SWITCH SKATE GUIDE

A mobile app to occupy the cities with skateboarding • App!MyCity2014 Shortlisted

MY ROLE • UX Strategy, UX Research, Creative Direction UI and UX Design  CLIENT: SWITCH SKATE GUIDE     TECHNOLOGY: Swift, Java and React

AN OFFLINE SKATEBOARDING GUIDE NO LONGER MADE SENSE IN A CONNECTED SOCIETY. SKATEBOARDING CONNECTING PEOPLE.

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The year is 2011/2012 and the project arose from the passion for skateboarding and its lifestyle, which became the theme for the conclusion of my postgraduate monograph. As the subject “app” was highlighted, with the launch of Apple, a time when Android applications were still in their infancy, I believed that it would be an excellent time to think about a skatepark guide that could solve the lack of skate spots and different places for its practitioners.
 
 
 
 
 

 

PRODUCT DISCOVERY

From the users' pain, already identified from a printed guide, I needed to organize this journey in stages and, for that, I researched all types of content and kept as reference only those that would generate interesting inputs to make this project the best product for that niche market. The research was divided as follows:

benchmark research interviews with users hypothesis survey prototyping and tests until arriving in a format that met the greatest number of requirements.

BENCHMARKING

At that time the product closest to the idea I had was an app available on the Apple App Store, coming from Norway. He had only one listing with some clues within a radius that covered only the country of origin.

As in the skateboarding universe, there was no longer any reference to “state-of-the-art”, I decided to research the source of the sport's birth: surfing. Here I found applications for tide tables, beach conditions and everything, but nothing that would give me a better dimension of the market I wanted to reach. I found that even though born from surfing, the two sports were already classified in different environments and realities.

The photo applications were references that I also considered because one of the ideas at the time was to provide tools that could generate content for the app. An application that served as a reference was Satromizer and its visual interferences, Facebook, Flickr and some smaller and lesser-known ones.

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As the video is also a platform that is explored by skateboard video makers, this would also be an important tool in generating content. It is important to remember that this happened before Instagram released the video upload tool in the app.

USER'S INTERVIEWING

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“Not everyone has a smartphone that is worthwhile and, due to the number of falls, this makes skateboarding too expensive.”

From this survey, which took place between 2011/2012, it was found that the quality of smartphones would be a problematic factor for the mobile platform to scale more easily, so I decided to think about two fronts for this enterprise: the web platform with a responsive website and application for iOS and Android. According to some interviews, as they tend to fall a lot while skateboarding, having a more expensive smartphone makes the sport a little more expensive.

“I think there is a lack of more support from brands and skaters themselves here in BR. I arrived from California last week and was thinking about this, this need for clues here in Brazil and how it could have been resolved. This thing about being in an app is really cool and will give a boost to how big brands come to us here. You will be pioneers! I will be a supporter of that idea there. “- Cadu, a skater from São Paulo.

RESEARCH INSIGHTS AND BUSINESS MODEL

From all surveys, we define:
the target of the app: men and women aged 13+
the app should have clues, street spikes and tips for each one
show the user the distance from him to the peak (geolocation)
allow publishing photos and videos that are important media for the promotion of skater and sport (give visibility to the skater for brands)
the platform should happen on the web too
more than a pocket lane guide, it should promote interaction between skaters/skaters and skaters/brands
allow users to locate the skateboard shop closer to the peak they were practising
Suggest interactions based on actions that are already familiar to users, including Instagram (likes and feed list), Twitter (real-time feed) and Facebook (comments and share).

From that, I created the map of features that would guide the MVP delivery of the guide:

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CX - HOW TO SCALE THE BUSINESS AND PROMOTE INTERACTION BETWEEN SKATERS AND BRANDS

Once the users' needs were understood, we went on to understand the difficulties of small, medium and large companies in the market and, from that, to outline what could be the best solution at that moment to better integrate each of the elements of this consumption chain. , it was then that I designed a proprietary platform for the dissemination and management of campaigns and we went to test in the market.

In order to have more adherence to the market, I decided to strengthen ties and establish a commercial partnership with a skateboard magazine that is a reference in the Brazilian publishing market, mainly in São Paulo where it is established.
 
 
 
 
 

The big brands were not aware of the digital market and were afraid to invest in something that went against traditional media, including skate magazines.

MVP AND THE FIRST MEETING TO INTEGRATE MEDIA VEHICLES, SKATERS AND THEIR NEEDS

First scheduled chat, I went after putting together a high-fidelity prototype to sell the project and, in addition, I put together a cost spreadsheet and a business plan to make the conversation more tangible and put skateboard on a more mature level in question business.


Step 1. Wireframe
In this stage, I focused on features that would give visibility to brands and promote the sport without the tone of opportunism that we saw until then.


Step # 2. High fidelity prototype
In order to present the project in the most real format possible, I developed the layouts in Photoshop (Sketch was not yet a reality) and uploaded the jpegs directly to my iPhone (there was no Invision either… tense) which solved the demand well added to the presentation oral presentation of the project.

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Step # 3. Business promotion video After opening the platform's possibilities as a complete guide with real-time updates, I needed to show data and create the best possible business idea in front of them.

THE TEAM THAT PUT THIS UP

The team to put this project on its feet was as lean as possible, after all a thin independent project to get off the ground. There were 4 of us, 1 being a UX / UI designer, an iOS developer, an Android developer and a Java developer for creating and developing the infrastructure needed to keep the app up. Our concern was:
Have a robust database that could ensure a high number of accesses at the same time. We didn't want to assemble in PHP and have to recreate all of that just as Twitter did some time after it was already in operation
Bring the motion design that we only saw on hotsites, into a native app on a mobile device
Focus on the user. The app should be tested at all stages of development, from design to programming
Generate profit, after all the cost was being very high.

WHAT WE LEARN FROM THIS

Do not spend so much energy until the product has a better resolution in terms of usability. This happened because from that moment we had a date for launching the app. The skate magazine had signed a contract with us.

HOW TO COMMUNICATE WITH THESE SKATEBOARDERS

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In parallel, I resolved all communication issues for the project, including:
communication emails from the registration steps;
relationship rule to talk to users who had stopped accessing the app at different times;
communication on social networks and…
brand communication, after all, one of our prerequisites to advertise on the platform, was that this brand would buy our content. Yes, we already sold personalized content in 2011 :)

*A simple event has been treated like the biggest event never ever seen before.

PUSH NOTIFICATION BEST PRACTICES

One of the things that we would also not give up was this communication tool so important that it was Push. With that, we would be able to map consumption habits and talk to this skater in the most mobile-friendly way possible. We believed that there was nothing more annoying than invasive and low adherence to the public.
For this we created a small flowchart to create the mobile culture within each of these brands and know where, how and when to communicate through this resource:

PUSH

A little diagram to teach how to send push notifications without to be an idiot advertiser. It has been needed because this kind of media was brand new and nobody had a good perception of its communication power.

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THE TIME HAS COME TO CHANGE YOUR VIEW OF SKATEBOARDING AND URBAN SPACES, OR RATHER, THE SPACES OF PASSAGE

 
 
After all, this was done, it was time to prepare the launch of the platform, always thinking about its initial idea: giving voice to those who deliver to cities, the most perfect manoeuvres and the most expressive aesthetic experience that urban centres have ever seen: skaters.

MARK

Yep! we had been skate celebrities platform while we have been working as an skate app ❤

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THE APP WON THE STREETS • RESULTS

ACCESS DATA

Downloads: 24.714

125.726 page views

5.361 unique visitors

22.1% of conversion

17.349% returned visitors

5.376 new visits

 

REVIEW FROM STORES

Apple Store: Rate 5,0

Google Play: Rate 4,1

REVIEW FROM SPECIALIZED MEDIA IN BRAZIL

Tech Tudo: 8,0 | Usability: 9,0 | Interface: 8,0 | Performance: 8,0 | Functionality: 7,0

SITE OF THE DAY:

CSS Design Awards

CSS Light

CSS Winner

RESULTS

NEW UI PROJECT 

A few times later the app ended up needing a new graphic project and some features were deleted, others added and the app became more modern, but the support we received from brands and the skate magazine did not happen anymore. For a period we keep the project on our own but you know, keeping yourself independent forever is very difficult, but the new project had become very cool.


The Switch Skate Guide was discontinued in November 2017, 4 years after its first release.

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LESSONS LEARNED

How to create a product from scratch when the market is not yet formed and find it really cool
How to create with a focus on users, understand their needs, fears and expectations;
Understand how to dialogue with the market even if it does not understand how it works but knows that you understand it.
Knowing when, where and how to establish work methods that optimize time and money allowing you to test new ideas and understand how this is absorbed by the market, knowing how to separate the ego from the designer and the business need.
And the most important: it is very difficult for something to work right away, but the important thing is not to give up, after all this is what is worth all the time: learning how to do it.

THIS APP ON MEDIA

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