Project Pickle


Project Scope

2.5 weeks | 3 designers

Role | UX Researcher & Designer

Tools | Sketch, InVision

Methods | User Research, Behavioral Segments, Affinity Mapping, User Flow, Site Map, Information Architecture, Interaction Design, Prototype, Prototype Testing


Pickle is a social platform for discovering places and photo sharing. It resolves to combine elements of Yelp and Instagram. It’s mission is to inspire to explore. Our client would like to grow the app user base and improve learnability and discoverability in the app.


To re-design the app using strategic information architecture and interaction design.


The Process: 


User Research

According to our client, the current user base is mostly comprised of females in their 20s (about 22–27), local to the Bay Area, ethnically asian, white and latino.

But who can we potentially target to grow the user base? Who would find the app useful and valuable? We decide to target:

  • Foodies who like to eat and post pictures of food
  • Tastemakers like food bloggers who have a following

Survey says…



We collected information through a quantitative survey with 59 responses. What we found is that a large portion of foodies (about 2/3 of those surveyed) only took pictures or posted pictures “sometimes” or “rarely.”


We also conducted qualitative interviews with foodies and food bloggers to collected rich information.

To describe the food experience, they said:

“Food gives me a way to share experiences with friends and to learn about and become interested in other cultures.”
“I discover new places through word of mouth.”

To describe the photo taking and sharing experience:

Some foodies said: “I don’t care to posts pictures of my food, I take pictures of my food for the memories.”

Food bloggers said: “People look at you weird when you take photos.”


Our key takeaways were:

  • Food is an experience — the atmosphere and who you are with
  • Foodies only trusts recommendations from credible sources — their friends or reputable food bloggers
  • Egos get in the way of the content
  • Authenticity of posts — how do you know if the food is good if you take a picture before eating the food?
  • Quality of food photos matter

The Behavioral Segments

From the research thus far, we were able to determine a few different personas:

1) The Experiencer — there for the moment, will take/post photos sometimes

2) The Tastemaker — an active photographer/blogger/poster/social media person

3) Personal Photo Journalist — does not share on social media, not content generators, but would passively discover

We determined “The Experiencer” as the primary user we would want to target as they would represent the widest contributing user base.

User Testing: Impressions of the Pickle App


We did some field testing while out at restaurants and put the app in front of people who enjoyed eating out and taking pictures, and what we found is:

  • The app should not get in the way of the experience
  • Reveal the full value of the app — users didn’t see how it was different from Instagram and were not using the app to discover
  • There was an issue with trust in the app and the social connections
  • Confusion on how restaurant information and pickle user's photo were delineated in the main feed
  • Unclear on how to navigate within the app

Affinity for Affinity


With all the information that we had, there was a lot to unpack. We did several rounds of Affinity mapping throughout the entire research process. Besides assessing user growth and retention, behavioral segments, issues with learnability and discoverability, we found the importance of information architecture, interaction design, feature design and content. 

Business Needs + User Needs = The Shared Piece of the Pie


Though the business needs for user growth and retention differed from the user needs for trusted sources, discovering places and enjoying the real experience, what they shared was Information Architecture and Interaction Design which effects Learnability and Discoverability. 

Restructuring the Information Architecture: User Flow + Site Map

From User Flow...


...To Site Map

Site Map 2.png

Learnability is about being able to process information. So our challenge was:

What information do we need to present? When do we present? Where do we present? What do we need to complete the picture for our users?

By taking “The Experiencer” through the journey of the user flow, we were better able to create a site map that we hypothesized would organized the information into what is necessary, revealed in a way that made sense, encouraged the user to continue discovering within the app.


Let's Test It: Lo-Fi Prototype for Information Architecture


To test information architecture, we quickly mocked up a lo-fidelity paper prototype to test our assumptions.

Our key findings:

  • Users understood the way the information was organized
  • Delineating restaurant information (on top) from pickled photos (on bottom)
  • Restaurant information provided was appropriate and sufficient
  • Inserting labels informed users what they could do on the app
  • Being able to find places they’ve discovered and want to try out by saving their favorites.

The Interactive Prototype

We quickly moved into hi-fidelity to test Interaction Design.

  • Making the main feed scrollable
  • Filtering the search
  • Restaurant information presented as an overlay


Take a look: 


In Conclusion

Our re-design improved learnability and discovery in the app. This encouraged the user to continue to use the app and discover new places. 


Guide the User

A quick progressive tutorial walkthrough with an overlay and an information bubble directs focus to high specific features. This could optimize learnability. 


Personalized for You (The User) 

Curating the Pickle feed so that it calls out featured restaurants that could be determined by the Pickle community or curated by tastemakers and recommendations based on preferences or by friends. Personalize it for you by your trusted friends and credible sources. 


Moderating Survey → Validation → Credibility →Trust

This would be a short in-app pop up question survey:

  • Was the restaurant what you expected?
  • Was the food good?
  • Was the service good?

We hypothesize that this would:

  • Gives users the chance to participate with the app community in a meaningful way
  • Moderates the community
  • Gives validation to the restaurant and content accuracy
  • Leads to credibility and trust

Give Them a Little Taste

Let your friends test out the Pickle experience with a limited web app version. The app could be inset right into the Pickle blog.

This is an attempt to improve customer touch points and to entice friends and gain traction. This could potentially address long term goal for user growth.


The Content Creators

The focus has been on the discovery portion of the app up to this point, next up would be to shift focus to the content creators. Some areas of consideration are:

  • Uploading photo from library previously taken takes user out of the experience → taking a photo gives them another option and encourages them and keeps the user in the moment of the experience.
  • Information and quality of photos matter to user in determining credibility and trust.
  • Better photo filter selection (tutorial on better photo taking and editing could also have a place here).
  • Trendsetters like food bloggers can provide better quality photos and restaurant/bar choices. Giving them added value of events like blogger’s brunch can make them more active contributors. By offering these kinds of events we hypothesis that it will encourage inspiration, better content and community.