Connecting boba lovers together

In my first hackathon, I partnered with two of my classmates to streamline the boba purchasing experience and inspire a stronger community of boba lovers. In twenty-four hours, I interviewed hackathon participants, conducted competitive analysis of popular applications, created a medium-fidelity prototype in Figma, and exhibited our solution to a panel of judges in an award-winning pitch.


Step 1: Understanding the Perception of Boba

Due to the limited timeline of this project, we decided to limit our target demographic to young adults. Thus, to discover how other customers interact with their boba, we sent out a Google Forms survey and gathered over 184 responses from other StarterHacks participants, classmates, and friends.

Have you had bubble tea in the last 3 days?


Do you like trying new flavours of bubble tea?


Has a long line every deterred you from buying bubble tea?


Have you ever posted about bubble tea on social media?


Step 2: Four Key Desires

From this data, our team quickly synthesized these results into three ways our solution could improve the boba discovery, buying, and sharing experience for young adults. In addition, we also ensured to consider the business needs of the boba shops as we progressed through the design.

Step 3: Identifying the Strengths of Current Solutions

Now that we had a basic understanding of how young adults wanted to interact with their boba, it was time to research how current popular applications served these needs! For competitive analysis, I decided to investigate Instagram's discovery and sharing features and Uber Eats' approach to ordering and marketing.

Sketching the Service

It was time to start planning out the user interfaces, information architecture, and user flow of our mobile application!

Prototyping the Platform

From this, we were able to transition these concepts and ideas into visual elements within a medium-fidelity Figma prototype!

Personalizing a Homepage

When designing Boba Buds' homepage, we wanted to focus on fostering community and collaboration.

  • simple call-to-action buttons to prompt user interactions such as saving their favourite drinks and reviews for later reference

  • a compact card display of the creator's information, caption, picture, and location to minimize the effort needed to view new content.

Inspiring Drink Discovery

Boba Buds' search page was all about inspiring the discovery of other users and their drinks.

  • a condensed grid display to maximize the amount of visually-appealing content available for the user to select
  • filtering options such as 'New' and 'Controversial' which enable increased exploration based on the user's preferences

Crafting a Customization Experience

The goal of Boba Buds' order page was to motivate users to conveniently express and share their creativity through their drinks.

  • filtering options based on rating, wait times, and distance to provide users full control over their purchases
  • amusing and interactive customization graphics to spark moments of delight in the customer's ordering experience
  • a clear 'review your details' page to encourage users to share their refreshing recipes with their friends and followers

Designing the Transaction Tab

When designing Boba Buds' transactions tab, our team sought to minimize the stress and anxiety associated with payment and waiting for one's order.

  • a top navigation bar to allow users to efficiently switch between viewing the past or present orders
  • visual summaries which quickly present the order's name, number, location, and details in an easy-to-scan format to the user

Presenting the Profile

Our team designed Boba Buds' profile page with the objective of empowering the user to personalize their posts and view their favourite locations, drinks, and reviews.

  • simple card layouts that visually group and showcase digestible portions of information to expedite the user's browsing process
  • distinct typography and headings to facilitate the user's tracking of their followers, who they follow, and the number of posts they have made

Hard Work Pays Off

After a challenging twenty-four hours of ideating, researching, sketching, planning, designing, and pitching, it was time to view the results!

Our team had won Best Pitch out of over a thousand hackers! After the event, Patrick Icasas, the marketing manager of and one of the adjudicators, made this statement:

Your pitch really did wow me as a judge! Your team impressed me by how thorough and comprehensive your research was, the well-conceptualized prototype, and even down to the actual app design looked ready for prime time.

Learning and Growing, One Project at a Time

Whether it be the insightful mentors, camaraderie built between hackers, or the elation of winning Best Pitch, this first personal experience of a hackathon has been nothing less of amazing.

However, my process and designs are still far from perfect. As I believe it is always important to analyze one's own performance, here are my three areas of future improvement:


Set a schedule

While illustrating bubble tea at 3 in the morning is a memorable experience, it is also a very exhausting one. By setting a schedule of deadlines to finish certain steps of the process, I can minimize future stress.


Challenge my assumptions

I consider myself to be a bit of a boba expert (lots of hands-on experience!). However, after conducting user research, I realized that most of my assumptions about the problem space were incorrect. Thus, no matter how familiar I am with the subject material, I must always resort to evidence as the foundation of my decisions.


Be unafraid to have fun

When we chose bubble tea as our problem space, I was hesitant that the topic's childishness would ruin our chances of succeeding. After such a rewarding experience, I have realized that with enough passion and enjoyment within the design process, any project can be successful.