Reflecting the real world within a digital gifting service

NBC engaged Poke to help them create an MVP for a digital film gifting service. We were asked to bring the service to life and provide value to the customer that was beyond functionality.

To goal was to create a gifting experience that was personalised and memorable for both the Gifter and Recipient,
through choosing and customising
 a gift, into the moment of ‘unwrapping’ in a digital space.

Understanding gift-giving behaviours

My research surfaced this model of gift-giving behaviour (from Gift Giving in Anthropological Perspective – John F Sherry Jr). This gave us a particularly strong understanding of the act of gifting. Our stages of gifting within the application would be based around this model.

Gift model

Our client had provided us with their own research, which we supplemented with additional surveys, to get a deeper understanding into gift giving acts. We were able to see that gifting falls into predominantly temporal moments, often around seasonal events.

Our research also gave us some understanding of the choosing process. Gifts were very much being picked based on the recipient and their characteristics.

Gift survey results

Gift survey

Focusing our insights

Using the insights and data we had gathered, we created a set of proto-personas to help guide our thinking. These correlated with the broader research around gifting that our strategists had discovered.


As preparation for an Experience mapping exercise, I wanted to highlight the emotional aspect of gift giving. At first, I planned on framing the mapping around ‘Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions’, but this proved too complex for our needs.

I used the wheel as a base for a set of Emoji emotion stickers that we would use on the map to highlight emotions throughout a gift giving journey.

Emotions wheel and Emoji

I ran the Experience mapping exercise with a large group of clients, creating the journeys for each of our personas. This enabled everyone to align around the problems and pain-points that the user would be experiencing.

The maps tracked both the giver and the recipient journeys, to ensure the key emotional points of the experience would be captured.

Experience map exercise

Large scale Experience maps were created, printed and hung on our walls for constant reminders and reference.

Experience map

Structuring the experience around journeys and flows

The maps would provide the base for our journeys and flows. The giver and recipient flows were fully developed with an IA that sat around ‘the Gift’ with the choosing, personalisation and ‘Unwrapping’ experience.

NBC Flows

I used content flows to visualise the required content structure of each page and their relationships across the experience.

Content flows

Value in personalisation

The act of wrapping is a key part of the real world gift giving process. Our aim was to provide an experience that enabled this moment, allowing givers to personalise their gift and therefore have effort and intrinsic value placed onto the gift, beyond the real value.

We prototyped and continually tested iterative versions to optimise the experience.

Unwrap concept

We knew from the gift-giving model that as soon as a recipient receives their gift, they then switch sides of the model and become the prospective gift giver.

The service would harness this moment and provide an opportunity to start using the service themselves from a gift giving perspective.

Re-engagement models

User testing variants

We had several options to enhance the experience and make it easier for Gifters to choose a title. As our ideas didn’t match anything already in the market, we decided to user test prototypes.

These proved to not be successful, with users struggling to understand the need for something they couldn’t quite understand. Testing and failing early saved valuable time.

Choose a gift – Variant A

Choose a gift – Variant B

NBC Variant testing

We also needed to test messaging variants, so this was a great opportunity to understand what our audience would respond to. We tested messaging that would appeal at an emotional level against messaging that was more functional and described the service.

With the service being unlike traditional digital gifting, the feedback helped us identify the need to explain the service clearly.

Emotional messaging variant

Message variant A

Functional messaging variant

Message variant B


The Homepage and gift creation pages continued to go through optimisation following multiple testing rounds. Feedback was positive, but the service still needed to reflect the USP in a clearer way. Users continued to struggle with the top level concept.

56% of users didn’t understand creating a gift before picking a title. It was simply too different to existing mental models of digital gift giving.

We did receive 88% positive sentiment for the overall experience in testing, with praise for simplicity of layout and ease of understanding. Flows showed the majority of users engage with the service and start the journey as intended.

Unwrapt wasn’t developed beyond the initial MVP concept.

For Poke
Visual Design by Matt Jarvis