THE DINER — A UNIQUE AND INTERACTIVE DIGITAL DINING EXPERIENCE

Leith Brown
Dec 5, 2016 · 9 min read

As a team of four students of General Assembly London’s UXDI-16 course we were given a brief to capitalise even further on the authentic American diner theme of ‘years gone by’, with an at-seat ordering system that would allow customer interactions with the waiters to be less functional and more fun.

Leith, Rand, Shamal & Luis

The real perception of a growing popularity in digital technology within the restaurant industry meant an opportunity to expand the experience offered to existing customers and attract a greater interest amongst those seeking something inspirational and unique. By enhancing the ordering and payment processes it would bring a new and exciting dimension to the ‘Diner experience’.


PROJECT PLAN

We drew up a schedule…

…from which we initiated a project canvas…

…which we developed further onto our Trello Board

Trello is a collaborative tool that organises your project into boards. In one glance Trello tells you what’s being worked on, who’s working on what, and where something is in a process.

We Used Trello as a collaborative tool within the team.

THE BRIEF

Opportunity:

● Improve customer interactions with their staff

● Facilitate an efficient system for browsing, ordering and payment

● An at-seat digital method to cover these three functions more efficiently

● Allow customer interactions with the waiter to be less functional

● Create a fun dining experience

SOME INITIAL THINGS TO CONSIDER:

● The Diner has a strong brand identity which needs to be implemented

● Payment and ordering will both need to be split

● The food delivery system to remain the same.

● Ordering meals at the same table to be done all at the same time

● Ensuring food is served at similar times and in separate courses

● What to do when an item is out of stock

● Where customers will be able to find allergen information

● How will new specials be displayed

FEATURES:

● Customers should be able to order food and drink from their table

● Groups of users should be able to all order to the same table

● The app should handle proportionate splitting of the bill and payment

● A non-digital component should remain within the system

TARGET DEVICES: Mobile or tablet

Target Devices

PROJECT SUMMARY GUIDE:

To determine the extent and scope of the problem we made use of the ‘9 x why’s and the how’.

9 Why’s and the How…

We utilised the ‘Double Diamond’ approach to facilitate the process, consisting of discovery, define, develop & deliver.

These were based around:

● Browsing the menu

● Ordering & reordering food

● Paying the bill

From this we fashioned the components of the WHY? statement, i.e., why there was a need for change.

THE DINER CAFE’S WHY STATEMENT:

  1. To create a great customer experience.
  2. Because we value our customers.
  3. Because if we look after them properly we create a better bond with our customers.
  4. Because it means they will eat with us more often and invite friends to try us.
  5. Because we become a better fit — we create a more intimate dining experience that is both comfortable, familiar and trustworthy for them.

THE CUSTOMER’S WHY STATEMENT:

  1. The menu is difficult to navigate and lacks vital information about ingredients and allergens.
  2. The present waiter experience can be quite unreliable.
  3. The overall service is not personable, individual or efficient.
  4. The bill payment can be unfair when there is a party of people.
  5. It feels like the management doesn’t really care about me, the customer.

In order to proceed we implemented the Discovery phase of the double diamond method.


DISCOVERY

During the discovery phase, we employed tools consistent with competitor analysis, contextual enquiry, and user research utilising a screener and a user questionnaire.

We undertook competitor analysis & contextual enquiry to understand the market-place standing and the physical experience of eating at the Diner restaurant.

COMPETITOR ANALYSIS:

Initially we compared direct and indirect competitors, some of whom overlapped, before settling on a more simple way to present it…

CONTEXTUAL ENQUIRY:

We visited several restaurants including ‘Inamo’, which despite being Japanese gave us a practical experience of an interactive way of ordering.

Big Moe’s was a direct competitor
The Diner

It gave us a good idea of how the dining experience worked and how the average user perceived it with its good points and pain points.

We also carried out user research, concept mapping, creating persona’s, user experience mapping, affinity mapping and feature prioritisation as part of the discovery process.

USER RESEARCH:

During our user research phase, we created a screener to refine a list of those who frequented a regular dining experience in middle level cafes and restaurants we could interview and question about their experience.

From this we gained a number of suitable candidates to answer our questionnaire. We designed the main questionnaire to have a general section about the eating out experience, and then several specific questions around involving the quality of the experience when dining out at similar styled restaurants.

Having gathered sufficient data, we then moved into the defining phase.


DEFINING PHASE

Tools used here were consistent with persona creation, concept mapping, story boarding and user experience mapping, affinity mapping, feature prioritisation and design studio.

We took the user research results from eight users and developed these into our primary persona’s.

Personas’:

We named our primary personas’ Monisha & Paul.

Primary Personas

Concept Mapping: We produced a concept map from the interviews that informed us of the persona’s experience.

User Experience Journey:

This described the ideal, or ‘happy path’ of the user experience.

Their User Experience Maps:

Affinity Mapping: This clustered various tasks within the user experience, ordered in a hierarchical method that led us to the overarching theme for our solution: ‘A Unique Interactive At-Table Experience’.

Affinity Map of the Diner Experience

Feature Prioritisation: Helped us the sort the ‘Must Haves’ from the ‘Nice to Have’.

Design Studio: Here we looked at a group workshop to sketch ideas that would help us define a solution. We sketched around the design principles of:

· Ease of usability

· Reliability

· Reducing waiter functionality

· Clarity and efficiency.

· Fun

Design Studio:

Solution:

We realised that the answers we were getting pointed to an at-table design that was characterised by uniqueness, efficiency of use and reliability that would allow the user to browse, order, reorder and carry out bill payments with ease and would also be great fun.

We proceeded to the Development Phase.


DEVELOPMENT PHASE

User Flows:

Following several iterations we developed a primary user flow and the information architecture for navigation, as a site map.

We also developed three other user flows we wanted to incorporate within our ‘at-table design’: Choosing music from the jukebox and adding them to the playlist; Writing and sending messages to the billboard display; Checkout- a means of paying the bill.

Choosing music from the jukebox:

Choosing music from the jukebox and adding them to the playlist.

Writing and sending a message for display on the billboard:

Checkout — payment of the bill:

Mock-up:

We then carried out some physical testing using mock-ups to see if the idea would work to scale with an at-table application, using paper mock-ups for screens and china plates and dishes.

Paper Prototype:

Taking this a stage further we developed a paper prototype.

After several iterations we proceeded to digital wireframes:

Testing revealed several issues that we could iterate on: Visual language was not always appropriate; Bill splitting functionality required several iterations; Disconnect between primary and secondary navigation bars; A need to re-examine UI design needs.

After further iterations and testing we reached the delivery phase.


DELIVERY PHASE

Sketch High Fidelity Prototype:

DIGITAL PROTOTYPE:


NEXT STEPS

Further usability testing and feature development:

Waiter profile

Estimated food arrival time

Feedback & complaint submission

Notification of item unavailability & recommended substitutes

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