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.
How might we improve the laundromat experience for people who regularly use laundromats out of necessity?
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.
Research: field observations, customer interviews
Synthesis: research insights, customer journey mapping, lean canvas (business model)
Prototyping: simulated entire customer journey with room-scale low-fidelity experience prototype
Evaluation: wrote prototype test script, conducted test sessions and participant interviews
Visual Design/Branding: Created logo and visual language, shot concept video, designed 2 slideshow presentations
A laundromat you want to experience
Swift Spin is a membership-driven service with perks.
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!
We began our research by going to 4 different laundromats in Seattle and interviewing 8 people.
We wanted to understand...
What is the laundromat experience like?
What do patrons need to know before, during, and after their trip to a laundromat?
What opportunities exist to improve the laundromat experience?
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.
38 years old, male. Occupation: Bartender
I want to get my laundry done in the most efficient way possible.
The lack of a better laundromat nearby has forced Doug to use his current 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. Lastly, Doug doesn’t care about bells and whistles. He just wants to get out of the laundromat as quick as possible.
29 years old, female. Occupation: Photojournalist
I want to make the most out of doing my 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.
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. 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.
Lean Canvas (Business Model)
The Lean Canvas was a quick way to solidify our idea and create a value proposition.
Customer Journey Map
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.
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.
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.
We tested our experience prototype with 3 participants: two of them closely matched our primary persona and one closely matched our secondary persona.
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?
Iterations Between Participants
Between each participant we identified high and low points which drove design iterations during our experience prototype.
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.