Nevo example image
Caleb Kingcott
Nevo example image



Designing a Craft beer subscription website

Craft beer is a modern take on the beer industry and thanks to its uptake by millennials, it's receiving monumental growth! Despite this, supermarkets are slow on the uptake and only sell a small range of beers from locally sourced craft breweries. In this project, I wanted to look into the potential of launching an online craft beer subscription service.

ROLE:

Strategy, Research, UX Design, UI Design, Branding, Copywriting

MENTOR:

Julien Deveaux

PROJECT SCOPE & TOOLS:

60 hours: Pen & paper, Sketch, Google forms, Invision


Phase 1: Discover

Provisional persona

Craft beer is a rapidly expanding product and you only need to walk into a local craft beer pub to understand that it has a hype that traditional breweries haven't quite been able to attain. While mass scale manufacturers focus on economics and 'drinkability', craft breweries set out to focus on taste and range. What appears to be evident is that craft beer drinkers love to explore a full range of beers and tastes, not satisfied with the few options that are currently on offer in shops and supermarkets. However, is there a market for an online subscription service and will my chosen target market of millennials be appropriate?

As I'm familiar with the market, I've made many assumptions about the industry, the customer and even how I should approach this project. For that reason, it was important that I sketched out a provisional persona so I could recognise and then address any bias.

Provisional persona

Competitor Analysis results

A competitor analysis was carried out to discover the existing state of the market. What were the strengths and weaknesses of the competition? Were there any particular approaches that would work for Crafty?

A competitor analysis that I completed via sticky notes
Direct Competitors

Direct competitors varied greatly in their features and service offering. One competitor sent out tasting notes via email to their customers. Others offered flexibility in either subscription length, delivery frequency and even type of beer that is sent out. What seemed to be consistent was the display of reviews from external review websites such as Trustpilot and being up-front about the price and model of the subscription.

Indirect Competitors

Indirect competitors often offered more features and options in their subscription model. Graze.com, for example, lets customers favourite and even remove snacks from their subscription. Vitl gets customers to complete a survey and then uses that data to customise the type of supplements that are sent out. Additionally, Indirect competitors had more subscription management options on their website including cancelling and pausing the subscription.

Further secondary research

Despite having some previous knowledge of craft beer, it was important that I immersed myself into the topic. I spent some time reviewing articles on craft beer and the industry. I also completed a short course by the brewers association, the leading non-profit organisation for craft breweries.

I learnt a great deal about the market:

  • Craft beer has a predicted annual growth rate of 14.1% during the period of 2018 - 2023
  • Among weekly craft drinkers, millennials try 5.1 different brands per month and want to discover the next new thing.
  • Millennials seek strong value, not always low cost
  • More than 69 percent of millennials consider themselves adventurous.
  • 56% of millennials buy online at least half of the time
  • Primary Research

    Of course, secondary research alone is not sufficient when it comes to validating assumptions and creating empathy for our customers. A survey was designed and carried out with 13 participants and I discovered the following:

  • Millennials are keen craft beer drinkers and nearly half feel that they don't have access to enough variety.
  • Millennials consider themselves as being adventurous and consider supporting local business as important.
  • Millennials are attracted to specific craft beers mostly by their taste and the packaging
  • Primary Qualitative research results

    Phase 2: Define

    User Persona

    Research had clearly validated the hypothesis that a subscription service for craft beer would appeal to millennials. Therefore, I defined the user and product in detail.

    User persona

    Task Flow

    The process was set out, from landing onto the website to signing up for a customised subscription. I considered the potential audience and platform to design a suitable process.

    Task flow

    Phase 3: Ideation and Design

    Sketching

    With the project defined, I sketched out potential features and screens. I aimed to be creative in this process so considered 'out of the box' solutions such as a chatbot and social beer recommendations using facebook connect. I also considered other solutions such as slider controls and selectable tags for subscription options.

    Ideating on potential features

    Wireframing

    After a considerable amount of ideation, I then went on to designing low/medium fidelity wireframes in Sketch. I designed the homepage and every screen that would be involved in the subscription process. The thinking behind this is that the homepage would play a pivotal role in selling the service and the subscription process was crucial in securing business.

    Desktop low fidelity wireframes
    Responsive low fidelity wireframes

    Brand Design

    Now with a good idea of the customer and product, I got to work on the brand design. I designed a logo and made decisions on type and colour scheme. The idea was to match craft beers 'local, independent and modern' image. I achieved this by keeping to a minimalistic look with bold colours. The font selected was a modern sans-serif which not only kept to the desired image but was easy to read.

    Style guide

    Visual Design

    I designed the responsive UI in Sketch. In keeping with the modern and independent image, I strived to keep interface elements minimalist in look and function. Only slight styling such as drop-shadow were used and I kept to the two brand colours (yellow and black). In addition to this, illustrations would be used across the product instead of stock photography.

    High fidelity desktop designs
    High fidelity responsive designs

    Phase 4: Prototype and testing

    Invision prototype

    I created an extensive high fidelity prototype in Invision and conducted remote testing with three participants. This data was used to continue iterating and improving upon the design.

    Live preview

  • Participants got on well with the step by step design, finding it helpful to focus on a task at a time.
  • Users believed that the website and branding targeted them well as craft beer drinkers.
  • Participants appreciated the beer options (region, taste etc.) One user explained that this feature would attract him to the service as he values the ability to choose a beer that suits him.
  • Participants want further control over the taste. One user wanted more technical tastes as options such as 'double hop'. Another user wanted other ways to select tastes such as taste wheel..
  • Participants were slightly confused about what step of the process they were on and were searching for a progress indicator at the top of the website.

  • Affinity map of user testing

    Using the results of the testing, I moved forward and made changes, primarily focusing on designing a progress bar to indicate progress through the process and other ways to represent taste options including a taste wheel. I then tested these changes with further users (in the same format as the previous testing).

    Conclusion

    Reflection

    Craft Beer is a relatively new market and I discovered that its customers have a very different mindset from the average consumer. While most beer drinkers would be attracted to low prices and a tasty product, craft beer drinkers are wanting to challenge themselves and their taste buds. Craft breweries and any brands in that market need to consider a complex mix of social needs, psychology and taste. A craft beer brand needs to appear local but innovative, and offer a beer which tastes good but also unique. If it can do all this, it's on the way to success.

    Next steps

    If I was to take this concept on as a start-up, I would continue iterating on the design, refining features and screens to improve upon usability. While the prototype was useful for testing and generating qualitative data, we are left with many questions unanswered. Does the product appeal to a wide enough market and how can the design be optimised to improve sales? Eventually, early versions of the product / service should be tested and launched, we could then use more qualitative methods of research including heatmaps and analytics.