Savages is a scavenger hunt game for a mobile application. I took the liberty to innovate a new concept to an existing idea by providing players with the opportunity to craft their own customizable game, manage incentives and control their overall experience.
With little prior knowledge of mobile scavenger hunt games and no experience playing with one on a digital platform I immersed myself into testing several of the leading competitors as a player.
To help become more familiar with the industry I created competitor profiles to assess business models, market strategy, target audience, functionality, compatibility along with a SWOT analysis to assess the strengths and weakness of key competitors to become even more acquainted.
As I examined the research I uncovered some possible opportunities and potential obstacles to explore with mobile scavenger hunt games.
Giving people an opportunity to connect and interact both digitally and physically simultaneously.
Landmarks and locations could easily be controlled by determining and defining a specific location to travel to.
Games could be a useful way to become familiar with a new area or learn something new about a familiar area.
Almost anything could be used to describe and find.
Strategies for structuring and disseminating content is limitless.
Use prizes to incentivize people to play.
Easily reuse images, questions, hints, clues etc.
Games could be customized to enhance the overall experience for players.
Potential accessibility issues could limit participation for some people.
Personality differences could prevent or hinder participation.
Having to organize a game and coordinate schedules could keep people from even attempting to participate.
Games can be lengthy. Game operator's and their hours of operation might not fit into most people's schedules.
The value of the experience might not meet expectations or may be perceived as less valuable than a differing experience and dismissed.
People living in areas with different timezones could prevent participation.
Taking the opportunities and obstacles uncovered with market research I transitioned into user research to better comprehend the experiences people had with scavenger hunt games. Using the data collected from competitor profiles I conducted interviews and surveys to gain a deeper understanding into the exact experience people actually had when playing scavenger hunt games.
This would help my attempt to eliminate any frustrations and/or limitations they may have had. Six individuals, all with differing scavenger hunt game experiences, were interviewed. Surveys were disseminated online to 26 other individuals using Google Survey.
•Who played scavenger hunt games?
•What prompted people to participate in scavenger hunt games?
•How often did people participate in scavenger hunt games?
•How were people discovering scavenger hunt games?
•What was the method used to participate? i.e. mobile application, pen & paper
•How likely were people to organize a game for others to play?
•What did people enjoy or not enjoy about scavenger hunt games?
•What, if anything, would enhance their experience?
•What kept people from participating in scavenger hunt games more frequently?
•What, if anything, would motivate people to participate more often?
•Was there a previous experience more memorable than others and what made it so memorable?
These questions plus several more were used as a catalyst for further discussion during interviews. It helped cultivate an organic conversation revealing some interesting insights from players.
People didn't want to put in a lot of effort scheduling and organizing a game. Coordinating schedules to play a game seemed daunting.
How long a game would last impacted people's decision to participate or not.
The amount of traveling required for some negatively impacted their experience.
Knowing the proper attire to comfortably participate would have a positive impact.
Who people played with mattered. Being unfamiliar with other participants hindered participation.
Most people understood the instructions, but difficulty following the rules.
People found the time spent with friends and family the greatest incentive to play. However, most were open to include other incentives such as a prize.
In past experiences players were limited in their participation due to physical and geographical demands put on them to play.
An impactful insight came spontaneously during one interview. When discussing incentives to play the option for a monetary prize took an unexpected turn when an interviewee made an interesting statement. They said:
This sparked several ideas to give players an option to raise money and awareness for a charity of their choice. I made a note to come back to this idea later for further consideration.
After examining the insights collected from interviews and surveys I created an affinity map to detect patterns in order to categorize problems and pain points players experienced with scavenger hunt games.
Filtering the information collected through an affinity map revealed three distinct problems players had in common connected to what they valued. Players valued their time, the people they played with and a prize. Here are the problems players had with most scavenger hunt games:
With correlations clarified and problems pinpointed I set a goal in the form of a question so that I could begin ideating and developing solutions for the problems discovered. The goal was this:
Having a better understanding of the problems I needed to solve, as well as making a prediction to resolve them, I developed empathy profiles to keep the needs and goals of players in front of me.
Taking the qualitative and quantitative data I distinguished different groups to target and define player profiles to empathize with. I constructed empathy profiles to serve as a reminder of the motivations, frustrations and expectations players experienced. User Stories, User Personas, Task Analysis and Journey Maps were utilized to accomplish this.
User Stories were written to identify the players who would be using the mobile scavenger hunt game along with connecting business objectives held by stakeholders to the product. The statement below would guide design decisions throughout the iteration process toward the needs and goals of players.
To better understand the players using the product user personas were crafted to better visualize, empathize as well as serve as a reminder to prioritize the motivations, expectations and frustrations of the players when designating design decisions. Meet the players:
Performing a task analysis was instrumental in identifying different thought processes used to accomplish assorted tasks.
I highlighted different phases in how players would be able to discover the product by developing a journey map.
Up to this point I have created competitor profiles, completed SWOT analysis, discussed possible opportunities, potential obstacles and excavated problems in conjunction with crafting and conducting interviews and surveys. This led to building empathy profiles with user stories, user personas, task analysis and journey maps to identify the players who would be using the product.
The research, problems discovered, goal and empathy profiles were systematically arranged to inform, iterate and designate design solutions as well as to initiate the structure and flow of the sitemap for the mobile application.
I targeted problems players experienced when playing and aimed to turn them into incentives to play. Wireframes and rapid prototyping were used to generate early feedback.
To help contain and conceptualize the ideas visually, paper wireframes were created as a means for rapid prototyping to generate feedback. I used them to conduct early user testing so that I could make necessary adjustments to the structure of the sitemap which saved me valuable time and potential costly digital implementation.
OptimalSort was used to generate feedback from participants through a card sorting exercise. This participatory design method allowed me to evaluate and generate ideas for the information architecture of the design to define the sitemap.
After formulating the sitemap I produced a clickable prototype using Adobe XD to simulate the experience, unveil usability, interface issues and to further evaluate design decisions.
There were many adjustments made throughout the iteration phase of the project. Whether it was going off script during usability test, to adjusting onboarding and game features, it all helped bring rapid resolutions to misunderstandings players were experiencing based off of their feedback.
The entire User Interface for the Savages mobile application is currently being revised. Feel free to test the old clickable prototype below.
As I finalized and designated design decisions I began to focus more on the visual details. The interface of the design is critically important to the design as a whole. It also displays to clients, stakeholders and/or team members the evolution of the design exuding certainty and a clear depiction of the final product.
To keep the branding and communication consistent I created a style guide to define the look, feel and tone of the content. The style guide would help organize the design deliverables for a smooth handoff to developers.
A series of usability tests were conducted with the paper and clickable prototypes. I moderated them both, in-person and remotely, to evaluate the design. Jakob Nielsen’s error severity rating scale was used to either validate or eliminate usability issues. Feel free to view the test plan, test participants along with the results and adjustments made to the design.
I wanted to quantitatively review the usability assumptions with A/B and preference tests. I tested the navigation structure, game set up and game play on mobile. Preference testing mainly targeted the visual aspects of the design. Testing was conducted on usabilityhub.com. There was a total of 7 different tests given with 98 responses collected and 21 test participants.
Testing continued to reveal usability issues to iterate and improve upon. This process was repeated several times in order to designate and implement final design decisions.
The challenge of attempting to increase the frequency of player participation was accomplished by exploring a possible opportunity identified early in the design process. By focusing on the needs and goals of the players it drastically expanded the experience for players as well as their frequent participation.
Participants preferred the Savages Mobile Application 3-to-1 over other competitor's scavenger hunt games due to gameplay customization.
Overall this project provided an incredible learning experience. It challenged and strengthened how I ideate and innovate design solutions to solve real problems users were experiencing. It also broadened my perspective to view any and every obstacle exposed as an opportunity to explore along the way.
One crucial change I have begun working on for the future is enhancing the documentation process. Developing a better system for review and reflection throughout each phase of the project will help empathize with users, inform ideas and solidify solutions.
Time was of the essence, however, if I had more time I would explore a broader range of games hosted on mobile platforms. I limited my research to just one category i.e. scavenger hunts. Examining other categories may have opened up different realms of possibilities.
Many ideas surfaced from discoveries in the research. Once ideas were separated according to the goals and needs of users to develop I felt time constraints hindered the development of those ideas.
Interviews were scheduled one on top of the other. Although I gave ample time to interviewees I failed to give myself ample time to reset and replay the conversation before the next interview.
I am currently in the process of reevaluating the user interface for this particular project. Making adjustments to the aesthetics will have significant impact on the visual experience for users therefore enhancing the overall experience.