UXDI Project 1 Retrospective

For my first project as a User Experience Design Immersive student at General Assembly, my classmates and I were tasked to design and prototype a mobile application. For our respective peer-picked topics (e.g. Travel), we were to conceptualise a solution to a specific problem that users have. Yumi, my Day 2 seating partner, picked “Smart Home” as my topic, while I picked “Travel” as hers. Smart Home was unexplored territory to me, and I believe Project 1 pushed me out of my comfort zone to design solutions for real users.

Step 1 : User Interviews

After learning about different methods to carry out user research, I began by interviewing four of my classmates. Determined to get truthful and objective insights from my interview, I asked general questions such as :

  1. How much time did you spend at home last week and why?
  2. Which part of your home did you spend most time in?
  3. What features of your house did you use most often, and which did you use the least?
  4. Would you regard your experience at home as generally positive or generally negative?
  5. Please provide one positive and one negative experience at home.
  6. Please describe your experience ___________ .

Around question 4 to 6, my interviewees were prompted to tell me a story about their daily routines at home, where I was able to pick up explicit and implicit needs and wants. By starting with general questions and narrowing it down to each user’s pain points, I was able to seek responses from them organically.

Step 2 : Affinity Mapping

  1. As my interviewees were working professionals before joining General Assembly as a UX student, they spent little time at home and prioritised relaxation and recharging.
  2. Some of them cook more often than the others, but all have went through the negative experience of not knowing what is in the fridge and when it expires.
  3. They value their personal space at home from their family members.
  4. They are very busy and prefer a quick, hassle-free solution to their problems.

From these insights, I felt that the issue of personal space was too physical to solve with a mobile app, additionally, everyone’s living partners are different. As such, I determined that Insight #2 was something faced by everyone regardless of how often they cook, and I decided to design a way to automatically track food expiration dates.

Step 3 : Wireframing (Iteration 1)

I wanted my users to load grocery expiration dates into Phoodie in an effortless, fast method. As such, I linked Phoodie with NTUC’s existing self-checkout. When a user pays with self-checkout, he/she has an option to scan a barcode that transfers all food items bought, with their expiration dates, into Phoodie.

NTUC Self Checkout screen sketch with Phoodie button
Wireframes for iteration 1

However, a previous interviewee felt that using the Phoodie barcode at the self-checkout counter to load expiration dates into the app could still be a hassle to the uber-busy. As such, I looked for smoother ways for me to tie in Phoodie with existing technologies.

From my first post-wireframing interview, I also identified features that were actually useless or pointless to my users e.g. double-checking the food items loaded in our app.

Step 4 : Prototyping

Phoodie, prototyped

The Amazon Go technology is such that one simply scans a QR code from their phone at the gantry to the supermarket, where AI and deep learning technologies know when the shopper picks up a food item, and the shopper simply leaves the store to have these food items charged to his Amazon account. With the assumption that this technology will be adapted in Singaporean grocery stores in the future, I termed this technology SmartGrocer, when linked with Phoodie, automatically loads the bought food items into Phoodie along with their expiration dates!

Some key features were :

  • Automated inventory updates via SmartGrocers : saves users time compared to keying in expiration dates manually
  • Adding inventory members : solves the problem of not knowing what is in the fridge because the primary user is not the main cook at home. For example, a father may be buying groceries and cooking all the time, but when the daughter wants to cook, she can access their shared inventory to find out what food is in their home.
  • Slide filter to view foods that are closer to their expiration date : helps users see which ingredients to use when an expiration date is looming.
  • Expiration date reminders to notify user to use food item quickly
  • Recipe generator based on the availability of food in the fridge, and their expiration dates : solves the indecision my users have when trying to decide what to cook
  • A bonus feature called PhoodTech Bar which is a barcode reader attached to your fridge, such that when you take an item out, PhoodTech deducts the average serving used for that item and estimates when your food runs out.

In general, I feel that my app manages to solve the problem as outlined by my users, however, in the future, I will use more relatable and current technologies to rope into my app designs. For instance, the Amazon Go technology is interesting and revolutionary, but unlikely to reach Singapore’s shores anytime soon. I should have featured our current self-checkout function more prominently as a means to key in expiration data as well, so that my app appears more feasible!

Additionally, I wish to improve my public speaking skills as I understand that the way you present your idea is just as important as the pitch itself. I am also just beginning to get the hang of interviewing my users — during our class’ presentations, I had the honour of learning from my fellow classmates and the really thoughtful questions that they used to gain insights from their users. In the future, I hope to create more well-planned questions.

Link to presentation slides : https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByGMcNk4HOD7NTdqRTZUSng4d0E/view?usp=sharing

Link to InVision prototype : https://invis.io/ZXAS2WOSP#/222660035_IPhone_7_Copy

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