UX Designer
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Swift Spin

background         proposal          research          ideation           prototypes        evaluation

 
 

Background

Going to a laundromat is stressful. Laundromats are often weird, creepy places. Before you get there, you don’t know if the machines will be full or broken. And if you forget something, you waste the most precious commodity of all - time.

 
 
Weird, creepy place...ugh

Weird, creepy place...ugh

Machines in use? Broken?

Machines in use? Broken?

Forget something?

Forget something?

 
 

How might we improve the laundromat experience for people who regularly use laundromats out of necessity?

 
 
 

Objective
Our challenge was to design and test a product or service that solves an information experience problem. We decided on the laundromat experience because it’s a necessary service that remains largely ignored and persistently unpleasant.

Project duration
3 months

Teammates
Edward Roberts, Marina Lazarevic, Chelsea Braun

My roles
User research
Prototyping
Evaluative research
Branding

Personal contributions

  • Primary research: field observations and guerrilla interviews
  • Synthesis: research insights, brainstorming, customer journey mapping, lean canvas
  • Prototyping: room-scale low-fidelity experience prototype
  • Evaluation: prototype test script and conducted test sessions
  • Design: Led branding efforts, shot concept video, designed 2 slideshow presentations

Deliverables
Customer journey map, lean canvas, customer personas, experience prototype, design implications, high-fidelity mobile UI and kiosk UI designs, interactive UI prototypes, concept video, 3D walkthrough video, final presentation.

 
 

Design Proposal

A laundromat you want to experience

Main Features

Swift Spin is a membership-driven service with perks.

 
Make Reservations See what machines are in use and reserve ahead of time using our mobile app.

Make Reservations
See what machines are in use and reserve ahead of time using our mobile app.

All-in-one Machines Use technology-integrated laundry machines that supply detergent, softener, and easy coin-free payment.

All-in-one Machines
Use technology-integrated laundry machines that supply detergent, softener, and easy coin-free payment.

Comfortable Café Wait or work in a welcoming, comfortable, WiFi-connected environment and enjoy the convenience of an attached cafe.

Comfortable Café
Wait or work in a welcoming, comfortable, WiFi-connected environment and enjoy the convenience of an attached cafe.

 

Our machines are...

Smart - They connect to our mobile app and allow you to pay with PayPal right at the machine.
Efficient - They wash AND dry to save you time.
Considerate - They send you a text message when your laundry is done!

Now you can do your laundry and reclaim your time. 

Walk through our vision for Swift Spin!  

 
 

user Research

We began our research by splitting into two teams to conduct primary research. We went to and observed 4 different laundromats in Seattle. We also interviewed 4 customers, 2 management personnel, and 2 workers.

We wanted to understand...

  1. What is the laundromat experience like?
  2. What do patrons need to know before, during, and after their trip to a laundromat?
  3. What opportunities exist to improve the laundromat experience?

After primary research, our group got together again to analyze the data and form insights. These insights helped us better understand the key needs of the laundromat patrons we interviewed.

 
Observed 4 different laundromat locations in Seattle

Observed 4 different laundromat locations in Seattle

Interviewed 8 people

Interviewed 8 people

 

Insights & Personas

We mapped our research findings onto a table so that we could find commonalities and differences between the interviews. This revealed two types of customers who used laundromats out of necessity: regular patrons who had no option for personal laundry and occasional patrons who needed access on a situational basis. From here we created composites of the customers and formed both a primary and secondary persona.

Main insight: Convenience and amenities only matter if the patron’s needs for functioning and available machines are met.

 
Table of customer information captured during interviews

Table of customer information captured during interviews

Confirming our main insight

Confirming our main insight

 

Primary Persona

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Doug Kerkowski
38 years old, male. Occupation: Bartender

Goal: Get laundry done in the most efficient way possible.

  • The lack of a better laundromat nearby has forced him to use his regular laundromat out of necessity.
  • He has come to dislike a lot of other people in the laundromat with him. It makes the space feel crowded.
  • He really dislikes waiting when he could be doing something else.
  • He doesn’t care about bells and whistles. He just wants to get out of the laundromat as quick as possible.

Secondary Persona

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Jessica Garcia
29 years old, female. Occupation: Photojournalist

Goal: Wants to make the most out of doing laundry.

  • Jessica is committed to her career as a photojournalist, but because of that, her hectic schedule doesn’t allow her to regularly do her laundry.
  • She seeks out convenient laundromats that also offer amenities like free wifi and work desks.
  • Sometimes though, she will feel up to socializing with the other people at the laundromat too.
  • Good art and music helps set the mood too, a well decorated laundromat is always more enjoyable to be in.
 
 

Ideation

With our personas in mind, we generated 33 ideas for improving the laundromat experience. We used dot voting to narrow down to our top 10 ideas.

 
Categorizing and narrowing our initial ideas

Categorizing and narrowing our initial ideas

Top 10 ideas and story assignments

Top 10 ideas and story assignments

 

We used storytelling to flesh out our top 10 ideas and ensure we had a deeper understanding of our primary persona. After reading the stories out loud, we then privately voted on our top five. This process made it clear that 2 of those ideas were particularly powerful.

We each wrote 1-2 scenarios of the top 5 ideas. It was clear that membership-driven service best fit our primary persona, but elements from other ideas also were important. The Lean Canvas helped solidify our idea and create a value proposition.

Lean Canvas

Items in red were removed from the service, while items in blue were added.

Items in red were removed from the service, while items in blue were added.

After creating our lean canvas, we mapped out the customer journey map. Since the service is conceptual, we made a lot of assumptions about the journey and the customer’s emotional reaction throughout.

Customer Journey Map

The emotional journey based on our assumptions. Courtesy of Chelsea Braun.


Prototypes

Room-scale Experience Prototype

We created an experience prototype to test our assumptions about the customer journey.  The MHCI+D studio was transformed into a low-fidelity laundromat and cafe by adding signage and rearranging the furniture.

We also utilized additional spaces to stage parts of the journey outside the laundromat, such as unexpected traffic and the need to run errands. The other end of the hallway was used as the participant’s “apartment.” The first floor was designated our traffic detour, and a “bank” was located on the 2nd floor.

My blueprint for the experience prototype.

My blueprint for the experience prototype.

Mobile App, Machine, and Kiosk Wireframes

We also wanted to test the usability of the mobile app, machine, and kiosk interfaces. To do so, we created wireframes for each touchpoint. Below are wireflows of making and claiming machine reservations.


Evaluation

We tested our experience prototype with 3 participants: two of them closely matched our primary persona and one closely matched our secondary persona.

Test Scenario

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We ran the participants through a version of our customer journey that specifically tested pain points related to the reservation system and notifications. We assumed that these parts of the experience might be problematic and wanted to see if our assumptions were correct.

We wanted to know...

  • How will people react if their reservation expires? What will they do next?
  • How do people feel about the cafe?
  • Will people use all of the channels we provide?
  • How usable is the machine UI for new people?
  • It’s problematic if people leave their clothes for too long. Is a late fee the best solution to this problem?

After the test was finished, we followed up with a semi-structured interview and welcomed their feedback on improvements.

Iterations Between Participants

Between each participant we identified high and low points which drove design iterations during our experience prototype.

 
The first participant expressed ambivalence about the cafe, but loved the machine reservation ability. However, he was confused by the machine UI prototype because the welcome screen was too confusing, so we simplified the screen for the next participant.

The first participant expressed ambivalence about the cafe, but loved the machine reservation ability. However, he was confused by the machine UI prototype because the welcome screen was too confusing, so we simplified the screen for the next participant.

Participant two was thrilled with the laundry folding service, but the repeated notifications caused anxiety. He also stated he wished to have some prior knowledge of the whole system before coming to the laundromat.

Participant two was thrilled with the laundry folding service, but the repeated notifications caused anxiety. He also stated he wished to have some prior knowledge of the whole system before coming to the laundromat.

For participant three, we reduced the number of notifications & moved the walkthrough signage to the front of the laundromat. He loved the mobile app, but wanted customizability regarding notification frequency. He was also overwhelmed by the amount of information presented on the walkthrough poster.

For participant three, we reduced the number of notifications & moved the walkthrough signage to the front of the laundromat. He loved the mobile app, but wanted customizability regarding notification frequency. He was also overwhelmed by the amount of information presented on the walkthrough poster.

 

Overall Findings

Our findings show that overall, the machine reservation system and the cafe were experiences well worth the investment. However more work was needed to fix the pain points of the cancelled reservation and the late fee.

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Design Implications