A Design Thinking Approach

By Seemi Samuel on Unsplash

Even though I am a designer who work on mostly digital screens, I find myself constantly inspired by the physical designs surrounding me every single day.

I believe design thinking as a universal skill among designers can take us beyond our own supposed expertise in screen designs.

For the last quarter of school, I want to apply the design thinking lens away from the digital world to a more architectural space —  shops.

For this project, I worked with Coffee Company, a local coffee shop in the Greater Seattle area. In order to improve the overall user experience of the shop, I identified current pain points, defined design goals, and proposed possible solutions.

Fremont Coffee Company is a local coffee shop in the Greater Seattle Area. It is converted from an old house divided into 6 small cozy rooms.

The counter is situated in the living room. There is also a wrap around porch to provide more covered seating outside.

The converted home environment is what distinguishes Fremont Coffee from other coffee shops in the area, but it is also what makes the experience confusing and even frustrating. To identify major pain points, I used three research methods.

My research process was not linear. Instead, it was a continuous loop.

I conducted more than 20 hours of field studies in Fremont Coffee. I interviewed the store manager, talked to 6 baristas and a few customers. I also conducted research in 5 other local coffee shops and a lot of Starbucks.

Because the complex nature of this project, I spent a good amount of time trying to figure out what problems I was really solving before I started the actual .

Problem 1. Line Inconsistency First problem Fremont Coffee really suffers from is line inconsistency.

The layout of the counter does not clearly suggest the correct way of ordering. Some people go to the left to order from the coffee machine (the correct way), while some people go to the right to order from the cashier (the wrong way)

The end result? Customers end up running into one another.

It creates negative experience for the customers and disrupts the overall flow in the shop. The baristas also have to keep “yelling” at the customers to facilitate the line.

The second problem Fremont Coffee really suffers from is waiting stress.

Often times coffee shops let people order and pay first, then they relax, look at their phones until the coffee is done. In Fremont Coffee, you have to pay attention throughout the process because ordering and paying are separate, and the waiting is divided into two. That adds more confusion and causes unnecessary extra waiting time for other people in line.

Then, you might ask, why can’t Fremont Coffee just use the common workflow then(order and pay first, pickup later)?

I got puzzled by the same question, so I turned to competitor analysis.

From my competitor analysis, I realize the design of the coffee shop is usually a result of balancing between customer ordering experience and efficiency.

Places like Starbucks or Bedlam Coffee make sure they have at least two baristas working at all times so the customer ordering experience can be more smooth and consistent.

However, Fremont Coffee has one barista staffing the whole station more than half of the business hours so they need to design in a way that works well for single and multiple baristas.

By now, I have talked a lot about the customer ordering experience. But there is another very important aspect of the coffee shop that defines the place: the intimacy.

That is what attracts the customers to Fremont Coffee. People like Fremont Coffee because it feels like going to an old friend’s home.

A good design should take practicality into consideration, but also human emotions.

From there, I decided on my design goals.

I also listed down a few things I want to keep in mind when approaching the redesign:

  1. Consider physical limitations (cannot knock down any walls, fireplace needs to stay where it is, requirement of a sink, positions of the windows, access to doors etc.)
  2. Impact and cost (taking down the counter costs at least $10,000 while changing the pastry case only costs a few hundred dollars)

The first design I propose tries to change the current design at least as possible to address the problems I identified. The approximate cost is around $1000-$2000. I make sure the design fulfilled the four design goals.

Improve Line Consistency

Instead of having the cashier and the pastry case at the end of the counter which lead people to order from the right, I put them in the front in the redesign to avoid line inconsistency.

Relieve Waiting Stress

I use the Starbucks flow where people order and pay together at first. This way, the order and pay are not separated and the wait is not divided into two. In addition, now the waiting area is more clearly separate from the ordering area.

Maintain Barista Efficiency

To maximize single barista efficiency, I make sure the coffee machine is still close to the cashier. That way, one barista can still make drinks and take order/payment at the same time.

Preserve Unique Character

In order to keep the other rooms private, I decide not to move the counter to any other rooms other than the living room. Also, I decided to use high 3-level shelves as merchandising area instead of a low table. These shelves give more freedom to show unique art and decorations, and provide a more maze-like vibe.

The second design I try to be more creative without worrying about the budget. Again, I make sure the design fulfilled the four design goals.

Improve Line Consistency

In this design, people go in a circle from left to right. This way, the line can be more consistent and less congested.

Relieve Waiting Stress

Again, I use the Starbucks flow to make sure the waiting is not separated into two. I also add two sofas for people to sit while waiting.

Maintain Barista Efficiency

To maximize single barista efficiency, I make sure the coffee machine is still as close to the cashier as possible.

Preserve Unique Character

I add more elements to emphasize the intimate vibe of the coffee shop such as photos, plants, sofas etc.

Final Thoughts

I am really glad that I choose to work on this project to end my college career. This project exposed me to another world of design and showed me how hard it is to make a real world impact.

Exposed To Another World Of Design

I work on mostly digital products. I take making changes easily for granted. But when I work on this project, all of sudden I realize making changes can be super difficult and super costly in other fields of design.

I cannot just ask the baristas to all of sudden change all their flow of working because I want to run a test. I cannot just build a new counter for a week long trial because it costs more than 5 figures.

Digital design is such a fluid medium that it makes me completely unaware of challenges designers in other fields have to face every single day.

Make A Real World Impact Is Hard

When I work on class projects, solving a problem is simple because you just pick one or imagine one.

When I work on a real world project, I spend 70% of my time trying to figure out what problem I should even be solving because every problem is intertwined with a million other ones. And out of all these problems, you only have time to solve one or two that will make the most impact.

I pivoted my design direction at least 5 times throughout the process due to the complexity of this project.

Finally, thank you for spending the time to read this post, please give it a thumb up if you like it. That would help more people to see this content and learn from my experience.

Finally finally, happy graduation to me! I made it!!!

Source link https://uxplanet.org/fremont-coffee-company-ordering-experience-redesign-version-3-caaac5321fab?source=rss—-819cc2aaeee0—4


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