Mobile app prototyping.

Task: Develop a mobile app.

I get asked this question a lot: “How do you get UX experience without job experience?” The answer. You must create your own opportunities. If there’s one thing that differentiates me from most UX designers is that I will create my own opportunities if none exist.

In May 2014, I came up with the idea, I eventually named “Invitr”, a new way to invite a small group of friends together. The premise was this. A mobile app that allows you send a message over text to a group of friends who wouldn’t need the app for an event invite like a dinner or a happy-hour and it would organize their responses into a “Yes”/”No”/”Undecided” grid.

What did I do?

I was inspired by Eric Ries’ “Lean Startup” methodology

1. Hypothesis testing.

I began each study with a testable hypothesis. For example, “Would 6 of 10 people, a majority of interview subjects, find the app sufficiently valuable that they would switch to the app from their existing medium of Facebook, email or text when organizing their next small group gathering?”

2. Leap-of-faith assumptions.

Asked questions to users on which the business idea hinges. For example, I tested the question: “Would users respond to a text message that came from a 3rd party telephone number but had their friend’s name?” The answer was “Yes.”

3. Asking strangers.

Interview potential users in studies to build context for who they are and gain feedback on the product. I also collected emails and phone numbers from interview subjects in order to build a list of beta testers for a live demo of the product, which I was able to conduct with two users.

I led guerrilla user research studies in Seattle and Portland to understand frustrations, user journeys and collect product feedback on the app I was designing for organizing small group gatherings.

Each study took 4 to 8 hours to prepare, 2 to 4 hours to conduct and 4 to 6 hours to analyze. So on average, one study takes 10 to 18 hours. Here’s a short summary of each.

User Study 1: Interviewed 13 people on the street to ask four key research questions.

IMG_2380 IMG_2378

User Study 2: Prepared a 27-screen paper prototype demo with interaction and collected feedback from strangers I approached.


User Study 3: Conducted a marathon session of 16 interviews over four hours at a light rail station just north of Rainier Beach, South Seattle.


User Study 4: Focused study on developing deeper understanding of types of events (dinners, happy hours).


User studies 5 – 11: Collected 35 phone numbers/emails in interview in Seattle and Portland, assessed the consumers perceived “value” of the product. Conducted demos for beta users (a breakfast meeting).

Storyboard_1 Storyboard_2 Storyboard_3

User Study 12: Assessed the likelihood of a user to switch to this app and plotted user journey mapping

A User Journey Map, Designed from Interviews

journey mapping


After each study, 12 studies in total, I’d write a multi-page research report. These were done for my own benefit. Here’s an excerpt from one of them:

UX Study 12 - A User’s Journey_Page_1

Read the full 7-page report here: UX Study 12 – A User’s Journey


In short, I interviewed over 100 people in Seattle and Portland. Over six months, I developed my own methodology for doing guerrilla user research, which I presented at a conference and it was one of the most requested talks at Product Camp Seattle 2015. I designed two fully interactive app prototypes, using pen and paper and the mobile app POP to create fully interactive prototypes from which I collected user feedback. I engaged in affinity mapping to analyze qualitative data. I made decisions about the product’s subsequent development from my own research. I wrote UX research reports following each study.


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