How we designed a mobile app to empower and educate employees to become better brand ambassadors
Ramy El-Refai | Emily Reagan | AJ Seiden
Time frame
4 week-long sprints
Sketch | Marvel | InVision
UX Designer
Key Deliverables
Research Plan | User personas | Wireframes | Interactive prototype

Our challenge

Constellation Brands (CBI) is a Fortune 500 beverage alcohol company with over 8000 employees serving over 100 brands to more than 9 million customers. We partnered with their Digital Innovation team to help them to redesign and improve upon their existing Ambassador App, an internal application created to empower their employees to act like an owner. CBI employees should be able and excited to support their accounts, enjoy their brands, and act as brand ambassadors - and would use the Ambassador app to do so.

The App as it currently existed was an MVP, built on the design of an existing sales application. It functioned as a portfolio- and accounts-focused mobile app with a map interface showing accounts that sell CBI products, with a directions feature and a rudimentary filtering system. CBI tasked us to conduct user research to learn what else this app could do, keeping in mind that the user base of the original sales application (the sales team) was radically different than the user base of the Ambassador App (all CBI employees), and to design screens and interactions to reflect this research.

Understanding CBI and the market

To begin our research, we did some domain research on the beverage alcohol industry and had an initial meeting with our stakeholders. Here, we heard that CBI wanted to focus on two key user groups:


Young professionals - employees at the beginning of their careers who go out to bars and restaurants often


Directors and above - seasoned employees who travel for work and expense their meals
CBI also wanted to make sure we knew that there are two separate scenarios for employees using the Ambassador app to consider:


On Premise - locating venues where customers consume the products on premise, such as bars and restaurants


Off Premise- locating venues where customers purchase products and then takes them to consume off premise, like grocery and liquor stores
We took a look at competitors (such as Yelp, UnTappd, and Distiller) in order to learn about digital products that CBI employees might use as alternatives to the Ambassador App to meet their needs. As a result of this competitive analysis, we believe the app needs to have an element of discoverability, a complex search and filter system, detailed product information and aspects of community-building.

Understanding the users

The users of the Ambassador app are exclusively employees, so we talked to employees who fit into the two user groups our stakeholders talked about - young professionals and directors and above. We spoke to them to learn about CBI employees' interactions with and knowledge of CBI products, learn about their social and technological behaviors, and discover how these users were currently using (or not using) the Ambassador App.
My team came away from user interviews with lots of information, so we pulled out insights on post-its and did an affinity mapping session to synthesize the big takeaways.
After talking with users, we came out with these top-level insights:
I know our beers well because I work at Ballast Point, but I don’t know much about the rest of CBI products, like our wines and spirits.

Defining the problem

From users, we found that the biggest barrier for employees to become brand ambassadors was lack of education: on the products in the company's portfolio, but also on the resources that already existed for them to self-educate.

This led to our problem statement:

Engaged Constellation Brands employees need a way to access comprehensive, updated information on all CBI products in the company's portfolio to become educated members of the CBI community.

To keep our users in mind at every step of our process, we created four design principles to guide the design:
The app should provide opportunities for each employee to connect with each other and the larger CBI brand. It should explain products and content thoroughly, so that each employee feels confident in their knowledge of all brands. The app should surprise and delight users with newfound experiences and inspirations. It should encourage exploration. And the design should allow for a tailored experience that can be as specific or extensive as the user needs.

Developing & testing concepts

At this point, we ideated and sketched possible solutions to our underlying problem. After our ideation sessions, we had three clear concepts to test:

"The Directory"

Our first concept addressed the need for education: a tool that inspires users to self-educate about new and current products through a mobile, location-based directory of CBI’s brands.

"The Reward"

Our second concept addressed the lack of education with a twist - a system to incentivize users. "The Reward" is a tool that provides rewards to CBI employees for engaging with the brand/products.

"The Social"

We came up with the third concept to tackle the education problem as well as the need for a community and sense of connection - a social network for employees to connect with each other about CBI products and the places that sell them.
We used Marvel to turn our sketches into clickable paper prototypes and tested these three concepts with users. Coming out of testing, we synthesized all the information and boiled it down into these top insights:
The map is where I would go first - I need to know what's available

Combining our concepts

Based on our user feedback, we took our three concepts and turned them into one.

Moving forward we wanted to build a product that was mostly an educational directory tool focused on the map and product information that was supplemented by bits of the reward system and social network.

Confirming our direction

We had a hypothesis that an integrated reward system may be off-putting to our older user base (the directors and above) who weren't as familiar with social apps such as UnTappd. In order to test this theory, we did one more round of concept testing.

"The Core"

This concept served as our control - a tool that inspires users to self-educate about new and current products through a mobile, location-based directory of CBI's brands.

Because we discovered the most important parts of this app needed to be the map and the product pages, we focused our efforts on these pages.

You can see here we worked on both a Map and List View, a filtering system, and pop up information for venues. We also broke down products into sections that are scrollable to browse from left to right. Sections include Wines, Beer, Spirits and Seasonal.

"The Incentive"

On top of our core idea we built out another version called ‘the incentive’. This concept is everything that is in the core idea with a bit of added functionality.

This is an educational tool for CBI employees that encourages exploration through friendly competition, using product check-ins and badges.

You can see the functionality we added here. This features a way to check in when you’re in a venue page as well as a way to receive badges as a reward for logging visits and products.
We turned our wireframes into a clickable prototype using Invision to test with users. In testing these prototypes with users, we learned:
Checking in would make me keep opening the app if I were out.

Addressing user needs

Because the check-ins worked to motivate people to use the app, we decided to move forward with our “incentive” concept. We were pleasantly surprised to find that even with our older user base, the concept with the additional incentive functionality tested better.

We did learn that users would be more likely to engage with the check-ins if they were easily accessible, so we knew we needed to refine the check-in process to be as seamless as possible. And we had to address a few usability issues - for example, users wished they didn’t have to click around on each pinpoint to see the name of the venue on the map, and they had a hard time applying filters.

Our final design

Map and filtering

The home page is the map - this is the reason people come to use the app, and so it should be the first thing users see. We added labels to each map pinpoint, so users don’t have to click around for that info.

We also focused on making a more advanced and comprehensive filtering system - you can filter by premise, type of alcohol, or can specify the search to look for certain products, so the experience is as broad or specific as the user needs. This filter is one of the areas we worked on since our last round of testing to address usability issues.

Discovery and product info

In our concepting and testing, we learned that the other core function of the app was product information. Since it is the other core function of the app, we decided it should receive second priority in the bottom navigation. Users can also discover new products and learn about them through the Featured section.

The “New Products” section of the Featured page encourages new product discovery through recommendations and news articles, and a product page, here for Prisoner Wine, houses specific product information, from cuttings to tasting notes to blend.

Check-in and badges

And, of course, we refined the check-in process - the incentive to get people to use the app - to make it and integrated as possible.

We added the ability to check in as soon as users tap on a pinpoint on the home page map - a preview of the venue page slides up with a big check-In button. This way, the check-in process is integrated as part of the user's quest for venue information. Here you can see an example of a user who checks in and earns a badge for doing so.

Our outcomes

We did another round of usability testing with this final design. This time, we tested specifically using metrics to find how users rated the app in terms of education, discovery, and community. We found the following:
It's a nice way to actually have the ability to learn about our products at our fingertips.
We delivered a final design that solved for our underlying problem of increasing employee education, while also giving users an incentive to use the app and fostering community within the Constellation Brands company.

We brought our research and solutions to our stakeholders, who told us our user insights and feedback gave them a lot of "a-ha" moments. They had a few questions about keeping the Featured section evergreen, but otherwise let us know our suggestions were realistic to implement and, like us, they were pleasantly surprised how well the check-ins and badges tested to incentive users.

Moving forward

Given our short time frame, there were some opportunities we weren't able to explore. We recommended a few things to our clients for the future of the product.

In our final round of usability testing, users had some trouble finding and clicking on the "Apply" Button in the filter during our testing, so we recommend increasing the size or prominence of this button. Users also expressed some concerns about the map getting too busy when zoomed out to see a bigger area, so we suggest that when the map is zoomed out and lots of venues show up, to group the pinpoints together and label them with the number of nearby venues.

Some users mentioned that although they liked the 'New Products' section on the Discovery page, they wouldn't know when to check for new items, so we recommend including notifications for when new products are released or added to the app. During our interviews, we heard a bit about CBI's employee reimbursement program for buying CBI products. We suggest connecting the Ambassador app to the Concur software that CBI employees use to upload their receipts for reimbursement, in order to make the user experience even more circular and unified.