As someone who frequently cooks, I was disappointed by the current selection of mobile apps focused on shopping lists. Some apps worked well for managing lists while lacking convenience features for in store shopping. To build a better shopping list experience, I opened an LLC to build and ship ListAid to the AppStore.
|Company||Startup Side Project|
Provide home cooks with a way to easily track out of stock items so they can be replenished on the next trip to the store.
To understand what users look for in a digital shopping list, I performed desk research into US consumer grocery shopping demographics and behaviors. Shopper’s primarily create lists for the following reasons:
- Not forgetting items
- Save time when shopping
- Purchase items for recipes
- Work with someone else to grocery shop
This secondary research also provided insight into how shoppers are using technology in the kitchen and at the store:
Use Digital Lists
Use Voice Assistants
These statistics helped support the business case for launching this product in a market with few direct competitors but many indirect competitors. Another encouraging statistic for the continued success of this product was Millennial adoption of digital shopping lists growing 6% from 2012 to 2015.
Coming out of the secondary research, I had a pretty clear idea of who the primary user would be. The Female Millennial shopper is tech savvy and want’s to shop efficiently. To create a more complete persona, I should have conducted user interviews to better understand their needs and pain points.
Having tried a variety of apps to find a solution for my needs, I knew going into the project there was a gap in the market. Below is a table illustrating the opportunity to deliver a solution that integrated with voice assistants, saved items for reuse, and create recipes. The lock screen widget would be a nice to have for those, like myself, who do not want to keep unlocking their phone.
|Siri / Hey Google||●|
|Reusable List Items||●||●||●|
|Lock Screen Widget||●||●|
Based on the research conducted, the following requirements were set for the product roadmap:
- List items are saved for easy reuse
- Group items into categories for saving recipes
- Order list items to optimize the in store shopping experience
- Integrate with the phone’s voice assistant
The research did state that working with someone else to grocery shop was a priority. I knew this product would eventually need a platform agnostic backend to sync between Android and iOS. In the interest of shipping an MVP, the 1.0 would focus on individual iOS users.
With a shallow feature list for the MVP, the user flow was concise. The Welcome screen on first app startup served as an opportunity to start the yearly subscription to access the full app. Users who use the free tier have a restricted feature set to serve as a trial. If they do subscribe, they are encouraged to enable Siri before landing on the “Lists” screen.
From the “Add Items” screen, users can view or save recipes by creating Groups. I choose the Group naming convention so the feature could be used for other purposes such as adding weekly staples with one tap.
Translating the requirements into wireframes, I started sketching out ideas too iterate quickly. Considering the list selection screen, the lists were enlarged since most users have 2 lists. This larger design uses the screen real estate more efficiently and gives users a glimpse into the list’s contents.
Considering the experience of creating a list, it was important that users can easily add items from previous lists. The Add Items screen keeps a running list of past items with the input field doubling as a search box to improve findability. To address user’s desire to purchase items for recipes, items can be saved into groups.
During the research phase, I did find feedback online stating users prefer utility apps to have a toned down color pallet. This aligned with my thinking that a stripped down UI would appeal to the widest possible audience. The color blue is used for primary touch points as this color communicates trust.
While talking to a prospective user, they suggested the ability to cross an item off as you would with a paper list. The psychology behind this is great because people find it satisfying to cross something off their list. To recreate this satisfying feeling, items on a list can be completed with a swipe.
On the Add Items screen, items can be added by checking them. Groups are treated with a grey pill bar to indicate they can be opened for viewing or editing.
To satisfy the growing use of voice assistants in the kitchen, ListAid natively integrates with Siri. This integration gives shoppers a second interface for adding items to their lists which is more sanitary than touching the phone.
Users can add a list widget to their Today View, allowing them to complete items without having to unlock the phone. Due to human factors constraints on widgets, the swipe to complete gesture could not be used here.
In retrospective I should have made some quick prototypes at this stage to conduct usability testing. This would have ensured the enlarged lists screen was the right approach and users could easily cross items off before starting engineering.
Starting the 1.0 production build, I developed the bare minimum in Xcode and shared it with others. Despite the lack of signifiers, users found the gesture driven interface to be intuitive. One tester even commented: “This is the most graphically engineered shopping list I have ever seen.”
Beta App Demo
To further address shopper’s desire to save time, I would ask shoppers in user interviews how they navigate the store. If shoppers are navigating in a consistent order, there could be an opportunity to use machine learning to auto sort their list. This can save shoppers time not having to back track for an infrequent item they forgot to pickup.
While I set out with the intention of launching this product to the public, the amount of development work to create a platform that could scale to Android was beyond my capacity. This would be a must since a lot of households have adults that are on each platform and want to sync lists.