UXDI Project #1 : Pop-up Dining Aggregator

The power of rapid prototyping…

It’s insane how much I experienced at Week One of my User Experience Design Immersive course and i shall attempt to articulate my learning journey…

All students were given a range of topics to select for in Project #1. No surprises, being a passionate foodie myself, i was inclined (first sense of personal bias at play) to pick “FOOD” as my topic of choice.


USER RESEARCH

One way of interpreting UX is that it is an intimate way of understanding people, their activities, context and experiences and building interactions that make sense and is useful to people. For the purpose of Project #1, I must interview my “buddy” plus two other users to develop further insights around the topic of “FOOD. To begin, I started framing questions where i could better under their behaviours, pains, pleasures and context around “FOOD”.

I intentionally designed the first couple of questions in a broad sense; mainly to get a sense of how they feel towards food, as well as hope that in talking out their open thoughts around food, i could capture interesting insights for use in the establishment of business case.


My interview questions as follow…

1. What is your relationship with food?

2. What role does food play in your life?

3. What types of cuisine and /or food do you like to eat?

4. Why do you like these food?

5. Where do you eat these food?

6. How often do you eat out ?

7. How do you search for places to eat when you choose to eat out? Elaborate more about the tools you use, if any.

8. What are your views in terms of trying new dining places?

9. What is important to you when trying a new dining place?

10. Describe a dining experience which you found enjoyable. Why was it enjoyable?

11. I am going to test two concepts with you. Appreciate if you can share your views on them. Have you ever heard of AND/OR tried: a) Pop-Up Dining experience; b) Private Chef experience

12. What do you think of the overall dining scene in Singapore ?

The UX Researcher and Her Users!!!

An afterthought of the interview process is that Q11 is NOT a valid User Interview question as it carries the personal bias of a business concept which i was trying to enforce my users to reflect upon. After discussing with my instructor, we concluded that it was perhaps more of a Market Research Interview question, which should only be conducted subsequent to the User Interviews.

A key learning point here is that User Interview questions must be intricately framed to suss out the authentic, unadulterated, real preferences of your users. It should be “free of any personal bias on the researcher’s end. I find it extremely challenging to achieve this. I guess this skill improves with practice; but asking the right User Interview questions is paramount in establishing a solid problem statement. This step, done right, will provide huge insights as we move along the UX design process.

More tips to note in User Interviews:

  1. Ask open ended questions

2. Avoid leading questions — don’t have expectations. take whatever answers that comes up.

3. Avoid pointing out specific issues

AFFINITY MAPPING

I documented the user interviews in the form of an excel spreadsheet to begin with. I like this method of capturing information as it provides me a helicopter view of the findings to date; occasionally spotting patterns which is useful for clustering insights into sensible categories. Thereafter, I started off with Affinity Mapping. Each colour of Post-It represents one unique user here.

It was rather difficult to establish the key insights as i did not think i asked enough of the “right” questions. Some of the insights were also counterintuitive to the original hypotheses that I had on mind. It was important to constantly remind myself that I must solve the real problems of the users instead of the problems which i think that my users had.

ESTABLISHING THE PROBLEM STATEMENT

Whilst struggling to get along, i did manage to refine and conclude at a key problem statement to solve for. I understood from my users that a lot of them enjoy the wide variety of food in Singapore and are extremely experimental and open to trying new food. But, they often struggle with the availability of time (just right the rest of us i guess!) in finding good food. More importantly, my users believe that food is something which they close close to their heart, something that is best enjoyed in groups.

DESIGN CONCEPT

Singapore has a fantastic cosmopolitan food culture that has evolved and emerged over the years. I am convinced it is one of the most exciting places in the world to experiment new dining experiences. Singapore is also home to many young, aspiring chefs. Whilst the idea of pop up dining is an extremely popular playground in the western world to nurture young private chefs, it is less visible in the Singapore culinary landscape. Many who do these, either conduct such dining sessions privately or are already established individuals in the F&B industry.

My concept is to develop a mobile application which will aggregate these pop-up dining experiences onto one common platform, connecting food lovers to aspiring young chefs. I believe this will also spearhead innovation and renewal in our culinary scene in Singapore and is a cause which i am both passionate and excited about! A couple of key points to note whilst designing the application for my users:

  1. This application will be designed in an intuitive, straightforward manner to facilitate the time-starved user to search for a dining experience with ease and pleasure.
  2. This application must offer a variety of dining experiences to which my user requires
  3. This application allows users to actively engage their group of diners — share details of the bookings as well as the dining experience in the form of user reviews thereafter.
Connecting the Problem Statement to the Concept of the Mobile Application

MAKE THE USER FLOW FLOW

The User Flow — is really a series of choices which the user makes to move from the start to end of their desired experience.

Flow is a mental state. In developing the user flow, we must remember to start with the user and not our own flow. The questions which I posed to myself include : what desires and needs my users may have, which problem do they want to solve for and what would be some of the most important qualities of the application which is important to them.

Initially, i started off drawing out a humongous user flow which was sprouting tonnes of imaginative scenarios and i lost control on the flow and was swallowed alive by the complexity which i created myself!

Then, I decided to write down in words the intended user flow, focussing on ONE basic/core activity which the user will use my application for i.e. the booking of the private chef for a group dining experience. It was then much easier to transfer the words into a simple visual.

User Flow — From Words into a Visual

STORYBOARDING

I cannot draw for nuts. You can see this point being validated in the storyboard below.Nonetheless, it was good fun coming up with the storyboard!

A storyboard is a series of images to describe the flow. It enables the UX designer to leverage on visual aids to illustrate the change in emotions of the user whilst using the product. In a way, a storyboard is also terrific tool in introducing design concepts to an uptight, skeptical audience. It relaxes an audience and prepares them in embracing change. I have seen this being used effectively in the financial services industry, where UX is remains a relatively new concept (<5 years) and the Problem Statement to solve for is relatively complex and abstract.

PAPER PROTOTYPE AND USER TESTING

This is an iterated version of the paper prototype which i came up with.

A few learning points around prototyping and user testing to keep in mind:

  1. Perhaps, i could use a “food related” logo or image to depict the purpose of the application on the landing page. This could help the users in identifying better.
  2. The size of my paper prototype were not appropriate for the invision prototyping screens. User has to scroll down on landing page, which was not the intention.
  3. If i have bad drawing skills, i should just draw out a square box and mark it plainly with a label instead of drawing something which the users may not be able to identify with. This is especially relevant for Screen # 6. See if you can spot the “QR Code”…
  4. User Testing is an extremely important element to identify improvement areas to the application and I would definitely do a few more of these in my next project. In Project #1, i only managed to test this with one user and she was able to give me insights which were helpful in making this application more user friendly.
Paper Prototype

RAPID PROTOTYPING ENABLED BY INVISION

I would love to invite YOU (yes, you!) to try my prototype as enabled by invision below and share your feedback with me.

One caveat, i have kept this really simple. It does not include much variations in flows nor extensive showcase of the app features, beyond the booking process. My core objective is to deliver a single, but important user flow to illustrate my understanding of the principles of rapid prototyping to user needs. Hope to do better the next round!

NEXT STEPS

  1. Conduct More User Testings and Iterate Paper Prototype from there
  2. Built out the Hi Fidelity Prototypes with added User Flows
  3. Add in features to explain the concept of pop-up dining and private chefs to Users