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Pink Pie: A Case Study in UX Research

This project challenged me to focus on delivering an e-commerce experience for a local business and I was excited to use my design thinking skills to solve a real business need. My project partner MAYAH MCGOWAN and I chose to focus on Pink Pie, a local bakery specializing in mini-pies, as our “client” for this project. Fortunately for us, we were able to speak with the owner of Pink Pie, Michael, whose perspective afforded us tremendously valuable insight into Pink Pie’s current business context.

  • Stylistic opportunity to embrace minimalist aesthetic through more efficient use of screen real-estate
  • Opportunity to include more flexibility and efficiency of use during “Add to cart” phase (ex. provide quantity steppers earlier in the flow)


There was definitely a pattern emerging in the data. It’s all too easy to get attached to what seems like a good idea early in the process, especially if there seems to be a pattern presenting itself.

An image of “parking lot” with sticky notes on it
An image of “parking lot” with sticky notes on it
It’s all in shorthand — I promise it made sense to us at the time
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Here’s a glimpse of our affinity map after organizing user & stakeholder data into groups
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Value Proposition Canvas — credit:

How might we align our product offerings to better meet our customers expectations?

Same concept; much more empowering tone. Now we’re ready to get ideating.


Brainstorming can be a lot of fun! This is where the problems of today start to give up ground to the solutions of tomorrow. It can feel freeing to explore solutions after diving so deeply into the realm of problems.

  • speed — ideas should arise and be captured quickly. spending too much time on one idea can suck the life out of the brainstorm.
  • (minimal) structure — a rigid agenda has no place in brainstorming. But, timeboxing brainstorm activities can help keep the ideas fresh.
  • Highs & Lows — Highs and Lows has two rounds: one for highs, and the other for lows. Each round should last about 60 seconds — more than that and you are likely overthinking. For round 1 (highs), imagine how you could spend the most money possible on a solution to your problem statement. No holding back, the bigger and more expensive the better. For round 2 (lows), come up with as many terrible ideas as possible. The more painful and inefficient for users and stakeholders alike, the better. I love this exercise for encouraging the brain to go wide and really push the boundaries a little.


I’m a big fan of the MoSCoW method. MoSCoW is an acronym for “Must have, Should have, Could have, and Won’t have.” It’s handy for sorting brainstorming artifacts and ideas based on how closely they align to a How Might We statement. In other words, the MoSCoW method helps organize solution ideas according to how well they may actually solve the problem.

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Just because something is in Should or Won’t doesn’t mean it’s out of the question. It’s just not in the current scope for MVP.

When I am purchasing a gift I want to pick a fun and creative gift so I can give my friends/family/partner something that is unique and enjoyable.

We’re nearly ready to start prototyping now. But before we can get to that, it’s important that we define exactly what it is we are going to be building, and why. This will be our MVP, or Minimal Viable Product. An MVP should contain exactly as much functionality as is needed to address the original problem statement. It exists as a starting point — something to be iterated on over time.

We are building a gift-centered pie ordering experience for customers who are seeking unique and creative gifts because people want to share creative pies that they love with others.

A design project is a lot like a scientific experiment; there’s research, testing, measuring, analysis, and of course — a hypothesis. The MVP statement serves the role of the hypothesis in design. It is the idea that we are testing. In order to test successfully, we must consider what user results will validate our hypothesis, and what user results will invalidate it. These anticipated results are commonly referred to as metrics, though you may also hear expected results, and success/failure criteria.

  • Gift order flow traffic & completion rate
  • % of gift orders v. total order volume
  • Revenue Generated by Gift flow feature
  • User Return Rate
  • Hanging cart data (items added to order but not submitted)
  • Gifting specific (critical) feedback


In the world of user experience design, there is no shortage of things to test. For this project, we focused on testing our prototypes for usability. Usability, as the name of the term suggests, is a measure of how effectively a tool can be used to complete a task. The best way to test for usability is to find someone to use your product!

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I hope it’s obvious that I don’t own the rights to this, but I’ll say it here anyway for legal reasons.
  1. Via some “back-end magic” on Maze’s part, the user's interaction data such as screen taps and time on each screen is captured to be analyzed later.
  2. Ideally, the researcher is able to observe facial expressions and body language for further insight into the user’s thinking. The researcher may also request that the user narrate their thinking (personally I feel like this may impact the authenticity of the user's actions a bit, but I’m a UX noob so take that with a grain of salt).
  3. Survey questions (verbal or written) at the end of the testing session are commonplace for understanding where the user struggled with the interface and why they made the choices they made during the test.
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On the left is the screen users navigated the most efficiently, on the right is the screen that users found most confusing.
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Here‘s our round 2 prototype — Still a lot of detail missing here. The idea is to slowly add more and more detail with each round of testing to avoid overcommitting before discovering any issue with usability or the overall design concept.

Stepping Back

We covered a lot of ground in this 4-day design sprint. Of course, if you are willing to “move fast and break things” it’s impossible to get everything to right in the first go around. Looking back on the project, there are certainly a few things I’d like to learn from and incorporate into my process moving forward.

  1. In our early competitive analysis, we viewed the market space in a rather limited scope. We placed an outsized emphasis on the physical product of Pink Pie and neglected to consider the social and emotional “jobs to be done” (again, gifting) of our users. This prevented us from clearly defining the “blue ocean” that Pink Pie could occupy in the market early in the project
  1. Revisit market analysis. Now that we have committed to pivoting towards a gift specific feature, I would take another pass at researching the market to include indirect competitors (that is, competition for gifts — not necessarily food-based competitors). I would conduct secondary research into the market as well as qualitative and quantitative research into consumer behavior when purchasing gifts.

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Product Designer — Coffee Drinker. Let’s create together:

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