Designing an experience that lives at the intersection of social media and ecommerce.

Existing iOS application.

Proposed concept for Bibi.

Bibi is a mobile application that allows friends to send drinks to each other at participating merchants. We worked with Bibi to take the alpha version of their application and create a dynamic consumer facing experience to drive user engagement and in turn encourage merchant participation in the market. We pared down the purchasing flow and integrated social sharing opportunities to make the experience less like an ecommerce app and more like a social media platform. Through research, concept testing, prototyping, and multiple rounds of usability testing, I learned how to use interactions to strengthen the user experience.


In our client kickoff meeting, the founders described their vision as “Venmo meets SnapChat.” To understand their perception of target users’ goals and needs, we completed a problem statement exercise. We used what they shared with us to put together an initial “assumed” problem that focused our research and aligned us with their vision.


“Millennials need tangible, social experiences in order to close the physical  distance between friends because current social media interactions don’t foster  meaningful sharing.”

Understanding the landscape

Bibi wants to live at the intersection of social media and ecommerce. To understand this market space, we took a closer look at industry reports and technology surrounding mobile gift giving and social interactions for the millennial generation.


We quickly discovered that users desire more media rich experiences that incorporate images, video, gifs and strong micro-interactions. These experiences not only communicate messages effectively, but bring users back repeatedly. In addition, we learned that users are migrating from social media platforms to direct messaging platforms because they desire means of communication that are private, transient, and spontaneous.

Current application trends showed us that our users were moving away from traditional social media platforms.

As for the ecommerce side of Bibi, we learned that the popularity of chatbots and personalized shopping experiences are on the rise. Users want sites and applications to be able to predict their desires and provide shopping recommendations based on data collected throughout their online interactions. Users also expect location based recommendations and incentives when engaging with an online shopping platform.


It was our goal to bring the private, transient, and spontaneous social messaging trend to Bibi while also personalizing the purchasing process to make the entire experience feel tailored and delightful.


We interviewed eleven target users to validate our research findings. Through these conversations we understood that users value communication that is personal, in real time, and without social pressure. We also found that elements of the gift exchange experience have been lost between friends as their physical distance has increased. Friends have the ability to send, receive, and communicate about a gift exchange, however it takes planning and the coordination of several tools and platforms throughout the process.

Defining the problem

Through synthesis of our research and user interviews, we discovered that there is no integrated way to give a thoughtful gift and experience the recipient’s reaction in real time.

We saw that it’s the moment of giving that’s most valued by both parties involved. Friends living apart need a seamless way to share in the giving and receiving of gifts from afar in order to remove the complications that can dilute the spontaneity and natural excitement surrounding the moment a gift is given.


It was clear, through our research into the competition, that the selling of drinks alone wouldn’t make Bib’s success, but an effective social interaction that meets the current trend towards direct, transient sharing would.

Empathizing with users

We wanted to better understand the ways our users might interact with Bibi. Our conversations with interviewees led us to define four user scenarios.

Our recent graduate just got her first full time job. She still has close friends from school who she talks to daily, but has just begun to realize that she can’t be there for her friends in the same way she used to when they lived in the same city. She needs a way to let her friends know that she is thinking of them, even though she can’t be there physically.


Our empty nester parent has adult children on opposite sides of the country. She has a knack for gift giving but doesn’t always know how to get the perfect gift to her kids without breaking the bank on shipping. She needs a way to ensure that they can enjoy a special day without having to worry about whether or not the package arrived safely.


Our busy business person spends long days at the office and travels for work at least once a month. He is invited out for happy hour or weekend brunch with friends often, but can rarely go because of his schedule. He needs a way to send a round of drinks to his friends on nights he can’t be there so he can still feel like a part of the group.


Our joking friends frequently meet up for drinks. They love to give each other a hard time at the bar by buying each other embarrassing drinks. They need a way to buy drinks without spoiling the surprise of the on-going joke.

These scenarios guided our thinking as we began designing a solution.

Testing and iterating

The biggest hurdle was finding a way to make the multi-step purchasing process seem simple and fun for every use case. We began with paper and then through critique and iteration graduated to digital wireframes in Sketch.


We designed three divergent concepts for testing. Each showed two main flows: purchasing a gift (Bibi) and redeeming a Bibi. The three concepts took different approaches to the interactions within the two flows to test content of the social activity page, custom digital wrapping options, and the timing of sending a personal reaction to the gift received.

I designed the master elements that were used across all concepts.

We used these insights to converge our concepts into a single solution for Bibi.

Usability testing

Our goal for the first round of usability testing was to determine the success of our purchasing flow when buying multiple Bibis for multiple friends in one transaction. We found that the flow we created wasn’t intuitive and users felt overwhelmed by the amount of freedom they had within the application.

The user liked the  complete freedom to add as many friends and Bibi’s as they would like to one transaction. But they were confused by the interactions.

We remodeled our purchasing flow, using popular social apps for inspiration. I was inspired by the linear structure of Instagram’s photo editing flow. We reworked our prototype and went into another round of testing.


The change to the flow was successful and freed up room in our timeline to discuss the improvements needed on the activity feed.


In our final round of usability testing of the purchasing and redeeming flows, we incorporated a concept test for the activity feed and tested two main features:

These two concepts tested well with users, but we didn’t feel we had done enough testing to give conclusive recommendations. We expressed to our clients that this feed and its features needed further testing before being implemented.



Users liked the “favorite Bibi” feature because it accelerated the purchasing process and removed any questions they might have about what they should buy for their friend. Users liked the ability to send multiple drinks to multiple people all in one transaction.


Users like the “secret image” when redeeming a Bibi. This feature gave users the assurance that no one else could redeem their Bibi.


Users expressed that customizing a message as part of the purchasing process was their favorite part of the interaction because it made the purchase and in-app experience more meaningful.


Users enjoyed the activity feed and its features. They stated that the transient nature of the images and videos in the feed would drive them to post more content because they wouldn’t be worried about the content being available and viewable forever.

[Click here to watch a video demonstration of Bibi]

The final handoff

Through testing, users confirmed their need for a seamless and personal way to share in the giving and receiving of gifts when they’re separated from their friends and family by distance. We ultimately struck a balance between meaningful social interactions and frictionless custom purchases in order to highlight the spontaneity and natural excitement that surrounds the moment a gift is given.


Since we came on very early in the development of Bibi, we passed on some recommendations to our clients for future consideration:

  • Explore geo-location integration for check-ins and location based notifications.
  • Expand on the personalization of Bibis. Consider custom “gift wrapping” or custom filters for images and videos.


I learned through this project how to manage client expectations and explain the design process to stakeholders who’ve never worked with a design team before. I found it rewarding to align myself with the goals of my client, while also meeting the needs of the users. Our clients at Bibi felt we exceeded their expectations not only in the amount of work we had accomplished in three weeks but also in our ability to understand and realize their vision. Our research, findings, and annotated wireframes were passed on to a UI team for branding and interaction design. And, our prototype is currently being used to pitch to investors.


While you're down here, check out my other work.

© 2017 by Siri Preston // All rights reserved.