Have you ever used a tool that wasn't made for the problem you're trying to solve?
If you answered yes, then you're probably thinking about how you made the product fit your needs or how frustrated you were when you had to create workarounds when the product failed to meet your expectations. 
If you answered no, then go try using a butter knife as a screwdriver. Sure, it may work with some flathead screws, but what happens when there's a Phillips-head screw or the screw is too small?
• Project Manager
• UI/UX Designer
• UX Researcher

Who I worked with
• Technical Project Managers
• 4 Software Engineers
• 3 External Stakeholders

• Conceptual Development
• High-Fidelity Mockups
• Product vision & strategy
• Prototype
• Testing
• UX Research
• Wireframes

Finding a Custom Fit
Our client came to us using somewhat of a "butterknife" solution to operate the lounge and engage members at their cannabis club. They wanted to work with us to design a customized, streamlined solution for their cannabis club. 

As the UI/UX Designer I collaborated with the stakeholders to design and test a platform for club members to access the lounge and employees to manage it. I used a mix of research and usability testing to quickly validate assumptions and deliver a Minimum Viable Product with Mockup and Prototype. 
Blind Reactions & Early Alignment
My first meeting with the client came after I received the design brief from one of the Technical Project Managers, conducted secondary research and put together initial wireframes based on my findings. The goal of this meeting was to gather visual feedback and product alignment from the owners.

Much of my early research was based around my assumptions of a cannabis club and what I found out early on was that some clubs operated similarly to restaurants.
Don't Rely on Assumptions
After our first meeting, I learned that the owner didn't care as much about a POS system as he did a robust calendar for customers to access upcoming events and classes. It is also where I learned that the lounge map was a great way to give employees improved visibility around the club. 

The owner was excited to see the wireframes and research that had gone into shaping the product, but once he began sharing his feedback, I realized that some of the assumptions I made were wrong and didn't align with his vision of the product. Ultimately, this meeting gave me insight into how this product would work and some key features that will be included in this Minimum Viable Product concept.  
What is the Cola Lounge and what amenities are available to its members?
• Cannabis clubs are legally licensed lounge spaces for advocates, allies and entrepreneurs to consume product, connect with others and learn more through educational services/classes.
What and where are gaps in the current system?

• Some of the largest gaps in the current system were around the event calendar, pass management and check-in experiences.
• We identified an opportunity for deeper personalization through member profiles that included things like consumption preferences, favorite cultivar, etc. 
How does the Cola Lounge operate?

• Each cannabis club operates differently, but a popular model is similar to fitness clubs where individuals can purchase admission by the day, week, month or year. I learned that beyond general club access, members can reserve rooms for private events and register for services or classes.
Who will be using the system and how?

• Users with an active membership looking to reserve private rooms in the lounge and register for educational services/classes.
• Users looking to sign up for a new membership and browse the calendar of events offered at the cannabis club.
• Cannabis club employees activating memberships, managing daily/weekly club schedules, checking members into the lounge and registering them for events.
Straight from the Source
I set up another meeting with the co-founder to conduct a gap analysis of the club's current platform because it would help me identify the most valuable requirements of the new system along with opportunities for product innovations. I learned about the gaps in the event calendar, pass management, and check-in experience.

Navigating this gap analysis was challenging because the stakeholder had lots of ideas and I wanted them to feel heard while continuing to align with the requirements we agreed upon as a group. I made sure to take notes on their feedback while reiterating our established goals and how their ideas supported or detracted.
More to Consider 
After conducting the gap analysis, I asked the stakeholder for a few lounge employees to test the designs once I iterated on their feedback. I knew that it was important to test early as possible because it would help validate the platform's internal design, which would help with the external design.

I was able to recruit 3 club employees and 2 external stakeholders to test the different sides of the system through moderated usability tests. I utilized this method of testing because their experience with the platform was going to be key to final design iterations. 

Ultimately, I learned through testing that including an option for faster check-in (QR code) and pass activation would help the most because it helps the employee manage the line during peak times. Also having the visibility into the lounge availability and capacity was important for employees to manage the flow of club members. As for the calendar, it needed to be more visual to engage visitors while browsing and making it simple to register for the events.
Presenting the Solution
After multiple conversations, design iterations, and usability tests I had designed a comprehensive, streamlined platform that enabled employees to manage the lounge more efficiently and members to engage with club easier through finding events and purchasing membership passes. The final solution was met with excitement and praise from the stakeholders and the rest of the team. 

Next steps involved price negotiation for beta development and subscription structure for this service. This process lasted a couple of weeks before the stakeholders decided to pause on the project due to capital constraints.
Continuing the Custom Fitting​​​​​​​​​​​
​​​​​​​1. Identify a development strategy for the engineering teams​​​
​​​​​​​​​​​​​​2. Design a mobile app solution for the consumer side.
​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ 3. Market MVP solution to other independent cannabis clubs.

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