Making our apps festive with Christmas decorations

Tyko Kieskamp 21 Dec, 2022 43 - 3 min read

Do you like the holiday season? At Picnic we love it! It is a time for family, Christmas trees, lights, decorations and of course fantastic dinners. And while you might think that we, as a grocery company, will tell you all about the tastiest Christmas dinners in this post, we will actually look at how we spread the holiday cheer with decorations in our apps!

At Picnic we have the tradition to go the extra mile during this season to spread the holiday cheer and make our customers smile. Some runners (delivery drivers), for example, dress up as Santa. In our distribution centers the holiday spirit is spread through lights, treats and special events. And in the Picnic Office there was a special Christmas breakfast and party.

Tech team contribute to this in their own way by decorating our external and internal services with Easter eggs seasonally appropriate ornamentations: From a Christmas sweater in our automated pull requests to hearing the Jingle Bells tune when a Runner scans groceries at delivery. Through this, we surprise our customers, colleagues in the operations and the teams at the Picnic Office and hopefully provide a little holiday cheer.

This is not the first time: last year

 shared how the warehouse systems team initiated an one-day Christmas hackathon:
Spreading Christmas Cheer at Picnic: Decorating Our Apps During the Holiday Season

In this blogpost, we will instead share a couple of different types of decorations we introduced in our systems, of course with screenshots attached. The types are first touchpoints, themes & icons and small delights.

First touchpoints

As the expression goes: “first impressions matter”. This is also the case with applications. So what better place to decorate than the log-in screen? It is the first thing users see when opening the application at the start of their work day. A smile here will likely carry over quite some time.

As such we included a couple of Christmas related images in the log-in screens over various places. Below you see the example for two of our log-in screens: Keycloak, our access management solution, and Salesforce, used by our customer support team.

Left: Christmas hat in Keycloak — Right: Christmas theme in Salesforce

Themes & icons

Of course changing a log-in screen grabs the initial attention but you only see it once per session. If you really want to make a Christmas impression, you need to make sure to include some changes to themes, icons and other small parts of the app itself. These small UI element changes are quite harmless while making this season feel just that little bit more cheerful. Some teams went wild with it.

A great example of this is our last-mile delivery application. Using it, our Runners really start to feel like Santa: Their vehicle transforms into a reindeer and the grocery is a sled full of gifts. The Jingle Bells tune even plays whenever you scan something!
Of course, our customers are not left out in the cold — the delivery radar in our app also joins the celebration, letting Santa deliver your groceries in a sleigh.

Left: Our last-mile delivery app is full of Christmas icons — Right: Santa sleigh in the delivery radar

Small delights

The last category of Christmas decorations are small delights. These include some nice messages and other images included in the typical user flows in various services. By including small changes and references we hope that our internal users will be pleasantly surprised in their daily routines.

A personal favourite of mine is attached below. The Picnic-bot goes around our repositories and opens up PRs to help upgrade dependencies. This December Picnic-bot is equipped for the cold with a sweater version of the icon of this service.

A digital Christmas sweater in automated dependency upgrades

As you can see, we included a few Christmas sparkles throughout our systems. The screenshots included here are just a highlight, there are even more!

Do you already have a favourite? Internally we run a small small competition on the most popular decoration, with a prestigious price awaiting the winner — a cup proudly declaring that the owner has had the “Best Christmas decoration”.

Next year is another shot for teams to be creative and think about new beautiful decorations in their systems. Perhaps you will join this competition by then?

I hope you are as excited as us for Christmas, and hopefully this post and our decorations helped with that. From the tech team at Picnic we wish you a merry Christmas and happy new year.

To the victor go the spoils

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