Case study: Protection of personal valuables while at the beach/out at sea (NSW Government fictional client)
Users (predominantly surfers, yet this same problem is also applicable for other beach visitors) are concerned about their personal valuables getting lost and/or stolen while at the beach. Users are also concerned about getting injured by their personal valuables if taken out with them to sea. Users approached myself as a UX Designer to come up with an appropriate solution, so time at the beach is more enjoyable. This was a group based project, and the double diamond method was also utilised.
Why this problem needs to be solved/the barriers:
The Process (UX Design thinking):
I interviewed four (4) users within two days to determine and then verify if there was a real need in solving this problem, and if it is possible to come up with a solution in protecting beachgoers valuables without them getting lost or stolen; and without the need for the relevant users to risk injuring themselves if (for example) one or more of them happens to have an accident while out at sea. It was interesting to discover that a couple of the users slept rough at the beach for a small portion of their lives while homeless. Their beach has been (and still is) their haven in more ways than one. Other research methods such as observation and contextual inquiry were not required or relevant in solving this problem, as rich, quality data was gathered during the interview process.
The key interview questions asked were as follows:
What personal items do you bring to the beach?
Why do you take these personal items to the beach?
Why don’t you take these items into the water with you/use some form of waterproof device?
How do you get to the beach?
Why did you stop driving to the beach? (to non-public transport users only)
How long does it take you to get to the beach?
To public transport users only: how do you pay to go to the beach?
How often do you go to the beach?
How long do you stay at the beach/spend time in the water?
Why do you go to the beach?
How many times a week do you generally go to the beach alone? With others?
To public transport users only: why do you catch public transport to go to the beach?
To user who walks to the beach: why do you walk to the beach?
Why is surfing important to you?
Why is going to the beach important to you?
To delve deeper into having empathy for the users, and to help further define the problem (research synthesis was elaborated on in my next case study); drawing out a concept map below gave further insights into beach use and enjoyment for the users interviewed, and for other users who go to the beach; just to be certain that there are health and economical benefits for an app to help users keep their personal valuables safe while at the beach for their personal enjoyment; and to assist in enjoying the local eateries etc. nearby after their beach experience.
We were aware that there is a problem, and that problem needs to be solved. Thereby I came up with the following solution statement for this group based project:
"Users want peace of mind with their personal valuables while at the beach; and they don't want to take such valuables out to sea at all."
This then led me to synthesise the pain and gain points derived from the UX Research.
There were a few weeks in between iterations, due to the passing of a loved one, as well as the COVID-19 Pandemic simultaneously. I was solely responsible for the paper prototypes, as well as creating wireframes in Figma. The iteration process was constant with the prototyping phase. The sketching was re-done on a couple of occasions, as well as the digital prototype in Figma.
The initial solution to this problem was to create a physical product (a beach safe bag) that would recognise that the user is opening the product via their fingerprints, with an app needing to be downloaded in order to register the product to them, as well as their fingerprint. As I was not responsible for product management on this occasion; as a result another solution was quite simple, and that was the creation of a locker finder app instead.
The locker finder app allows the user to search for their beach of choice. For example, if the user wishes to surf at Manly Beach today, they simply type in “Manly Beach” in the search field, and then click on “search.” If a locker was available at Manly Beach, the app would advise of the location/address of the lockers available, and their cost of hire per hour. If a locker was not available at the users beach of choice; the app would advise the user that a text message would be sent to them when a locker facility becomes available. Locker facilities at nearby beaches (up to four) would also appear.
The app would link to analytical tools to monitor the most searched beaches in Sydney. That way the NSW Government can work with local councils to get more locker facilities available in the most sought after beaches to encourage more users who love going to the beach to do so, and to enjoy the nearby facilities such as bars, cafes and restaurants afterwards; all in enhancing the economy in such areas. The more often users go to the beach and exercise - the healthier they will be; hence taking pressure off the healthcare system.
Prototyping & User Testing
The final iteration of the sketched out prototype (lo fi to mid fi):
In relation to the user testing phase; both the paper prototype (via Marvel on my Android phone) and the Figma prototype (via Figma and Figma Mirror) were utilised with the same four users who were interviewed, while adhering to strict social distancing measures. The users understood the purpose of the app, and were therefore able to navigate it successfully. Only one user thought that the postcode of the beach had to be entered where the search field asks for the full beach name; yet understood the instructions on their second attempt unaided.
An example of some wireframing in Figma on first attempt - self taught:
By designing this app, the pivotal problem of the main users (beach goers) has been solved by enabling them to search for a locker at their beach of choice in advance; and to then make the right decisions beforehand in saving valuable time, while ensuring that their key valuables (phone, keys, credit/debit card and opal card) are secure from loss and theft while enjoying themselves in keeping fit. The creation of this app will also help the local economy by allowing beach users to enjoy nearby hospitality facilities such as bars, cafes and restaurants to name. The ROI will return itself, pandemic or no pandemic.