This week we were asked to go deeply into experience prototyping which helps designers to present a solution and test its features by asking users to actively participate in the process.
After getting to know some key peculiarities of this type of prototype, we were given a practical exercise: we were asked to review the current experience people have in restaurants and consider ways of improving it with new technologies.
Here’s the list of questions to be discussed for 3 stakeholders - customers, waiters and chefs:
- What is the existing experience?
- What external/internal factors impact on the experience?
- What aspects of the existing experience could be enhanced/augmented/supported with technology?
- How would introducing technology into this context change the experience?
- What experience scenarios might you test with the technology?
Let’s look at the experience of each stakeholder.
The existing experience: Customers are given some kind of food and drinks in exchange for money.
External factors: Weather, time of the day, surrounding atmosphere, other customers, attentiveness of the restaurant staff, quality of food and service, speed of providing services, etc.
Internal Factors: Mood, familiarity with a place, level of relaxation or rush, patience level, appetite, intoxication level, etc.
New technology ideas: Since in rush hours it sometimes takes too long to order a dish, customers can be provided with tablets with a special app installed. The app allows to just click on particular dishes to order them. Customers are provided with a device where are buttons next to each dish. This seems to be easier as it saves customers’ time (usually spent on waiting for the waiter to come) and minimizes the interaction with waiters (that may be a real challenge for some people). Besides, it eases the waiter’s work as there’s no need to come to customers each time they want to place an order.
The existing experience: Waiters take orders, bring them to chefs and then provide customers with prepared meals.
External factors: The number of people waiters need to serve to, time of the day, the number of other waiters on the shift, etc.
Internal Factors: Mood, experience level, loyalty level, attitude to people, enthusiasm for the job, etc.
New technology ideas: Since waiters are usually busy, they do not always see if customers have left the table. As a result, when new customers come, the table may be not cleared yet, and they need to wait. To solve this problem, weight sensitive chairs can be created: when the chair is vacant for a particular period of time, the waiter is notified via a special app that a table needs to be cleared. This will make the service faster and, thus, will lead to having more customers. The idea can be tested perfectly well in malls or fast food restaurants as these are the places with the biggest flow of customers.
The existing experience: Chefs prepare food for customers.
External factors: The quality of food provided by suppliers, kitchen layout and tools, professionalism of the supporting staff, the number of customers they need to cook for, etc.
Internal Factors: Professionalism level, motivation, mood, stress level. etc.
New technology ideas: Since popular restaurants have a heavy workload, it may be useful to divide the cooking process into several steps, and then combine these steps if similar ingredients are to be cooked. To simplify and ease the chef’s work, it’s possible to create an app that shows the chef what dishes should be cooked and divides the roles of participants. For example, if there are 4 persons in the kitchen, one of them is notified that he/she needs to cut vegetables for this and that dishes, the other one needs to fry potatoes, etc. When each one gets the tasks via an app, the chef doesn’t need to waste time on sharing the tasks. He/she can concentrate on particular things and gets ready ingredients.