Julie Dreams of Fresh Carrots

UX case study of a wicked problem

There are some wicked problems out there, and we were going to try to solve one. Most of us are a lot more conscious now on the importance of proper nutrition than in the past, but not everyone can afford it or find an easy way to access local products. There is still a long way to go until proper nutrition is accessible to everyone. How might we help to increase the accessibility to adequate nutrition?

Let’s start our User Research to find out where to start looking. User Research consists of a set of tools that we can use to get a better understanding of our users and their needs, which can happen at any step of the Design Thinking process, but it mainly occurs in the first stage: EMPATHIZE.

Design Thinking process


We started a bit lost. There were many directions to look at and angles from which to see the problem. The first we did was to prepare a set of questions for an interview that would give us a lot of insights from the users, and when we practiced, polished it and felt ready, we went out to find users. We started walking into a farmer’s market called “Marché Popincourt,” then to biological shops like Naturalia and also to the streets around them. We interviewed a total of seven people.

I learned a lot about the whole experience. Before this week, I didn’t believe the power that a user interview has. But my opinion changed 180 degrees after talking to Amid, the cook. And Justine, the actress who graduated in geography and did a thesis about how to provide food to needy areas in Paris. Or Sylvie, the 54 years old woman that had only five free minutes and ended up telling us everything about her husband’s Spanish roots.

They taught me more than I can tell.

How Might We continue?

We re-listened to the interviews, downloaded their data, and took a lot “how-might-we notes.” I love this technique, which consists of taking notes, but not simple ones. MAGIC notes. The magic of grabbing a pain-point and formulating it as an opportunity.

We came up with tons of them, so we did an Affinity Diagram to organize them visually, and then be able to select one. We clustered them, named every cluster, and dot voted them. And we came up with the main pain-point on which we will focus.

How Might We help our users find easily local/organic food?

How might we help our users find easily local/organic food? A survey will help us get quantitative information focused on the pain-point we got. To help ourselves, we used the Lean Survey Canvas.

We got 75 answers, which helped us doing an empathy map to have the first draft of our Persona.

Lean Survey Canvas and Empathy Map

While analyzing the results, our significant discovery was that the issue was not coming from a price point of view. Most people find that the prices in a farmer’s market are fair; they don’t see them as too expensive as we had wrongly assumed. If they don’t do their groceries on those markets, more often is not because of a price matter but because of a problem of TIME incompatibility.

The market opening times are not matching the availability of most full-time workers, and that is leading to a lack of access from most people to the products from those markets since they can only go when those are closed.

Julie Jublot

Let me introduce you to our Persona.

Julie Jublot is a 28 years old woman that has a hectic life and is into healthy habits. She likes to select her fruits and vegetables when she has the chance to go to Farmer’s Markets. Still, she doesn’t go as often as she would like, since they are mainly only open during her working hours, which creates a lot of frustration on her since it makes it very challenging to keep good nutrition habits.

Julie’s problem

After getting to know Julie, we understand a lot better, which is her main frustration.

“We have observed that Julie, a Parisian full-time worker that wants to consume fresh products form the market, has no time to do so because most of the markets are open only during her working hours, so that it makes her feel sad and frustrated.

How might we improve Julie’s access to market products so that she purchases them more often in a way that it will be measurable through a survey in a near future.”

A Solution for Julie

We want to build a solution to give her more possibilities to access the fresh products from the farmer’s markets. We generated and drafted many ideas. We used the Crazy 8’s technique to ideate as freely and as far as we could.

“3 post-it wireframes” ideas from the members of the team

And that’s how we came up with the best solution for Julie.

She is at work, it’s already 8 pm, and she is about to be able to leave the office. She feels sad because it’s already too late to go to the farmer’s market.

In our solution scenario, now she has the opportunity to join an After-work Night Market, where she can do her groceries, listen to music, and hang out with her colleagues all at the same time. She feels thrilled and fulfilled because she can do many of the things she likes at the same place and moment. She saves time and energy while having a good time. And the most important, she will be able to buy the products from the farmers market she was longing for.

In the end, she will sleep better because she stayed healthy and already did her organic groceries. She will dream of carrots, or said in other words, and she will be more conscious of eating healthy and organic food. And that’s why, definitely, tomorrow she will be more productive at work.

Future Julie

We want to see how Julie consumes more food from the farmer’s market and keeps healthier nutrition. That’s why we aim to build the solution in a way that it’s measurable through a survey soon.

We will generate low fidelity wireframes, test them with users, and iterate through the process again and again until we are close enough to a perfect final prototype for our solution.

Yes, I learned

The solution shouldn’t get into your way in the early steps. It’s essential to make the effort of going through a thoughtful process of research and analysis without having in mind any possible solution to avoid biases and presumptions.

Sometimes, we already have assumptions in mind, so that if we don’t follow a process and trust every step, many insights are coming from the user that can get easily overlooked.

My mind tends to get overloaded with ideas, and it’s difficult to let those thoughts go. This week has been a vast training in that regard. I learned that, at first, it’s better to fall in love with the problem.

I write about life experiences, feelings, relationships. Music, nature, and cheese lover. Developer and designer for a living. She/her.

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