As the busy Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Choxi in New York City, Vishal Agarwal has little time to dilly dally. After one rushed restaurant lunch in 2015, he asked himself a basic question... Why should it take anyone 5 to 7 minutes just to pay for a meal?
Checkmate’s objective is to make the dining experience of diners more efficient and enriching. Today there are multiple inefficiencies in the dining experience and we are looking to eliminate those.www.lorem.com
Vishal found himself racking his brain over easier ways for diners to pay without cash or credit cards trading hands. Uber provided a model he liked. Riders pretty much paid for their rides just by leaving a cab. Similarly, restaurant diners should enjoy a meal, split the check with any companions and then simply walk out.
Finding no apps that already solved the payment issue, Vishal sought out a product designer to lay the foundation for Checkmate, his new passion project. Besides streamlining payment using a smartphone, Vishal envisioned an app that provided rich menus with tempting food images. That way, diners could pre-order to avoid a wait before the meal as well as after.
But as Vishal’s ideas ballooned, so did the app’s complexity. The last thing he wanted on his hands was an over-budget project that lagged on for months.
“Finding an expert was one thing,” says Vishal, “but I also wanted to build a team that communicated well, that had a good attitude.”
Besides that, he needed product and technical insights and the ability to get a lot done with a few people fast. Vishal put together a requirements document. He then began looking for someone to provide interactions design and wireframing of the entire end-to-end mobile experience. Following that, he planned to hand the project off to a larger agency for visual design and branding.
After interviewing several UX / UI designers, Vishal happily signed on with AMP.build. The challenge to create a smooth, unhurried payment experience for diners was on!
Lead by Chad Alderson, the AMP.build team read the requirements document to get their head wrapped around Vishal’s ideas for Checkmate. For example, just a very simple feature like split pay opt-in would require huge amounts of brainstorming and user testing. Vishal was surprised by the lengths AMP.build went to in order to get a complete picture of the project’s scope.
“Chad actually came to New York to talk,” says Vishal. “We spent a whole day session brainstorming in person. And a lot of the ideas were in my head, but working with Chad helped me get a clear grip on them.”
Chad began to flesh out the requirements with Vishal using mind maps – diagrams he uses to help organize information. Vishal felt fired up as he poured out his ideas. Soon images, words and phrases lit up the pages. These wouldn’t just provide a direction for AMP.build to develop the UX. They would deliver valuable insights to anyone else who’d come onboard the project and enable them to ramp up quickly.
Chad describes mind maps as a kind of latticework for the entire project. Of the process he says,
“It’s really interesting to discuss abstract ideas and then visualize them in an exploded-view diagram where you can see the entire project scope and get a sense of its impact.”
Chad translated the Checkmate mind maps into UI workflows and instructions for app builders to follow. He explains, “You can mind map anything from the business model, technical details, third-party integration, and hosting and product features. You can mind map all the marketing and user roles within the application. We use Coggle.it for Mind Mapping - it’s a great tool we use to work closely with the client - on or off-site.”
Chad then jumped into the UX. Following the mind map, he began creating the wireframes. Then, using InVision software, he turned static designs into clickable, interactive prototypes. AMP.build got everyone who was involved in the next phase of the project up to speed. “Chad made sure we organized everything!” says Vishal.
After AMP.build wrapped up the 1.0 UX, the excited Vishal confidently passed the project to Checkmate’s expanded design and build team - a combination of the fine folks at http://sfcd.com and a crack-team of engineers that Vishal recruited.
The newly launched Checkmate pleases restaurant diners, owners and managers alike. Diners create a personal profile in the app and connect a payment method with just a couple of clicks. Now they can enjoy their food, the ambience, company and conversation without the wait. They save even more time by pre-ordering meals on their smartphones. Once they check in, the waiter simply connects their profile to their table. When app users finish eating, presto! Checkmate automatically pays the bill and emails them a receipt.
Restaurant managers can improve customer service as Checkmate frees up busy wait-staff. Now they spend less time splitting checks and tallying bills and more time with their customers. The app even helps put an end to credit card abuse.
Thanks to AMP.build and others on Vishal’s team, Checkmate users save around seven minutes as they split and pay their tabs.
“And they hardly know that they’re using Checkmate,” says Vishal, gleefully. “It's making lives very efficient, and we're all looking for efficiency, right?” Indeed, you could say that for one busy exec snatching those few extra minutes has made a world of difference!
Indeed, you could say that for one busy exec snatching those few extra minutes has made a world of difference!