How Can We Improve the Experience of Giving Gifts?
Thoughtfull: Giving Where It Counts
DESCRIPTION: Thoughtfull is a holiday gift-giving application that seeks to circumvent procrastination and stress while keeping users engaged and inspired in the gift giving process
THE CHALLENGE: Create a new application that will address specific consumer need around holiday shopping
MY ROLE: Research Lead, Presentation Lead
DURATION: 2 weeks
Research and Key Findings
Initial research centered around the idea of budgeting, but we also asked questions regarding what people enjoy about gift giving, how many people they were buying for overall, and what, if anything, would make the holiday shopping experience easier.
56% of our survey respondents and interviewees said that the “most frustrating” part of the holiday shopping process was coming up with ideas. While we nudged on budget to see if that was in fact more important (as we originally hypothesized), our users insisted that idea generation was one of their biggest hurdles.
Additionally, 40% of our users said that the person, rather than the budget, was the most important factor in buying a gift.
Ideas and people were more important than budget, but people still found themselves with a certain amount of stress near the finish line of holiday time. What was causing this stress? Procrastination.
The Giving Circle
We heard from multiple interviewees about finding just the “right” gift for someone. But they were quick to point out that they weren’t putting in the same amount of time, effort, or money for everyone. People were willing to bend all over to get what they deemed perfect gifts for a core group of people, but beyond that was when holiday panic started to set in. What do you get for people you don’t see that often, or don’t know that well but for whatever circumstances you need a gift?
We knew now that whatever we designed wasn’t going to be for this core group, as finding the right gift is very individual to each gift giver. But this procrastination tendency gave us something new to think about. Could we improve on that tendency somehow and alleviate holiday stress? This led straight into our second key insight.
Procrastinators Want to Improve
For every story of procrastination that we heard from our users, we also heard about the accompanying sense of guilt, the feeling that they’d let someone down, or disappointment that they felt overall with not giving a great gift. These feelings came from not getting a gift they’d thought of previously but didn’t act on, waiting until the last minute and overspending, or just not giving a gift at all. In each case, our users were aware that they had fallen short in a previous season and they wanted this year to be different.
Bringing thoughtful back
Thoughtfull gives our user a place to track ideas that they already have, a place to organize, and an inspiration area that uses a Pinterest-type mood board model to curate images that speak to a user. Once enough images are selected that evoke a certain mood or tone, Thoughtfull will generate a list of recommendations that users can purchase. Thoughtfull will redirect a user to purchase from each individual site, but will still allow them to save possible purchases.
Calendar & Notifications Work Together
Planning Demands Action
The major selling point of Thoughtfull is the planning aspect and communication options. A gift reminder calendar can be linked right to a user’s personal phone calendar so that the act of thinking about purchasing a gift is not enough. The calendar integrates the purchase process into a user’s daily schedule, just as it would a meeting or an important work presentation.
Language is Paramount
Thoughtfull is a Friend
From there, the app notifies the user via phone notifications to keep them on schedule. Tone is always encouraging and nudges toward an action, whether that’s crossing something off a list or setting a new reminder, so that gift giving remains an active process until complete. Users can set up how often they want to receive notifications and the kind of language used, so that the app doesn’t become an annoyance, but rather an encouraging tool as intended.
User Need Trumps One-Size-Fits-All
Addressing the procrastination problem could be just the beginning for Thoughtfull. What other emotions could we tap in to? First thoughts were the option to add cards to gifts, gift delivery or in-store shopping assistance to reduce stress even more, and the chance to customize inspiration boards around most-shopped stores or websites so that recommendations could be ultra-tailored to each specific user. Overall we were pleased to find such a specific problem that we could actually design for, and we hope to flesh out this project further in the future.