Menu Card – A Probing Experiment

Menu Card - a Probing experiment

Material experiments and probing

 

Overview

A workshop on “Material Experiments and Probing“ was conducted to understand the concepts of participatory designs, effective usage of probe to collect data and insights. The probe was installed in the area of a small stall in Srishti institute, to understand the various situations.

Project Duration

2 weeks

 

My Role

UX Research, Probe development

 

Team

Along with Meghana Upadhyay

 

Tools Used

Adobe XD, Adobe Illustrator

Context

The workshop essentially focused to draw our attention to design a probe that acts as an intermediate between understanding a problem and designing a solution. The workshop lasted for two weeks where we were asked to choose a topic on our own and design a probe to collect maximum insights and data. It took quite a lot of time for us to understand as to how a probe is different from solution, can probe be a form of solution, can probe and solution be the same where we collect insights from the user about the solution for its improvement, how insight collection and usability testing of a solution are different and many more. 

With the inclination to take the problem area as small stalls like the scene observed every morning at Srishti institute, we decided to gather insights on the impact of a system in small stalls where the menu is decided based on the customers choice. We considered the factor of pricing as well as food wastage reduction into this and observed reactions and gathered opinions from people about the effect of the system.

Understanding Probe

As a probe has a strong relationship with participation of the stakeholders involved, it was important to understand how an effective probe can be built. The thin line between probe and a solution gave a tough time. As the approach was co-design we thought of probes like games for data collection, short activities that would call for an action from people, a probe that can make participants imagine. We also realised that not only how people interact with the probe but also the way they and the environment reacts to the probe plays a major role.

With all these in mind, we decided to have a probe that has an element of surprise as well as means to interact with the surroundings. We agreed upon having a physical probe for pilot run as we wanted to see if the probe is making any impact and later move on to digital probe and try out data visualization.

Target Area

At Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Old Campus a scene at 11am every working day caught our attention. A tea-coffee-snacks seller now well known as “Santa with goodies” comes to the open gallery area carrying a large amount of food for people in the campus. The gallery gets crowded within few minutes with people screaming their orders for food at the seller. He does not have a fixed menu, but keeps experimenting with his business.

Taking this area for the installation of the probe, we decided to first find out the problems that are actually being faced in this area.

Phase 1 - The Physical Probe

The focus was to check what would happen if the buyers get to decide the menu. We installed a menu card board and kept few smiley emojis around. This board was kept for two days which helped us get many insights and realise that some of the assumptions that we made are not realities.

The menu card board had menu of the day and a blank space that was supposed to be filled by the customers with smiley stickers. We had kept only smileys and no other emoji so that there is no direct discouragement to the seller if the food is not very good. The menu looked like a rating card. The thought behind creating the board was to check if people’s likes actually changed the food items seller gets the next day.

Insights

  • The probe gives an idea to the seller regarding the item that he can get on the next day
  • People needed some instructions to interact with the probe
  • The color of the smileys mattered and people categorized the smileys according to their wish though there were actually no categories
  • People take less time to order when the menu card is displayed
  • Asking for menu every day from the seller is not a feasible way
  • Seller was quite happy and captured picture of the board for further use.
  • Problems that we assume need not be a problem in reality
  •  Helped in finding the most trending item
  • Seller was quite excited with this experiment and introduced 2, 3 new items in the men

Phase 2 - The Digital Probe

For the second iteration we decided to place the same physical probe but now in a digital format. We used Arduino to create board with buttons for each food item available. Input was taken from users based on what item they liked the most and this count was stored.

The data collected is used to prioritize items in the digital menu board that keeps changing after considering a certain number of inputs on each item.

For the second iteration we decided to place the same physical probe but now in a digital format. We used Arduino to create board with buttons for each food item available. Input was taken from users based on what item they liked the most and this count was stored.

The data collected is used to prioritize items in the digital menu board that keeps changing after considering a certain number of inputs on each item.

Storyboarding the concept

Digital Menu card screen

Final Insights

  • Some people thought that low prices will attract people more and they will tend to take the less likely product due to low prices.
  • For liking a food item that people liked the most, they’ll have to taste everything that’s in the menu.
  • The dilemma on what happens when a new item is introduced.
  • If price is varied, how can we control the investment made on raw materials that is brought for preparing the less liked food item.
  • If only priorities are varied then it is likely that people will be led to buy the most liked product just like the case in online rating that can eventually create a snowball effect.
  • Confusions while handling accounts.
  • It would be great if the probe shows count of the quantity that is still left of a respective item.
  • There are various factors on which a person’s like can depend.
  • This system can work in case of tea seller and can benefit his business.
  • Decision to buy a food item may not always depend on the price.
  • In case of the coffee seller in our campus,
  • students can vote on items they think seller should bring the next day.
  • Dynamic pricing concept has to be thought from aspects of sellers, buyers, their financial status, the location where the system is introduced.