Nascent was approached by local company AquaMobile Swimschool to help them design, build and launch their new platform. Over the next few months, our team would work with tight deadlines, technical struggles and constant iteration to make the product a success.
Building brand new products was something that was quite new to us when we took on AquaMobile. Like many others in client services, we spend a lot of our time assisting others build great things, but rarely does the full responsibility fall on us. We saw this as a great opportunity to grow as a team.
AquaMobile required a new process. Rebuilding the way we worked would be the only way we would succeed. In the past, many of our projects were simple ports to another platform which required significantly less research. This needed to change. We invited AquaMobile into the office to tell us a little more about the company as we needed to understand the business. As a team, we prepared a series of questions that would help us better understand the company, why it was started and what user need it fills. We gained lots of great information out of this session that would later help us form decisions for the new product.
After a couple working sessions with the client, myself and another designer got to work on defining a user journey. The information that we gathered previously, helped us develop what we wanted it to be. We had determined a series of problems that we needed to solve but before solutioning we set up a few guidelines that needed to be followed. These would be referenced throughout the process and every decision we made would fall on them. Simplicity, Transparency, Convenience and Flexibility.
Keeping the product as simple as possible was one of the most important tasks. In the current platform, there was a disconnect between flows. We needed to streamline the process of providing your location, finding instructors, booking lessons with instructors and paying for those lessons. It needed to be convenient, which also falls back on simplification. This couldn’t be a long process. Users wanted to quickly find available times and be on their way. We needed to build trust with the customer. Letting them know everything that is going on throughout the booking and purchasing process would help us do that. This would include things like how much the purchase will cost, how long tasks will take and detailed information about the instructor. And lastly, flexibility. As the business grows, so do its services. It needed to be just as flexible as the company is.
Myself and the other designer went off to work on some of our ideas. When designing with a team, it’s best if everyone takes some time to sketch out their own ideas without the input of others, at least at the beginning. This helps us generate all sorts of ideas which we can review later and figure out what works best. We spent the next while trying to streamline the main flow of collecting information, finding instructors and finding available times. There were a lot of great ideas being thrown around but it was time that we put our work together. We invited AquaMobile back into the office to go over a few different concepts that we had put together. As consultants, it’s our job to guide our clients, while also being respectful of their own opinions. Many times, they have their own teams who have opinions just as strong. This can create some friction. It’s important to break down those barriers while still maintaining the relationship. We discovered at this stage that the work we were doing wasn’t matching up with the direction that they had in mind.
“Ok guys, I think we’re having a breakthrough.”
We spent days working with AquaMobile, challenging those opinions and trying to align on a vision for the product. When they would come in, we would present and have them evaluate our ideas and make their own notes that we could take back and iterate on. Whiteboarding sessions were extremely helpful. Great things happen with just a marker and a wall. We succeeded. “Ok guys, I think we’re having a breakthrough.” That was the defining moment for us. We knew we were on the right track and we could move on to creating the system.
We needed to collect as much information up front about the user for a variety of reasons. Location would help us determine which instructors to present and their available times. AquaMobile isn’t just for swimming instructors, it’s for lifeguards as well. We need to know which service the user is looking for. The start date would determine what month view to place the user in on the booking screen. We collected email as well. This would help the user create an account where they could reference their purchase history and booking. Even if the user didn’t make a purchase, we now stored their email for marketing efforts. If they didn’t complete a purchase we could easily remind them to do so.
AquaMobile mentioned to us during our discovery that the most important thing for the business was to sell time. We determined that most users purchased more than one lesson per session. We created a package system that allowed users to purchase 5, 10 or 25 lessons with the ability to customize to their individual needs. They didn’t need to use all of the lessons in one purchase. The unused lessons would be available as credit in the future. This solved one organizational goal and one user goal of convenience.
During our working sessions with AquaMobile it was mentioned that the user needed to be able to see all available instructors in their area as well as the times that they were available. This was a huge task. If you live in a a rural area, no problem. If you live in a major urban centre this list could be quite large. We iterated on this for days. We initially used pagination where each individual instructor had their own calendar and profile. This wouldn’t work. It didn’t account for the two principles of simplicity and convenience. So how do we show every single instructor and their available times? We came up with this concept of showing every instructor in a column on the left that could be scrolled through and all of their available days and times for a month to the right. Clicking on a day would present a modal where they could select times and add it to their bookings. As lessons were added, we kept a running total of the purchase and lessons on the screen. This solved all of our problems for simplicity, convenience and transparency and that’s what we went with.
We built AquaMobile in a way that would allow the booking system to be used in multiple scenarios, regardless of service. AquaMobile can add and remove services as they please and create new packages for their services without the assistance of our team.
Working on AquaMobile helped me really see the importance of not working in a silo. When it comes to building something new, you discover how each team member compliments others talents. Working with your clients is important. Don't just design, build and ship. Include everyone in the design process. Bringing AquaMobile into the office to participate surfaced things we would have never seen on our own. Push your clients but always be respectful. You’re not doing your job as a consultant if you don’t challenge them. But always maintain a good relationship.