Service design for a tourist-friendly experience

Redesigning People’s Park Complex Food Centre

If you’re a traveller with food allergies or dietary restrictions, eating in a foreign country can be fraught with danger. Not only is it tricky to determine the ingredients of “hor fun” or “ang ku kueh”, food vendors often don’t understand food allergies because Asia has a comparatively lower incidence of food allergies than the west.

No peanuts, I’m allergic

might be interpreted by the vendor as,

She prefers not to eat peanuts

instead of,

Nuts could trigger a severe allergic reaction and, possibly, death.
So imagine you’re a tourist with a peanut allergy and you decide to drop in on People’s Park Centre Food Complex (“PPC”) to find something local to eat…
What is this?! I can’t even.

You wouldn’t know what to eat because you don’t know the ingredients, or if there’s even anything in the hawker centre you can eat which won’t kill you! Additionally:

  • PPC is a large, chaotic, noisy place for someone who hasn’t experienced hawker centres before
  • Signs uses jargon and some are obscured
  • There’s no stall directory or map
  • Vendors only accept cash
  • Regular patrons appear to be leaving tissue packets on the seats

Meet Lina

For this project, some research had already been conducted, resulting in 3 different personas. I chose to focus on Lina, a business traveller visiting Singapore. She likes to try local dishes but has a peanut allergy. To understand Lina’s emotional experience when visiting PPC, I created a journey map.

Lina’s journey as PPC stands now

So many pain points!

Looking at Lina’s profile, the solution should minimise digital dependence. I decided against an app or kiosk, in favor of letting Lina experience the buzz of PPC. A responsive site with curated food suggestions and information on allergens to help her plan, plus some improved signage to clarify important aspects of the space may do just the trick!

After ideating various features and prioritising them according to usefulness, the top 5 priority features are:

  1. Shortlist top 10 local dishes
  2. Clear information at entry points
  3. List allergy-safe dishes
  4. Info about local customs
  5. Fun facts for a cultural experience

Lo-fi prototyping

After recruiting participants similar to Lina and asking them to organize a set of cards representing content they might find in a hawker centre I made an informed decision on the navigation of the website. I started sketching paper prototypes which, after some testing, became these medium-fidelity wireframes.

Green boxes indicate where I implemented the top 5 features listed above.

I also created an experience prototype, a replica of the PPC, to help me plan my solution.

Information boards, improved signage, local customs, and fun facts

There are local customs stickers on the table and stools to enlighten tourists about chopeing and returning their tray, and fun facts stickers on takeaway boxes.

I tested version 1.0 before making a few minor iterations. First, I set the scene with testers by giving them a scenario as Lina: You’re a visitor to Singapore and you’d like to visit People’s Park Centre to try some local food, but you’re allergic to peanuts. Then I gave the testers a task: Find a local dish you can eat and order it at the stall.

Visualising the experience before & after

You can see the impact of the solution by comparing the pre-solution service blueprint with the shorter, post-solution blueprint.

Conclusion and recommendations

This was one of the most taxing yet enjoyable projects I’ve worked on to date. Time-management was crucial to make sure I worked selectively and efficiently to complete the project on time.

If I were to take this project forward, I would recommend in-context testing as a next-step, with real tourists. I’d also recommend exploring a search function on the website so that someone could look-up a dish or stall when they were in PPC. Menu translation is another potential feature to explore.

Final versions