Retrospective by Designer Shaun Lind with Founder/CTO Bryan Jowers
This year on your birthday, your close friends, family, college crew, highschool buddies, past loves, and those in between are pitching money into a pot for you! They may be near, or they may be all the way across the country, but for just a couple bucks, it’s an easy call. Even some people you barely know pitched in, just to vie for your love. Awesome, right? After all is said and done, you might have several hundred dollars to go and get the perfect gift with! This is exactly the activity that giftiki enabled. Social, collaborative gifting among large groups of friends. Despite the best efforts of a stellar team, Giftiki did not take off in the way we hoped it might. This retrospective exists primarily to display and document the work done, but also to explain some of the product decisions we made and lessons learned along the way. ~ Shaun & Bryan
MY BIRTHDAY, 2012
51 of my good friends, from all across the nation, gifted me nearly $400. I created this facebook cover and “tagged” every one of my gifters. It wasn’t the overall sum of gifts that mattered, though it was nice, it was the fact that my friends cared enough to give their time, money, and affection. Giftiki had the ability to make anyone feel important, and supremely loved, on one of the most important days of the year, their birthday.
* The largest giftiki (not for an event or famous person) amounted to $705 and was given to Lana P by 19 of her friends.
MILES TO DISNEYLAND
The more we gift together, the happier we'll be.
IDENTITY & BRANDING
Inherited the first “G” icon and proceeded to update it, then trash it.
After some collaborative gift concepts, ended up with our social gift-box bubble “G.”
We debated a plethora of taglines, below are the front runners. In the end, we felt an emotional connection to "better together," and we thought our users would too. Not based off of a Jack Johnson song, but who doesn't love that song?
Gift and Get Gifted
One Gift, From Many
It's Better Together :"drop the 'it's,' just
Better Together, it's cleaner"
We wanted to achieve a classic, somewhat retro feel with giftiki, futura was perfect for this. We aimed to translate the feel of gifting offline, to online with a vintage font, textures, and color.
Futura BT Bold
Tiki-teal was a perfect primary. It is a unique, bright, stand-out color that I haven’t seen in use anywhere else. It really pops on the dark gray. A product that’s all about birthdays needed a color scheme that felt like a birthday party.
We played on group psychology, using social pressure to encourage gifting. The graphic above was a prominent piece of the app, subtly comparing gifters to one another, driving matching or larger gifts. Not only did this concept delicately compare gifters and their contributions, creating competition, it acted as a progress bar pushing users to a larger goal. Also, the animation was an eye catcher.
WHAT WE KNEW
The act of collaborative gifting exists offline. Groups of friends are larger and more transparent about their actions than ever before. No startup had successfully owned collaborative gifting yet. Users had friends with birthdays quite often leading to many Giftiki moments a month and high engagement.
WHAT WE SURMISED
Social, collaborative gifting could be transformed into a scalable digital experience. Through social pressure and a unique product, we could acquire and engage users in large friend circles who are emotionally driven to use our product. It would be important for the product to not feel like a financial transaction or payment.
WHAT WE DISCOVERED
The product was well received for the idea, design, and experience, but the behavior was forced and would not stick. The fact that users had multiple potential Giftiki moments a month was in fact a negative: users felt that they had to gift too often, felt too pressured, gifts lost meaning, and small gifts added up over time.
Teaser image to promote the app pre-launch.
Once loaded, the ribbon pulled down slightly, then released upward, taking the background with it.
A simple CTA requiring Facebook Connect. Below sits the giftiki machine: lots of small gifts go in, one big gift comes out.
ON BOARDING 2
After creating a password (needed because we store credit cards) the user is prompted with 3 options, connecting Twitter being the most desirable for us at this point.
The upcoming birthdays in the top row animate in, and swipe left and right. Tap a face to flip the tile, revealing options to gift now, or set a reminder.
ACTIVITY FEED 2
The panels below the upcoming birthdays shows all your friends’ gifting activity. Tap a panel to open and reveal which friends have gifted a specific gift receiver.
SEND A GIFTIKI
You can send a giftiki to a friend via Facebook or Twitter.
Gifting through Twitter
Finding friends and gifting through Twitter was a nice feature, but it was mostly unused and didn’t yield virality.
Never was a user to type in a dollar amount. We created the gift-o-meter as a simple but fun and entertaining way to input money.
The color changes on the gift-o-meter as you play with it. Above, your face is in the claw, sliding in and out friends based on the amount gifted.
WRAP YOUR GIFT
After adding money, the user selects a fun icon to accompany the gift. From a birthday cake, to a shot of tequila, to a kiss, the user adds a bit of their own personality here.
Some icons, like the shot, had variations. A user taps to reveal a full conveyor belt of options. Buttery nipple anyone?
WRITE A MESSAGE
The user’s personal message would be posted to the receiver’s Facebook wall, replacing the typical birthday wall post.
FULLY WRAPPED EX.1
You’ve added money, selected an icon, and written a message. We then take that icon you just chose and drop it onto a fun illustrated background, thus rounding out the visual experience of giftiki.
This scene was based off Scruffy Murphy's, a bar in Waco, TX.
FULLY WRAPPED EX.2
We had intended for each and every icon to have its own illustrated scene, surprising the user each time he selected a new icon.
The lighting is right, the mood is set, it's time to dance.
FULLY WRAPPED EX.3
As we'd hoped, the 'fully wrapped' concept was a hit. Many users told us they had sent more giftikis just to reveal these scenes.
Zach Morris called, he wants to hang out.
FULLY WRAPPED EX.4
Despite best efforts to make more in the time frame given, we launched with only 8 scenes. This friendship factory scene was a catch all for icons still needing their own.
The factory that houses the giftiki machine.
If you’d been gifted, you’d have a list of gifters and your balance here.
However, for most users, you haven’t been gifted yet. Those users see a countdown until their birthday.
Days until your birthday...
You have 164 days to get your friends on giftiki.
WEB VERSION 1
WEB VERSION 1
The first landing page was highly illustrative, much like the entire product. It featured the giftiki machine, an abstract way to display the concept. Lots of small gifts go in, one big gift comes out. Simple, right? We used the words “better” and “together” wherever we could, and always found ways to work it into the site language. Here we decided to feature the tagline “when everyone gives a little, together you give a lot."
SOCIAL AUTHENTICATION IS TRICKY
Being a highly social, birthday related product, we required Facebook Connect from the get go. We thought our bounce rate would be minimal, but as it turns out, users are much less trusting with their facebook information than we had expected. We found that nearly half of our visitors would click “get started” only to exit before allowing facebook authentication. With this knowledge in hand, we changed our sign up flow on version 2 to allow users into the product without Facebook Connect. However, without facebook, the product was airy and limited.
After much design and product deliberation, we decided on a two column layout to feature an “activity feed” (right column). Much like Twitter, our feed would feature cells that could be clicked to slide out a panel with all the related information and desired actions (below). We thought it was important for new users discovering the product to see platform and friend activity.
The average facebook user has 234 friends, with a close circle of 30 to 40 friends. With this many chances to gift, it made sense to have a prominent activity feed.
An opened activity feed cell reveals everything about that giftiki, including CTA’s to add to the gift, the colorful progress bar, who started the giftiki, who was invited to contribute, and all previous gifters with messages.
On clicking a cell, the panel featured a smooth
slide motion from right to left.
We had created a fun and unique way for our users to input a dollar amount
on our mobile app, and we wanted to accomplish the same thing on the web.
The web gift-o-meter featured a swivel frame which animated circularly to a number on hover.
Each number featured a different color. I liken it to an old-timey ship telegraph.
Why only $10
We wanted to encourage our users to send small amounts, and do it often. If we could make it social and affordable, it would be less intimidating and we could increase frequency.
Eventually, we added a “more than $10” functionality allowing users to manually input up to $75.
Hover images to view
Icons produced for the mobile and web experience.
As with the mobile app, we rounded out the gifting experience with an illustrated scene featuring the chosen icon. We had intended to animate these scenes.
There were 6 web scenes at launch, with an aggressive roadmap to create a unique scene per icon.
Is it time to dance?
Yes, it's always time to dance.
Clicking a link through channels like facebook directed a user, most time first time users, to our http://hap.pe/ personalized page containing all the giftiki content for a specific gift. As always, our friend contribution progress bar would animate in to draw attention.
FACEBOOK CANVAS PAGES
Existing users were notified of gift invites from friends via Facebook notifications. We hoped this simple, less intimidating page would result in more conversions. It did.
We designed the mobile app first, and built the web experience to match. Both were rich and immersive experiences, unique and fully custom, packed with simple yet beautiful animations.
Our approach was to build a surprising and unique product, creating users who just had to send more than one giftiki. In this, we acquired a small but loyal following. In hindsigth, building a native mobile app was a great
experiment that failed. Users don't do collaborative gifting often enough to earn a place on their mobile device. Also, requiring social authentication in order to experience the product was a conversion nightmare.
MyWant was a robust feature meant to give the power to the gift receiver. It was a creative way to give context around a giftiki started by friends. The recipient could clearly state what their giftiki dollars would go towards. The design of the page featured the "want", a countdown, and progress. We also incorporated the classic progress/color bar, but added a layer of complexity by making it a slider as well. A potential gifter could then use the slider to add money to the gift, and immediately immerse themselves in the social activity of gifting with giftiki.
WHAT WE KNEW
Individuals often desire gifts that are too expensive to be purchased by any single gifter. Having users create a MyWant might prove difficult, and the team knew that from the start.
WHAT WE SURMISED
If the product was presented like a registry and the user was nudged to create a mywant after first giftiki, the act of proclaiming your "want" would be socially acceptable if done through giftiki.
WHAT WE DISCOVERED
No matter how carefully you engineer the experience, gifting has complex layers of social etiquette and behavior. Even in a world of oversharing and narcissistic online behavior, it might have been better to have a friends create a mywant for a user.
Designing and building MyWant was no easy feat. We spent over a month with the entire dev team dedicated to the feature. In the end, we
didn't see the numbers we had hoped for. Being a small startup, we couldn't afford the time wasted. We should have focused on the core
product, and further developed that concept which wasn't truly given enough time to flourish.
WEB VERSION 2
WEBSITE VERSION 2
For version 2, we desired to acquire users without requiring them to spend money. Removing money from the equation would create less friction in user acquistion. However, the group motivation for giftiki was "everyone add money to create a big gift." Since we took money out of the equation, we needed a new group motivator. Thus, thought to engage users with a group birthday card, allowing them to sign and draw together.
another homepage that demonstrates its product elegantly.
A New Hypothesis
ENGAGEMENT W/OUT A CREDIT CARD
Our new approach was to drive engagement, sans a credit card. If we upped our user base by offering a free product, we could still be successful if only a small percentage of them added money to their gift.
WE KILLED THE MOBILE APP
Our experiment with a native app, as we explained above, failed. Instead we built a mobile web experience.
SIGN & DRAW WITH FRIENDS TO BE A PART OF SOMETHING SPECIAL
It was fun to sign & draw with friends, seeing the personality they added to the card. The more friends that join in, the more colorful and fun it becomes.
As we developed this, we were conscious of the fact that most people weren't as dexterous with a mouse as we were. We feared we would lose conrtibutors who weren't confident in their mouse drawing skills. Most poeple simply signed their name, but there were some rockstars who would draw really impressive scenes.
Our new flow began with choosing an illustrated card, used to brand giftiki on a user's facebook wall, and adding a message.
Next a user draws his contribution to the group birthday card, after which he proceeds to invite more friends to participate.
Lastly, our user sends his gift free of money, or tacks $5 to the card. By adding money, the illustrated card got a little fancier with a stamp and paperclip full of dough.
We created e-cards with clever illustrations and slogans. Below are a few.
FACEBOOK WALL V.1
We started building giftiki before facebook released the "today's birthdays" shortcut on the newsfeed page. A facebook user no longer had to visit a friend's wall to write "happy birthday." This was devastating for our distribution and virality. The icons were limited to 90 x 90px by facebook, and now most potential users wouldn't even see the posts.
FACEBOOK WALL V.2
With the new facebook timeline, we had the opportunity to fill up massive amounts of pixel space by posting photos (our illustrated cards). Our consistent branding and pixel reality on a user's wall was much more effective at drawing attention than on V.1.
This second version of giftiki was a drastic departure from the original concept and hypothesis. We decided to move fast and see if we could make it work.
The tech was impressive and the interaction was fun. We saw a gratifying uptick in metrics after removing social authentication, introducing an interactive product on the
landing page, removing emphasis on money gifts, and a few other departures from our first iteration. But not good enough.
CELEBRITIES & MARKETING
WORKING WITH CELEBRITIES
In the modern state of startups, most of the risk isn't with product, it is with distribution (Dave McClure agrees).
Giftiki from the start had a goal of testing the celebrity distribution channel and in the end, we learned quite a bit. These influencers can drive interesting programs and massive traffic, but you can't just plug in a celebrity and expect things to work out. We found that it was important to work directly with the celebrity. If they were interested in the product, then the chance of success with that celebrity is much greater.
MC HAMMER ROCKS
Hammer was both a friend and advisor to Giftiki, participating in board meetings and afternoon brainstorm sessions. He was very helpful advising on how to work with other celebrities.
One of the early partnerships Giftiki struck was with Pretty Lights with a unique and creative promotion that combined the artist, his North American tour and his millions of fans & followers.
Too much, too fast
Unfortunately, because the promotion coincided with our initIal launch, it proved to be too difficult to pull off for both teams and the promotion was killed.
SOFIA VERGARA &
We pitched a new concept to celebrities that got great reception. Turn a celebrity birthday into a way to both appear philanthropic and engage with their fans. We had our choice of many celebrities to kick this off with, but chose everyone's favorite, Sofia Vergara, for her 40th birthday.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA
What is more american than Stephen Colbert & the American Cancer Society? Before signing with Sofia, we thought about turning the 4th of July into a Birthday for America with Colbert & ACS receiving the 'gifts' on behalf of the USA.
BETTER TOGETHER DECENTRALIZED DANCE PARTY
WHAT IS A DECENTRALIZED DANCE PARTY?
Tom & Gary
created a mobile party and called it a DDP. With an FM transmitter strapped to his back, and glowing septre, Tom leads an army of youth, with 100's of boomboxes tuned to the same station, on a dancing escapade through a city's streets.
SXSW is an epic stage for any startup to make a splash. We decided that we weren't going to do anything unless it was novel, and it was huge. Scott, our front-end friend, originally learned about the DDP late 2011, and attended the SF edition to get a feel for it. We made friends with the Canadian creators, and started scheming.
HOW WE FUNDED IT
We released MyWant in conjunction with our SXSW DDP. We had the idea, teamed up with our friends at Kiip
, created a special site, and began taking donations from the DDP community. We then offered small startups in the community an opportunity to brand the event with us for a $75 donation, after all, it was the "BETTER TOGETHER DDP." We funded 75% of the event through our new feature, MyWant.
It was nothing short of epic. By the time we had reached 6th street in Austin, about 2 hours into our roming dance party, we had amassed over 500 people. 6th street Austin is packed to the brim with bars and people, expecially over SXSW. When our mobile dance party hit the street, the bars emptied and we flooded the entire area. We must have had over 3,000 people dancing in the streets at one point. Total success.
Crowdsurfing on 6th Street
Scott brought a surf board and literally went "crowd-surfing." Watch the video.
At the end of the day, giftiki was a product meant to bring joy into the lives of its users. It was a product for friends to come together and celebrate one another. Friendship is indeed the greatest gift of all. Any company with a mission like that is one we're happy to dedicate our time to. One of the greatest joys of giftiki, for we the creators, was the culture we fostered. We worked hard and produced great work while cultivating strong bonds amongst each other, and in our community. If you've made it this far, thanks for reading. It truly was "better together."
look into my eyes