So the first segment of the course emphasizes “good” (read: ideal) user experience design. So what should you do when you have time and budget on your side? In this portion of the class, we will focus on conducting research including field studies, competitive analysis and usability studies.
I had originally scoped out our local Home Depot as our “client.” In particular, I was curious how the online/offline (clicks vs. bricks) would pan out in terms of experience. But after spending way too much time just trying to get ahold of someone with authority at the perfectly confusing, warren-like Cambie St. location, it was with a lot of happiness and relief that I instead found a local non-profit organization, NOWBC, who welcomed our help (more about them next week).
Since NOWBC is in the business of selling food to retail consumers, this week’s class involved a trip to Whole Foods. I thought it would kickstart some ideas about things the students could possibly test and who they might test it on, as well as practice analyzing its experience. I’ve always personally had a love-hate relationship with this retailer, but never really took the time to dig into the “love” end of that spectrum. After spending almost two hours in there store taking a really good and deep look at everything, I started to see why the attraction persists (despite my best attempts at foiling it).
I asked the students to look at it with the following questions in mind:
- What do you notice first when you walk in? Is this observation positive, neutral or negative?
- Describe the aesthetic.
- Observe who you see shopping. Who do you think this aesthetic appeals to?
- What is the quality of the store wayfinding. How does the store categorize products? How are aisles labeled? Does the store provide maps or signage? Do you find it easy or hard to find products?
- How are products featured? Sale products? Sale flyers?
- How does the store convince you to try and/or buy new products?
- What are some examples of well-designed “features” of the store?
- Why do you think people choose to shop here? List as many reasons as you can think of.
I did the exercise myself and was dumbfounded at all the “data” I collected.
In fact, I had so many thoughts, ideas and associations that I now recognize that I could probably spend hours compiling all of it.