Bar Key

UX | UI | Product Design | Design Research

Project Brief

The objective of this project was to create an enterprise application that makes your job easier.

Tools Used

Adobe XD, Illustrator, Photoshop, and After Effects


I’ve worked as a bartender for several years at different establishments. I knew from my own experience that staying on top of inventory and communication were problems that my previous jobs had in common. The goal I set for myself was to fix this problem with an app that helped all members of the team to be on the same page.


I created an app that would streamline efficiency and communication behind any bar by incorporating liquor ordering, inventory, and messaging all in one.

Bar Key

A liquor inventory and ordering application that introduces collaboration between bar staff to streamline efficiency behind the bar.

Not a fan of research?

Initial Problem Discovery

Due to the stocking and ordering issues I personally experienced working behind the bar, the initial problem came to me very quickly. To validate the problem, I interviewed bartenders and bar managers on my team and discovered they were experiencing the exact same frustrations.
Important Interview Quotes
My biggest frustration is not realizing we are out of an item because it wasn’t communicated.
—Bartender 1
Lack of organization and constantly running out of things makes it hard to give great service to my guests.
—Bartender 2
Ordering liquor can get tricky because we have a huge selection. Sometimes I don’t realize we’re low on something or I forget if someone tells me we need to order it.
—Bar Manager
Takeaways / Pain Points


Lack of organization regarding liquor inventory makes it hard to immediately realize when something is out of stock.


Better communication between staff members would resolve frustrations regarding what items ran out during another employee’s shift.

Running out of stock

Realizing that you’re out of an item in the middle of a shift interrupts the work flow.

Liquor ordering

Creating a better system to remember to add items to a liquor order would prevent things from running out of stock.
Problem Statement

So, what is the problem?

Running out of stock and lack of communication interrupts the flow of efficiency behind the bar.

Why does this problem matter?

Bartenders and servers in the customer service industry are expected to give great service with a smile on their face. With lack of communication and organization interrupting their work flow, especially during busy shifts, the added frustrations make it difficult to focus on giving great service to their guests.
Target Audience

Whose problem am I solving?

This was an easy one. I’m solving the problem of bartenders and bar managers with this app. I know from my interviews that staff at other establishments are experiencing the same issues I faced, so this app could be for any bar team.
Competitive Analysis

What solutions are out there already?

There are a number of liquor inventory apps on the market currently. I looked into ones like BackBar, Glimpse Inventory, Partender, Bar Patrol, and more, to see what was already being done to solve this problem, and to find out how I could improve the solution.

What do these apps do?

Tracking liquor costs

This is something I didn’t feel was critical to include in my solution because it’s already been done successfully and is not one of my users’ biggest pain points.

Placing orders

Some of these apps also allow you to place liquor orders directly through the app which streamlines inventory.

What’s missing from these apps?


Most of the apps on the market don’t provide communication amongst the whole team.


Bartenders are the ones working behind the bar everyday and have the most knowledge about what things need to be ordered more often and when items have run out.

Running out of stock

This was a major frustration from my interviews. Most of the apps on the market keep track of inventory levels but don’t communicate when an item has run out of stock.

Takeaway Question

How can I create an application that remains beneficial to the business while solving the frustrations of the bartenders?

How Might We...

After addressing the pain points of my users, I could brainstorm solutions to the problem. The questions I asked myself during the How Might We exercise directly related back to each of the four identified pain points and how to come up with solutions for them.

User Journey Maps

Before my initial sketches, I created two different user journey maps to refer back to. The two main flows were setup by management and employee onboarding, and using the app to stay on top of inventory and communication.
Setup / Onboarding
Using the App

Opportunity Statement

Bartenders and bar management need a way to immediately communicate when items run out of stock, and streamline the liquor inventory and ordering process.


Bar Key is an application that provides a comprehensive liquor inventory and ordering system to create a seamless work flow behind the bar. This allows bartenders to solely focus on giving the best service possible to their guests.

Usability Testing

While testing my paper prototypes and wireframes with bar staff, I learned that bar management primarily needs to understand where their liquor orders were going and how access levels differed between management and employees. Based on this, in the final outcome I set up two different flows: one for management setting up their establishment with the app and inviting their employees to join, and another flow for employees using an access code to join.
Paper Prototypes
Final Outcomes

Management Setup

A bar manager would first set up their bar with the app by entering relevant location information, choosing partnered liquor representatives to send orders to, and setting up days of the week to send orders. They would then add/invite employees to the app via email address, which will send employees an access code to join.

Employee Onboarding

Using the access code from the email sent by the app following setup, employees can create their own account to join their bar team on the app. Through employee accounts, the access level is different—they are not able to add items to orders, send orders, etc. but they are able to mark things as out of stock once they run out and request management adds it to the next order so they don’t forget.

Keeping Track of Inventory

On the inventory page, both management and employees can search different liquors that are available through their set liquor reps. They can also keep track of what liquors are currently out of stock and easily add them to the next upcoming liquor order. Although employees cannot add items to orders, they can still mark things as out of stock when they use it up, and check to see what is out of stock currently before starting their shift so they always know what’s on hand.

Pain points addressed: disorganization, running out of stock

Pending Liquor Orders

In a typical bar establishment, when an item runs out and an employee notifies a manager, sometimes the next liquor order is not set to be placed for another day of two. This leaves room for forgetting—when it’s time to place the order, management may have forgotten about an item that ran out. The BarKey app avoids that issue by adding items to “pending” liquor orders that are set to be sent on the day of the manager’s choosing. If the order is needed sooner, however, management can send the order now.

Pain points addressed: running out of stock, liquor ordering

Scanning Products

I knew that during a busy shift, it was unlikely for bartenders to search for the liquor on the app in order to immediately mark it as out of stock. I created a feature to scan liquor labels to pull up the product page on the app much more efficiently. This made it more feasible for employees to be able to mark things as out of stock as soon as they run out of the item, so the entire team is updated on what items are on hand.

Pain points addressed: miscommunication, running out of stock
Push Notifications

Employee Push Notifications

Employees would receive an onboarding notification via email with an access code to join the app under their establishment. They would receive push notifications whenever items are marked out of stock by other teammates, when management added an out of stock item to the liquor order so they know it’s on the way, and when management adds the item back in stock to streamline communication in real time.

Management Push Notifications

Management would receive push notifications whenever items are marked out of stock to prompt them to add it to the next pending order. If management forgot an item, employees can send a request for management to add it to the next order.
Live out your bartending dreams now that I’ve made them easier.
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Lessons Learned

The biggest thing I learned was how having personal experience with the problem was both a pro and a con. On one hand, it made it much easier to identify the problem and the types of users I needed to interview. On the other hand, it caused me to make assumptions that because things made sense to me, they would also make sense to my users. This lesson helped me to step back and remove myself from the problem to make sure I was solving all of my users’ pain points.

With More Time & Resources

I’m very interested in UI motion graphics and if I had more time, I would put my designs into After Effects and create animations for each page loading, adding items to orders, etc. The design is very fresh and modern, so I think motion graphics throughout the app would be a nice touch.
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