1 Month (Oct. - Nov. 2021)
Lost City was a passion project, where I did research, testing, prototyping, and branding.
This product aims at helping users quickly and easily search for their lost items. My primary target users include people who have lost their pets and those who have experienced searching and finding objects in their neighborhoods.
Figma, Photoshop, Illustrator
Conducting interviews, paper and digital wireframing, low and high-fidelity prototyping, conducting usability studies, accounting for accessibility, iterating on designs, determining information architecture, and responsive design.
I conducted multi-methodology research to further understand people’s unique needs when losing their beloved pets or items. Examining existing social media groups, statistics, related apps, and traditional report systems, I want to build a faster connection in the community to help people, reducing the anxiety when searching alone.
Most people have common experiences of missing their important pets or items on the street then never finding them. It’s usually a time-consuming and stressful experience to look for those lost items.
Design an app that will improve the opportunity to find lost items and create a reporting system in the community helping people quickly search for what they want to find.
"Between 11-16% of dogs and 12 - 18% of cats are likely to go missing at least once in five years." (Weiss et al. 2012)
My first research focuses on lost pets. My research methods across observing social media and examing papers. Nowadays, it becomes a common method for people to post on social media; especially on those neighbor's community groups, to find their lost items and look for help. On the other hand, I examine statistics and papers about how pets are found and how they got lost.
Here are the main findings from my researches:
1. Most of the lost pets will be found but it takes around 3-7 days to find them on average
2. 50% of lost pets are found in a month, as the lost period gets longer, it gets harder to find the pets
3. People tend to use both online and physical ways to find their pets
(Statistics by PurringPal, 2012, USA)
Average interview time
1. Understand user's common searching method when lost a pet or an item
2. Uncover user's pain points with existing products
3. Find out potential features that benefit users
4. Learn how users use social media to track what they lost
People asked: “How can social media help to find their lost item more efficiently?"
Among the 5 interviews I conducted, all of the participants have considered or tried to post on social media when their pets went lost in 24 hours. However, they usually turn to a passive searching methods when the pets or items disappear for more than a week, and their posts gain a few notice when searching period extends. Also, 4 of the participants have experience of finding other people's lost items but most of them are not sure what's the best way to find the owner.
Users asked if there are ways to utilize technology to track lost items and found item efficiently.
Compiling results from statistics, user interviews, and competitive analysis, I synthesized insights and organized them within two categories - Search and Notifications.
I needed to understand who the real user is so that I could provide them with a solution that meets their needs. I conducted independent research to gain a more in-depth understanding of the user.
Here’s what I learned:
1. Users want their posts to be noticed until their pet is found
2. When searching on the internet, users are not only looking for physical help but also expecting advice and mental comfort
From insights to features
I then define 6 minimum sets of functions based on the insights
With target user study and market insights, I initiated paper sketches and created information architecture.
I did a quick ideation exercise to come up with ideas for how to address gaps identified in the personas. My focus was specifically on quickly and easily searching lost and found items.
1. Show clear area and information about the missing item
2. Simple layout for people to post and comment
3. Create a different reporting system for lost and found
After ideating and drafting some paper wireframes, I created the initial designs for the Lost city app. These designs focused on delivering personalized guidance for users to search for what they want to find and what they have found in the city.
To prepare for usability testing, I created a low-fidelity prototype in Figma that connected the user flow of searching an item.
Unmoderated usability study
The main findings in the first usability test:
People had difficulty identifying icons on the navigation bar
People feel confused about how to use the search bar
Lost and Found
People want to clearly distinguish “Lost” and “Found” pages/ buttons
Refining the design
Here are the main changes I made based on the insights from the usability studies:
1. Additional design changes included designing different colors for “Lost” and “Found” pages and buttons, providing a clearer indication of distinguishing different functions.
2. I applied design changes like providing a more intuitive section from the home screen to search lost and found items, also adding texts below icons for better understanding.
The high-fidelity prototype followed the same user flow as the low-fidelity prototype, including design changes made after the usability study.
After the second time of conducting usability test, I noticed some more detailed concerns from users:
Users are worried about the risk of leaking their personal information, such as their addresses.
Users want a filter that can help to locate specific locations and time for fast searching what they want to find.
People wonder how to review their posts.
I modified the design after iterations and proposed a better solution for solving users' pain points.
A quick search on the home page
Considering this is a function-oriented app, I want to simplify the user flow as possible. For those users who have registered, the page will direct to the home page after logging in. On the home page, people can quickly and easily finish their first step, determining what they are going to search for.
The searching bar is integrated into a more simple and intuitive way for users to take action.
Search by area and time schedule
Location and time are the most important clues when searching lost and found, so I added filters for users to select a specific distance and time range.
By using filters and the map, people can find their target items efficiently.
In the final design, people can search in a certain area and customize the radius. On the post, it will show the nearby street's name or public place, instead of showing a specific address.
Using different colors to distinguish “Lost” and “Found” pages/ buttons for better identification of distinctive functions.
Users can quickly switch between lost and found pages by clicking the buttons
Records and Notifications
Users can manage and edit their posts anytime. Once their post is updated, people who are from the nearby area or have saved posts will be notified.
To separate different functions from lost and found, I make distinctive color sets for them. Utilizing bright colors on the buttons, I wanted to emphasize the important action for creating a clear user flow experience. Also, designing a whiteboard-like card for each post, so that users can separate posts in a playful visual; meanwhile, making each post outstanding from others.
What I learned
The importance of creating Personas in the early stage, helped me to clarify users' needs.
The difficult part of this project might be there have not so many similar products in the market at this moment; hence, my competitive audits focus on products related to the local community in social media, such as a Facebook marketplace or Nextdoor, then try to find out which part is suitable to apply to this app.
I learned from each iteration and see many possibilities in this product, would like to further develop it in the future.
The app stills focuses on searching for pets because of my researches so far. Moving forward, I will further develop the functions of searching items and conduct more usability testings for iterations.
Develop feedback and reporting system to track a case is solved or not.
Improve filter for narrowing down searching range.