This is a one-year capstone project for my MS degree in Human Computer Interaction/Design. The design started with user research, as well as literature and exemplar reviews, to obtain insights and inspirations. Several rounds of concept generation, prototyping, and evaluation/testing were conducted to get to the final design: an iPhone application that introduces authentic Chinese food with necessary knowledge about the dish, stories and anecdotes about dishes, and adventures to encourage people to try out authentic Chinese food in restaurants and learn more about Chinese culture.
The presentation concludes all the work I’ve done for this project. It is a good source to know my design process and the final design.
I started this project with the wish that people can understand more about Chinese food and Chinese culture, so what’s stopping them from that? The challenge is to find out an answer to this question, and design something to solve the problem, while differentiating it from food apps out there that merely give information such as restaurant rating, menu, and food names.
User research, which included pilot studies, interviews, explorative studies, observation, and indirect user research, was done to identify the three major issues that stop people from trying authentic Chinese food out: Awareness, Access, and Environment.
Reviews of literatures and exemplars made me realize that the design needs to supports the flow of people’s dining in restaurants and promote Chinese culture at the same time. I started my design process with conceptual sketches and UI sketches, the exploration focused on how to introduce information in a fun and engaging way. After that, I produced interactive prototypes with Adobe Fireworks. Two rounds of redesign were done based on the evaluation and testing I did with prototypes before I settled down to my final design.
User centered design does not mean doing whatever users are telling you. What users are saying is important, but what users are not saying is equally important. The key to really understanding what users want or need is using different kinds of user research that focus on more than just users’ direct feedback.
Iteration leads to better design. No one can come out with the perfect design on the first try, only iterations based on rounds and rounds of testing can take us closer to perfection. User research can lead designers to the right track, but all the concrete details necessary for a good design are reached through iteration.