Crawl is a mobile app that showcases to users the best spots and events in the Lagos metropolis. Users can access top music events, restaurants, cafes and lounges based on their preferences and location.
Discovery -> User Research -> Extract Insights -> Ideate & Sketch -> Design & Prototype -> Test & Refine -> Build
Pen & paper, iPhone Camera & Recorder, Balsamiq, Miro, Sketch, Invision and Zeplin
A boutique software development company I had worked with in the past approached me to work with them on a mobile app development project for a high profile client. I decided to take a meeting with said client to get more insight into the problem they were trying to solve and determine whether it was a problem worth solving.
The meeting took place a week after at a lovely restaurant, The Harvest. The client discussed issues they had with finding good events and spots to hangout in Lagos. They also shared with us a brief, outlining the problem they were trying to solve and possible solutions.
- Lagosians want to know where to go to hangout and have fun
- Lagosians will download an app that caters to the above-mentioned pain point
- Lagosians will recommend the app to their friends
- Lagosians love exclusivity and will want to belong to a network of elites
- Spot owners want to showcase their spots and events to the paying public
The client has identified an opportunity: provide spot owners with visibility while showing people where to go and what to do in Lagos.
02. User Research
After reading the details of the brief, I realised that I could relate with the clients. In the past I had wondered about bringing together all the top events and spots in Lagos on a platform. It seemed like an interestiing problem to solve, so I decided to take on the role of Product Designer. But seeing we were not going to be the actual users, I had to figure out whether the perceived problem was indeed a problem. I also needed to figure out if it was a problem for which people wanted a solution.
Bear in mind that the problem we were trying to solve focused on metropolitan cities in Africa with Lagos as the first city we wanted to launch in, as a result, we needed to understand the city and how things worked in the entertainment and social scene.
I proceeded to:
Interview target users (mostly millenials in lower middle to upper socioeconomic classes) – It is important to note that I did not go with the conventional method for user interviews with this particular project. The reason for this is that the project in itself involved providing options for people’s leisure time. I decided to hangout with individuals and groups in our target market and ask questions in an informal manner. I found that the interviewees were open and could talk about their experiences and pain points freely. Some of the questions I asked were, but not limited to:
- How do you spend your leisure time?
- Do you enjoy going out to restaurants, bars, lounges, open mic nights, beach parties, house parties, poetry nights, art shows and night clubs, etc.?
- How often (weekly) do you participate in the aforementioned activities?
- How do you usually find out about these spots and/or events?
- How do you decide on where to go to?
- What issues do you encounter with going out and spending time alone or with friends and family?
Talk to managers of establishments to gain insight into their guests – One of the clients is an icon in the Lagos PR space, so I had access to most restaurateurs, bar owners, art curators and event organisers. I used the opportunity to find out about their establishments and events, how they got word out, retained clients and pain points they faced. I asked questions like:
- How do you get word out about your spot and events?
- What issues have you faced or continue to face in getting word about your spot or event?
Research similar mobile apps – Some of the mobile apps I researched were Velocity, UNation, BottlesTonight, Do512 and Fever. I also did a feature comparison for the apps above to get more insight into their flow. This would otherwise be termed a competitor analysis if the apps in question were functional in Africa, but this was not the case.
Features comparison of similar apps
03. Extract Insights
Lagos is a metropolitan city divided in two main parts: Lagos Mainland and Lagos Island. The latter is the epicentre of events, shows and the night/social life, it is always bubbling. The Lagos Island area is also home to the wealthier socioeconomic classes and most corporations have their offices there.
As a result, there is a large number of individuals who commute to work everyday from the Mainland area. This huge influx causes terrible traffic in the evenings after close of business. In order to avoid getting caught in traffic, a large number of professionals would rather attend late night events, visit restaurants, lounges and bars to grab a drink and while away time. This makes the Lagos Island social scene busy both on weekdays and weekends.
Map of Lagos showing influx from Mainland areas to Island Area
After discussing with and interviewing twelve (12) individuals, I found that the most common media for finding out about events and spots to hang out were:
- Instagram accounts
- Online Ads
Pie chart depicting media iused by nterviewees to find events and spots
When it came to referrals I wanted to know the motivation behind the behaviour, why would a person prefer to just call a friend and ask for recommendations instead of just searching online. The responses I got were:
- Searching for places online can be a pain because these events and spots are not consolidated somewhere that makes them easy to find
- It is just easier that way
- I guess that is what I am used to doing
Another designer may have asked the interviewees if they would use a product that consolidated all events and spots, but I chose not to. The reason for this is that asking a user whether or not they will use a product is a leading question and is not a true indicator of what the user will do..
I used the insights I gathered during the research phase to create personas, a user experience map and prioritise features using the MoSCoW method.
User experience map
Features prioritisation (MoSCoW method)
04. Ideate & Sketch
After a number of team meeetings to fine-tune user insights and prioritise features, we came up with a general consensus on what the app should feel like. I proceeded to create a user flow in Overflow, make sketches of the app screens on paper and design mid-fi wireframes.
App user flow
After testing the wireframes with some potential users, we made some tweaks to the sign up process and also decided to remove the booking feature for the MVP. I designed the initial high fidelity screens in Sketch.
I took time to advocate for detailed user research to the stakeholders and was glad that I got buy-in. I also advised that an agile approach be used, so after tweaking the wireframes, I proceeded to design screens quickly, share them with stakeholders via Invision, work on feedback and send to the dev team via Zeplin. This worked faster than waiting for the entire screens to be ready.
Unfortunately, the client declared that my services were to pricy and that the input (insights, design and guidelines) I had provided was enough. They felt they would be able to execute the remainder of the project with a designer who charged lower rates. I was really disappointed at the turn of events, but did not regret it as I enjoyed the discovery, research and design phases.