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What users say they want vs what they really need

An academic project where we tried to understand and help the users that visited and depended on pantries for their weekly groceries.

Overview of the Project

Goal: To contribute to one of 17 UN's sustainable development goals.

Areas concentrated: World Hunger, Food Pantries.

How might we improve communication and organization between food pantry visitors and organizers to ensure everyone has access to food they need?

Glance at the Solution:

An application to track inventory in the pantries and also helps visitors register when they will be visiting the pantry. There are two parts to the solution. We concentrated on visitor part of the solution.

Project Goal:

To contribute to one of seventeen UN's sustainable development goals.

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We chose world hunger!

Problem Statement:

How might we improve communication and organization between food pantry visitors and organizers to ensure everyone has access to food they need?

Glance at the solution:

An application to track inventory in the pantries and also helps visitors register when they will be visiting the pantry. There are two parts to the solution. We concentrated on visitor part of the solution.

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Why this Solution?

This solution helps both pantries and visitors, it helps pantries have an estimate of how many people will be visiting the pantry on a given day and allows them to serve them successfully by maintaining stock. By maintaining an inventory it allows visitors who are going to register to look what is available at the pantry as well.

Try how it works!

The Design Process

Interviews:

Interviews:

We initially began by interviewing multiple pantries across Indianapolis to gain insights about how pantries are generally run and what are the issues they are facing. We asked them open ended questions about the operations, number of people that come in, their sources, how they volunteer, days of operation and their ways to operation. We found very important insights which helped us in future in designing the application relevantly.

 

Insights like a resident is allowed to a pantry twice in a month, helped us look into the process of registration for visitors which was being done manually. We also talked to couple of consenting visitor to gain their insights as well. We found out most of the visitors had concerns about what they might get at the pantry that day and if they would get anything after standing in the line for so long. This helped us understand user's needs about them knowing to need about the type of food that they would get.

Data Analysis:

We began gathering all the data at one place and making sense of it, we created affinity maps and grouped the data together into 4 categories mainly:

  1. Volunteers

  2. Pantry

  3. Donor

  4. Clients

 

We looked at each issue and the most recurring issues across all the categories and settled on the problem statement where we could solve both pantry and clients issues together.

How might we improve communication and organization between food pantry visitors and organizers to ensure everyone has access to food they need?

Brainstorming:

We started brainstorming together and we used the Walt Disney method of brainstorming as a starter, we wrote down all ideas without any judgement and once it was done we looked at the viability of the solutions and then we critiqued all the ideas that we picked. We performed 2 different brainstorming sessions and came up with over 120 ideas initially and then settled with the 3 most viable ideas.

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The 3 ideas that we selected:

  1. An application which contains a database of all the pantries

    inventories in a certain area where pantry staff and clients can view item availability.

  2. Outdoor kiosks in public places that allow the public to access

    the pantry data for entry and registration.

  3. An Uber-like app where clients can order items for delivery

    from a pantry and organize carpools to the pantry.

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After focusing on these 3 ideas, we went back to the drawing board and saw how our 3 solutions were relating with the insights we gained. We decided that the Database idea was the best idea we want to go forward with as it solved two stakeholders problems, it gave the visitors an assurity to actually be sure that they will be receiving all they want when they visit the pantry and the pantries had an idea of the people coming in and it makes it easier for them to register and verify people's identities by just scanning the QR on the app.

 

But then, the other insight we also received was that there was a group of people who did not have access to internet or a smartphone always and the application in a kiosk idea would work for them as they had a car and they were willing to register early if it means they get everything they want.

 

We went ahead and made storyboards for the scenarios and developed a prototype.

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We then created a flow for the user based on the features required and made a low fidelity prototype.

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Testing and Evaluation:

We evaluated the application using the Nielsen's heuristics and found out the issues with the design before testing it out. We found out some issues like terminology and ease of accessing QR code and we fixed it before we begun testing.

 

While testing we did find out some issues that can be improved, things like the users preferred having to know what a pantry has on the pantry page rather than having everything sorted out individually.

 

The findings that we found can be implemented to make the application better in the future.

Reflection:

One interesting thing I found out during the whole process was that often what users say is not what they actually think or what they actually feel, so it is essential for us as designers to actually empathize with the user and understand what they are feeling and thinking to make better designs.

 

Also, I learnt about different research methods, how to evaluate quantitative and qualitative data and how to make sense of the sea of data we have at our hand after the initial round of interviews and observations and how it is also important to go back to our data once we have ideas so that we can make better experiences.

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The team and our Shenanigans!

fin.

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