OVERTIRED AND ISOLATED PARENTS NEED TO FIND A RECOMMENDED KID FRIENDLY EVENT. TODAY!
Merry Go is a mobile app that connect parents in their search for today's kid friendly event and venues. It allows users to filter, search, and share events while participating in a live forum about the event.
Product Designer (UX/UI)
Testing & Analytics
Being a parent to young children is an exhausting and isolating endeavor. Finding a fun child focused activity is only a web search away. But how do you find recommended local kid friendly event and venues? The challenge is more than finding a destination it’s about answering parenting questions. The best resources for answering these questions is the collective intelligence of parents in the same situation. An easy to use mobile app is needed that connects parents in their search for today's kid friendly event and venues.
Does the bathroom have changing tables?
Is the performance during nap-time?
Can I use my stroller?
Is there shade?
Is there healthy food and drinks available
I created a survey asking caregivers about the methods and resources they use to find local kid friendly events. I posted a link to the survey on a mother club online discussion forum and received 19 respondents. I also interviewed five survey respondents to clarify their answers and outlined their pain points when looking for kid friendly events.
I conducted five impromptu interviews of caregivers at two local park playgrounds. I asked them about what resources they used to find local kid friendly events. I was shocked to discover that these caregivers relied on the bulletin board at a nearby cafés and the fellow playground caregivers for finding recommended local events. In addition, I also closely reviewed the survey respondent data, followed the Southern Marin Mothers list serve for a week and generally explored online parenting blogs. From this research, I created four user personas.
The resources available for finding kid friendly event and activities are vast. From my survey data, interviews with parents and resource landscape examination, I created a basic SWOT analysis. My take away from my research was that people want context and personal connections from their content, especially recommendations and real-time feedback.
I compiled a user story and prioritized the essential functionality with a Sr. UX Designer to quickly build a minimum viable product for testing. It was here that I learned a key lesson. I overlooked my research that told me users wanted social interactions like sharing, linking, posting & comments in the app. These were precisely the function labeled “nice to have” and were removed from the MVP.
Working on the MVP, I designed a dashboard mimicking UI patterns found online. I also mapped out the sign-up and search flows using my user story and dashboard design as a guide. Then, I built the site map to help clarify the navigation structure and content hierarchy. .
First I made a list of words that described the app and then circled the top three. They were kids, fun, and movement. Then I searched for imagery around places where kids activities typically happen like playgrounds, circus tents, etc. This was good start but when creating a brand I often work a Socratic method to clarify the foundational elements behind the brand story.
Q & A SESSION
Q: What is this apps primary function? - A: Discovery of new, entertaining events to take my children too. From this answer I derived the tagline: “Let’s find some fun!”
Q: What is fun for both kids and parents? - A: Play
Q: Where do most children find play? - A: At a playground.
Q: What is foundational for discovering new places? - A: Movement
So the Merry–Go–Round became the name and brand icon because it signified both movement and play. Then, I shorted name to Merry-Go to further emphasize fun and movement.
Searching key color indicators like fun, kids, vibrant, and feminine I found mostly cliché pinks, baby blues and lemon yellows that were either too pastel or over the top neon. I was looking for a more nuanced storyline for the Merry- Go color palate. Then I found these retro circus colors that contained the energetic fire engine reds that said “this is fun” to both adult and child.
Appealing or a modern female demographic, I looked for a energetic and charming font that said fun. I found these qualities in the font Bree Serif for the logo. For heading and the body copy I looked for something open, easily readable and san serif. I arrived at the tall and thin Poppins Light for headings and the ubiquitous Roboto for the body copy.
I pasted up a basic paper prototype and conduct user tests with several friends and neighbors. I also brought it to a local dinner party where it was a big hit and helped me gather five user tests. The user tests revealed that the there was tremendous need for an app like Merry-Go and also outlined the need for universal adoption for this app to be valuable locally.
After an initial round of testing, I transformed the app into a clickable prototype and applied the brand design. I began testing by employing user testing.com to get feedback from my primary demographic. The feedback was positive, so I continued iterating the prototype building out features like recommendations, rating and user comments within the venue information.
Then I sent the the prototype link to survey respondents and gathered feedback in person and over the phone while they clicked through the prototype. I received lots of data about the UI and what worked or not. Yet, it was the conversations I had after the testing the prototype that brought me to a telling question that shifted the whole focus of the project; "Where are the users?
Showing caregivers kid friendly event nearby didn’t resolve a caregiver’s feeling of isolation. The user’s priority need was connecting to other parent and finding an opportunity to socialize, connect and share with a community in similar circumstances.
Local List Serv.
They wanted a place to ask and answer questions, to get feedback and reconnect to the outside world. They wanted a local listserv. for mining the collective intelligence of the group.
User testing showed that my initial assumptions were wrong. Yes, I lost sight of the users needs and now the process loops back to a new iteration focused on connecting users who want to find kid friendly events. This project was a powerful lesson and a testament on how user testing builds better products!