In the spring of 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to work apart, Delve’s leadership launched an internal pitch competition.
The hope was to encourage collaboration and open the door to making a social impact that stepped outside of our day-to-day projects, which are largely driven by client needs.
Working remotely provides the flexibility of being able to work anywhere, and my colleagues were increasingly spreading out throughout the country. The competition intended to bring us together and keep us inspired. The pitched projects needed to address a sustainability, social justice, or public safety issue. Several multidisciplinary internal teams formed to pitch Delve shareholders. Winners received some seed funding and eight weeks to make their ideas reality.
My team, Project Inform, pitched one of the chosen initiatives, homing in on the relevance of COVID-19. We recognized a need for timely safety information for dining out and grocery shopping during the pandemic, which led to our decision to create an app similar in nature to Yelp, but more focused for residents of Madison, Wisconsin, where Delve is headquartered.
I was in charge of the insights and strategy effort, Sang Woo Nam was our interaction design lead, and Umberto Stefanini was our software engineering lead. Our team was rounded out by Ken Soliva, Director of Interaction Design, and Jon Butzine, Director of Electrical & Software Engineering. Kent Kallsen, VP of Engineering, acted as our project sponsor and a key stakeholder.
Info, design, and development
Early on, we reached out to the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce to ensure we were making a product that would be desirable to local businesses. The Chamber ended up being the team’s largest stakeholder; their input along with feedback from users, other stakeholders, and sponsors helped to define the app’s requirements.
I crowdsourced users’ information desires and weighed them against the Chamber’s voice of business to prioritize which datasets got into the app. Requirements were prioritized according to their importance, which allowed Umberto to define the technical requirements to support and start working ahead on the backend structure. Sang was working in tandem, conducting contextual research, creating the information architecture, and wireframes for each screen of the app. Because of their familiarity to most consumers, Yelp and Google maps were inspirations for the UI design.
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