Uncovering the Pain Points of
Starbucks iOS App's Mobile Ordering
GUERRILLA USABILITY TESTING | USER EXPERIENCE RESEARCH | MOBILE USER INTERFACE REDESIGN
Starbucks first launched their mobile ordering service in Portland in December 2014. The mobile ordering feature, amongst others, has since spread and allows customers to place orders without having to wait in line.
The biggest lesson I learned from this concept project is that people really, really love their Starbucks — but are incredibly specific about their orders. This is exactly where the app fails in terms of the mobile ordering feature. Using my research findings — I changed the task flow for the mobile order process, redesigned the "Main Order" and "Customization" screens and added an "Add Notes" screen for users to be able to completely customize their orders.
While there are people who use this feature frequently, most of their customers simply get their java fix the old fashioned way. Considering the fact I make a daily pit stop at Starbucks, yet rarely use the mobile ordering function of the mobile app, I let my curiosity get the best of me and decided to conduct guerrilla usability to uncover the pain points of the app's mobile ordering process. I wanted to understand why this feature isn't used as often as intended and sought to provide recommendations for improvement.
The Design Process
To kick off all of design projects, I always start by conducting research — in this case, it was to create a provisional persona based on who I believe would best resemble the ideal Starbucks mobile app user.When it comes to (re)designing a digital product, it's always important to keep in mind the users you are targeting. Not only does it serve as a constant reminder that you're creating something for a real person with wants and needs — it helps to ground the rest of the design process. Meet Katie Jones.
Guerrilla Usability Testing
Being an avid Starbucks customer, I thought I wholly understood the ins and outs of their iOS app. However, I only ever used it to pay for food and java. To uncover the pain points of the mobile ordering process of the application, I conducted guerrilla usability tests on 7 "Katies" — naturally, at a Starbucks.
To synthesize my research findings, I wrote down the pain points each user faced while attempting to complete the given task; then, I sorted these issues by similarity (ex. "difficulty finding full menu" or "lack of options", given a specific category (ex. "Customizations") and ordered them by frequency.
The Pain Points
Based on the results of the usability tests, users were primarily bothered by the lack of customization options within the Starbucks mobile app and the inability to not only ensure that their previous customizations were saved, but could also be easily replicated for future orders.
Task Flow Changes
NOTE: THESE WIREFRAMES ONLY INCLUDE THE REDESIGNED SCREENS WHICH ADDRESS THE PREVIOUSLY NOTED PAIN POINTS AND INCORPORATE THE RECOMMENDED SUGGESTIONS.
Before + After Hi-Fi Screens
You can also see the freshly redesigned Mobile Order process in action by clicking here to see the Interactive Prototype!
I've been an avid Starbucks consumer since the age of 5 — perhaps this has to do with the fact that my family creates and manufactures many of their products (i.e., tumblers, mugs and etc.). But, there was always been something incredibly appealing about the brand that made it my number one preference for caffeinated drinks and pastries. In any case, I believe the pain points I uncovered are ones that can be easily resolved. The redesigns and ideas I proposed as recommendations can be quickly implemented and truly make the user experience of the mobile ordering process of the Starbucks iOS app much more appealing to avid Starbucks users. Beyond the clutter of the Starbucks iOS app in whole — I believe the application is rather pretty, somewhat easy to navigate and fits the brand of the company well (primarily in terms of the UI).
Take note, Starbucks. You've made fans out of all of us and there's a reason we keep coming back after all of these years. But, keep in mind that user experience matters — so if you're going to design a mobile application to make our lives as Starbucks customers easier, please take into consideration the pain points we face when using your mobile product.
P.S. I am in no way directly related to Starbucks — just a ☕ + 🍵 nut with a curious mind.