|Class||Interaction Design II (UX330)|
|Status||Presented to Professor|
|Roles / Responsibilities||User Experience Design
User Interface Design
|Platforms||Interactive Digital Restaurant Tables|
Optimal Sort (Card Sorting)
As a group, our main focus for this project was to analyze and enhance the experience related to interactive digital tables, predominantly used in restaurant settings. These tables serve as a unique blend of an analogue and digital design, presumably created to enhance the dining experience. These tables establish a digital touch-point with restaurant-goers and providing unique opportunities to engage with their potential menu options and express creativity through the use of interactive games and activities.
The core functionality of this digital touch-point appeared upon inception of this project to be to provide users an opportunity to order their food without the need for a server, as well as augmenting the traditional server/menu experience with digital resources such as high-quality videos and detailed descriptions potential orders. Additional functionality of these tables engages users in game and activity applications while waiting for their food order to be served.
For the purposes of our study, we identified our key target users as restaurant patrons in the 15-50 age range who have some prior experience with multi-touch interfaces such as smartphones (and consequently an understanding of typical interface gesture controls).
Although this technology is not used in a widespread capacity at this time, it is already available for customer use in some restaurants in my area. For example, in cities close to myself such as Waterloo these Interactive Restaurant Tables (IRTs) are available at a restaurant and marketplace called Graffiti Market. Through our group’s personal use and other publicly available customer feedback our group established that there is room for design improvements to not only enhance the information architecture and interaction design, but also to address some accessibility concerns.
Information Architecture, Gestures
Considering Key Potential Users
With these preliminary concerns in mind, we conducted a site visit to further evaluate some user needs and take inventory of our project space and it's constraints.
We took some key things away from our visit to Graffiti Market in Waterloo; we left with ideas for how to better take advantage of this tech. On our visit, we collected information on our own experiences individually while I tested my peers (who were having their first experiences with the tables) with a pre-determined set of tasks. This is a very rudimentary usability study (and ideally with more time and budget, would be carried out with users who aren't also our design team), but the study definitely provided a framework to build upon when addressing some interaction design challenges these tables currently have. With a larger amount of resources available for the completion of our project, this study would've been expanded on to include individuals such as restaurant patrons, service staff, and more. We proposed a testing framework for this expanded study built on ethnographic, observational research methods as well as user interviews.
Some important confirmations for our initial assumptions and additional feedback from the experience included the following:
Adhere to Familiar Mental Models
Redefine Information Architecture
Better Utilize Technology
Now that we understood the priorities of our users, our group moved forward to conduct card sorting activities with the hope of understanding some of the troubles users experienced with the information architecture; specifically, regarding the classification and categorization schemes.
As mentioned previously, our sample restaurant that employs the tables being evaluated for this project is Graffiti Market in Waterloo, Ontario. As part of the restaurant's branding efforts, the labelling for the menu consisted entirely of hip-hop references for the category and dish names. This naturally created some confusion from the first-time users observed in our studies, and contributed to the feelings users expressed of choice overload and an apparent lack of ability to directly compare menu items. By having no traditional frame of reference to call on to hold menu items and their qualities in working memory, users are forced to seek out this information again by referencing the item again in the singular-item menu view. This is an issue of density at scale with regards to the table, and of labelling in regards to this specific instance of an interactive restaurant table.
Once our card sorting activities were completed, we moved into our prototyping stage with a strong foundation to make some key design decisions that addressed the previously established user needs found in our research phase. I personally developed all of the high-fidelity "table" screen mockups that our group presented to our professor and peers at the conclusion of the term. I used Sketch to create a prototype that allowed for a functional demo to be conducted on "stage;" you can click here to view the clickable prototype for yourself.
You'll see 'Figure 3.3: Viewing Item User Flow' above. While building out this flow and addressing issues we found in our research around item comparison and decision making, we made some key refinements. Some of the highlights:
Further, in the above figure (Figure 3.4: Confirm Order User Flow), we were working to avoid the dependency on service staff intervention during the order confirmation process. Adding some intentional friction here was important to ensure users were not mistakenly adding items to their order or mistakenly ordering the correct item with the wrong options. Some highlights of the decisions we made for this flow:
The user flow displayed in Figure 3.5 was built with the goal of better taking advantage of technology. By implementing contactless payment in the table directly (as well as a printer for customer reciepts), we create another point in the process that is unique to these digital interfaces (when compared to analogue tables) while also reducing the frequency of required interventions from the service staff.
Some other design decisions suggested when presenting our solution that weren't shown in the previous flows or mockups included:
You can scroll back up to this page to view the high-fidelity mockups in their full-resolution glory, or click here to check out the functional prototype on Sketch Cloud.
I'd like to take this opportunity to thank professor Umair Rehman for his continued guidance and teaching throughout the duration of this project, as well as my peers Noah Lach, Mikayla Ferraro, and Cedric Zheng for their hard work and support while working through this project as a team.
We recieved 99 out of a possible 100 points for our work on this project.
Food images courtesty of Unsplash, iconography courtesy of FlatIcon.com. Mastercard, Visa, Interac and Apple Pay trademarks are all property of their respective owners.