#DailyUX Challenge 1 - The Perfect Wallet

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Challenge 1 - Design the perfect wallet for a friend

Whenever I'm told, "Make this thing", my first reaction is always, "Why?" In this first #DailyUX challenge, we were given the task of designing the perfect wallet for a friend. Even with a problem statement so straightforward, there was one basic set of questions that I knew I needed to get answered up front. "How many and what types of wallets do they have now, and why or when would they need a new one?" In order to satisfy that nagging "Why?" question, I knew that we'd all be better served by understanding my friend's current problems rather than jumping straight into the design phase of a releasable product, so that's what I set out to do. 

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I began by writing out all of the initial interview questions that came to mind on two sticky notes, and I then introduced my purpose to my friend. In essence, I believed that I needed to get back to some level of the value proposition discovery phase if I was going to truly understand why we're considering making a new wallet and what new value would be enticing enough for her to buy it. The interview began... "So how many wallets do you have right now? Two? Ah okay, so one you use every day and a travel wallet. Actually, could you tell me a bit more about this travel wallet and when you last used it?"

It only took this first question until I saw a new, potentially more viable business opportunity. If we digress and look back at userfocus.co.uk's portfolio building assignments on Facebook or Jaime Levy's UX Strategy examples, we're reminded that we need determinedly focus on what the customer needs, not necessarily what the business stakeholders originally think is going to be a winning idea. In this case, after hearing about this travel wallet, I immediately pivoted my interview from learning what makes a perfect everyday wallet to specifically learning about the need and potential desire she had for travel wallets. If we imagine that everyone doing this Daily UX challenge was a competitor, then the market is going to be beyond saturated with companies selling the "perfect [everyday] wallet".

However, it once again only took a few more questions to find out that this travel wallet of hers was a gift and that she was only really using it due to that sense of obligation. Sure, it looked very nice and quite expensive, but it was bulky and heavy due to the abundance of quality leather. She had owned this travel wallet for only a year, yet in that time she had only used it on two international trips; one of which was because she was moving to a completely different country and was already bringing all of her belongings.

To her, a travel wallet's sole value would be rely on it being a "one stop shop" item that held her passport and every ID, card, cash, and check-in document that she'd need to access quickly without requiring her to rummage through various other bags and hold up the lines. As such, if she no longer had this gifted travel wallet, she said she wouldn't ever purposefully go out and buy another one for herself. Her primary wallet would provide more value for the rest of the trip as it was lighter, more compact, and more durable. Even the thought of taking a single moment before and after each trip to move items from one wallet to another was annoying and a motivation-factor killer right there to use a second one. At home, her travel wallet was relegated to be a catch-all storage container for everything that could one day be used again overseas (e.g. SIM cards, local transport swipe cards, currency, etc).

Luckily though, as I kept prodding into her travel wallet uses and context, potential business opportunity No. 2 shined is beacon of value. I learned that in lieu of bringing her travel or everyday wallet on her recent overseas tour of a couple eastern Asian countries, she solely bought and used a very cheap, very lightweight "bum bag" also known as a money belt. Because her money belt was really cheap, she didn't care if it got torn or lost after this single trip. She merely needed something for her urban and country-side expeditions that muggers couldn't snatch off her, was discrete looking and didn't show what she had inside, was lightweight and comfortable to accommodate for tons of walking, and held everything she needed while out and about. Did we just stumble upon a slightly less 'blood red ocean' market to target?

 Photo by grandriver/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by grandriver/iStock / Getty Images

After capturing all of the pertinent details about this money belt, it seemed like a solid value proposition for this type of product would simply be one that afforded more organisation inside than those currently on the market. Similar to what the front pocket of a backpack looks like inside, we could outfit this new money belt with:

  • The flattest, envelope (i.e. rectangle) shaped profile
  • A direct-access, vertical passport-sized pocket
  • Two to three vertical slots just for ID and credit cards
  • A full-widthdivided pocket for foreign currency notes and folded documents
  • One to two pen or e-cigarette -shaped slots
  • Another open pocket appropriately sized just for a phone
  • A very small loose change or lip balm pouch
  • A slightly more padded and comfortable adjustable strap with a clasp in a more secure location than in the middle of her back where someone could undo it
  • General aesthetic design aside, a tiny leather tassel on the front zipper to help her access the contents easier where we think security isn't as much of an issue
  • Data-scam blocking material to prevent external scanning of her contents (e.g. preventing the ability to swipe and steal credit card info)

Overall, if this was around $10 or less, she said she would buy this if she was travelling tomorrow and couldn't find her existing one. To wrap it all up, I made a very quick sketch of the differences between her current travel money belt followed by a modified one with the features defined above. She agreed that for that price, this product would be a strong consideration if the circumstances were right. Now, we know that what people say and what people do often differ. However, we're now fairly confident that if she was travelling to another place that warns tourists to protect their belongings on their persons, she would specifically go to the store to buy a product like this.

In the end and after a few value proposition pivots, we have our idea, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't already exist exactly as we had described in the smaller money belt market; more in-depth competitive research and analysis is due. Following that analysis, if we were reasonably certain that our new product would have a fighting chance in the market, some of our next conversations would require us to take a figurative scalpel to our features list and slice out those that we think would be the most critical for round 1, but that's an exercise for another day...

Side note: We even briefly discussed the card-and-cash only 'wallet' phone cases that are out in the market now, but I shied away from that path in favour of these other contextual product ideas.