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MANTIS FINDER

 San Francisco, May 2020
 Individual Case Study

Concept

Mantis Finder is a mobile application designed for mantis lovers and owners.
The concept is to create a platform where the users can shop, communicate, socialize, and get educated. The goal is to create a community for users who share the same enthusiasm.

Integrated Shopping Experience

Shop mantis, foods and supplies. Talk to the seller anytime.

The store design allows users to browse anything they need. Not only the products but more importantly, the care guide for raising the specific mantis. 

Communication between the users and the sellers has a great impact on users' understanding of the products, which ultimately affects sales. Now it is emphasized through the Chat function - users are encouraged to talk to the sellers anytime and the communication channel is always open.

Community Forum

Post photos. Ask questions. Share love.

Finding one's passion is not easy, but it can be harder to find people who share the same passion. The Community Forum is an open space for users to share their stories, to have a conversation with each other, and to create their own community.

Users can like, leave a comment, or share the post as they wish. What's more, they can also start a chat with others as friends.

Start A Chat, Meet Friends

A social media for the mantis community.

If the users are looking forward to expanding their social circles within the mantis community, Mantis Finder is here to boost their experience. The Messages notifies the users with all the new comments, likes, shares, and chat messages they receive. Users can start a chat with any individual within the community or even shop owners as they wish. Of course, privacy control is available in case the users do not wish to receive any messages.

Mantis Wiki & Mentorship

Time-saver for whom would like to know everything about mantis.

Information is scattered on the cloud, why not collect them and make it easy for people? To minimize the researching process for users, either starter who just about to own a mantis, or experienced mantis owners who are looking for a specific question, Mantis Wiki has a large database that will provide answers to everyone.

A mentorship program is designed on top of the Mantis Wiki mechanism to provide a more interactive way of educating. The system pairs up two users as mentor and mentee. If the user is new to the mantis world, after signing up for the mentorship program, they know who to go to.

Welcome to the Mantis Finder

Join the community and start finding...

Users can easily sign in or sign up either with email address or their Google, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. The flow is smooth and simple - it only takes a couple minutes then they are ready to start exploring.

The Process

1. Emphathise 

Research the context to develop an understanding of users.

There are very limited number of websites and almost none mobile application built for people who love mantis or own mantis. For someone who just starts to have interests in or pays attention to mantis, it can be a very time-consuming task to figure out where to look for information. Keeping a praying mantis as pet is not as common as keeping a dog, therefore the needs of the mantis owners are sometimes overlooked.

Precedent Websites
Here are a few examples of the existing websites for mantis owners. They are either forums or shopping sites, and some of the forum sites are already inactive.

User Interview
User interviews have been conducted for my qualitative research. Here are some of the dialogues that offers valuable insights during the contextual inquiry process.

Q:  Where do you find information about mantis or buy supplies for your mantis from?
A:
 I usually just google for any question I have, which can take a lot of time, and I go to Amazon, Petco, or Rainbow Mealworms if I need to buy live foods. I found the Rainbow Mealworms website from Mantid Forums online where a member suggested the website has nice quality foods.

Q:  Do you find the existing online mantis forums helpful?
A:
 I used it quite often when I just started to raise the mantis. I used it because I had a lot of questions and I was constantly looking for answers. I tried to look for information somewhere else but the Mantid Forum is the only active platform. The Mantid Forum can take up to a few days to approve a new member which almost discouraged me to join at first.

Q:  Do you still use the Mantid Forum now?
A:
Not that much. The forum is mostly for me to learn the basic knowledge about mantis. After I know all those, I only go on to Youtube or Instagram to see other people's mantis. There is no other platform where I can find other people posting or blogging about their mantis.

Q:  What do you wish to have or to be improved for the mantis community?
A: It is really hard to create a sense of a mantis community. People like me who keep mantis as a pet are still being overlooked. I wish there could be a platform built for us, just like the dog or cat owners, they have their own apps and websites, they have their own circles. It is very hard for me to meet anyone with the same interests.

2. Define 

Observe the problems and users' needs.

◆   It is time-consuming for users to find information about mantis.
◆   There is no integrated platform that offers both shopping and forum functions for users' convenience.
◆   Users want to have their own community and feel a sense of belonging.

3. Ideate 

A non-stop exercise to explore possibilities, ideas, and solutions.

During the Ideation process, I tried to come up with as many ideas as possible as the very beginning. I also create a user journey map to analyze the possible opportunities. I decided to create a mobile application instead of a website, because it is more accessible and frequent for users to share new post with photos, check notifications, and send messages on the phone instead of on the computer. Four solutions are selected to move forward to the prototype: an integrated shopping site with review system and care guide that opens to any authenticated sellers; a community forum for users to share stories, ask questions and organize events; a mantis "wikipedia" for users to look up information about mantis and a mentorship program to help new starters find someone who will hear their questions, and a live chat system for users to make friends and communicate with sellers and mentors.

4. Low-fidelity Prototype

After finalizing the solutions, I started to draw different versions of sketches and create low-fidelity prototypes to plan out the wireframe of the application.

5. Usability Testing

How can I improve the user experience?

• The home page covers a variety of functions that can be overwhelming and complicated to the new users. Start with a simple and minimal home page and let users customize their home page later.

• The chat function can be further developed to incorporate contacts, friends, and follower mechanism. Allow users to build more stable connections with other users.

• A recommendation algorithm can be added to suggest feeds based on users' interests. Attract users to stay interested in the content in the long term.

• Explore alternative UI color palette options for accessibility reasons.

6. High-fidelity Prototype

Design, iterate, iterate, iterate... and keep iterating.

Moving forward to high-fidelity prototype, I used Figma to design and test out how the design functions. I looked for inspirations to help me figure out the look and feel. The color palette consists of light teal and orange, two complementary colors to please the eye.

7. Takeaways

Always talk to your users.

This case study provides a great opportunity for me to study on an existing community and the relationship between the community and the individuals. There is no need to guess who my users are so I can focus on catering functions to the users. It is very crucial to talk to the users and see from their perspectives because they have a lot of experience with the current platforms and they know where the problems are. The feedback from the users should be considered seriously because it can directly affect the performance of the product. As a designer, it is my job to convey the stakeholders how valuable the insights from the users are and build their empathy on users with the design tools I am equipped with.