Spark NZ Mobile App
As New Zealand’s leading digital services company, Spark New Zealand has a powerful ambition: to unleash the potential in all New Zealanders through amazing technology.
Spark is New Zealand's largest supplier of fixed phone lines, its biggest internet provider, with nearly half of the total New Zealand market and nearly 700,000 broadband customers, and, together with Skinny, it's also New Zealand's biggest mobile provider.
Spark is organised around customer-facing business units, supported by digital technology and infrastructure-focused resources and a lean corporate centre.
Redesign and rebuild the Spark app with a human centred approach.
Spark NZ needed a more user friendly app that could accomodate new Spark features and product structure with a human centred approach to cater for user needs.
Spark has been adding many different features and products over the years but the Spark app wasn’t scalable enough to cater for all these changes and needs. Spark app was beginning to age, and the content had slowly become fragmented and unorganised as things were added over time. The user experience had never been considered and Spark wanted a fresh start.
Lead user experience and interaction designer.
As the lead designer of the Spark app I worked with a team of architects, designers, developers and business analysts in an agile environment. I was responsible for the overall experience of the app and end to end design.
I worked closely with other designers in the UX team, customers and stakeholders to ensure that we delivered what was needed without compromising on business goals.
My main responsibilities:
- Work in an agile environment with scrum methodology
- Project management
- Run design workshops
- Define user flows and journey mapping
- Research and user test to design a customer centred experience
- Work closely with stakeholders to understand their needs and requirements
- Lead a team of designers to create customer centred solutions based on best practices
- Create wireframes and prototypes
- Animation/Interaction design for best digital experience
- Visual design
- Q/A testing
Design goals and objectives
- User centered
- Flexible, modular and scalable
- Seamless and frictionless experience
- Simplified navigation system
- Eliminate unnecessary steps
- Modern look and feel
- Technical constraints and limitations
- Complex product structure
- Company goals not aligning with consumer needs
- Tight deadlines
- Not enough data around user core needs
In order to create the best user experience for our customers without compromising on business objectives, we needed to have a design plan and make sure everyone from designers to stakeholders and developers were aligned to our vision.
This required several design workshops to understand our goals and also define our technical constraints.
We worked in an agile environment, running weekly sprints with daily stand ups.
Before actual design process...
We had three different design concepts, one from an external agency and two from our in-house UX team. We tested all three concepts. They each had a unique personality and they could potentially define our approach for the whole project. After a few rounds of user testing we chose the concept which was more:
- Scalable and future proof
- User friendly and intuitive
- Easy to use and understand
- Modern feel and look with the "WOW" factor compared to other concepts
Once we decided on our approach, we started our design process based on our customer feedback.
I started the process with research and requirement gathering. We needed to understand why we were redesigning the app. To answer this question I had to define our user needs as well as our business objectives. We looked at our product structure and roadmap for the future.
- UX research
- Data analysis
- Requirement gathering
After research and analysis we set up daily workshops to align business goals with our user's needs. I started with:
- Design workshops to find the core need of our users
- Creating user flows
- Journey mapping
We as the design team, involved stakeholders, business analysts, architects and developers in every step of this process.
As the design lead of this project, I worked closely with stakeholders and broke down the journeys into smaller tasks . Instead of designing the whole app in one go, we defined specific tasks like top ups, or view usage etc... After defining tasks based on user needs, I made a list of the most important features that we wanted to go live with, the rest fell into a growing list of backlogs for future releases.
After defining the user flows and journey maps, and categorising our priorities, we had enough information to create high level wireframes and prototypes to test our ideas with our users and make sure we were on the right track.
- High level wireframes based on user flows
- High level prototypes
- Design concepts and ideas
We ran a few rounds of user testings using different methods including in-store tests, online quantitative tests and in-house qualitative tests. We did this every step of the way, for each sprint and feature. In general we were looking for:
- Concept validation
- Journey assessment
- Task completions
- Qualitative and quantitive data
- Accessibility tests
- Usability checks
I knew we wouldn't get it 100% right the first time so kept testing and reiterating our ideas, which we continue to do.
- Reiterate and refine based on user testing outcomes
- Detailed design
Once I defined the business objectives and the core user's need, user flows and journey maps, I started the detailed visual design based on user testing outcomes.
Spark app is native so I had to design for iOS and Android platforms separately to make sure the interactions are as familiar as possible for users of these platforms.
The first design sprint was the most challenging. Once we created our styles and design guides, it became easier to design for new features. Consistency is very important in our design process. By defining our style guide it helped us create more consistent components, faster and more efficiently.
What we learned along the way
- Collaboration and having one vision is the key to delivering a big project in a large corporate environment.
- Designers, architects and stakeholders don't always agree with each other and that's fine as long as they collaborate and communicate their ideas.
- People don't always tell the truth! Sometimes it's better to observe their behaviour rather than listening to their words in a user testing session.
- Personalisation is important. People enjoy a unique experience tailored to their needs.
- Customisation is important. Many asked us to give them the option to customise the app the way they wanted it such as choosing colour, naming etc...
- Utility apps are not like social media apps. People open the app with a specific task in mind and they want to complete the task as quick and easy as possible. Designing an "invisible user experience" is even more important in these apps.
We always listen to people and keep improving the app based on the feedback we receive.
We have weekly sprints and monthly updates. Reiterating and improving the experience for people is an important part of an agile work environment and we keep doing that. Testing the app, out in the real world, has given us invaluable insights. Our backlog list is growing based on what we hear from our customers. We are determined to deliver the best digital experience.
Spark app is available for download on both Android and iOS platforms.