As a part of DEI 626: User Experience Fundamentals and User Research with Professor Lennart Nacke at the University of Waterloo's School of Interaction Design and Business, my team was given the assignment of taking a product pitch and carrying out user research to discover if there was a need for the product. Then we were tasked with developing a prototype, running usability tests, and iterating on the design. Group members included myself, Alicia Chin, Erica Dalphy, and Jason Landry.
Our goal was to learn how people interacted with their furniture. We wanted to know what people used their furniture for, when they needed space, when they didn't need space, how they stored items, and how they moved around their space. To do this, we decided to go visit friends' homes to observe them complete a few set tasks. Then we interviewed those same people get additional insights or find differences between what people say they do and what people actually do.
1. Users were asked to put away or store five objects.
2. Users were asked to rearrange an item of furniture.
3. Users were interviewed with qualitative questions.
Key Tasks & Goals
- Move furniture easily
- Maximize space use
- Use furniture for its intended purposes
Sample Interview Questions
- Which pieces of furniture do you use the most? The least?
- Are you constrained by a lack of space in your home? If so, how?
- Would you like different configurations of furniture in your home for activities?
Addressing Key Tasks & Goals
- How might we make furniture more mobile?
- How might we maximize space in smaller condos and apartments?
- How might we prevent the appropriation and misuse of furniture?
Low Fidelity Prototype Test Findings
Concern about damaging belongings
Configurations were confusing
People like the simple and aesthetic app
Users wanted less predefined areas
Responding to User Insights
Users were confused by temporal configuration settings. The high fidelity prototype simplified this functionality with the ability to save layouts.
Drag & Drop, Rotation
The digital prototype enabled direct manipulation of furniture items rather than placement into predefined areas.
The high fidelity prototype implemented a new feature for storing furniture items into the wall of a living space.
- You want to re-arrange furniture in your living room, so find and select your living room.
- Move the couch, by either dragging or rotating it to maximize space in the living room.
- Hide the storage in the living room.
- Save and name the layout you have just finished.
- Apply the layout
Suggested Future Changes
Change the lines on the couch to something like a rotation symbol to make it clear that it needs to be clicked on to rotate.
Change the wall storage colour to something more obvious.
Add a symbol to wall storage so people know they can click it and store it.
Add dimensions to the room.
If possible, use a larger testing group than three people to get more complete findings.
Starting with observation is a great way to see problems you did not know existed and eliminate any assumptions.
Test at every stage, ask questions, and talk to people constantly.