With an explosion of craft beer on the market, how can beer enthusiasts find their favorite beers? And how can all beer drinkers avoid the dreaded 6-pack of disappointment?
Enter BeerMe - a mobile app for a customized, craft beer experience. Find and drink your favorite hard-to-find beers the way you want, and discover new beers you'll love based on your individual ratings and preferences.Try the Clickable Prototype ❯
One night I was eating dinner at Pies & Pints. Thanks to their uniquely organized menu, I discovered my new favorite beer - Saint Dekkera Poire. But when I tried to buy it again, I realized how hard it is to locate and purchase rare craft beers.
A week later I found myself back at Pies & Pints bar, ordering their remaining 5 bottles. I struck up a conversation with the man next to me about his favorite beers and how he first heard about them. This experience made me wonder - how do people discover new beers? And better yet, how can people discover, locate and drink new beers that they'll really love?
I interviewed 6 self-identified craft beer drinkers to learn how they currently buy and drink beer, and discover any pain points that a mobile app could help solve. Interviews were conducted in-person and over the phone, lasting approximately 1 hour.
44 participants completed an online questionnaire about their beer preferences and habits, demographics and beer app usage. Five potential BeerMe features were tested using a Kano analysis to determine what would delight users, which are expected, and which features users they feel indifferently towards.
Four competitor mobile apps were reviewed against user needs and usability heuristics. These apps included Untapped, BeerMenus, BrewGene and DoorDash (for delivery purposes).
Two clear, goal-based user patterns emerged from the interviews and questionnaires.
First is the primary persona: the beer expert who views beer as a destination. For them, beer is a serious hobby where they invest time to discover their favorites through a careful evaluation process. They tend to have a lot of beer and brewing knowledge, and they select beer based on what they know they like.
The secondary persona is a more casual beer drinker who views beer as part of another journey. For them, beer is a fun enhancement to a party, dinner or date. They tend to have less beer knowledge and choose beers based on convenience or fun names and labels.
To keep wireframes and visual design focused on user needs, 19 user stories were created from interview findings. Each user story was then tied to a feature to build a Minimal Viable Product (MVP). For BeerMe, this MVP is a set of wireframes with key features included for usability testing.
To understand how craft beer drinkers organize and label beer-related tasks, I asked 9 participants to complete an unmoderated, open card sort. They sorted 28 cards into groups of their choosing, and labeled each one.
After standardizing the results, there were three clear groups that all participants agreed upon:
Several remaining categories overlapped to create these groups, but with some variation in their cards:
From these results, I created the following sitemap for BeerMe:
Six user flows were created to understand the steps users will take to accomplish their goals within BeerMe. The final user flows were also used during wireframe creation.
The common user goals and tasks used for these user flows are:
While drafting user flows, I made most features of BeerMe available without logging in. I made this decision during competitor analysis, where I was often frustrated by early sign up screens. In some cases, I signed up for apps only to later find they weren't even available in my area (I'm looking at you, Saucey).
I then used log in only when necessary, like for My Profile and beer ratings. I also ensured that login offered value-added features and accelerators for users, like quicker look ups and ratings.
I created 39 wireframes to outline all the content for major screen in BeerMe. I started with low-fidelity sketches and worked up to high-fidelity wireframes built in Balsamiq.
I then linked all these wireframes together in a clickable prototype using InVision. This prototype was presented on a mobile phone to users for usability testing.
To test the wireframes, I asked 5 craft beer drinkers to try out BeerMe's clickable prototype. I asked for their initial impressions, let them explore the app freely for a few minutes, and then had them perform specific tasks.
Overall, participants were excited about BeerMe and found it easy to use. Several actually asked when it would be available in the app store for them to use. All users were excited to see tap listings at restaurants, either to replace poorly designed bar menus or to plan ahead what they would drink before arriving.
A few key areas of BeerMe were confusing to users:
To correct these issues, I moved My Beers under the "thumbs up" icon in the navigation to make it more accessible and to match users mental models. I then incorporated Recommendations on a secondary tab, hoping to more clearly tie it with your personal ratings. I also added text to the Recommendations screen about how they're calculated.
To prepare for a polished visual design and logo, I created a one-page style guide. This includes a color palette, typography and button styles.
I designed the BeerMe logo to quickly communicate key features that make BeerMe different from other beer apps.
This logo slowly evolved over a few months as I conducted research and testing. Originally, it started as a beer handed over on a silver platter, like a beer concierge. However, during research it became clear that people love to pick their own beers, with more of a subtle nudge in the right direction.
A big shout out to my fellow designers Tom Rauscher and Melissa Phillips for helping me brainstorm final logo ideas! We sketched about three dozen options over lunch, including some really off-the-wall ideas.
I'll incorporate the feedback from usability testing into another clickable prototype. I'll rebuild each wireframe in higher quality using InDesign before putting them back into InVision.
I'll apply the colors, typography and buttons from the style guide to the new clickable prototype. I envision the style guide will also evolve along with the new prototype, as more neutral colors may need to be added.
I'll test My Beers and Recommendations again to ensure that issues from the first round of usability testing have been corrected.
Since so many testers want to use the app, and many others have asked if I'll build and sell it, I'm considering licensing BeerMe. While I thoroughly enjoy working on BeerMe, my passion is in user experience, not in building a database or running a mobile app business.
If you're interested in licensing BeerMe, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.