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Author Archives: jeff.patton

TippingPoint: Doughnuts & Beers | Smoke & Mirrors

We finished last week by testing low-fidelity wires with one group of strangers to elicit feedback on our overall idea, as well as to understand emotional responses to different scenarios and tones.  We learned a lot from that test and we wanted to continue to test these screens with a few more individuals to gain even more perspective.

2 of the screens we tested

Beer & Doughnuts

Our first stop was the University of Texas campus.  We arrived at a sunny picnic table on the north side of campus armed with a box of doughnuts to be used as compensation for people’s time and opinions.  We set up camp, wrote “Free Donuts:  Help With Design Research” on the box and put on our best smiles in an attempt to lure people to our table.  We quickly realized that offering free doughnuts doesn’t get nearly the response that offering free beer does (our tactic from last week)… despite that lesson learned, we were finally able find two college students willing to sit with us and give us their opinions.

Free Doughnuts… Anybody??
Yay, participants!

Our major takeaway from this set of tests was the need for our messaging to be tailored to the person using the service.  The two girls we spoke with were both 20 years old and did not drink or go to bars, so the series of screens we showed them aimed at an audience that spends too much money going out to bars wasn’t applicable to them, so it elicited negative feedback.  They also did not have credit cards or debt so they got stuck on the idea of using a service to pay off credit cards.  This was useful in its own right, and got us thinking about different ways we might tailor the communications and how we might be able to test that.

Later that afternoon went to a nearby bar to find more participants.  Not surprisingly, offering beer worked like a charm and we quickly found four participants eager to share their opinions.

Sam with a test subject

A lot of what we heard echoed our first round of tests:

  • People enjoy a playful tone and a relatable voice
  • They want messages to be short and sweet
  •  They want to be able to customize the characters
  • They want to know specific dollar amounts (not just percentages)

We also heard some new feedback:

  • People want some sort of option to turn off the messages, especially if they do not currently have enough money to pay towards their credit card or savings
  • They want clear language telling them where their money is actually going
  • They would like us to push the funny character voices even further (fun!)

Smoke & Mirrors

In addition to these tests, we also reached out to our AC4D network, and were able to find three alumni friends willing to let us pilot a “smoke & mirrors” version of the service with them.  This involves a hacked together process of using their bank account alerts to send them an email every time they make a purchase over $1.00, and then setting up their email to forward those alerts to us so we can then send them a text message asking if they want to contribute money to their credit card or savings.  Make sense?  See below:

flow diagram: smoke & mirrors

Our goal for this method of testing is to determine:

  • What it feels like to receive a message
  • With what frequency people prefer to get messaged
  • What tone is most effective
  • How much money a person using this service might save/put towards debt

After one week of sending & receiving messages, we had our first follow-up interview today.  The participant told us that she really enjoyed receiving our messages and preferred when the messages were more playful and personal as opposed to cold and professional.  It was her opinion that about one message a day would be a good frequency and any more than that might get annoying.  She wants us to keep it fresh and “keep the wins coming.” This means we will need to figure out ways to keep the reminders from becoming stale;  learning about our users to personalize messages, upping the ante, using variable reward structures, and helping people track their progress might be some methods we can use to keep the thrill alive.

The Next 7 Days

This coming week we will be continuing the “smoke & mirrors” testing with our alumni volunteers focusing more on testing different tones.  We will also be doing a series of Scenario Validation tests which we are currently recruiting volunteers for.  Please feel free to share the link above with your networks or if you or anyone you know fits the bill please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Tune in next week for more testing fun!

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