A Hackathon Competition - Third Place Winner
My Role: Business Planning, UX Research and Design, Project Manager, Personas, Prototype, Content Strategy
Tools: Whiteboard, Sketch, Invision, Slack, Google Drive, MEAN stack (MongoDB, Express, AngularJS, Node.js)
Duration: Two days
Teammates: Ben, Jenni, Rachel, Travis
I participated in a two-day hackathon hosted by General Assembly in April 2017. The Hackathon’s theme was to create a startup and profitable business via a web app.
There were seven teams competing, with each team comprised of three designers and two developers. The judges were UX and Engineering leaders from Amazon, Microsoft and Google. My team won 3rd place overall!
We were given the theme for the Hackathon promptly at the kickoff. This was quite exciting because I just happened to have a well-researched business plan I wrote, with a fellow classmate, in an MBA class at Seattle University in 2013.
ABOUT THE BUSINESS PLAN
The business is called MyConcierge and it’s focus is on connecting small business owners in the health and beauty industries with busy professionals who are looking for last minute appointments. Unlike current options, My Concierge will quickly answer the critical question first: Who has the next available appointment near me?
My Concierge makes it easy for providers in the health and beauty industries to recoup lost revenue from cancelled appointments.
The plan dove deep into the concept’s marketing, operational and financial plans. We also did a full analysis of the startup’s expenses and capitalization.
HOW IT WAS USED AT THE HACKATHON
In the business plan we simply mentioned we would hire an outside team to design and build the app. Basically, no work had been done on the design and implementation of the web app.
Therefore, the hackathon at GA was the first time I had the opportunity to work with a team on the design and development of the My Concierge mobile app.
How do we connect small business owners in the health and beauty industries with busy professionals who are looking for last minute appointments?
Last minute cancellations of health and beauty industries have a two-fold effect. The small business owner loses revenue and wasted time when a client cancels last minute. As well, this prevents another client from booking a newly opened appointment.
Design a mobile app that:
- Helps Providers re-coup lost revenue and wasted time.
- Empowers Providers to strengthen their established relationships, and provide a marketing vehicle for new business
- Lets Clients see openings from Providers who meet their criteria on a last minute basis.
When I wrote the business plan for My Concierge in 2013, my research included:
- A survey for End User feedback that included 38 participants
- Interviews with five Providers - two hair stylists, an acupuncturist/massage therapist, a rolfer/massage therapist, and a Pilates instructor
- A thorough review of industry reports related to the alternative healthcare and hair and nail salon industries, as well as local and national census data.
My research showed that Providers are willing to pay up to a 20% service fee per booking, versus a monthly subscription. When researching the business plan we discovered that to be successful, My Concierge must quickly build scale in both its Provider and End User base in order to hit our break even point by end of year one. Therefore, we based our numbers off of 15% in the business plan as a strategy to make it easier for Providers to get excited about MyConcierge.
As well, we learned from our Client survey that they would book with a new Provider if this service existed, but would expect the Provider to pay the booking fee. Clients would also be open to receiving push notifications when their favorite Providers open an appointment on the app.
I decided to use the Kanban project management methodology as a way for us easily visualize our progress and to remain focused on our Minimum Viable Product. I also initiated team check-ins throughout the hackathon to encourage open communication between the designers and developers. This helped keep the number of potential features under control and also kept us focused on a shared vision.
NAMING THE CLIENT
I also quickly noticed confusion arose when speaking about the ‘Client’ with my hackathon team because, in reality, both the Provider and Client are customers of My Concierge. In our initial design conversations I noticed my teammates referring to both the Provider and their Customers as Clients. Therefore, I renamed the Client to be called the ‘End User’. This provided a sense of clarity while working together in the fast paced hackathon environment.
PLANNING THE USER JOURNEY
My leadership style is to ensure each team member has buy-in. I find it's essential in creating a positive work environment and ensuring each team member feels motivated and involved in the process. I encouraged my team to decide together on a user journey that was feasible for both the designers and developers to accomplish in the short span of time we were given. This also helped us work toward an amazing presentation and to stay on track together throughout the process.
Since the hackathon was my first time designing the My Concierge user experience and working with developers on this concept, one of the first things I did was extract the research from the business plan to create two personas - the Provider and the Client. This helped keep our design and developer team connected to our users throughout the hackathon.
One of our initial challenges was to decide which persona was going to be our main focus. After much discussion we decided on the Provider due to the fact that if we were to launch My Concierge we would need to get the Provider information into the database before we could launch it as a consumer product.
Once we made this decision the developers began building the database, and the design team began our work researching comparative mobile apps in the health and beauty industries. One of our designers, Jenni, found the Mind Body scheduling app, which inspired our scheduling and payment interfaces.
We then each sketched several designs for the new user sign up, scheduling and dashboard flows, knowing that these were the core features of our MVP and what we wanted to show in our presentation.
I focused on the Provider's home page because I wanted to create an exciting experience that would keep our users engaged with the My Concierge app.
The three main things I initially thought a Provider would want to have on their home page are:
1. Quick access to their schedule
2. The analytics of the money they're bringing in and the number of clients they've booked through the system.
3. Quick access to End Users (Clients) who have previously booked with the Provider.
One of my design teammates, Ben, was a Psychologist in his former career and is familiar with the struggle to fill last minute cancellations. He was wonderful to have on hand as he was able to provide invaluable insight into the Provider's needs.
His feedback to my initial Dashboard sketch was that he would want his home page to show his schedule. This way, he could easily check the app to see if anyone has booked his recently opened appointments. With this feedback we chose to make the Provider's schedule the home page, and the dashboard easily accessible from the hamburger menu in the top, left corner of the page.
Prototype and Test
We quickly moved our paper and pencil designs into Sketch and Invision in order to create an Interactive Prototype. We then tested our prototype on four people at the hackathon. This allowed us to quickly validate key aspects of our design, and to also add refinements.
I began our design and development process with the presentation in mind. Since I had the most familiarity with the concept I wrote the presentation and our amazing graphic designer, Jenni, did the visual design. One of my passions is giving presentations and getting an audience excited about my team's work. I was the lead presenter on my team in front of an audience of around 60 people.
I've included both our presentation as well as the live demo our devs showed the judges during our presentation. Keep in mind that our dev team had around five hours to code, and that their live demo is responsive. :)
By the end of the hackathon we had built a responsive design to enable use across any device, as well as an Interactive Prototype. The prototype allows our provider persona, Olivia, to move through a new user sign up, then to create openings in her schedule, and eventually see who has booked an appointment with her through My Concierge. She can also view her dashboard, which features analytics around revenue earned and appointments book, as well as information about her clients.
This project was a great experience in getting to work side by side with developers. It was exciting to gain their perspective throughout the process and to collaborate with them to move beyond an Interactive Prototype and into an actual working app. If the My Concierge concept were to be actualized two of the core KPI's I would use to measure success would be monthly appointments booked, as well as the number of new Provider and End User profiles created each month.
Enjoy a few of the outtakes, below, from the hackathon!