GramCity Design Sprint

Helping people find the most Instagram-able locations in any city.

Project Overview

Using a modified version of the Google Ventures design sprint process, I ran a solo sprint to go from idea to testing in five days.

GramCity is a photo editing app that helps users easily make their photos look great before posting them. They are now looking to help people find the most "Instagram-able" locations to take a photo in any city, such as tourist attractions, public art, secret finds, or anywhere someone would be able to take a great photo.

The new feature should help the users to find amazing locations to take photos, wherever they are.
Figma, Miro, Marvel
Self Directed
Day 1


- Review existing research
- Identify problems and opportunities
- Map out user flows
Goal Setting and Foundations
The goal of the first day was to provide the foundation and goals for the sprint. From the design brief provided, I identified some general project goals:

1. Users are able to easily find photo opportunity locations
2. A simple search function to identify the types of locations
3. Some sort of community feedback

At this point, I reached out to potential users in my network to run brief interviews to learn about their photo taking habits. I also reviewed some pre-existing research provided by the company.

Nick, 24

- 5x road trips a year.
- Loves traveling and documenting trips.
- Shares  photos on social media and group chats.
- Doesn’t have a strict plans or itineraries.

- Regrets when he doesn’t take enough photos.
- Feels he’s missing out on the travel experience if he’s constantly on his phone taking photos.
- Fears he may be missing good photo ops that were near him.

Wants to find great places to take photos to document his trips,  doesn’t want to spend time researching or to find them.

Sarah, 27

- Has taken photo classes a few years ago.
- Avid amateur photographer.
- Spends time researching photos on Instagram, Pinterest and other sites before traveling to plan trip.
- Doesn’t mind spending time traveling for a great photo.

- Doesn’t have lots of time for photos when travelling for work.
- Has to spend lots of time looking through other people’s photos to find places she wants to go
- Finding address of locations can take a lot of time.

Wants to easily find locations and examples of the best photo ops location to plan her trips around.
Key Learnings
The goal of getting a "great" photo is consistent across both personas, but context changed. They often leverage "reviews" from other sources.

Some people plans their trips around the photo itinerary, others are spontaneous.

Both crave efficiency - maximizing their ability to get photos during their trips.

Distance matters.
Mapping and How Might We Statements
With these insights in hand, I went about mapping what a end-to-end experience might look like to better understand the user needs. This exercise allowed me to pull a few "How Might We..." questions that could provide design guidance.

How might we help users find the best rated photo locations?

How might we support the various ways photography fits into a user's plan?

How might we allow users to support each other in discovering great photo opportunities?
Day 2


- Lightning demo
- Sketch Initial Ideas
- Ideate possible solutions
Lightning Demo
So as not to reinvent the wheel, I began with a lightning demo, drawing from secondary research to do a quick competitive analysis. I specifically looked for apps with relevant ux features.

1. AirBnb and their search functionality as well as their "trip" creation features.
2. Hotel Tonight and their search functionality, their mapping functionality, and their filter functionality.
AirBnB had excellent user flows for creating a new trip.
Hotel Tonight's layout for it's map and filters were very intuitive.
Crazy 8 Exercise
I ran a "Crazy 8" exercise after the lightning demo to iterate on some possible solutions. Based on this exercise, I landed on a direction to further develop on day three.

Key UX functions:
1. Prominent search bar as the primary CTA
2. Feature large image cards for locations
3. Emphasis on filtering

Crazy 8's allowed me to quickly run through layout ideas.
Day 3


- Pick a design direction
- Create a storyboard
- Develop initial wireframe
Design Development
I began by reviewing my previous days exercises and created a high level storyboard for my final solution comprising fleshed out critical screens of the photo location itself, which would be where most of the interaction would happen, as well as the steps before and after this moment in the flow.
A sketch of the three primary screens for my design direction.
Next I further fleshed out this solution into a complete flow and wireframed the necessary screens.

In doing so, I raised some additional questions about this direction:

1. What is more important to the user - the location or the type of photo op?
2. How will the user like to build a list of potential spots? Would they want a map? Would they want to do it by distance? Would they want a itinerary?
3. What are the best moments for interacting/creating community? I had sketched some possible ideas for the community aspect of the app, but for this exercise, stuck with a very simple model.
AirBnB had excellent user flows for creating a new trip.
Hotel Tonight's layout for it's map and filters were very intuitive.
Day 4


- Design/build the prototype
Prototyping the app became a bit of a challenge as I looked to my list of unanswered questions that arose from storyboarding.

If I was going to get insights into any of my assumptions or these questions, I would need to build the app open-enough to allow the users to engage in multiple paths.

This would help me see if the "ideal" path I imagined was true, and if not, take that moment to dive deeper into the user's reasoning.

This lead to the prototype becoming quite heavy, and I had to make some decisions to scale the prototype back.

I ended up scaling back the submission and community rating interactions, instead focusing on my assumption of the most important parts of the UX - finding the places to take the photos.

Community engagement would need to be its own sprint.
Day 5


- Conduct user interviews
- Iterate as needed
I tested the app on five users I pulled from my network. All of the users were avid travelers and Instagram users, aged 25-34.

I wrote the script and tasks specifically to put my users in positions to answer my assumptions.
However, I quickly saw the limitations of the prototype and found my users frequently getting stuck. I switched interview tactics to make the things more conversational, and used the screens as reference points for questions, rather than relying on the tasks and interactions themselves.

Additionally, running the remote interviews themselves were a bit challenging as I wasn't always able to see their screen.

In the future I would use a tool such as Lookback or do the prototyping in person.

Reflections and Learnings

- Keep the learning scope focused and matched to the time frame.
- Be ready to adapt as things go off plan.
- Leave time on interview day to iterate on the prototype.
The time limit of the sprint, in particular the 1-day prototype build, were a key piece in my reflection. Staying focused in the learning goal would allow a more precise prototype, testing fewer flows or behaviors given the time allotment.

That aside, the initial assumptions about what would be important to users were borne out during the interviews. Most users wanted to start with a location and they wanted to leverage a community to help their research.

The challenges came up in the UI that would best support these goals. As this is a location and driven app, the UI/UX would do well to draw further from mapping functionality as the primary mode of interaction.

Additionally, the community interaction could be framed more as a "review" basis to begin, rather than a complete social app (seeing photo inspiration, etc).

The "finding" of the best photo and "planning" of how to take it really were the primary user drivers, so the next iteration of the app design should reflect those further.
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