Posts Tagged ‘ux’


Haller App Launch

by Joe Dollar-Smirnov

Red Badger in collaboration with Haller and Pearlfisher designed and built a web based app for the charity Haller. Our primary users for this app are Kenyan based, rural farmers who live a life far removed from the abundance of our comfortable western home comforts.



Haller bring life changing but basic civilised facilities to communities. The construction of reservoirs, wells, sanitisation, medical centres and learning facilities are all just a part of the work carried out by dedicated Haller recruits both on the ground in Kenya and in the UK. Led by renowned environmental expert Rene Haller, education and dissemination of agricultural knowledge is a big part of their work. Through education, Haller help local communities build sustainable futures.

The Haller app is a constant, on demand source of this information and an alternative way to reach further afield. Red Badger spent time in Africa working directly with the farmers to ensure the final product was focussed on their goals, accessible and understandable. Some of the users we were targeting had very little or no experience of using applications or websites so intuitive interactions were essential. We could not rely on any existing knowledge or experience of conventions.

The app has now launched and to mark the occasion Pearl Fisher have created this fantastic video that tells the story. To get the full background on Red Badgers involvement in the app, how we approached the research, workshops and testing there are a series of blog posts below.

Farmer Training Research

Africa Road Trip: Day Zero

Africa Road Trip: Day one and two

Africa Road Trip: The workshops begin

Africa Road Trip: The challenges for app design and development

UX Testing in Africa – Summary



The Design Sprint at Red Badger

by Sinem Erdemli

At Red Badger, we typically start projects by gathering insights and working out initial concepts. This allows us to understand the users, identify a scope for the project with clients and prepare design assets for development. Also known as ‘sprint zero’, it is an intensive week of absorbing as much as possible and coming up with a plan with the client working with us. 


Project Brief

We were approached to design and develop a multichannel touch screen that would go in a retail store. Unlike most e-commerce projects, this one didn’t want more sale conversion or higher profits. The goal was to improve in-store experience and increase customer engagement. Handed over a presentation as the project brief we could almost see the open-ended solution sea in front of us. Just as we were daydreaming about virtual shopping assistants, personalised product recommendations, we were hit by the expected launch date and resource plan allowing only 4 weeks of development and an expected launch in 6 weeks. This was going to be a very short pilot project with possibly many to come. We needed a tangible starting point to validate the concept and iterate as quickly as possible. 


Our Approach

We decided to run a design sprint to kickstart the project. We wanted to come up with a concept we could test and validate before our developer joined the team. 

The design sprint is an intensive week-long process of problem solving. Google Ventures runs Design Sprints for their portfolio companies to be able to make fast and predictable product design decisions. It doesn’t matter if the product/service is brand new, or is looking for a make-over; the whole point of a design sprint is to explore the problem in hand and come up with testable solutions quickly.  

The design sprint combines design thinking principles with the lean methodology. Based on iterations and fast paced decision making and prototyping, the outcomes try to find the sweet spot between the three forces desirability (user), availability (technology), and the viability (marketplace/project scope). 

The one hour planning meeting quickly turned into rapid sketching sessions and before we knew it we were already busy sketching out our ideas.


Day 1 


We started with the project brief and went through any material we had available. We looked into the best examples of multichannel implementations in-store, discussed the results from previous user research on customers and mapped out a high level user journey. By the end of the day we had defining keywords for the experience, dozens of bookmarked examples and the rough sketches of our Crazy Eights sketching session.


Day 2


We spent the morning working on the sketches and refining the user journey. The official kickoff with our clients was in the afternoon, which would let us get an initial feedback on everything we had and the direction we were taking.


Day 3

By Day 3, we had quite a few sketches so we started to put in a digital format. To get initial feedback on some of our assumptions we used the projector in the office to see how the other Badgers reacted. We grabbed a few developers by the kettle and asked if any of the elements might cause headaches when it came it implementation. UX and Design worked closely at this stage, the transition from sketch to wireframe and then to design was almost at lightning speed. 


Day 4


Day 4 was testing day. We had been itching for some feedback to see if our assumptions were somewhat valid. We went over the wireframes before it was ready for testing. We mocked up a prototype by sticking an iPad and the homepage design on a piece of cardboard and went out for some user testing. 


Day 5


By Day 5, the meeting room looked more like a ‘war room’ than anything. We iterated on the wireframes for the 4th time based on the user tests and flagged our technical requirements.

We had a clickable prototype that linked all screens for our first progress meeting. The meeting went well with positive feedback. Having a clickable prototype helped us discuss features that would have potential development risks. 

By the end of the week we had enough information from users, the client and developers to put together a backlog of epics and list our technical requirements. The overall impact of the design sprint is still to be seen but for now it’s fair to say that it will stick with the Badgers for a while.



Red Badger at the Financial Times Creative Summit

by Joe Dollar-Smirnov


The tone was set from the moment we arrived at the FT for the 2 day creative summit. A cheerful and friendly security guard welcomed us and issued our name badges.

“Yes young man, take a seat and someone will be down to collect you” I havn’t been called young man, since… I was a young man. A few glances around reception and it is clear that we are not the only early arrivals keen to get stuck in to some creative conundrums.

Accents and faces from all over the world. Surely enough, the summit brought together some seriously impressive talent from home and away. BBC, Google, MIT, FT China were just a few of the represented organisations.

The brainchild of the Product Management Director for and organised by the smart chap who brought us the BBC’s The Apprentice. The Creative Summit event was designed to illicit the most creative and innovative ideas from the attendees through 2 days of intense creative thinking, discussion, design and development. Various ‘unconference’ activities and organised, bite sized friend-making and networking sessions allowed everyone in the room to move around and get to know a few people. Backgrounds acknowledged, expectations exchanged and breakfast pastries devoured we were ready to start understanding the big problems the newspaper industry is facing. And even better, consider some solutions.

As many refreshments as you could consume in your wildest dreams kept everyone firing on all cylinders for the entire session. Of course lunch was laid on and an evening meal with an option to work as late as we like if we thought that was a good idea.

Camera people were filming the creativity and taking photos along the way. It was obvious that this was of massive importance to the Financial Times and is a clear sign that their commitment to develop new services will help keep their nose ahead of the competition and remain forward looking regarding interesting ways to engage with readers old and new.

We got to meet and work with some very interesting people from all levels of some very interesting organisations. Leaders within the FT took a very active role in the event and spent time walking the room sitting down and understanding the concepts that were coming out of the summit.

The Badgers split to join two different teams. I joined a team that consisted of a serial startup Chief Exec with a history in financial risk management, an FT Developer and an FT Marketing exec who were both able to be our insight for the 2 days providing not only valuable ideas but also key information regarding the typical FT users, marketing insights and future aspirations for the company. One of my biggest personal challenges of the 2 days was adapting to working with very different people very quickly. You can not take part in a project like this without throwing yourself in to it completely and that means that you have to avoid dancing around any conflicts and face them head on. A heated debate over UCD and heavy umming and ahhing over our numerous and constant stream of ideas kept me on my toes. It also proved a great testing ground for one of our key philosophies of collaboration. Externalising ideas and working as a team proved to be an essential contributor towards our winning idea.

financial times creative summit

Through gratuitous use of post-its, plasticine, pipe cleaners and morning pastries we worked on an initial brain dump of ideas around 6 core issues / problems the FT have that range from introducing new readers to the publication through to new ways to monetise and increase subscriptions. They had varying levels of grandiosity with the most ambitious not dissimilar to how to be a better Google. There was no shortage of inspiration and challenge.

At the end of day one, teams took turns standing up and explaining their loose concepts. Some teams worked into the night, fortunately the Badgers went home to get their beauty sleep. The final day was more about refining the ideas and contrary to my initial thoughts was not as hectic as I imagined. We all had a common goal that we were charging towards. The grand finale consisted of a pitch on stage with a 3 min deadline. Ideas were judged by some heavy hitters from Namely, the Editor, CIO and the Director of Analytics.

financial times creative summit


Both the teams Red Badger were part of won 2 of the 4 commendations for their great work. The top 2 overall winning concepts went in to production, well deserved as well. I look forward to seeing how the new products develop and go to market.

ft creative summit

The 2 winning entries that we were part of were commended for:

Innovative Reader Experience

“Which re-imagined the way stories could be constructed (or deconstructed) for time poor younger readers who want the quick facts and analysis.” This team included our very own Imran Sulemanji and Maite Rodriguez.

Best Social

“A creative way to gain FT profile and reputation and engage with others through FT content.”

This was one of the most interesting creative summits I have been to. For the sheer mix of people, breadth of problems to solve and the level of involvement from internal stakeholders. I am glad that we had the opportunity to take a role in it and spread some of the Red Badger process, enthusiasm and creativity.



UX Testing in Kenya – Summary

by Joe Dollar-Smirnov

creative workshop

It is now some time since we arrived back in Blighty after an amazing trip away demoing and testing the new Haller app, designed and built in collaboration with Pearlfisher.

After consolidating our data we have some key findings that we would like to share. The top line is that the app was received very well indeed. As suspected, most people do not have smart phones (but 99.5% of people DO have a feature phone). Community leaders, on the other hand do tend to have smart phones.

In the end we spoke to around 60 people in total over the 2 week period. Qualitative and quantitative methods were used to measure the level of perceived usability of the app that has allowed the team to understand where the focus needs to be made during the coming weeks and beyond.

Current tech landscape

Most of the community farmers under the Haller outreach program in and around Mombasa do not regularly access the internet. In fact, most of them had never accessed the internet. The tea and coffee farmers, however, based north of Nairobi had more exposure. These are some of the websites visited by a minority that came out of our discussions. Yahoo, Google, Skype and Facebook were all scoring high on the mentions among internet users followed by a small selection of localised websites relating directly to their area of business such as farming, tea and coffee regulatory bodies and government websites.

  • Approx 20% of the tea and coffee farmers have an email address and less that 5% of the community farmers
  • Network: Approx 95% of mobile phone owning people we met were on Safaricom
  • This Vodafone owned network has a near monopoly in Kenya thanks to the massive adoption of MPESA
  • Everyone we met with a phone used MPESA
  • Approx 10% of the people we met had 2 phones. These people normally had at least 1 smart phone with Opera Mini. It is not unusual in Kenyan towns and cities to have 2 mobile phones to cover 2 networks, but in the rural areas we were in, it was not common
  • Approx 30% of tea and coffee farmers had a smart phone (internet phone)
  • Less than 10% of the community farmers had a smartphone in the Haller community
  • Weather prediction is still primarily done by looking at the sky, using the seasons as a secondary indicator

Kenyas answer to Silicon Valley and Tech City London is Konza City a development outside Nairobi. There is by no means any doubt that there is a thriving technology scene in Kenya and the enthusiasm for new technology has spread to all areas of rural Kenya. The biggest hurdle, it seems, in preventing the early adoption of technology is infrastructure. For example, some of the farmers we spoke to did not have electricity to charge their own phones themselves, instead they had to take the phones down to the local store and leave them there while they charged. 

ux testing C3 Nokia

  • Opera Mini was the browser on most of the smart phones we saw
  • Radio is a prevalent as a form of communication followed by SMS
  • A few of the groups have used cyber cafes. One of them in particular said he used a cyber cafe on his way to work and on his way home to check Facebook
  • The costs of data on their mobile phones for Safaricom varies depending on the amount you buy but we were told that 100KSH would by 80MB of data. At time of writing 100KSH is about £0.70
  • The speed of the internet varied but it was enough to run the app without any significant slow down
  • The farmers we spoke to had little experience of the app store or google play for downloading apps
  • All the farmers we met were using pay as you go phones. This is the most common route to phone ownership among the farmers and locals we spoke to

Haller currently trains local village leaders who tend to take the knowledge back to their communities and share the information among the people of their villages. This works well in small and tightly knit communities and is the model that must be adopted initially to make sure that the information on the app is shared across their communities. Adoption of smartphones is accelerating and no doubt within a year or 2 the amount of people with smart phones will out weigh those with older feature phones.

While growth in the number of people using a mobile will moderate over the next 5 years, we still expect 130 million new mobile services subscribers every year to 2017. This means an increasing total addressable mobile for development market, uniquely positioned to use the mobile as an alternative to traditional modes of service delivery

There is some additional work going on in the background to bring the app to a releasable standard so we can put it out to market and watch how people use it. At that point we will be shouting about it from the roof tops so keep an eye out for its release and we’ll welcome feedback from all corners of the globe not just the localised part of Kenya we are targeting initially.

Example of one of the farmers playing with the app and making notes about the content!



Ecommerce best of the best UX practices

by Joe Dollar-Smirnov

There are many reports that contain ecommerce best practice guidelines.

Some reports have nearly 1000 individual guidelines in fact and in some cases these best practices conflict. For example, one such recommendation says keep it as simple as possible and breakdown the shopping cart in to steps in order not to confuse the customer. A conflicting recommendation says you should give the customer all the information they need on one page.

Of course each of these have dependencies and will affect the decisions you ultimately make when designing the experience.

Navigating through all the recommendations can be tricky and time consuming so I have collated some of the repeated best practice guidelines that do not conflict with each other. For each item I have included a link to the most relevant article on that subject so you can read more if you have the time.

These best practices augment those already established UX best practices for general UI design. These can be read about in Donald Norman’s Design of Everyday Things and on the Nielsen Norman group website. Those are just 2 of many useful resources for designers.

The only certainty in best practice guidelines is that they will evolve. And rapidly. This is why testing should always be at the top of the list. The rest are in no particular order.


Test different versions of your pages. A-B testing, MVT testing, any testing is better than no testing.

This one is a universal accepted best practice and is essential to ensure we are always looking at the improving the experience for users, building customer loyalty and revenue for our clients.

Deliver exactly what works best to the user. Increased sales and customer loyalty.

Read more

Button labels

Not ‘submit’ but ‘Go to payment options’. Imagine road signs that direct you off the road in the correct direction (left, right or straight on) but do not tell you where you are going. It doesn’t work. Make sure your button labels relate to the action the user is about to do.


Giving user sense of system control, where they are and error prevention. Studies have shown marked increase in people clickthroughs when using this technique.

Read more

Toby Biddle

Guest checkout

Customers who do not shop online with you can be put off by the perception of long and dull registration forms. Allowing people to checkout as ‘Guest’ reduces shopping cart abandonment.


Reduces shopping cart abandonment therefore increase in conversion.

Read more

Derek Nelson

Reduce clutter

Many studies have revealed an increase in conversion where shopping carts have removed distractions from the process on the assumption that a user is already committed to buy so you should not give them an easy way to get distracted away from the shopping cart experience.


Reduces shopping cart abandonment therefore increase in conversion. Beatiful design.

Read more

Graham Charlton


Security reassurance is not simply displaying a padlock symbol. It can be any number of things to give the user confidence in the store they are using from phone numbers to online assistance. So think brand awareness and clear contact information as well.


Brand trust and loyalty. Increased conversion and revenue.

Read more

Spyre Studios

Product images

Rich images are not only great from a design point of view but also tell a story. A picture says 1000 words. Large images that show detail have been shown to increase conversion.


Users glean information from large product images that may not be apparent from the product description.

Read more

Amy Schade

Suggested products

If someone is browsing for cheese, perhaps they would like chutney to go with it. Or if a customer has bought a series of fishing related products, are they likely to be interested in the latest fishing reel? Amazon are famous for their product suggestion algorithm.


This enhances the experience by suggesting sensible additions to the cart so is useful as well as good for revenue.

Read More

JP Mangalindan

Product ‘findability’

This may sound like an obvious one. If a user can not find a product then how can they buy it? This incorporates clear and clickable categories, searchable products, duplicate categories if required and recently viewed.


Customer experience enhanced and therefore revenue.

Read More

Christian Holst


This list represents the majority of guidelines that are currently available. They all count towards the ultimate goal for customers – improving the experience and increasing revenue for clients. Having taken all these in to account we must continually test, improve and build on the collective knowledge our industry is building up.


Africa road trip: Day one and two

by Joe Dollar-Smirnov

roadtrip in kenya

Day 1 

Smooth 8 hour flight with some surprisingly palatable morsels served up. They were, in reality, probably, disgusting! – augmented simply with the knowledge that I am soon to be humbled by an altogether less convenient way of life where food does not come from a magic box of tricks all warm and delicious, brought to you on a platter by a shiny person whose mission it is to leave you smiling.

While I’m waiting on the runway for my bus to take me to arrivals I get my wrists slapped by security for taking photos. Tourist moment. 

Taxi driver tells me that everyone has at least 2 phones in Kenya because the coverage isn’t great. Safaricom works in places Airtel doesn’t and vice-versa. Of course because he is a business man it is essential for him to have two phones anyway. 

Maximum security hotel because its next to the Israeli embassy. Lovely room. Hot shower. Sleep. Lala salama. 

Day 2 

Monkey Sunshine Green Tea. What is not to like about that? The coffee is awesome as well.

5 phones, check the charge and try to get on to the wifi network in the hotel to ensure the app is loaded up and ready. The hotel claims to have the fastest internet connection in Nairobi. Does not work at all in my room.

Move to main restaurant area to get 1.2Mbps down and 1.08Mbps up as of writing according to 

Met my first contact, a photo journalist and Haller person known for her work with NGOs in developing countries who promptly briefed me on what to expect before introducing me to her driver and 2 other chaps, the local minister for agriculture and a freelance journalist for the New York Times, who would be assisting me on my initial few days of research about 160km north of Nairobi, Karatina – the opposite direction to my 3rd destination, Mombasa.

One of those car journeys ensued – one where I was gawping out the window for the most part, where hours breezed by without a thought. 4 hours later and several stop offs in street side towns we arrived armed with our Safaricom sim cards and credit ready for an evening of preparation for (this) tuesday morning. Our first session in a makeshift usability lab somewhere off the beaten track. 


Africa road trip: Day Zero

by Joe Dollar-Smirnov

Haller Trip Kit List


This coming Tuesday Red Badger and Haller will be meeting in Africa to begin their 2 week research trip in Kenya.

In a collaboration between Pearlfisher, Red Badger and Haller, a web app has been created to supplement and augment Haller’s already thriving farmer education program based at their farming training centre in Mombasa. We’ll be going out to present it to the farmers and witness first hand how it is received and get their feedback on the work we have done so far.

Week One

We will be focussing on speaking to established farmers of coffee and tea plantations. By holding focus group sessions and creative workshops with the farmers we hope to gain an understanding of their day to day challenges of running an agricultural business, how they learn and pass on knowledge and understand the level of technology and web access they have at their disposal. We have already carried out comprehensive research around the specifics of mobile usage in Kenya, popular phones and likely data packages, however, we anticipate finer detail to emerge while we are on the ground. We’ll follow up the sessions with a presentation and demo of the app followed by some recorded usability testing and post use questions to feed into basic quantitative analysis of the prototype.

Week Two

Travelling from Nairobi to Mombasa to spend time at the farmer training centre will allow us to speak to the villagers who benefit the most from the Haller training initiatives. By spending time with the locals, listening and observing them carrying out day to day tasks we aim to get a broader sense of why the app is important and how we can ensure it serves those users properly. We’ll also run some creative workshops to get some direct cultural input in to the visual design of the app. We’ll be bringing with us all the iconography to present at the training centre and to open up for critique and discussion.

Kit List

  • The prototype (thanks to all the hardwork from Sari, MichelJoe, Albert and Pearlfisher)
  • Testing plan, script and questionnaire
  • Mobile phones (including most popular phones in Kenya)
  • Laptop
  • Separate web cam to record app usage
  • Microphone and camera for usability feedback interviews
  • Paper and Pens

More updates to come.


Oculus Rift, Facebook and Presence in UX

by Joe Dollar-Smirnov

A Link Trainer, a type of flight simulator produced between the early 1930s and early 1950s, in Oak Ridge, in September of 1945. (Ed Westcott/DOE)

A Link Trainer, a type of flight simulator produced between the early 1930s and early 1950s, in Oak Ridge, in September of 1945. (Ed Westcott/DOE)


I awoke this morning to see my news feed filling up with articles on Facebook’s latest $2billion acquisition of Oculus Rift.

Forms of Virtual Reality have been around for nearly 100 years already with early examples dating back to flight training simulators for pilots in the first world war. The commercial resurgence in popularity of this obscure medium is thanks, mainly, to the famous Oculus Rift Kickstarter project that sought initial funding of just $250,000. Virtual reality became a reality for bedroom developers and early adopter consumers alike.

Why it’s great for Virtual Reality?

Whatever your feelings are around the announcement (and of Facebook) the scale of investment made will mean the the people at Oculus Rift can get their heads down and focus on R&D without worrying about where their next round of funding is coming from.

This should mean technological advancement that will benefit everyone.

Often, technological advancement in this area is led by academia, government, aerospace and defense industries and until now the kind of people who could spend $2bn on the Research and Development of Virtual Reality were normally associated with large government organisations. For example, Obamas proposed DARPA budget for 2015 is a total of $2.9bn of which $334m dedicated to ICT related activities including various VR projects.

Compare that to the cash injection for the team at Oculus Rift ($400m) and we can start to see that, if allowed to experiment, they can use this as an opportunity to push the medium further than ever before and start looking at ways to make it accessible and useful across a wide variety of applications. Not just gaming and entertainment.

Opportunities in Virtual Reality for UX and visual designers?

As designers we need to understand the challenges of designing for Virtual Reality. Physical, Psychological and cognitive considerations will change the way designers solve problems and evaluate work.

There is no doubt that some of the original Oculus Rift champions will feel alienated by a move that sees it swallowed up by a social networking site but I think (and hope) we will see some very interesting and fairly rapid developments in this area now that are not centred around gaming. With a few companies starting to compete for market dominance including Valve and Sonys Project Morpheus awesome gaming applications are inevitable, however, Facebook is in a position to take advantage of their place as a global platform to explore and develop uses for Virtual Reality that are mainly seen in government or university research labs that reach beyond the social network.


Stop, Collaborate and Listen

by Joe Dollar-Smirnov



Collaboration is at the heart of innovation.

Newtons law, Einsteins general theory of relativity, the lightbulb and the kitchen sink are all examples of great things that have come out of some sort of collaboration. The benefits of collaboration are clear, yet the actual practice is often underestimated and difficult to get going. Here are 5 top tips for ensuring collaboration flourishes.


1/ Humble pie

Everybody’s opinion is valid. Allow people to feel comfortable in the environment to speak up if they feel they can add to an idea and collaborate. Great ideas come from all levels of the organisation from intern to CEO.


2/ Peer to peer

Treat everyone with the same level of respect.


3/ Brainstorm

Get your ideas out. Vocalise, share, sketch, write and build. Play. Be quick, the more ideas you get out of your brain the sooner you’ll start to see real value and inspiration. Ideas will feed new ideas.


4/ Constructive critique

Don’t be rude. The only people who have an excuse to get defensive in a critique are the people who have not had much practice. If you’re an old hand then be the one to accept criticism on the chin and move on. Learn.


5/ Dispose of ideas (your own ones!)

If an idea isn’t really working don’t dwell on it. Throw it away. Repeat.


Farmer training UX research

by Joe Dollar-Smirnov

Image of Haller Farmer Training in action


As Cain mentioned in this blog post we are collaborating with Pearlfisher on an app that we hope will bring some very relevant and useful content to those living in rural Africa.

The charity behind the project, Haller, use proven methods to train local farmers and villagers at their demonstration farm (shamba) in Mombassa. This gives locals the power to build essential, sustainable sources of food, medicinal plants and sanitation facilities for themselves and their communities. It is this transfer of knowledge that we aim to emulate through the app. Making this available online for those people who are unable to be physically present for training is a huge challenge.

Physical and environmental limitations present problems we are not used to working with from our cosy office in east London. To fully understand the tech available to our target users, or lack thereof, research is underway in parallel with the development of prototypes we can test when we visit next month.

Watch this space and we’ll share our findings on why this demographic group are leading the way in areas of technology that have not gained traction (yet?) in the ‘Western World’ and how we intend to run the research and usability testing on the ground.