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Plum Blossom

Foxconn 2015 - 2016

Methods Applied:



Qualitative Interviews

Concept Validation

Usability Testing

Primary Role:



Directed all planning, training, logistics, protocol development, prototype development, and managed vendors.

Authored research protocols and findings reports.



  • AVP of Design

  • Design Director

  • UI Designer

  • Visual Designer

  • Design Technologist 


The Summary:

Users mainly do three things: They make stuff. They find and watch, or listen to, or read stuff. And they sometimes collect and arrange the stuff they make and find. Create > Consume > Curate. 


Plum Blossom is the consumer product innovation for Curate tasks: to collect and organize any kind of content in an on-device visual file system. This unique offering was designed to be difficult-to-copy and available to be leveraged by one of three available brand channels. 

Content is arranged in dynamic templates and users can decorate their collections with stickers and ‘iffies’ (if/then reminders). Users can make their own templates, and developers can build and offer additional tools through a plug-in architecture.


The Issues:

Based on technical constraints of the Android operating system, the needs and requests of users, and system usability, we ran the risk of hitting a dead end on this concept. In order to test the concepts and move the design forward, we had to overcome the learning curves on mobile prototyping tools and technologies as well as on Android. The looming prospect of big changes with Nougat also complicated matters. 




The first phase shipped January 2017 on Nokia 6 as Hyperclip, a 20-item clipboard stored on device.

Research Details

Interviews - Concept Validation  - Usability Testing

All stakeholders asked family members, friends, and themselves about their patterns for organization (e.g. How do you collect and organize your stuff, physical or digital? What are patterns/systems you use at home, at work, for shared things?). We shared findings as a team in order to better understand the variety of schemas we might need to support in this visual file system. 
We discovered that well-ordered lists and hierarchical systems were still useful, even with visual artifacts. However, layouts that support loose grouping/organization would provide users more flexibility as often their schemas are not well-defined and do not lend themselves to strict rules. The challenge for prototyping, therefore, was to support these schemas from the physical world in the digital and figure out how to offer users more arrangement flexibility without confusing them. 
1 Qualitative Interviews
Informal interviews conducted by several team members with group synthesis. 
2 Validate Concepts with Real Users
Conceptual feedback from a real panel of Android mobile device users using prototype designs in the field. Insights used to iterate upon the design.
We tested in Singapore due to the number of bilingual residents there.   Also, participants had strong connections to mainland China, one of the key markets for this innovation.
We ran 20 sessions in total with a wide range of non-technical consumers. The session format was a combination of qualitative interviewing to review collections they had on their current device and scenario-based tasks, with a clickable Axure prototype.
Although most users understood the intent and said they would use a curation tool like this in real life, the testing illustrated clearly how the design should be modified. The bottom drawer of action icons was very confusing and introduced terminology not intuitive to users. We needed an approach that brought more immediate access to the visual clipboard and curations and didn't hide them behind button selections.
Additional Insights:​
  • Users recognized that we were showing them new content organization possibilities

  • Users in this market liked the visual effects of our alternative layouts and gave examples of how they would be useful

  • Consumers we spoke with don’t care where their content is stored, only that it’s free

  • Users want free storage; the sessions made it clear that users would use several different solutions up to their ‘free’ limits to avoid paying for additional storage and didn’t worry about where the content was stored

  • Users are not in a position to pay a high premium for devices with large memory and most are constantly downloading and deleting apps and media because of it; therefore, collections need to leverage cloud storage for this concept to even work

Participant Sessions in Singapore
3 Usability Testing via APK

We built an access point on the navigation bar, using a 'star' icon at the rightmost position. Tapping this key invokes the Plum Blossom drawers from both the left and right sides of the screen. In this manner, the user can explore the two drawers and infer their purpose through visual inspection. We tested a high-fidelity prototype with 20 users at a usability lab in Manchester, UK over 3 days.
In addition, we were able to more fully implement the alternative curation templates for users to utilize in timed tasks. 
Time-on-task and SUS measures were collected and averaged for the study.
Curation Template Images
Manchester Testing Setup Images
Here are two Guided Tour videos of the final Plum Blossom design in action. These should provide a sense for the whole system. The first is narrated and the second has subtitles. 
Guided Tour with Audio
Guided Tour with Subtitles
A Word about Eye Tracking
We budgeted for the use of eye tracking equipment for 4 of the test sessions (one day), primarily so that we could demonstrate the utility of the recordings as a part of the research process. Stakeholders were stunned when shown video clips, such as the one below, demonstrating the results of this capability. 
We were also able to validate hunches about why users were struggling with up/down navigation through hierarchical views.
Participant Session Recording with Eye Tracking

© 2017 by Peter Roessler.

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