Working with the startup's CEO, we researched, developed and created the user flows, wireframes, and simple interactive prototype for a manager-facing Point of Service (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 few of the annotated wireframes
We started the project off running with a stakeholder interview. Siddharth Gutta, the CEO, told us he already had the front-of-house aspect of POS system designed and built out, but had yet to create the back-of-house, management-facing app.
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.
Still, with hundreds of thousands of independently owned, single-location restaurants across the country, we saw the potential.
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 from there we began 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.
We performed a competitive analysis and began sketching out mind maps and affinity maps to process the needs and preferences we'd collected from our interviews.
From this developed a primary persona, as well as a user journey and service blueprint to us a find a design focus.
We also realized that with so many POS systems out there trying to one-up each other with 'featuritis', they're actually setting themselves up for failure and dysfunction. Due to their complexities, they were more prone to slow or even fail during service - which were two of the biggest anxieties expressed in our user interviews.
So with this knowledge, we 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 iterative design. But we found we were a bit overwhelmed with all our research, so we decided to build a paper prototype that was incredibly insightful allowing us to visible and tactilely experience the UI we were conceiving. It also provided us some user testing opportunities that vastly improved the formation of our digital wireframes.
As I built the digital wireframes, and based on our insights, 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 our CEO, we annotated a few frames to illustrate the UI for important flows. We also explicated our work in an official statement of work (SOW).
- The POS field is packed; yet even still, opportunities abound;
- Each restaurant represents its own unique, complex ecosystem;
- POS systems are meant to serve the people who serve people;
- The system should empower, not weigh down;
- Owners/managers are often too busy to even consider a new POS system;
- Efficiency and speed are critical;
- 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.
Upon completion, I had:
- Conducted multiple rounds of user interviews;
- Conducted multiple contextual inquiries;
- Developed an affinity map of discoveries;
- Developed a user blueprint;
- Created a site map;
- Developed an interactive paper prototype;
- Created digital and annotated wireframes;
- Developed a SOW;
With 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.