Simpol App Case Study

A native iOS app designed to simplify the drink ordering process

The Problem
As a Patron

Going out can sometimes seem daunting. The thought of leaving our comfortable couches to stand in a crowded bar sounds daunting. The reason we leave is because we want to spend time with our friends. However, getting a drink in a crowded bar often requires us to say goodbye to our friends and fight others for the bartender's attention. More time seems to be spent away from the very people you want to be with. We also fall victim to the convenience of opening tabs only to get home and realize your credit card is still at the bar. If you're lucky, it will be waiting for you the following morning. But who wants to make that trip?

As a Venue

While we, the patrons, can complain all we want about the service at venue, it's rare they don't feel the same way. Imagine hundreds of people waving their hands, screaming orders in your ear, only to receive a mediocre tip? The veterans have their systems in place, but learning how to input orders into a new POS system has been known to be a pain point. Not only are they all different, but it's a time-waster. Owners and managers want to get more orders out, not less. But their jobs aren't any easier, especially when it comes to inventory, sales, and payouts.

Users and Audience
As a Patron

The target audience are young professionals who frequent clubs, bars and music venues. They like to hang out with friends, meet new people, and dance the night away. They are tech savvy and are up to date with the latest.

As a Venue

We are targeting large and/or crowded clubs, bars and music venues. We are looking for bars with high volume and high turnover.

Team and Role

I am the Cofounder and Director of Interactive for my agency Oridronal Studios. There, I oversee a team of Marketers, Brand Ambassadors, Native iOS Front-End developers, and Back-End developers. I act as the Product Manager, Creative Director, User Engagement Designer, Native iOS Front-End developer, and Recruiter to ensure we have the right people for the right job in order to deliver a high-quality product to our clients.

Design Process: Patrons

This was easy to gather data from because not only are we the target audience, but getting people to fill out questionnaires and sit for interviews was a breeze. People were so open to discussing their pain points as well as what they want to see in an app. Ease-of-use was naturally popular, but onboarding, custom tips, custom drinks, and a well organized menu were on top of their list.

The app itself is rather simple (no pun intended) because we want this to be an expedited process. The biggest pain point for us was creating and organizing a dynamic menu. Every bar is different so we needed to set some rules in place for the layout to adjust.

Take Wine as an example. Some bars might only have red wine. So when you click on "Wine" you should just see a list of all the wine they offer. However, if they add white wine, we now have two different types of wine so one list doesn't make sense. That's where we put tabs so people can go back and forth depending on preference. Finally, if they then add Rosé, tabs won't work. So we created a third layout where there's a subcategory list to choose from before diving into menu items.

Design Process: Venues

Our other Cofounder / Director of Marketing and I spent weeks walking into clubs, bars and music venues to not only interview bartenders, but talk to managers and owners about their pain points and what they would like to see. It didn't take long for us to realize they were going to be the hard sell. Changing an industry like this isn't easy, so one of the things we focused on most was making this an addition to the bar. They want to give patrons the option to order on their phones.

Just as we wanted to create an easy-to-use app for Patrons, we know bartenders have to be quick. I originally wanted to take ideas from Scrum and have 4 columns; Ready, In Progress, Completed, and Picked Up. It didn't take long for me to realize that was complicated and a huge waste of time. After showing some sketches to bartenders and getting their input, we realized we just need 2 columns; Ready and In Progress. Once the order is completed, there's no reason to display them up front. If we need to reference them later, put them all in a separate location.

Joining them together

Creating an app for Patrons and an app for Venues was only the tip of the iceberg. The whole point is for them to interact with each other. It might sound funny, but we spent a good amount of time testing out font sizes. People want to walk up to a bartender, show them their receipt, and leave with a drink. As a bartender, matching up numbers can get frustrating, so we're keeping the quantity small and the size large.

User Interface Design

I stare at a computer all day. While white looks nice, it strains the eyes especially on bright screens. That's why my code editor has a dark theme (Material Monokai). I designed Simpol's interface with dimly lit bars in mind, giving it bold and friendly fonts and colors.

Outcome

So far the app is live in one bar with others on our radar. It is very well received by patrons, bartenders and managers. We spend a lot of time at that bar watching people interact with it, interview people on their experience, and constantly find better ways to design this product. We unfortunately don't have the time or resources to expand as quickly as we want, but it's been a lot of fun and a huge learning experience.

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