Pokémon GO

Context: My friend and I both enjoyed the game Pokémon GO when it first came out, but at the same time, we recognized that user experience of the game could be much improved.

Team: Alison Pong

My Role: User Research, Data Synthesis, Wireframing, Usability Testing, Future Proposals

Duration: 10 days

Tools: Axure RP, POP, Photoshop, Illustrator, PowerPoint


Define the problem


Current app is unable to effectively teach its players how-to-play the game

Based on our user research, we learned that the game attracts a large base of veteran gamers who have extensive knowledge of Pokémon from their past experiences, as well as new players who have little to no knowledge of the Pokémon stories. They have different motivations and goals for Pokémon GO. Nevertheless, these users have one frustration in common: they often find themselves getting lost in the game, especially when they first start playing.

How do we give users the right amount of control without reducing the elements of surprise? 

It is critical for us to find a balance such that the newly designed experience caters to both novice and expert users.


Our Design (UX wireframes)


Learn as you play

Based on our user research, the current onboarding is missing critical information and at the same time not engaging for the users.  Therefore, users tend to skip the onboarding. As a result, they get confused later when they play the game. 

In our redesign, the game only presents users with information they need when they choose to explore a certain feature. By embedding the information into game tasks, we give users more incentives to receive the knowledge while they play.


Not just pure luck

We learned that collecting Pokémon is the biggest goal for most of the users. By introducing navigation arrow and distance footprint, users have more control over finding Pokémon.


Streamline Pokémon transfer

Same kind of Pokémon are grouped together for easy access, comparison and transferring. In this way, we avoid the frustrating and redundant steps that users have to take in the current game. 


Catered to user needs

Based on our understanding of users and observations of their behavior during the testing, we divided Pokédex into the categories of all, caught and seen as users naturally desired. We also included the type chart for competitive players.  


Clues and hints

Wandering cluelessly can be frustrating sometimes, especially for competitive players. By introducing area hint for users to find certain types of Pokémon, users gain a sense of control.




Define the problem

When we first started the project, we spent extensive time on secondary research. Our goal was to understand user's motivations for playing Pokémon GO. We reviewed a large number of user's comments about the game on platforms such as Reddit. We then categorized the findings into six main areas.


Identifying user's pain points & design focus

With the information we got from secondary research, we had a rough idea of the game's user groups: casual player and competitive player. In order to further understand users' motivations and pain points with the current game, we conducted interviews with users from each group.

We then consolidated all the research data with the help of Affinity Diagram, and identified 4 key issues that we would address in our design. We decided to redesign the game into one that provides users with fun and digestible onboarding tutorial, intuitive navigation, and cues to discover Pokémon.


Walking through each task

Before jumping into designing, we created user flows of the mains tasks in order to step into user's shoes and have a clear picture of what needs to be included in the design. 



We first studied the current game thoroughly and pinpointed the problems. Based on our findings and users' feedback, we made 3 iterations of the prototype. We started with sketches on paper first to quickly visualize our ideas, then we turned the sketches into clickable wireframes with the help of the prototyping tool POP. Visual elements such as color were kept as minimal because our goal was to understand the users' behavior with the design.


Going back to users

After we had an interactive prototype, we immediately went back to the users for usability testing. We also included a survey to investigate users' approval rates. Based on the analysis, users' feedback was positive.


Mapping design focus in the next iteration

We mapped our findings from usability testing onto an Achievability Matrix based on the impact and ease of implementation of these features. This activity helped us to identify areas to improve on for the next iteration.

In a long term, we would suggest the business to adopt more features for competitive players because at the end of the day, they are the ones who are more likely to bring in revenue from in-app purchases.