A wise friend of mine, Freddy Park once told me User Experience is not about the screens you see on your favorite mobile app. Its what you feel when you go from one screen to another. I paused and thought about this for a while, and it was eye opening. I see User Experience everywhere now, even as I flip a newspaper (which apparently no one does anymore).
I had the privilege of attending a show and tell day for General Assembly’s User Experience design class @ Seattle Tower on Feb 11th. The class did an amazing job in demonstrating what UX means to them. They showed why UX matters. Each student had 8 minutes to present. It was thoroughly enjoyable watching students pour their hearts out building fantastic experiences for consumers. It was their first foray into the world of User Experience for a lot of the students and I was impressed with what they could do in short 12 weeks.
Being a product manager, I instantly jump into who will pay for this? I had to control myself of this feeling throughout the presentation. Every student did a great job of saying who they are designing the UX for, their persona. They called out the user research done with real life personas. I loved the part where they showed paper sketches because that’s what happens when you get to the real world. There’s about 35 iterations before you can close to a design.
I’d love to call out one of ideas that stuck with me.
Pantry is an app by a student. It helps consumers stop food wastage. The presentation was visually brilliant. The student researched her topic and spoke to users who are passionate about food sustainability. She did a great job. She was funny! That was a major plus. The problem statement was — People waste food. The thesis of her user research was, people don’t know their expiration dates, that’s why they waste food! This was a wonderful insight. So, the solution was indexed on how do I make people know their expiration dates. The app had screens where the user would input all the groceries they purchased and then it helped track expiries.
I asked her if she could take it a bit more further and perhaps evaluate if she is solving the right problem. Here’s a wonderful article on how we know what the right problem is. https://hbr.org/2012/09/are-you-solving-the-right-problem
In this food waste case, perhaps the users don’t realize they are buying too much food, more than what they require. So why buy it? Let’s be honest — Food wasting is a first world problem. I’m guessing this means wastage is occurring from the ones who can afford to waste (some shaming is much needed). Perhaps the problem is that this is a behavior change in the way they purchase. What if I’m at a grocery store and I pass by the Broccoli, I stretch my hand to grab a bunch, and a buzzer goes off — Buzzz, you never cook these, don’t buy it. Maybe my trash has smart sensors that reads all the items I trash and my smart mobile app buzzes at me when I reach for that bunch of broccoli?