Birthday Treasure Hunt – Do You Know Your Audience?

(At the end of this article, I will discuss UX takeaways from this experience. You may scroll all the way to the bottom to view them. But, context and scenario are important to UX,  I recommend you read the story first. ^_^)

It’s that time of the year – hubby’s birthday 😀

It has always been a bit difficult to find a gift for Elvis. Usually, he buys himself things he needs or likes, and he is very particular about brands. I have to spend extra thoughts into what kind of birthday to give him, not just what kind of gift, but what kind of birthday experience.

I know my audience cares about “attention” and “delightful” atmosphere, and I know he LOVES Coca-Cola and strawberry (first time I learned about the strawberry I was so amused by it – a big guy who likes something cute, pink, and strawberry? haha). So this year, I have to get a b-day experience with several elements included:

  1. Customization
  2. Brand name (Coca-Cola)
  3. Strawberry
  4. Game (surprise + attention + delightful)

The game idea came as recently I’ve been playing some escape room games. It gave me the idea of “treasure hunt,” something I used to play in art class during my childhood. To make the “surprise” work, of course, I had to pretend that I forgot about Elvis’ birthday.

My acting did work. Hubby couldn’t wait and sent me this photo while at work (Translation: psst, it’s my birthday tomorrow). He also mentioned “I should have sent this to you yesterday~”

And I kept playing dumb, while baking a strawberry cake and designing these tags ready for the treasure hunt set up:

Based on Elvis’ daily behavior, I know the first thing he does back home is going to the bathroom and back to the kitchen, check if there’s something to drink. Here’s my opportunity to hide the first treasure and start the surprise HB’s Birthday Treasure Hunt.

But today, around 6:00, my audience texted me “wanna go play some video games and see a movie tonight? I get free large popcorn and also a $10 b-day reward from D&B.” I was a bit unprepared for this arrangement, but to be a good actress, I had to play along…

We then went for several games at D&B (see, I’m right about “game”), and then saw Baby Driver (interestingly Debora was the gf’s name :p). It was about 10:30pm when we got home, and I just realized, my audience’s daily routine changes based on the time in a day. Usually, around this time, the first thing Elvis would do is to go to the closet and get ready for a shower.

“OMG!! There’s a treasure hiding in the closet!!” I then “gently” called my husband (no yelling on birthdays :p ) to the kitchen to grab something from the fridge for me (still trying to play along so he wouldn’t notice anything weird), and it was where the treasure hunt started!



Everything eventually went pretty well 😀 We also discovered that Alexa can sing the happy birthday song, pretty impressive!

We ate up all the strawberry cake, helped Coca-cola do a free brand exposure with b-day images on Facebook, and created a memory we could talk about 10 years later – mission accomplished! For both Elvis and Debra 🙂

UX things I learned through this experience:
As a UX designer, how can I leave this story ends without mentioning some takeaways :p Here’s several things I’ve discovered about UX from this  b-day experience arrangement:

  1. User’s behavior changes based on the time in a day
  2. When you want to create the positive user experience,  make things easy for users so they can benefit from your design without making extra efforts.
  3. Need to know your audience well, down to individual preferences under various possible scenarios. When something goes wrong, you will have the chance to fix it based on your understanding of your audience – Big data is important.
  4. Play along with your audience. Then they’ll be happy to be part of your plan 🙂

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