Busy lifestyles sometimes require parents to hire a babysitter for their children. For those parents that do not have the friends or family to help out, it can be a difficult and stressful experience. My wife and I ran into this very issue while I attended design school, and I experienced first hand how challenging it was.
This problem was ideal to use for my graduate project as I had a personal connection to it, and it also had depth for me to grow as a UX and UI designer. I had approximately 20 weeks to propose a solution.
From my initial research, parents told me that the current tools available are outdated and unreliable. Looking for a babysitter from postings at the supermarket or in a classified ad are most common but hardly convey a sense of trust. At best, parents seek out referrals from other parents (which was an element I carried forward in this design solution). There was much room to improve, and using contemporary tools would be a great starting point.
Digging deeper into the competitive landscape, I discovered online tools available to parents. They provide refined search options and access to many babysitters looking for work. The research I conducted showed that parents liked the idea of having the greater search capabilities, and wider network that these sites offered, but they also needed to have access through their mobile device for convenience, scheduling and contact capabilities. These sites are not optimized for mobile, and do not offer a mobile version. My users wanted a tool that worked on their mobile phones.
With a better idea of what was out there, I got out and started speaking to parents, which helped tremendously. The number of replies I got back for testing was encouraging and many of the concerns they brought up were very similar. From the 73 profiles I had, I selected 10 to dive deeper into the study. They represented a wide demographic and would diminish any skewed results.
After I recorded their responses I was able to begin mind mapping. At this early stage I saw how large this project could be, and mapping it out visually helped me scale certain aspects back so that I could provide the maximum solution within my limited scope. My focus for the grad project deliverable was the parent facing side of the app. I am continuing to develop the babysitter side and is part of the phase 2 for this project.
The conversations I has with users began to reveal the challenges that parents faced, and more importantly, when they came up. Not only did the parents have difficulties finding a babysitter, they also felt that the babysitter would not remember (or was forgotten to be informed about) important details regarding the children. This showed me that the problems continued into the time that the babysitter was caring for the child. So much emphasis was put into finding the babysitter that important information like child allergies, sleeping schedules and playtime preferences were forgotten about or not passed along to begin with. It is plain to see that the current model is disjointed and not streamlined.
Identifying the major pain points allowed me to work towards an ideal model, where information is organized and accounted for. A model to help keep everyone in sync and make the situation more pleasant for all involved.
Processing the research helped me identify the key deliverables. Some ideas were great but were beyond the project scope. Armed with this guideline, I focused on the necessary features, and reassessed the priority on the nice-to-have features. With a better understanding of the challenge ahead of me, I was able to begin designing the UI for the app, and began with very rough sketches to help me identify information flow.
Once I had established a rough map of the various user flows, I created clickable prototypes in Axure.d
Having clickable wireframes allowed me to conduct user testing, and it was apparent that the initial design flow needed to be addressed.
Prior to flow optimization, the information architecture took too many steps to book or interview babysitters. The initial design was geared towards first time users and putting search options up front. Redesigning the flow for returning users allowed for quicker access to booking babysitters and accessing previously booked babysitters. Testing revealed that parents want to spend as little time looking for babysitters as they can, so quick access to familiar connections worked best.
The color palette had to convey trust and reputation while remaining legible and soothing. There were a few options that I toyed with, but in the end I chose the official Pantone color palette for 2016 (Rose Quartz and Serenity). The choice lined up with the voice of the app, and paired nicely with the assets I created.
The grad project was a success. I met and exceeded my initial goals by not only completing the project on time, but by also including a parental referral search, and also integrated baby sitter contact through text and phone. If I had more time, I would have loved to explore the babysitter side further, and perhaps include some bot enabled features as well. The babysitter side of the app will dovetail nicely once it is done, since I have been careful to consider that side of it from the inception of this project.
Thank you for spending the time looking over my case study. If you have any questions or comments, please reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.