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Huddle

Design Research | UX DESIGN | Branding

New parents need support, not stuff. Huddle is a service designed to shift practices surrounding the birth of a new baby, starting with the baby shower. Huddle's multi-channel platform, comprised of an app, website, and toolkit, helps new parents get the support they need, instead of a mound of stuff they don't. This concept is deeply grounded in user research and was developed over eight weeks in a team of three.

ROLE

DESIGN RESEARCH & STRATEGY

UX DESIGN

Babies are expensive, and they come with a lot of stuff

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New families spend an average of $12,000 and up to $30,000 on baby gear in the first year of life, and that number is repeated and increased every year thereafter. Everything from cribs to rocking chairs, to Mr. Boppys and Sophie dolls, to bottle warmers to diapers are included on the growing list of items required for a new baby. Yet in hindsight, many parents complain that they bought too many items, used expensive items only once or twice, or their baby’s preferences didn’t align with particular products.

and it all starts with 
the baby shower.

My mom really wanted to throw a baby shower. She wanted to relish in the fact she was going to be a grandmother.
I dreaded the event. 

You have to create a registry, and then figure out what needs to be on that registry, which leads to a black hole of research and contradictory recommendations, followed by building anxiety of "do we have enough?" and "do we even have the right things!?"

On top of that, everyone hates baby showers: the cheesy games, the forced fun, the gendered-ness. But, they keep happening because baby showers are an important ritual for a community to demonstrate their support for new parents.

That's why we created Huddle, a service to help new parents and their community shift practices around having a new baby,
starting with the baby shower. 
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How it works

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1. Create a Huddle Registry

A Huddle registry isn’t a list of stuff, its a place to ask for the support you’ll need as a new family - babysitting hours, meals, dog walking, errand running and beyond. 

2. Personalize your Huddle theme

Everyone has different styles, so customize the elements of your Huddle party to suit your preferences. Choose from our curated themes or create your very own.

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3. Receive your Huddle Toolkit

Your Huddle Toolkit includes everything you need to setup your Huddle experience - a Pledge Poster, personalized Pledge Stickers for each guest, advice cards, and a keepsake book.

4. Gather pledges of support

Host your Huddle, where guests will use their personalized stickers to make pledges of support. After the party, pledges will be automatically synced to the Huddle App.

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5. Get Support from your community

Use the Huddle app to coordinate and schedule your pledges and keep your community informed and engaged in your new family's life.  

The web experience

The Huddle website onboards new users into the Huddle experience. New users can learn how it works, pick a theme for their Huddle, invite their community, and, most importantly, create a Huddle Registry. 

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The Huddle registry is the cornerstone of the Huddle experience.
A Huddle registry is different than a traditional registry. Instead of gifts, a Huddle registry enables new parents to ask for ‘acts of service’  from their friends and family as they adjust to life with a new baby. 

The Huddle Toolkit

The toolkit provides users with the items they need to facilitate a Huddle. The standard Huddle toolkit contains four items: invitations, a Pledge Poster, personalized sticker cards for each guest, and Advice Cards with a Keepsake Book. 

 

Each of the toolkit components are designed modularly, so that they can easily be configured to a user's selected theme.

 

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What makes a Huddle different from a traditional baby shower is the activity facilitated around the Huddle Poster, where guests pledge acts of service for the new parents using their personalized Pledge Stickers. The Huddle Poster is customized to display the registry categories requested by the new parents and guests place their stickers in the registry category boxes where they would like to help.

The poster system can accommodate anything from 2-12 registry categories. A light grid is printed inside each registry category box in order to help organize guest stickers. The size of the grid (and corresponding guest stickers) are scaled based on the number of guests attending the Huddle.

 

At the conclusion of the event, the pledges are recorded and stored through the Huddle app. 

The Huddle App

The Huddle app is the quarterback of the Huddle system. It is the hub for organizing and scheduling guest pledges and keeps everyone informed and engaged in the weeks and months after a Huddle party.

Invision Prototype

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Mobile App Screens - InvisionFinal_landi
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The Huddle app parses names and pledges from the Huddle poster and populates the My Pledges section for parents and guests. Parents can then view their bank of remaining pledges and easily manage the schedule for meals, chores, and other registry items in the Calendar. Guests can check out the Registry items at any time and sign up for open time slots in the Calendar.

The app's feed is designed to be an emotional hook for a Huddle group to stay engaged with the new family over time. Like many news feeds, parents can post pictures on the feed and friends and family can interact by liking and commenting on pictures. Additionally, action prompts are embedded throughout the feed to remind guests to fulfill their pledges. 

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Design process

This business concept was developed as part of an Interaction Design Studio at Carnegie Mellon School of Design. My team was tasked with designing a multi-channel product ecosystem that extended beyond the screen. The following design process took place over 8 weeks in the spring of 2018: 

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Problem definition

Exploratory research

Synthesis

Concept development

Refine

& build

Problem definition - baby gear

Babies are expensive, and the come with a lot of stuff. 

Parents ultimately want to do the right thing for their children, but finding the “correct” items is difficult. Furthermore, babies grow fast, so certain items may only be relevant during a certain development stage, only to become obsolete within a few days, weeks or months as the baby grows. These items must then be discarded, stored, donated, or resold, adding additional burden to a new parent’s everyday life and household logistics.

While sustainable and multi-use baby items are gaining some traction, a tremendous gap still exists between sustainable, stress-free baby items and the current expensive and wasteful paradigm. Even in the world of Amazon reviews and countless mommy blogs, new parents are often still overwhelmed by figuring out what items are necessary, optional, or just nice-to-have for their new babies.

With this in mind, we asked ourselves:

Design process

HOW MIGHT WE...

Make planning for and accessing baby gear easier, less expensive, and less wasteful?

Connect new parents to better information and support decision-making on baby-related purchases?

Foster a sense of community for new parents and enable sharing and collaborative consumption?

Exploratory research

To help focus our initial research phase and scope possible points for intervention, we began by mapping the territory through secondary research, web eavesdropping popular parenting websites, social networks, and forums, and researching analogous services such as Finnish baby boxes, UK NCT, Barkbox, Trunk Club, StitchFix, Rent the Runway and Shyp. 

Read our initial project proposal & research plan.

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Through this process, it became clear that understanding the practices that define acquiring gear for a new baby was key to understanding how to frame our research. Using the lens of practices, we noticed that there were four main interrelated and overlapping practices within our territory, and used this framework to guide the questions in our exploratory research going forward. This included a variety of generative research methods: 

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10

interviews

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95

respondents to an online survey

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1

retail observation session

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web eavesdropping

Synthesis

Using the transcripts and observations from our interviews, contextual inquiries, web eavesdropping and online survey we created an affinity diagram. One of the things we noticed was that, even though we did not ask about it explicitly, everyone brought up baby showers, and oftentimes with very strong opinions attached.

After much discussion and iteration, we developed the below framework to summarize our research findings and lay the foundation on which we could start designing. 

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Design principles

Grounded in our research findings, we developed four core design principles to guide the next phase of our process:

Just when you need it
Access over ownership
Stand on the shoulders of sharing
Bridges communities

Concept development

We used our design principles to generate inspiration and iterate widely on concept development. Together we narrowed in on seven concepts ranging from a baby subscription box (a la BarkBox) to an in-home baby consultant network to evaluate with our research participants.