Working with the company CEO, we researched, developed and created the wireframes and user flows for the manager-side of a startup's new POS app.
- 3-week time frame
- design a simple, powerful and robust offering that would speak to minimum 80% of owner/manager needs
- create a competitive deliverable within a eye-poppingly saturated market
- deliver a Statement of Work (SOW)
Competitive analysis, user interviews and testing, contextual inquiry, affinity diagrams, persona development, user flows, service blueprint, sketches, wireframes, user interface design, and client presentation.
a quick runthrough of some of the main wires I created
some annotated wireframes
From our first intensive stakeholder interview with the CEO, we knew we would focus on creating the back-of-house, management-facing app for his Entreé project.
He also informed us of a saturated, but quickly growing market. Little did we know what we were facing when we began to research and quickly discovered over 100 other competitive electronic POS systems already on the market.
His asks were:
- dynamic graphic reporting
- ability for possible future integration with other pertinent systems and apps
- a clean, material-design influenced look
- simplicity and ease use while providing functionality for both 'Full' and 'Quick Service' establishments
So we dove straight into contextual inquiries, visiting over a dozen restaurants to get a sense for their current systems, pain points and preferences.
We also did multiple rounds of user interviews with restaurant owner/managers, staff and servers.
It became evident that each establishment functioned mostly within it's own ecosystem, with its own preferred devices and processes.
We performed a competitive analysis and began sketching mindmaps and doing affinity maps with the needs and preferences we'd collected from our interviews.
We also developed a primary persona, user journey and service blueprint to give us design focus.
The biggest weakness with current POS systems seemed to be their tendency to slow, or even fail during service - which were two of the biggest anxieties expressed in our user interviews.
Based on the data I'd assembled so far, I came up with a set of principles and focal points to guide our design, specifically:
- integration with existing tools
- improved error prevention and software backups
- improved customer support
- high value with low price-point
- efficient; no extraneous features
- accessible reports from any device
- easy setup
- help with easing managerial burdens
With these as our guides, we dove into the design phase.
We found we were a bit overwhelmed, so we decided to build a paper prototype that could help us get a real sense of how to design the user interface.
This was extremely helpful to unlock creative flows, and especially gave us some user testing opportunities that vastly improved the formation of the digital wireframes.
Using the information we'd gathered:
- I simplified the top navigation to 'Menu', 'Employees', 'Reports'; I added a 'Need Help?' option as well to make sure users always felt fully supported;
- offered an easy 'Insights' page where managers could see system-generated evaluations and recommendations that could increase efficiency or delineate problem areas;
- gave users opportunity to compare multiple layers of real-time graphs quickly and easily, switch graph types with a click-and-hold, and pinch-and-zoom to dial in or get a quick quantitative overview;
- built an 'Alert' function page where managers could customize pop-up alerts with 2 specifications: 'important' or 'emergency';
- and offered essential information for easy employee and menu item evaluation, addition and subtraction.
We then tested the usability of a few of the flows with a restaurant manager, who gave us ample and useful feedback.
For the presentation to the stakeholder, we annotated a few frames to illustrate important flows. We also explicated our work in an official statement of work (SOW).
Our research and interviews yielded some interesting takeaways:
- The POS field is packed with competitors; yet even still, opportunities abound.
- There is a vast array of complexity unique to each restaurant.
- Each restaurant is in essence its own unique ecosystem.
- The technology of POS systems is meant to serve people who serve people.
- The system should only empower, not weigh down.
- Owners/managers are often too busy to even consider a new POS system.
- Efficiency and speed are essential.
- Owners/managers need to be able to trust in the dependability of their chosen system, especially if it's new.
These points guided our decision-making. Yet with reflection on the CEO's needs balanced with the saturation of the market, I expressed my opinion that he ground the app in an essential, bare-bones functionality; thereby effectively differentiating himself from the herd while better serving the overworked and time-strapped managers.
Since the industry is so variable and people-focused, I thought it best for him to develop his brand with a meticulous 'white-glove' focus to truly fit user needs and develop brand loyalty.
If we had more time I would:
- research the easiest potential integration with other 'most-used/wanted' apps;
- research and whittle down to bare-minimum features;
- refine and build out UI of reporting graphs and affordances;
- carve more time for robust usability testing to continue refining the ease and functionality.