Work: That Lyfe, LLC
An early stage startup focused on making the nightclub scene accessible for club goers, That Lyfe LLC believes in the unique opportunity provided by democratizing VIP table reservations to develop an app tentatively titled Nocturnal. By leveraging the power of technology to help users connect directly with businesses, and increase margins for businesses who use the app, That Lyfe will have cut out intermediaries while increasing value for users and businesses alike.
UX Designer & Researcher
Paper, markers, Mural, Sketch app, and InVision.
The client will have acquired an increased understanding of their market and potential users.
Deliver an app design for future development and release.
Consumers who have an active nightlife, and businesses who have VIP tables at nightclubs. Consumers and businesses alike will use the mobile phone app to reserve VIP tables and accept VIP table reservations, respectively.
Of the 69,987 clubs and bars in the United States, approximately 6,020 of those venues are nightclubs, according to the American Nightlife Association. A survey conducted in 2015 indicated that of 1,444 bars, nightclubs, and lounges, 1,012 of those venues provide a VIP section; 938 of the venues provide bottle service. An opportunity to provide a solution that would allow club goers to eliminate the experience of time spent dealing with intermediaries, and club ownership and management the opportunity to maximize revenue, by simplifying the VIP table reservation experience is one that That Lyfe, LLC entrusted us to ideate and design.
Prior personal experience as club goers not withstanding, my partner and I had no experience with respect to what transpires during the transaction between users and club management/intermediaries, particularly in the mobile app space. One of the first steps we took was to look for 7 competitors and compare them using a set of criteria that would provide a good user experience. In doing so, the competitive analysis we performed showed us what is currently being done well, what can be improved, and potential opportunities to innovate and create a unique proposition for users and stakeholders alike.
The importance of understanding where users would be when using the app became clear. I conducted field research to empathize with users and the environment they would find themselves in when using the app. My partner and I also interviewed 9 current clubgoers to get a sense of their feelings, perspectives, and preferences in their club-going experiences. All of which was synthesized into an affinity diagram to help us uncover any patterns and find meaningful insights.
The research yielded key insights. In particular, there is not an established norm in making table reservations at night clubs. Performing Google searches on events or venues in a local area, as well as word-of-mouth referrals, are the preferred method for users to decide if a venue is worth going to.
Users want a simple and convenient platform where they can find out about events and venues in their area, as well as making table reservations at the venue they are interested in. The current user experience is a fractured one, as the points of friction users can encounter when making table reservations include:
Ambiguity of VIP table reservation prices.
The use of multiple apps and/or sites can be time consuming and inconvenient.
Not knowing if they are getting value for their patronage.
The hassle of negotiating with promoters.
Once we completed the synthesis of our research, we created primary and secondary personas that were as reflective as possible of the data we captured to help guide our decisions going forward. Though we did not have the opportunity to communicate with club ownership or management, we created a proto-persona to ensure we incorporated business needs and objectives in our decisions as best as we could.
In creating the app, we wanted the onboarding experience to communicate to users the value derived from using the app, without obligating them to continue scrolling through each screen. We looked for a simple sign up process that would take users to the app home screen in a minimal amount of steps as possible.
To that end, we also considered what making reservations at specific venues; using the calendar to search for events on particular dates; and bidding on VIP table reservations what look like in an ideal scenario. Ideal user flows help designers to consider the implications their decisions have on the interactions users will encounter when using an app, service, product, or site before sketching out possible solutions. The sitemap provides an overview, and an understanding, of the hierarchy of information within the app.
My partner and I generated as many ideas as we could. It is a powerful tool because it allows committing ideas to paper, and to iterate upon them as you go further along in the design process. But the overarching objective was to generate ideas that would be equally beneficial for users and stakeholders.
For the home screen, we decided to focus on event discovery, users mentioned their use of Google to search for events. We also accounted for the bidding feature that would provide value to users and stakeholders alike. Users would be able to bid on a VIP table at a more attractive and affordable venue, while club owners would fill otherwise empty tables at their venues.
After deciding on our ideated solutions, we used Sketch to create low-fidelity wireframes. It gave us a visual representation of the ideal user flows we created, and what users can expect to see when using the app.
We wanted to create a seamless experience as possible, from the onboarding through to the VIP table reservation experience. So my partner and I considered the fractured experience users endure when making VIP table reservations in nightclubs by integrating event discovery and table reservation capabilities in one app. In doing so, it would increase app adoption and create word-of-mouth referrals for the app. Communicating the value of using the Nocturnal app throughout the onboarding experience, and creating a simple registration process where users can register directly with That Lyfe, LLC or use their Facebook account to register with the app, would allow users to begin interacting with the app sooner than later.
By combining our clients' goals and vision for the app, and an increase in our understanding of the nightclub VIP table reservation experience, we aimed for a table reservation service that is mutually beneficial for clubgoers and club owners. For clubgoers, the cost of reserving a VIP table at a nightclub becomes more affordable. They would have the opportunity to bid on a table and potentially pay less than full price. For club owners, the likelihood of empty VIP tables becomes lessened. They can set a "Reserve Now" price, so users can skip the bidding process altogether and immediately reserve the table of the their choice, depending on availability. Moreover, it creates serendipitous moments where users can socialize with others at their reserved table.
The prototype we created was made using the InVision online app, where we looked at the onboarding experience as well as what a user would experience when reserving a table, searching for events, and adding a credit card in the user's profile. It provided us with an opportunity to refine our ideas to create a more delightful user experience.
In our initial meeting with our clients, we were given the opportunity to explore and make changes we felt would be useful to achieve our clients' goals. After a collaborative brainstorming session with my partner, we chose his suggestion, Nocturnal, as the name of the app. We also felt our clients needed a logo, to create relationships with business owners and users and eventually assist with future branding and marketing goals. I set about experimenting with different fonts and color schemes until settling on the final samples above.
Usability testing provided us with the opportunity to refine our design solutions. The onboarding experience seemed straightforward to testing participants. However, we were able to glean insights that helped us to make a more compelling user experience.
Searching for a specific genre of music was ambiguous for users. It was not clear if search results would appear if a music genre, i.e. EDM, was typed into the search bar. To remedy that, the search screen was modified to provide users the ability to browse by event type, date, venue, and music genre. Looking for events based on user criteria, whether vague or specific, became simplified.
Usability testing provided us with an opportunity to refine our designs, correct anything we may have unaccounted for, and give the best possible solutions to our clients.
We had an in-depth conversation with our clients based on our research, findings, and solutions. It was important for them as it was for us to discuss product-market fit, competitors, and product usability. They were appreciative of the quality of our deliverables, as well as our ability to communicate the competitive and strategic advantage of incorporating user experience design best practices into their product.
One important factor worth considering before embarking on this project was to remove any subjectivity that would have affected the quality of the work I was going to produce with my partner. That said, it was a rewarding experience to work on a project with no constraints and to assist our clients in understanding the competitive landscape they wish to operate in. Having found product-market fit, the research we conducted yielded an opportunity to create features that would set the app apart from the competition.
"As part of a team of two, and with limited resources, Jose was able to create an experience that considered users every step of the way. In a short two week period, he demonstrated reliability and a collaborative work ethic that came through in the research he conducted and quality of work delivered to my co-founders and I. The way in which design was articulated to us helped to further understand our target audience and the space in which we want to operate."
Co-Founder/CEO, That Lyfe LLC