Case Study - Benten Tech Product Companion App
Written by Dawn Mulloy
Creating A Companion App For A New Benten Technologies Product
I was paired with Benten Technologies on an assignment where they wanted me and a team of my peers to create a companion application for a new product they were developing. This application was to be geared towards young girls ages 4 to 8 years old, and it was to focus on STEM education factors. My team and I were asked to create this app that would directly interact with the product Benten Tech had in development. The app was to be attractive, educational, and interactive, so a young girl would have fun using it.
My team and I acted mainly as the User Interface designers for this project. We were in charge of creating the overall visual effect, and the interactive elements, of this application. We met twice a week with the Benten team to be sure we stayed on track and within their expectations. My team created a Figma file that we collaborated on and created independently and on video calls.
The research for this particular application had already been completed before my team joined the project. Benten had all of the documentation organized for us to go through and ask questions about as needed. My team was able to use these findings as the building blocks of our final design.
Insights And Key Findings
With a good understanding of what the company was expecting from this project, my team jumped into ideations and brainstorming sessions. We found that the girls who would be using this app were unanimously interested in mermaids and underwater scenes, so we used this insight to guide us while designing the overall theme of the app.
This application was to be used by very young girls of a specific ethnicity, so my team needed to keep this in mind throughout the entire sketching process. The app needed to be something that could be self-guided by a 4-year-old, and it needed to be simple enough so this 4-year-old could make her way through the user journey easily.
The other main idea we needed to focus on was the addition of a parent portal or some way for the parents to track their child’s use of the app. According to the research, parents wanted to be able to use this app alongside their children while actively being involved in what the child was learning. So my team had to come up with a way to incorporate what the parents wanted as well.
After hours of brainstorming, my team came up with some rough sketches of our ideas to share with Benten Tech. These sketches drew out the user flows the children and their parents would go through while interacting with the app. We presented our solution to how this app would interact with their product and what journey the children would be taking as well.
With the positive and constructive feedback we received from Benten, we developed some lo-fi screens and made the app slowly come to life through directional animations. These lo-fi screens helped us visualize the aesthetic of the app and we created a design guide. This design guide consisted of fonts, colors, animations, and illustrations.
Once we had the design style down, we were able to create vibrant, interactive, hi-fi screen designs for this app.
When we finished the final details of the hi-fi screens for this app, we presented it to the company for feedback. They told us they were very happy with the results and gave us some more input and things to think about. The screens were made into a clickable prototype which was shared internally at Benten Tech for usability testing. I would normally insert a link to that prototype here, but this company had us sign an NDA so I cannot add that prototype with respect to that NDA. I can, however, share some screenshots to give an idea of how the prototype looked and flowed.
Working on a fast-paced user interface project with a new team can always be challenging at first. When we were matched with Benten Technologies, my team members and I discovered that we were all in different parts of the United States in different time zones. This was a challenge in itself because creating a time schedule that worked for the three of us and the members of the Benten team was tricky. We were able to come up with a solution where I was able to make all the meetings while my teammates switched off every other meeting, and the meetings were recorded. This made it simpler to move information around and keep everyone on the same page.
Once the time zone mishap was managed, my team and I dove into our first experience of working with a team on a single Figma file. We were able to come together via chat messages, video calls, and Figma comments to make sure we were all able to bring our ideas to the table. My team quickly learned each other’s strengths and we were there for each other when one of us was struggling.
After we learned to work together through the restraints of time and distance, we faced the challenge of presenting Benten with the product they were envisioning. We were able ask questions to the Benten Tech team and they were more than helpful in their feedback, tips, and constructive comments. If we did not quite understand something they were asking us to do, they were patient and walked us through their requests until we fully understood what they wanted.
As a whole, I enjoyed how this project forced me out of my comfort zone and taught me how to think critically in a fast-paced, design-centered, team-based role.
What I Learned
If this project taught me anything, it taught me that not everyone thinks the same way. Being immersed in a team-led UI design assignment showed me how different thinking can come together and create a product that could not exist if only one person was working on it. I learned to step back and listen to other people’s ideas and take those ideas into account while voicing my own visions. Working on a team is about compromise, trust, and mutual creativity. In all the experience I have had working in the world of design, I have mostly worked independently or with a team of non-designers. This experience showed me how beneficial design teams are and how incredible it is to get into the minds of my creative peers.
Besides being the first real UI team experience I’ve been a part of, this was one of my first experiences working for a real-world company on a UI design assignment. Benten Tech took us in and treated us as if we were one of their own. When we met them, they explained why they do what they do and they made us excited to help them on their project. It was great to be surrounded by people who get equally as excited about designing a memorable, educational, and useful experience as I do.
There were many lessons learned during the 5 weeks of this project and I will forever use these lessons as building blocks for my future projects. Working on a team of my peers has set me up with new friends who are on the same journey as I am, and I look forward to cheering on their careers just as I know they will cheer on mine.