THE ROLE. UX/UI Designer.
THE PROMPT. Design a solution to a problem you are passionate about.
THE INSPIRATION. Intentional living in a consumer culture.
THE PROBLEM. Consumers need a way to bridge the gap between global efforts and local businesses because supporting these issues independently can seem daunting.
THE SOLUTION. A mobile directory app that helps people easily find and learn about nearby businesses involved in sustainable and ethical practices.
In this fast-paced world of consumption, the time and dedication it takes to make ethical and sustainable choices is more than most are willing to make.
I began by interviewing five different people in my target market to understand their main concerns and difficulties relating to ethical and sustainable consumption, if they had any at all. I also asked them about their goals, habits, and motivations to get a better sense of their current needs.
With the help of affinity mapping, I was able to extract main points from each individual and categorized them by topic to identify common areas of concern. What I concluded was that most people care about global issues when questioned, but often lack the time and resources to do anything about it. When it becomes convenient or popular enough, such as recycling or avoiding plastic straws, the likelihood of making responsible decisions increases. These behaviors are also heavily influenced by personal relationships and community.
After synthesizing my findings, I developed a persona to get a clear sense of who I was designing for. From there, I was able to narrow in on the problem: Wes needs a way to bridge the gap between global issues and his local community because it can be hard to focus on issues that feel distant.
Applications that focus on encouraging users to consume more consciously are limited by who the audience is as well as what is offered and where.
More popular consumer apps with wider audiences are not offering resources that make sustainable and ethical consumption accessible.
In the realm of conscious consumption, lesser known applications like Not My Style, based in the UK, and Good on You inform consumers about the transparency and practices of different fashion brands. A NZ based app, Conscious Consumer, connects money spent with personal values to find business that are committed to what users cares about.
While they are not primarily focused on sustainable or ethical practices, applications like Amazon, Yelp, and Poshmark were found to be most popular among users to find everything from food and clothes to activities and services.
In order to get an overview of how these existing applications compete, I used a comparison feature matrix and a competitive map. This also allowed me to look for design opportunities and see if there were any gaps in the market.
Wes needs a way to bridge the gap between global issues and his local community because it can be hard to focus on issues that feel distant.
With an understanding of what the competition has to offer and what Wes needs, I decided to create an app that would allow him to easily find businesses that matched his values and related global issues to his local community.
I considered all the features I wanted to include and used a prioritization matrix to decide what, at the bare minimum, would make this application a valuable solution to Wes's problem.
I then designed a first-time user flow that demonstrated how the goal of finding an ethical business would be accomplished. In the scenario below, the user is looking to do some shopping. The end goal is to find a clothing store and get directions.
I began the design process with paper prototypes to get a general idea of how things would be laid out and imported the wireframes into InVision to run some usability tests.
For these tests I asked users to create an account and find the address of a sustainable clothing store they wanted to visit. The primary task was pretty straightforward for most of the users, but the issue I noticed was that some had confusion with the sliding scale during the onboarding process.
Moving into the low-fidelity wireframes, I decided to redesign how users personalized their values. Rather than a sliding scale, I simplified it by having users select the issues they cared about from of a list and double tap the ones that mattered most. The process would be quicker and more instinctive, requiring less effort from the user.
In my final round of testing, I received positive feedback that allowed me to move forward. With the product in its most basic form, users found their tasks to be straightforward, so I began to finalize a high fidelity design.