Nothing is better than enjoying an ice cold beer with friends. Or is there? How about drinking an ice cold beer with friends that you brewed at home yourself? That's right! Reaping the benefits of all your hard work rewarded by the ooohs and aahhs of your friends as they quaff your tasty creation.
However, brewing your own beer at home isn't easy. In fact it's a science. Chemistry to be exact. I discovered that brewing your own beer isn't as easy as brewing coffee in the morning. It's quite intimidating actually. There are a slew of factors that range from water quality to boil-off that can make or break a great IPA.
According to the American Association of Homebrewers, more than 1 million people were brewing their own beer at home. Of that 1 Million, 94% of homebrewers shop at local stores. But where were they getting their advice from when it comes to recipes and brewing techniques?
With the arrival of the pandemic and subsequent stay in place orders, homebrewing has seen a surge in interest. That's where BeerWhiz! enters the picture. BeerWhiz! is a mobile app designed for all homebrewers, novice through expert, to connect on a social level, albeit remote to get instant advice for homebrewing needs.
The brewing process can be overwhelming for people new to homebrewing. Novice Homebrewers need a way to connect immediately with other homebrewers to get instant advice on their brewing process before the batch is ruined.
To create a user friendly mobile app that fosters the community feeling of homebrewing and enables all brewers to connect with each other and get instant advice over text or live video chat.
Connect homebrewers of all levels with each other through forums and instant video chats.
Create an intuitive app that allows users to find the information they need quickly.
Provide the Peak User Experience for everyone that uses BeerWhiz!
I know what ingredients are required to make beer but I know very little about the actual brewing process. To know more about the field of craft beer and homebrewing I conducted a competitive analysis of apps that are associated with craft beer and homebrewing.
After Doing a bit of research I narrowed down my competitors to 5 Web/Mobile Apps: BeerSmith, Brewfather, Brewer's Friend, and the American Homebrewer's Association. The purpose of the analysis was to find underserved opportunities in the market and spot weaknesses in the competitor's user experience thus allowing me to create a better user experience. I took the good, the bad, and the ugly from the competitors and condensed my findings into one SWOT Analysis highlighting the features of each app.
To get a better understanding of my target audience I interviewed homebrewers and joined several homebrewing forums. The purpose was to help me understand their knowledge of craft beer and homebrewing and how they go about getting their information and advice when it comes to craft beer and brewing. Joining the forums and conducting an almost like diary study gave me a deeper understanding to the brewing process. After conducting interviews and sorting notes, I organized the information gathered and looked for commonalities and themes to help me move forward with my user persona creation.
I found that even the most experienced homebrewers run into the very same problems as novice homebrewers.
Homebrewer using apps don't like dinosaur IU from the 1990's....
Recipes don't always work as written. And keeping track of a recipe can be equally as difficult.
There are a lot off homebrewing apps out there. Some have a high learning curve and can turn users away.
Provide an app that users can find recommendations on craft beer and brewing without being overwhelmed by unnecessary functions of the app.
Provide an app that users can access recommendations from multiple sources that include user reviews, trending beers, and print sources.
Provide an app that users can instantly chat with an expert in the homebrewing community.
Provide an app that makes users feel comfortable about their level of craft beer and homebrewing knowledge.
"I'm a longtime user of BeerSmith. I love it but I remember there being a bit of a learning curve in the early days, especially when it came to setting up equipment profiles, efficiency, etc. I'm all dialed in now though."
"Beersmith is in desperate need of a UI designer, and some more user friendly features. It was built by an engineer for his own purposes and never really became "software". I'm not saying it isn't impressive, but it's the definition of engineering hell software."
"Big fan of Brewfather. Moved to this a year ago from BeerSmith on mobile. Modern interface- web access. My partner and I can log into a recipe from our homes and look at recipes live.They are constantly adding new features and functionality."
I took what I learned from my research and created users personas to help represent the different types of users that represent the target users of the BeerWhiz! app. My two personas are an experienced homebrewer and a novice homebrewer. One is having an issue and needs immediate help and the other is a seasoned brewer that is always willing to help out a fellow brewer. Meet Tracy and John.
The brewing process is very tedious and one miscalculation can cause dramatic changes in a batch a beer. After getting to know my user personas, I compiled a list of user actions in to a timeline to represent a visualization of the process that one of my users may go through in order to accomplish their goal.
Wants to find a solution to their gravity reading so the batch isn't ruined. He's been working on this for some time and it would be a shame if it were to go to waste.
Wants a to know right now. He really wants to connect to an other homebrewer and get some help.
Wants this batch to work. He really likes this style of beer and have heard good things about the recipe.
He's almost to the point of frustration. He's tried looking up the problem on the internet but there are so many possible reasons why his gravity reading is off but he doesn't know what the culprit is our how to fix it.
Being able to use my social media accounts to set up an account and login would take a lot of the pressure away from him right now. The last thing he needs is to waste more time.
Taking what I have learned from my user personas and user journey map I created a user flow. User flows are diagrams that layout and map the path that the user will take to achieve their goal. In this instance, the user wants to connect with another homebrewer to seek advice on the brewing process.
As a novice homebrewer, I want to be able to connect instantly with other homebrewers, so that I can get advice when my batch doesn't come out according to the recipe.
Based on the data compiled from the above research and a remote card sort, I organized the information into a site map focusing on page hierarchy rather than specific tasks and user actions. By doing so I have organized the app's content in a visual way explaining the hierarchy of the proposed navigation structure. It showcases the app's features and individual pages and gives a clearer view of how the app will look at each level. I have refined the original site map with the input provided from the card sort and then organized the content so users can easily navigate to the advice forum and seek the help they need before their batch goes a-rye...
In the final stage of the app's development I conducted usability testing on the final prototype via skype and zoom with 6 participants.
Below are some of the findings and adjustments. Being that the main focus of the app was to get advice and book a call, user testing told me that I had not focused enough on the booking phase and that users want to be in control at every step in the process
I had a great time working on this project and I drank a lot of great beers in the process. However, working alone did have it’s drawbacks. It is hard to get that creative community feel when the world is on lockdown during a global pandemic. I was fortunate enough to have resources such as Slack and other social media communities that allowed me to collaborate and find feedback.
I did enjoy conducting user interviews and user testing most of all. The Homebrewing Community is tightly knit and always willing to help each other out with any leg of the brewing journey. Feedback in any form rather it be praise for design concepts or constructive criticism for usability flaws is always beneficial in the design process.
If I could do anything differently during the project I would have done more face to face research for the project in relevant settings. I really wanted to go down to the local craft beer emporiums and micro-brew tap rooms and conduct informal user interviews and usability tests. I truly believe for a project to be truly successful the research needs to be conducted in the most realistic setting as possible.
If you are looking to connect to a creative and driven UX Designer than you have come to the right place. I'm always open for discussion.