ShipShape by United States Postal Service

Augmented Reality Mobile App

The United States Postal Service (USPS) designed an augmented reality app for customers who wanted to measure the item(s)-to-be-shipped and order the appropriate sized flat-rate shipping box.


Project Summary

  1. The United States Postal Service was preparing to launch an augmented reality app designed to use a popular 3D measuring technology to measure item(s)-to-be-shipped and recommend the appropriate-sized USPS Flat Rate Box for the item(s). Prior to launching the app, USPS wanted to perform a usability test to identify and mitigate issues that generated significant user pain points, as determined by app store reviews.

  2. I was responsible for creating a testing plan that would identify pain points in the app and, based on these insights, provide recommendations for feature improvements that would result in greater user satisfaction, as measured by user reviews in the app store.

  3. Lead Usability Researcher responsible for writing a usability research plan, communicating the plan among stakeholders for approval, performing the usability study, and identifying patterns and insights from the resulting data.

The Problem

Using AR to reach customers

The United States Postal Service’s new AR app introduced an innovative new way to help customer’s plan their shipping needs. By allowing the customer to use measuring AR technology to predict and order a box for to participate in the USPS Flat Rate shipping program, the postal service could reduce in-store visits while making it easy to access the Flat Rate boxes required for the program.

Our Approach

Creating a detailed research plan

Using an existing prototype of the app, I wrote a moderated usability research plan designed to simulate measuring scenarios onbehalf of real customers. The research plan addressed the recruitment demographics, three distinct areas of measurement, a moderator’s script, and a template for note-taking and real time coding.

I divided the research tests into three phases, based on the app’s flow, from on-boarding, to measuring an item, to ordering Flat-rate boxes. Each phase identified a research goal specific to that phase, tasks to be completed by the participant, success criteria for the tasks and what we/the researchers would be looking and listening for. This allowed us to set up a tightly moderated test that would yield insights most helpful for the client feedback we were seeking.

Our Approach

Gathering the research data

We held a series of five tests at MRM//McCann’s New York office and Princeton, NJ office. During each test, we presented a different combination of items to ship and surfaces on which to measure the items. We had an assigned moderator and an assigned note-taker. All tests were recorded and shared with additional stakeholders.


Our Solution

Looking for Patterns

I modified an existing note-taking template to assist with rapid coding at the conclusion of the testing sessions. Using this coding system, we were able to quickly identify patterns and compare these patterns with our metrics and success criteria, helping us to align the patterns with specific areas of client interest.


of users struggled to set the dimensions using the on-screen bounding box.

"I don’t see where we’re actually measuring height. It says drag these down, but they don’t move."


of users expected the box recommendation to carry-over from the app to checkout.

"HOPEFULLY it will take me to the right sized box. That's important. That's absolutely important."


of users wanted more information about the experience during the on-boarding module.

“It’s not clear to me from the instructions… how will the box will arrive at my home?”

Our Solution

Uncovering Areas of Friction

We identified 13 potential frictions across each of the three phases of the app. We also included an overview of how each tested phase matched the success criteria that we established at the beginning of the test.

1. No way to return to on-boarding

2. Launching directly into AR can be disorienting

3. Want access to more info upfront

4. Tips/controls don’t reorient with user

5. Confused how to “View from side”

6. No warning when over measuring

7. Can’t easily manipulate dimensions

8. Forgot which box was recommended

9. Frustrated with 10 or 25 box options

10. Forgot how to return to app

11. The specific address validation requirements created confusion

12. Wanted more information with confirmation