Unestablished and Unpolished: Our Experience Collaborating in a Pandemic

Published January 31, 2022


Yave has re-imagined the brand recognition and buying experience that consumers have when they purchase from independently owned shops.

Initially built for independent coffee brands, Scott Tupper, Founder & CEO of Yave, built Yave with a mission to humanize commodity chains and to support supply chain traceability. With 2020’s COVID-19 restrictions, mobile technology and e-commerce were forced upon the brick and mortar world, leaving many retailers scrambling to digitize with generic online ordering apps. Yave’s founders saw the opportunity to pivot their product to support small businesses by creating a solution that not only ensures contactless payment is kept in place but builds brand affinity by giving customers a deeper look into a brand purpose and backstory.

We partnered with Yave to help design their MVP. Our goal was to verify their initial vision for an order-ahead app and put it into customers’ hands quickly. While our tried and true process for gathering user insights was met with collaboration roadblocks due to COVID’s physical distancing restrictions, we were still able to turn the initial concept into a successful MVP wireframe design within six weeks.

Here’s how we did it.

The Challenges

As it often goes with scrappy start-ups, our project with Yave was constrained on time and budget. Pair that with the COVID restrictions, our team had to nail the solution the first time around while also learning to work together remotely.

Our team was certainly humbled by this first run at through-screen collaboration. Using a process that we had created for in-person collaboration required making adjustments on the fly. Small things like not sharing instantaneous notes became delayed. Having no whiteboards to draw on while throwing ideas at one another slowed down our brainstorming and made discussions that were once effortlessly proactive and efficient quite tricky.

But while this new way of collaborating required more time and diligence, the Yave team took it in stride. Not only did they embrace this unestablished and unpolished way of collaborating, but they also dove headfirst into conducting user research on their end. This led to unlocking key insights that ended up flipping one of our initial features on its head.

Scrappy start-up indeed.

Quick research led to a big unlock

As with all products we help create, our focus with Yave was to make sure that the solution we designed is in line with what end-consumers need in a way that is intuitive for them to use.

Yave had come to us with an idea for how they saw their user’s journey. Given our limited time and budget, we narrowed the scope of user research to look at the crux of the entire app: the QR code used for payment. We had initial concerns over the code’s placement in the user journey and after meeting with users, our concerns were validated.

Originally, Yave had envisioned the QR code belonging to the point of sale operator and being scanned by the consumer. We thought this went against the ordering experience that users were already familiar with and, in turn, would be confusing and cause hold-ups in the point of sale process.

This led to a nerve-racking moment when we had to go back to the Yave team and tell them we didn’t think their vision would work based on our initial customer interviews.

We expressed that their initial design was flawed and would lead to holdups in the purchase line. Luckily, Yave trusted us and our research. This opened the door to try an alternative idea based on an earlier challenge the Yave team had explored by which the merchant scans a customer’s digital wallet for payment. Yave came up with the idea that the customer’s card on file could be represented as a QR code that the merchant could scan and attach to an order so a full digital wallet wouldn’t be needed.

Yave pitched this idea to us and we loved it. We agreed to move forward with a wireframe that put the QR code in the hands of the customer and not in the hands of the sales operator like originally envisioned.

“Sixzero’s research was instrumental in convincing us to go with our earlier concept”


Dan Carlson, co-Founder & CTO of Yave.

To meet our tight budget and deadline, we used existing patterns to develop the QR concept, speed up the design process, and make the experience immediately familiar to users.

Looking back, had we not gone ahead with challenging Yave’s assumptions, the app might not have been instantly intuitive when placed in the hands of users. And that would have annihilated the project’s timeline and budget.

Research and collaboration: A match made in heaven

Our success in overcoming our setbacks came down to the trust we initially established with Yave. Because we were limited on time and resources, we knew there was no room for mistakes - we literally couldn’t afford it.

Therefore, we decided to get Yave started with facilitating user research and coached them on how to conduct customer interviews before we even signed a contract.

And it worked.

Yave gathered insights from potential end-users at their “test lab”, Onda Origins Café & Roastery in Seattle. This set us up to hit the ground running the minute we made the design partnership official.

Example of the Yave payment interface

The Result

The concept behind Yave, to support small businesses and spread global impact, is one that we were eager to rally behind. We genuinely cared that their vision for this app was a success, which is why we ensured there was an emphasis on user research as not just a one-time thing.

When we reflected with Nicola Claxton, co-founder and COO of Yave on the outcomes of their MVP development she said: “the surprise was never that our process and solution worked, but that no one else is doing it. We were able to submit a patent application for what we know is a solution that poses real value for our customers.”

For more information on Yave, visit their website.

Nick Foster is the founder of Sixzero, an agency that helps companies design apps and software with impact.

Illustration by: Muti, Folio Art