FLOW (Visual Product Scanner)
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The initial direction from the business was to extend barcode scanning to include product recognition, so early concepts I’d created sometime earlier contained a semblance to that, maintaining at least the horizontal red line. However, that ended up being shelved half-way through design and development. Months later it was taken off the shelf, this time for quick implementation into the iPhone shopping application (I’d designed the Android experience with iOS and Windows Phone in mind).
I discussed the feature with other teams, designers and researchers to find any existing, related data, especially user research.
I then worked closely with the product manager to understand and help define the updated product requirements and use cases. We could do something new, but didn’t have much time to experiment. Working closely with the lead developer to understand what the technology could or could not was also instrumental. In collaborating, the three of us learned a lot about the constraints, and generated ideas together around many of them.
Connecting with the research team early in the process allowed us to line up at least one study (we’d run a couple when designing for the Android app). Because I had forged a good relationship with the research team, and because I had the skills and experience to offload a lot of the study prep work, in the end, we were able to conduct more than a single study. I worked with the researcher to define the tasks, come up with ideas for testing in the lab, and leading discussion in the observation room.
As research was happening, I moved the project from wireframes into comps, and visual design, to help stakeholders, the product manager, and development teams know what they’re working toward, plus arm them with assets – rough at first – to iteratively toward the final product.
Actively working with the lead developer every day helped us on refine the interactions and motion design, as well as identify several bugs and resolve them.
A separate team within Amazon, called A9, had created – and still owned – the visual recognition technology. I worked with them in late 2010 when designing Amazon’s barcode scanning experience within the iPhone, Android and Windows Phone applications. In late 2011, that team released a stand-alone app called “Flow”. It had some interesting ideas about product recognition and allowed Amazon to start collecting data.
Fast forward to early 2013. Given my experience designing the barcode scanner in late 2010, I was asked to design the new continuous scan feature for the shopping apps, starting with Android. Some of the problems with that app experience were:
I did not believe the existing Flow experience was the best one for Amazon’s mobile customers, so I set out to redesign it.