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2020 UX/UI Case Study

A mobile rewards and referral program for an e-commerce startup, utilizing QR technology.


true places


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Much of our socializing especially today, takes place outside, in the familiar spaces, just outside your door.

So, it’s surprising that there is such a lack of quality products designed for this space. True Places seeks to fill this void.  They offer quality, thoughtfully designed products for the places, just outside, that we inhabit.

Their first item they are bringing to market is the re-imagination of the portable chair. Each product will be imprinted on its back with a unique QR code in order to capitalize on referrals that come in these outdoor social situations.

We were brought on to design a mobile rewards and referral product utilizing this QR technology. True Places needed one solution that would serve 2 user archetypes-1. The product owner and 2. Their friends/family who would receive a personalized store discount. They held a strong belief that owners would want to register their product upon receipt in order to “unlock” a warranty and access a referral/reward program. At this stage they did not know what type or value of rewards they were willing to offer, such as points, cash back, etc. Branding and a basic user flow was already in place.  

The Problem

How might we make it simple and painless for customers to engage with the referral program and register their product?

Deliverables & Tools

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Behavioral & Competitive Research

User Survey Data & Interviews


User Journey & User Story

User Flows


User Testing

Site Map

Hi-Fi Clickable Prototype

Style Guide

Team of 3 UX/UI Designers

5 Weeks

Figma, Photoshop, Miro, Google Suite, Asana

The Solution


Painless product registration for the owner


Easy shopping experiences for the friends they refer

True Places friend landing page
True Places Why register infographic

User Research

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We began with in-depth research about QR technology. The client had engaged a tech startup to assist with the implementation of QR into their physical product.

The needs of this problem were particularly unique as the client wanted their QR codes to serve multiple uses and be able to differentiate experiences based on who scanned them. Details about if and how this could be implemented was challenging to uncover. We quickly found that True Places would need to use a dynamic code on their items as it could be changed and tracked as desired. However, specific details about programming the code based on who scanned it lied with the tech startup, who we were not permitted to discuss details with. Very little information could be gleaned through outside research that would address their particular needs. 

Early discussions with the client regarding the technology findings centered around their “ideal solution” vs a “realistic” one. We wanted to be able to design the former but based on the limited availability of QR development information, we recommended the latter as to work on something we were confident they could actually use. With the client, we created a simple paper user flow that we could use with interview subjects to gauge user understanding.

True Places paper flow 1pg

We continued with detailed competitive research with companies that had successful referral/rewards programs. The most insightful data came from Dash (a kitchenware brand) and Airbnb as they had success with a very similar model.

Behavioral research demonstrated that users were more likely to engage in “pro-social” (friend-benefiting) vs “selfish” (sender benefiting) activity while using programs such as these. These findings were established in the competitors data as well.

A survey was conducted to gather data about users engagement and behaviors with these types of programs. We asked questions about types of rewards, purchasing attitudes, etc.

survey results pie chart
survey results data
survey results data chart

The client provided 5 interview subjects for this stage. We asked behavioral questions around their use of rewards programs, product registration, mobile shopping habits and outdoor socializing activities and reviewed the paper prototype flow for feedback.

These findings confirmed earlier data that users were not particularly likely to register lower value products such as this one as well as behaviors around pro-social benefits. 

“I’ll activate a warranty for technology, a computer.  Something that is more than say, $1000 and I would have to pay a lot to fix it.

But a chair? Who cares.”

True Places - Copy of User Flow 1.jpg

“If I spent a good deal of money on it, and I’m expecting it to last for a certain period of time,

I might actually put a warranty to it.  And I think about these extended warranties for washing machines, our cars, a TV… but I don’t do it for everything. It’s not worth the trouble.”

“With my hairstylist, if you refer someone, you get a $25 bonus.  A discount was a nice cherry on top, but I’d much rather my friend be happy with her stylist that I helped her get.”

We reviewed these discoveries with the client, making suggestions regarding focusing more on catering to the friend vs the owner as it appeared they were far less likely to engage with the product. The client was still hesitant to lean in this direction and asked that we continue to develop both flows equally. 


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I built 2 personas based on user research, client provided demographics and interview subject findings. These serve both types of archetypes.

Mia persona True Places
David persona True Places

The main use case centered around a friend seeing the owners item and inquiring about it. Once instructed to scan the QR code on the item, they’re taken to a page to buy it with a discount. The journey I created follows that experience from first scan through purchase, delivery and product registration.


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I moved on to ironing out the user flows and visualizing the UI.

True Places would be utilizing Shopify for their platform and though not in scope, I incorporated purchasing into the flow in order to test the full experience for them.


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We moved into wireframes and mid-fi prototyping, which we reviewed with the client before testing.

While building, True Places came back with the news that the developer could in fact program the QR code to differentiate users. We collectively decided to reorient the design to serve the “ideal solution” of 1 landing page.

We tested a revised mid-fi prototype with 6 users. We were faced with a challenge of finding our own subjects as the client was unwilling to provide users after the interview stage.

Users experienced cognitive load with this design-the photo, the slogan, the coupon and buttons together were too much. They were confused by the coupon, unsure if they needed to save the code, how to apply it or if they needed to provide their email in order to get the discount

“How does this work? Do I need to save it?”

“Why do I have to register? You already have my information because I bought it from you.”

“There’s too much going on here.”


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Using feedback from the mid-fi stage, we scrapped that design in favor of something simpler and graphic in order to draw the users towards the CTA’s.

We included iconography and a simple explanation of the benefits of registration below the fold as most users were still reluctant to engage with this flow. 

5 users were brought on for this round.


Since users pushed back on registration all along the way, we suggested that the client include a pamphlet explaining product registration in the box to help sell it. We also advocated for the use of discount or monetary rewards in lieu of a warranty based on the research and direct user feedback we received. 

True Places was very receptive to these suggestions and were appreciative that we dug in and presented evidence to help them better serve their customers and get past their own assumptions. 

I personally was not in love with the final user interface. I still felt it was too complicated and took it upon myself to simplify it more, which is what you see here. I user tested it again and received more positive feedback on this latest iteration. Users did not hesitate to engage as they did before.

This product is ultimately designed to be used in social situations. Due to the pandemic and it being the middle of winter in the Northeast, we couldn’t test it “in the wild” which is where we felt we could gain the real insight to whether or not our design could truly be successful. 

Mostly throughout, the client seemed very convinced they knew what their customers wanted and how they would engage. As a design team, we went into this with very open minds and  with the intention of listening to all sides in order to build something that would best serve everyone's needs. Ultimately, our research and user tests helped sway the clients mind away from their presumptions.

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