A personalized gift idea generator,

making gift giving quick, easy and fun


GiftBook helps gift givers find inspired, personalized gifts by analyzing public information from social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Linkedin. A word cloud based on recent posts and information can be generated for any friend to give the gift giver a quick look at that friend's recent interests. Then, the gift giver can choose one or multiple words as well as the budget to get a random gift idea!


Other Team Members 

Hanyue Hu | Jeremy Jiang | Xunrong Li |Josephine Mukesha | Yujing Tian

My Role

UX Designer: 

  • Came up with design ideas, created storyboards 
  • Developed the customer journey map
  • Wireframing & prototyping

X Researcher:

  • Conducted interviews with users
  • Conducted "speed dating" and live enactment sessions with users 

KEY Words

Mobile Service Innovation | User experience Design

May 2015 | Pittsburgh

The Need

Coming up with gift ideas can be a very time consuming and stressful task, especially around the holidays when you have to get gifts for a lot of people. According to a Time Magazine article, Americans spend an average of 14 hours Christmas shopping, and 71% of them admit that they may not like the gifts they receive.

From interviews and storyboard testing, we found that in general most people have difficulties with gift giving because they either do not have enough information about the recipient or they are having trouble coming up with a special, personal gift ideas. 

Our survey results compliment our interview results. Participants reported that the hardest part of gift giving is figuring out what to get, and everyone at one point in time or another has received a gift that they don't quite like.

Our Solution

Introducing Giftbook, a personalized gift idea generator! With only 5 steps, Giftbook is making gift giving quick, easy and fun !

1. Select a friend you want to give a gift from Facebook List, set the price range

2. A word cloud would be generated based on his/her recent Facebook posts

3. Select the words you are interested in

4. Gift ideas would be randomly drawn from our pre-designed gift idea pool using the key words selected 

5. Get a perfect idea and buy the gift!

Customer Journey Map

Value Diagram


Screen Design


Clickable Mockup


How did we get here?

As a startup group, it was not easy to come up with a seemingly promising idea. Actually it took us three months to get where we are now. We started with a huge problem space - shopping and found it extremely hard to buy gifts. After several rounds of idea - user research - pivoting, we finally got here. 


How can we improve people's gift giving experience by a mobile app?

Initial User research

Interview Findings (from 7 initial interviews)

  • Receivers are generally categorized into two groups
    • Acquaintances - the challenge is that the gift giver does not have enough information about the receiver 
    • Close friends/ family - the giver often runs out of gift ideas because the giver wants to impress the receiver 

Survey (Facebook & Reddit, 67 responses)

  • Would you mind if they trade/sold/threw away the gift that you gave to them that they didn't like?
  • Have you gotten gifts you don't like?
  • Would you mind if they trade/sold/threw away the gift that you gave to them that they didn't like?

Initial Ideas

After the initial user research, we brainstormed a list of possible ideas and confined them into the final five.

Speed Dating 

In order to test our ideas and get quick feedback from potential users, we sent out our storyboards, along with designed questions and got 15 responses.


  • Exchanging gifts is complicated - matching value of exchanged items
  • Most people have at most one wishlist - no need for aggregate wishlist
  • People prefer to just ask for feedback in person - usually consult only one or two people
  • Gift receiver does not mind if the gift is donated 
  • "Who knows your friend best" competition is the favorite 


Tough the "who knows your friends best" competition ideas generally received positive feedback, we decided to change it to our current idea because of the current problems:

  • Hard to maintain  stickiness. The quiz or the competition is fun, but more like a one-time thing. 
  • Hard to motivate users to create their own quiz. Answering others' quiz is fun to most people, but creating their own questions can be time-consuming and challenging. Festivals or special days might seem to be a good time to encourage our users to create their their own quiz. But it might limit the use of our app.


We came up with two versions of the branding and tested them out using Unbounce Pages.

Branding Version A

Branding Version B


A : 126 Unique Visitors -> 7 Conversions

B: 156 Unique Visitors -> 10 Conversions

We decided to go with version A since it has got 15% more conversions and 30 more unique visitors. 


To further get feedback on our idea, we conducted four enactments, walking our potential users through our "app". 

We got great feedback from the enactments. Here are the main changes we made to our app according to the feedback.

  • Users can select multiple key words at the same time. The combination of key words sound interesting to the users.
  • Users can save the ideas they like to a "notebook" so they can use them later.
  • Users don't like to be interrupted when they are choosing the gift ideas so we got rid of the "contributing in return" part.  

Then, we finalized our customer journey and designed our final screens.


The greatest lesson I learned from this startup experience is to bear the big picture in mind. Though as a UX designer, my task focus was still the experience design, I involved in every stage of our startup, including value proposition, branding, crowdsource campaign, etc. I came to realize the business model, technical feasibility and value propositions were so important, especially to a startup. And sometimes it was extremely reasonable to sacrifice some user' needs to fit the big picture.