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The Official Black App

Timeline

Platforms

Team

Tools

5 weeks

March 2023 - April 2023

Mobile App

Erica Nieves ( Me ^_^ )

  • Head of Prototyping

Christiana Aghjayan

  • Head of Design

Seungyong Han

  • Head of Research

Talia Sperry

  • Client Communications & Product Management

Figma

FigJam

Trello

Monday.com

Google Drive

Project Background

Leveraging the thriving landscape of black tech entrepreneurship, The Official Black App capitalizes on this momentum to connect every black-owned business within the app to the global market. Currently, individuals seeking black-owned businesses face the challenge of either scouring websites to determine if a business meets their specific criteria or relying on search engines that often yield random results, primarily utilizing the term "black" in the title. The primary objective of The Official Black App is to facilitate the circulation of the black dollar within the black community. The app meticulously verifies and vets businesses to ensure customer satisfaction.

Client Request

  • The client presented us with a range of possibilities to consider for updating their app. These options included modifying the onboarding process, enhancing the search feature, integrating social media, refining the user interface, or incorporating new features. However, the client emphasized that these suggestions were merely his initial ideas, and he prioritized making the most crucial updates based on the research findings.

Research

Having received the client's instructions, my team and I proceeded to conduct independent research. I focused on :

User Interviews

To enhance our understanding of our users, we conducted interviews with both consumers  and business owners. Our intention was to gather insights into the challenges faced by business owners and their expectations from a review and recommendation platform. Similarly, we aimed to comprehend the motivations driving consumers to support small businesses and their approaches to fostering the growth of such enterprises. The outcome of our interviews revealed the following findings:

Business Owner
  • Wanted a platform that requires minimal ongoing maintenance 

  • Wanted to maximize the value of the platform they were using

Consumer
  • Wanted an easier way to find small local businesses

  • Feel connected to the community when purchasing products and using the platform

App Data

Following our kickoff meeting with the client, we promptly shared a Statement of Work (SOW) requesting the app analytics and slide decks for a comprehensive understanding of their app and requirements. Regrettably, despite receiving the slide decks, we faced challenges in obtaining the app analytics. Despite multiple email attempts and even a text message, we did not receive any response from the client. Consequently, we encountered difficulties in accessing the app data necessary for our work.

Usability Test

In addition to the unavailability of app analytics, we also encountered a limitation in accessing the app without incurring a cost. Since the app required a $1 purchase on the app store, we decided against burdening participants with the expense when they were volunteering for the usability test. As a workaround, I took the initiative to create a grayscale version of the existing app interface specifically for our usability testing purposes.

Some takeaways from the initial usability test : 

  • The home button did not make sense to users

  • Language like “Spend Black” and “Quick Shop” were unclear 

  • Too many categories on the homescreen

Persona

After gathering and analyzing our research findings, we recognized the need for multiple personas in our product, we prioritized developing these personas as our next step. Although the client provided us with their perception of the target audience, we discovered that the personas they provided contained irrelevant details while lacking essential elements that truly brought the personas to life. Therefore, we took it upon ourselves to update and revitalize the personas provided by the client, infusing them with a fresh perspective.

Original Personas
Revamped Personas

Business Owner

Consumer

Problem Statement

Having established a clear understanding of our target audience, our next objective was to identify the most significant issue revealed by our research. By synthesizing the collected data, we arrived at the following key findings :

Business Owner

Small local business owners need a platform that provides value to their business so they can easily promote their products and services to customers.

Consumer

Small business enthusiasts don't know where to look but need a way to find quality products from local small businesses so they can support their community.

Ideation

Having received the client's instructions, my team and I proceeded to conduct independent research. I focused on :

Once we had come to an agreement on what the design would look like I went to work on creating a quick lo-fi prototype.

Testing

With the low-fidelity prototype ready, I promptly prepared a usability test to assess areas requiring adjustments and to evaluate the effectiveness of the design. Key takeaways were : 

The pin on the map should be interactive

The blog/forum icon initially didn’t make sense to users but once they knew what it was they understood its purpose

People would like to have a search feature within the blog/forum

Redesign

Having collected feedback we went to discuss possible edits together. Once we decided on our next iteration we went and tackled the rebranding of the app so we could implement it into our hi-fi prototype.

Rebranding

For the rebranding we mainly focused on the colors and how the colors would embody the essence of the app. We were with purples to symbolize ambition, wealth, creativity, pride, and independence to symbolize business owners. For consumers and business owners alike we used pinks for friendship, community, care, and compassion.

Final Design

The final design included a total rebranding of the app with a few new additional features of : 

Business Owner
  • A community blog offering best practices for running a business

Consumer
  • Proximity map to aid users in locating nearby businesses

  • Forum for uses to recommend and share their favorite establishments 

Future Steps

Only so much can get done within one sprint so some future steps I would like to work on are : 

  • App Walkthrough 

    • Our research findings indicated that once users became familiar with the icons through testing, they were able to locate them swiftly. Therefore, incorporating an educational component to provide an understanding of each function would be advantageous, as demonstrated by our research's effectiveness.

  • In App Shopping Experience 

    • At present, business owners have the option to list their business on the app, which redirects users to their website or social media. However, I believe it would be advantageous to enable users to directly sell their products or services within the app.

Reflection

Despite the client's limited communication, my team and I successfully executed a remarkable app redesign, incorporating valuable features that were absent in the original design. Throughout this sprint, I gained significant insights from my teammates, particularly in the realm of client communication. As this was my initial client interaction, my teammates enlightened me on numerous subtle aspects to consider when engaging with clients. Their guidance provided me with invaluable lessons for future client interactions.

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