Building a sales assistant app with limited resources

Building a powerful mobile app with budget constraints.

This project was developed for a sales rep of a car dealership. He wanted a personal application that would allow him to showcase available products to prospective clients, educate new dealers and license his app to colleagues. 

Since he worked on commission, this app would allow him to reach more prospects that he physically ever could. It would also allow him to convert buyers to dealers and then license his app to them for a fee.

Project Overview

Why This Case Study?​

It showcases how I managed to collaborate with my team in building a creative concept, that fulfilled all requirements, with limited time and budget constraints.

My role

My roles were UX Designer and QA Manager. I worked alongside a Project Manager, UI Designer, iOS Developer, Android Developer and Backend Developer. I directly collaborated with all members of the team, as well as communicated directly with the client.

Challenges

  • Limited budget. Since this app was being developed by an individual, the budget was limited and didn’t allow for a lot of innovative solutions.
  • Research constraints. The timeframe and budget didn’t allow conducting user research directly with end-users, so I had to make assumptions based on client interviews and analysis of similar products.
  • Technological restraints. The concept had to be created around existing technologies that were relatively cost-effective. This required close communication with developers.

1 : Research and Analysis

Analyzing client’s business goals and defining the audience.

The goal of this process was to identify types of users, specify use cases and determine the target audience.

We organized multiple workshops with the client to clarify all of the unknowns and gather as much information as we could. These events were attended by the Project Manager and myself.

Client's Business Goals

Based on the information we gathered, we identified the main business goals our client wanted to accomplish with this app:

  • Increase the number of leads
  • Track user engagement (to determine the quality of leads)
  • Educate more dealers, so they have incentive to buy the “Pro” version

Use Cases and Types of Users

Based on client requirements, the app would have different levels of users:

  • Level 1 (Basic): Leads who want to browse and make a purchase.
  • Level 2 (Advanced 1): Customers who made a purchase.
  • Level 3 (Advanced 2): Dealers who signed the contract.
  • Level 4 (Pro): Dealers who bought the “Pro” version of the app.

Based on this classification, this is how a customer journey map looks:

Target Audience

Based on interviews with the client and competitive market research, I have identified the target audience for this app would be:

  • Male adults, aged 25-50
  • Own a smartphone but aren’t very tech-savvy
  • Middle class with above-average income
  • Car enthusiasts who often research latest models
  • Somewhat interested in buying a new car

Impact on design

This user research influenced the design of the concept in the following ways (some of which were implemented in wireframes, others were communicated to the UI designer):

  • Clean design with very clear navigation
  • Large buttons and font-size
  • Predominantly dark, slick and “manly” design
  • Clear and high-contrast call-to-action buttons
  • Include welcome tutorial and an easy-to-access help button

2 : Creating the Concept

Creating a concept for the app based on information from the research phase.

Defining the Scope​

This included writing a definitive list of all features and requirements that need to be included in the app. This list was then sorted by priorities and separated into three phases of production (in collaboration with the Project Manager).

In this step, I have also identified which features were necessary to create the first interactive prototype and the minimum viable product.

Finding Technological Solutions​

Due to previously identified challenges, the concept had to be created with certain technical limitations in mind. I collaborated with developers to find the best (and most affordable) technical solution that also delivers the required features. After settling on the solution together, I proceeded to create a concept focused around these constraints.

Some of the features that needed to be included in the functional specification:

  • Providing CMS interface for the client to add and edit data
  • Managing users and issuing accounts
  • Manually distributing the app to specific users
  • Remote content manipulation
  • Push notification system interface

Building App Structure

The most important thing in designing an application like this is creating a clear outline of all components and how they interact with each other.

Throughout this process, I heavily reiterated the user flow in order to make the app as easy to use as possible.

Here are some early paper sketches of this process:

Prioritizing certain features was necessary for developing the first phase. However, I had to leave room for future improvements and take all requirements into consideration.

Once I had a clear idea of how everything fits together, I created the following user flow chart to be used by all members of the team:

Different colors represent parts of app accessible to different user levels.

Creating Wireframes and Prototypes

Once I had a clear outline of how the application is going to feel and function, I created low-fidelity paper sketches to test out different layouts. After this, I created medium-fidelity wireframes to communicate those ideas with designers and developers.

This allowed us to test whether the app is intuitive and easy to use and reiterate necessary changes in a very fast manner.

Finalizing the Concept

The next step involved the UI Designer, who created the final design based on my wireframes. These visuals were shown to the client and were used to create an interactive prototype for further testing.

Using deliverables we had so far, I thoroughly tested the concept once again, in collaboration with the client to make sure he was satisfied with our solution.

Once everything was settled, I created detailed specifications for developers, which included differentiating instructions for the backend, iOS and Android developers.

Development and Quality Assurance

Throughout the development process, I communicated with developers to clarify any unknowns, questions or explanations about the concept.

Once the minimum viable product was built, I conducted functional testing to make sure everything is in order. I also conducted ad-how testing throughout the process and a thorough stability and functional testing before the final build was released.

3 : Outcome and Results

Here is how the project turned out.

My team and I managed to finish the entire project in a given timeframe and budget. The customer was kept in the loop the entire time and was extremely satisfied with the final product.

Lessons learned

  • Constraints can be good. Being limited in some sense (time, budget, technology) can be just as creative as having a blank canvas. It simply requires problem-solving under specific guidelines.
  • Communication is king. Having clear communication with the client is of the utmost importance. Asking the right questions helped speed up the research phase and avoided extending the cost and delivery.
  • Iterate and iterate often. Rough paper sketches helped me go through bad ideas quickly, so by the time I created wireframes, I had a clear idea of how things should work and why. Creating a lot of prototypes (paper, wireframes, high-fidelity, interactive) helped reduce the cost of development.
  • Useful first, pretty second. Business goals and user-experience are equally as important. If the app was perfectly designed, but didn’t help the client improve their business, it would be useless.

If the project had a bigger budget, I would...

  • Spend more time on the research phase. While I believe I did a good job under the circumstances, a lot could be gained from conducting surveys and interviews with the end-users.
  • Explore different concepts. This concept achieves its goals, but I wonder what alternatives would be possible if the budget didn’t limit implementation.

This was one of the first projects that required me to work with so many constraints and I am proud of the work I managed to accomplish with my team.

"Managing Filip was surprisingly easy because of his work ethic, passion for learning and working well with a team"

His capacity to absorb knowledge and connect things to make new conclusions is surprising. While creating concepts he showed a high level of independence and responsibility. He personally tested products at the end of each sprint, thus assuring the quality and fulfillment of the approved concept. Highly recommended for UX and QA related positions.

Mario vagner
Worked as Project Manager and my immediate superior