation. This was also done because mobile interaction is not the same as desktop. To better understand how users might expect information to be organised and grouped together on the site, we used an UX tool called card sorting. We conducted both an open card sort — where users had to group items together and give them category names, as well as a closed card sort — where users had to attribute items to already established categories.
Based on our findings, we developed the following app map.
Keeping the hook model introduced earlier, and putting ourselves back in Karen’s shoes, we went on to outlining how an ideal user flow might look like for her in the app.
Now that Karen is in the app, we asked ourselves how might we keep her flowing and exploring the additional features the app has to offer. With our new navigation embedded in a bottom app navigation, we can keep Karen clicking through
- An activity feed which prompts her to complete missing information or confirm pictures
- View scanned or newly created albums that then navigate to individual pictures
- Photos page to access all photos directly
- Creating products or booking a request to digitise a new album
- Her profile to see her membership status or change her settings
These user flows helped us identify which screens we needed to design in our next phase.
Our design stage started with paper sketches and iterated quickly to a clickable prototype. We kept Eppik’s current color palette and typography throughout, focusing our design efforts on user flow, content and layout as requested by our client.
We tested with 16 users throughout all stages of fidelity. Users were overall very positive, but the following changes were made to the app as a result of feedback
- Trimming the album page to only one page and adding information, editing and sharing options
- Notification flow had too many steps. The testers wanted to be taken directly to the content page
- Confusion around how to save the input form. Changed this to auto save
- Testers liked the ask for help feature, but in the current form it did not make sense to them so we removed it
- Confusion around language to tag people. Changed to ‘Who is in this photo’
- Users did not understand the ‘relationship’ feature. Removed this feature from the current design, but would like to explore it in further iterations to track relationships between family members
- Users would like to be able to add voice recordings to their photos
- Added alert icons to the activity button on the bottom navigation, to notify users of new activity
Our final designs focused on intuitiveness, ease of use as well as a clean, modern interface, all of which were features that users had expressed were important for them in a photo app. The main features we included were notifications and in-app activity prompts, ability to add comments and audio recordings to photos, auto save-input fields, various photo sharing options and membership benefits.
With our first iteration complete, and creating our Minimal Viable Product (MVP), some things we would like to focus on in our next steps are
- Testing alternative input fields for our forms
- Introduce the ‘relationship’ field to build out family connections and a family tree
- Re-think the ‘ask for help’ feature
- Integrate zooming functionality on the album and photo page for accessibility
- Integrate the shop into the album or photo page for easy creation of new items
- Add a widget feature as a trigger to get back into the app
Challenges and key learnings
This was a great opportunity to work with other members of my class on a project that really resonated deeply with all of us. We all enjoy reminiscing in old pictures and memories and sharing them with our friends and family, especially in current pandemic times. My key learnings for this project came from my team members, one being an exceptional presenter, interviewer and critical thinker who helped me become more comfortable in my presentation and interviewing skills. The other was an extremely talented mediator and organizer who helped us push past discussions with ease by proposing workable solutions that got us re-aligned and helped us move forward in our project sprint.