Working at iSWAG

Helping connect local communities in Nigeria closer together.
February 2018

As a grantee of the AVDD (Aso Villa Demo Day) organized by the Vice President of Nigeria and supported by Mark Zuckerberg, ISWAG’s goal was to bring together local communities and smaller businesses in Nigeria, and eventually West Africa.

The Situation.

Connectivity is a huge problem in Nigeria, as well as other West African countries. Lot’s of commercial opportunities & lives are lost because of delayed information sharing. iSWAG was creating an easier way for people to be in sync with their immediate environments. We set out to make a tool for people to buy, sell, report security updates and status with people around them.

Research.

The user research team comprised of myself, our CEO and 2 other employees. We interviewed a total of 5 people; 1 furniture maker, 3 university students, and a hairdresser. The whole research took about a week, after which we sat together to listen and synthesize findings from the voice notes.

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Permission to record, project kickoff documents and Research plan document
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A Screenshot of an online collaboration during research synthesis.
The product team in a meeting
Me (With the face cap) in a design meeting with the CEO and some other engineers.

The Solution

Informed by our research, the goal was

To build an android app that allowed users belong to virtual geographical communities (hives). Each hive would have a feed that showed posts (buzzes) by all members of that hive. A user could visit another community to see what others in the community were buzzing about. From our research, we needed to just build an android app. More than 90% of smartphone users in Nigeria are android users. This meant we had to act contrary to our initial decision of building a web, ios, and Android app.

My UX Work Begins Here.

I was solely charged with the responsibility of turning the research findings into interactions that allowed users to connect closer with their communities. Specifically;

  1. Crafting Scenarios, user journeys, user flows, and use-cases to explore future use of the product.
  2. Develop storyboards, sketches, and wireframes that would help communicate my design decisions with the whole team.
  3. Design high-fidelity screens and prototypes that would be used by the engineers to implement features and experiences.

The Process

In the following weeks, I worked closely with my friends from engineering to find out engineering requirements. I also spent a lot of time making things like this…

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Flowchart of the sign-up & sign-in micro-interaction.

Crafting flows like this enabled me to see how large and unrelated things connect. It gave me a holistic view of the user experience.

The next steps were for me to sketch possible interactions and visual layout of the app.

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A few of the high fidelity sketches from the project

Further down the process were a lot of wireframes and low-fidelity prototypes to give the team an idea of how things would work.

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Some high fidelity wireframes from the project.

During this period, I learned a lot about Interaction Design and information architecture. This changed the way I interacted with every day (digital & physical) objects.

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A few screen-flows from the project.

After a series of low-fidelity test with some potential users, I set out to build a high-fidelity prototype of the product. This would be finally handed to engineers to implement as experiences on the Android platform.

High Fidelity Designs.

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A few screens from the iSWAG android app.

And Here’s The Sad Part 😢

iSWAG WENT UNDER…

A few months later, the startup can no longer continue to exist due to issues concerning finance and leadership. I can only say working at iSWAG as the first place ever, taught me about validating assumptions & hypothesis.

Learnings

I left iSWAG as a changed person. Working at a startup environment like that taught me a lot. Here’re a few

Priority. The most important thing is that the product launches, as fast as possible. Whatever stops the product from launching early is the reason the startup will fail.

Objectivity. A startup is a romantic environment. Everyone’s excited about this little baby. The CEO, depending on how intelligent they are, will avoid things that’ll invalidate their idea. A startup is a high-risk environment. Committing to objective tests is the fastest way to reduce risk.

Thanks for taking the time out.


If you enjoyed this case study, you might also want to read about

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Talk To Me

I'm currently available for Freelance or full time Product/UX Design roles. Feel free to reach me at desgn[dot]victor[@]gmail.com or maybe you're as excited as I am, my Twitter DM is wide open.