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Nectar was created in ten weeks from research, ideation, and evaluative user testing with the mentorship of Professor June Yoon
at SCAD.

Independent food businesses struggle to engage with and develop an understanding of their customers in digital environments.

Nectar is a progressive web app providing food businesses with a conversational touchpoint, that enables customer engagement through direct messages and customer understanding through qualitative research and data visualization.


Vision Video , Process Book , Prototype

Vision Video


My Role


Project & Research Lead - Cherie Chung

Strategy Lead - Mikayla Kim

Interaction Lead - Eli Clein

Visual Design Lead - Andrew Goodridge

Project management

Content strategy

Interview & user testing facilitating

Data synthesis & analysis

Archetypes & user journey maps

Rapid initial prototyping

Strategy changes using research data


Indigo Awards:

Digital Tools and Utilities - Gold

Interactive Design - Gold

Digital Design for Social Change - Gold

Website Design - Gold

Innovative Use of Mobile Technology - Silver

UX, Interface & Navigation - Silver

Websites Design for Social Change - Silver


When the Pandemic hit March 2020, we felt the need to create a meaningful project to use what we know best, our design skills, to help the communities affected by the Pandemic.  Small businesses employ more than 52 percent of the nation’s employees. By supporting local businesses, we are supporting the local economy, and maintaining financial dependence for the community. 

Michigan State University Center for Community and Economic Development


Small businesses experience a failure rate of more than 20% in their first year and increases exponentially to about 75% of small businesses that closes after its 10th year.

Small independent businesses is important to the local community however, the small business environment is competitive. When the Pandemic hit, the local businesses suffered the most, the ones who remained used this time with no foot traffic to make changes to their businesses. We decided that this was the perfect direction to aid the community with our problem solving and design skills. It also gave us the unique opportunity to take UX offline to the streets, speaking with business owners in the Savannah community.


With our secondary research, we also found that there is currently no effective communication between customers and local independent businesses other than an off-chance communication in person. With the current technology available, there are opportunities to increase understanding and communication between customers and local business owners. Thus, we narrowed down our research goals to the following as we sent out surveys and interviewed consumers as well as business owners in the area. 

1. What data would customers & business owners want and need to know?
2. What is the current relationship between food businesses and customers?
3. What do customers value when deciding to support a local business?
4. How do businesses discover and apply customer insights currently?
5. What do business owners consider when implementing a new technology?

PRIMARY RESEARCH - 53 survey responses

We asked people; what three words come to mind when you think of local food businesses such as private grocery stores, restaurants and cafes?


directly sourced















This word association helped us reaffirm the secondary research findings that consumers view small businesses in a positive light and see their value. While they still shop from larger corporations for their conveniences, they enjoy supporting small businesses and are aware of their importance to the community. Especially with food businesses, consumers are constantly making the deliberate choice to eat locally. 

With newer business owners mentioning social media presence as essential to their business, we also directed some questions to find out how the consumers view the social media presence of a locally owned business.

Question: How important is a local business' social media presence to you?


Question: What information do you search for on a local business' social media?


We also looked into what kind of information are consumers looking for.

Question: What would you like to know before entering a store?


Through our interviews and survey responses, we realised that...

1. Customers believe in spending money on independent food businesses as a form of ethical consumption and it makes them feel good. 

2. Customers view supporting independent food businesses as part of community building and want a mutually beneficial relationship with the business.

3. Customers are willing to share low-risk public information such as their preferences and opinions.

4. Businesses have specific questions they want customer input on. They also want more feedback from customers, including their preferences.

5. Businesses use social media and review sites to track customer satisfaction and connect with their customer.


Narrowing down our research to help with ideation, we created some HMW statements that represented the findings from customers and business owners.

HMWs from business owners

HMW help businesses understand their customers including their preferences and decision making process better?

HMW use services businesses and customers are currently using to increase understanding between both parties?

HMW help businesses scale person to person style data collection?

HMWs from customers

HMW create more communication in addition to in-person or online between customer and business owners?

HMW continue to maintain the mutually beneficial relationship between customers and business owners?

HMW integrate technology while still maintaining that personal connection between customers and business owners?



While gathering research data, we found different personalities and behaviors when interacting with small business. We broadly characterised them using their readiness to choose independent local businesses compared to larger chain stores or companies.

To narrow down our scope, we decided to focus on the active consumers who highly value interaction with small businesses.

Personas help us better understand the stakeholders in this ecosystem, so we created 3 personas, for all the parties involved

Meredith is our primary user, an active customer who constantly seeks to support small businesses in anyway possible. She is willing to share her thoughts and preferences as a customer if it helps improve their business.


For more details on personas, please refer to the process book.


It was obvious that there was a breakdown of communication between small business owners and customers. Other than the off-chance of speaking to them in person, we wanted to create a system to gather customer feedback for the business owners. We visualized what Nectar would look like in the everyday lives of business owners and customers through a storyboard.

We had to consider:

              How do we prioritise the relationship between small businesses and the community while collecting data for these businesses?


              Is customisable systematic data collection possible on the small scale?


              In a privacy-concerned era, how do we make both parties feel safe with the  information they are providing and receiving?


How might we design comfortable communication between

customers and business owners that continues to maintain the mutually beneficial and meaningful relationship with a sense of community?

Nectar is a progressive web app providing food businesses with a conversational touchpoint, that enables customer engagement through direct messages and customer understanding through qualitative research and data visualization.


Nectar's Interaction model, serving as the bridge between customers and the business, it would have two platforms.


After listing out the features we knew that Nectar needed to have, we started to text the concept by an open card sort. We created cards and places descriptions of the features on the cards and had participants name these features according to what made the most sense to them. We also asked them about the features and what they would do to improve it.


With the Pandemic outbreak, we had to create all of these online on Figma and moderated their responses via a live Zoom call.

An example of a participants' board


Using the data collected, we refined our information architecture of Nectar and created the blueprint below.


I was heavily involved in blueprinting the information architecture of Nectar and creating the user interaction for both the business and customer facing fronts.


Using the organisation created, I also suggested possible interaction flows as well that was eventually reflected in the end prototype.

Prototyping and user testing during  the initial months of the Pandemic was very different as we could not meet the business owners to test out early prototypes. Instead, we shifted online and had all our prototypes on Figma and shared them with the participants. We recorded these interviews and had participants turn on their video to observe their body language as they spoke to mimic in-person user tests as much as possible.



While testing our prototype, we learnt that business owners are tired of the number of different platforms they currently have to adopt while setting up a business. From POS systems to online ordering, they are tired of having to constantly adopt new technology. With this in mind, we altered our features and interface to truly provide only what the user (be it business owner or customer) needs – nothing else.

Some changes from mid-fi to high-fi prototypes:


Restructured information architecture and simplification of design.

Business owners mentioned that they enjoyed seeing what trends other business owners like them are thinking of adopting.


Suggested responses and customisable research gathering

For customers to easily provide businesses with their preferences to involve them in the decision making process while ensuring higher returns.

After several iterations with the help of user testing insights, we finalized our interfaces.



For more details and information, please refer to the process book.

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