Case Study: Making life easy in the kitchen

The home quarantine phase gave me an opportunity to learn something new — User Experience Design, I was very much inclined towards it after searching about it on the internet🔍 and then later I got myself registered for the UX Mastery course by Growthschool. This project named the “Design Thinking project” is the first project for my UX Mastery course

Overview

In the first week of our course, we were introduced to our first project -the Design Thinking Project. We were split into groups of 8 team members and given few problem areas which were Balcony, parking, terrace, living room, home office, dining area, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, storage areas, utility area. Each individual has to choose one problem area and we had to make sure that no two group members had the same problem area.

Initially, I was very confused about which area to choose as I felt that everyone in their home🏠 is in their comfort zone so there might not be problems. However, I decided to go with the Kitchen🍽

Plan of action

Empathize

  • Preparing questions- 24/May/2021
  • User Interviews- 24/May/2021- 26/May/2021

Define

  • Making a list of user problems- 28/May/2021

Ideate

  • Ideate for all the problems- 29/May/2021

Prototype

  • Sketching the solution- 3/June/2021
  • Making an illustration of the solution- 3/June/2021

Testing

  • Receiving feedback- 3/June/2021
  • Making a list of improvements- 3/June/2021
  • Upgrading the solution- 4/June/2021

Let’s get into the depth of the project and know how each step was taken in the entire project😉

In the Design Thinking Project, we were introduced to the design process namely- Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Testing. Before we start to work on the project there were few things that we need to keep in our mind

  1. You ≠ User
  2. User= 5 – 6 Team members selected for the interview
  3. User≠Parents, family member or any friend

1.Empathize

In this stage the designer needs to understand the user. The designer needs to understand about the basic behavior occupied by the user and the reason behind the behavior, the designer needs to understand the users perspective as much as possible

In this stage, the first thing was preparing questions to get insights from the users. After preparing the questions I requested the users to get into a user interview with me at any time that suits them. During the interview phase, I tried to make my users very comfortable and free so that they answer my questions without any kind of bias

How I tried to understand the user’s perspective

So the questions that I asked while interviewing the users were:

1. Please introduce yourself

2. How many members do you have in your family? Who are they?

3. Who is responsible for cooking meals in your home?

4. Why do you go to the kitchen?

5. Explain the setup of your kitchen

6. What do you do for ventilation in the kitchen?

7. What do you carry with you while moving to the kitchen?

8. Discuss the space in the kitchen

9. How does your kitchen get messy? How do you fix the mess

10. Where are the utensils been cleaned in your kitchen? Share your experience of washing vessels

11. Who’s spending most of the time in the kitchen? What is the maximum and minimum time? Do they take rest? How

12. Three most irritating things in the kitchen

13. How do you multitask in the kitchen?

I interviewed 5 users for taking insights by understanding them

The summary of the user’s response

User 1

Name of your User : Rhea Jathanna
Age — 21
Rhea lives in Mangalore, Karnataka. She’s a graduate from animation.
Rhea loves gardening, doodling, making DIY and watching movies

She has 5 members in her family. Her servant is responsible for preparing meals. She’ll cook sometimes but not meals just some snacks or drinks. She’d go to the kitchen to drink a refill water bottle, get some snacks. I’ll wash utensils after having a coffee, drink, or anything. While cleaning them I place the vessels on the slab as I don’t prefer keeping soaped vessels in the sink again and that creates a mess in the slab and I have to clean the slab after I’m done with the vessels. She can’t bear the heat in the kitchen and I would move out, again and again, earlier we had a fan in the kitchen but that would blow the stove so we removed

User 2

Name of the user : Kamal Kumar
Kamal Kumar is from
He lives in Odisha currently, working in Infosys
He likes singing, playing guitar, and drawing

They are 4 family members. Mother, Father, wife, and himself
Mostly his mother will cook but sometimes his mother and he will also cook. For cooking, taking snacks, for cleaning vessels, for boiling water, for feeding dog, to get cutleries in case we’ve ordered something he’ll go to the kitchen. He’ll carry mobile phones to play music but don’t phone as his hands are engaged for cooking. He’ll keep the mobile phone away from himself on the shelf. He have a fine space, so don’t feel the scarcity on the slab but on the shelf where vessels is placed there will be few vessels that are random of different sizes so it becomes tough to place them so we would place them on one side of the slab

User 3

Name of the user : Shamita
Shamita lives in Hyderabad and currently she is in her last year of graduation with specialization in electronics and communication. She’s 21 years, loves gardening, doing mandala art

She lives with her family. Mother, father, brother, grandparents, aunty and her daughter. In the morning her mother will cook and the other time her cook is there. She’ll go to the kitchen to get cutleries, cook when she wants to, heat something, and wash dishes. There’s no proper ventilation, there’s a chimney and exhaust fan, the exhaust is in the opposite direction of the gas due to which the stove goes off. She’ll carry her mobile phone to play songs and keep it near the window, she doesn’t feel safe keeping her mobile phone their. For using the grinder she needs to put off her chimney as there’s one switch which is near

User 4

Name of your User
Anudyoti Deb
Anudyoti is 28 years old
He is a native of Nagartala, Tripura
He works in Bangalore, Karnataka. He loves travelling, sketching and he likes street foods.

It’s just his parents and him right now, He has 2 sisters and they’re married so they live separately. It’s his mother at home but in Bangalore, he’ll cook for himself. He cooks. He’ll go for taking breakfast, lunch, and dinner, grab some snacks, prepare food, wash dishes, get water. For ventilation, there’s a window. Whenever he’ll open the windows for ventilation the wind will be coming. He’d carry a mobile phone because he gets bored, he will put on his earphones and play something but the problem is that there’s no place to keep the phone so he’ll keep it beside the window. Sometimes he’ll be talking over calls while preparing food, he’ll watch something while cooking. he’ll do his office work and cook at the same time

User 5

Name of the user : Mousami
Mousami is 38 years old.
She lives in Bangalore
She is a mother of two kids. She’s an Automotive Designer and has been working for the past 12 years.
Mousami is a foodie and she’s an explorer.

She lives with her husband and 2 young kids. Her kitchen is quite spacious and it has space for a washing machine as well. It has slabs on two sides, one side is for cooking food and the other side is for washing vessels. There’s a close as well as an open cabinet to keep the spices. She’ll carry the phone sometimes in the kitchen when she’s over calls. She doesn’t carry a mobile phone in the kitchen usually as she doesn’t feel the phone is safe there. In her kitchen, there’s a sink, the sink area is small. She feels that the sink area should be more spacious and it should have proper lighting

2. Define

At the define stage, we would typically frame problem statements by scanning the insights collected in the empathize stage.

In the Define stage, I made notes of the insights collected while taking the user interview and through these insights, I tried to think from the user’s perspective and frame problems without any bias

Finding the problems

I found that users actually have a lot of problems while working in the kitchen but they hardly complain and they actually inhibit themselves with the problems.

Along with the problems, it’s important to know that why is the problem a problem for the user. The problem are:

User 1

  • Rhea moves to and fro the stove area and the microwave area, to watch video on her mobile phone. Rhea’s focus gets deviated while preparing food. Moreover moving to and fro is tiring.
  • Rhea spills liquid out of her grinder while preparing drinks Rhea needs to give more time and effort to clean the mess created by the grinder
  • While kneading flour, the surrounding area gets messy Rhea needs to give more time and effort to clean the mess
  • Rhea doesn’t like placing the soaped vessels in the slab or sink Rhea feels that the vessels would get dirty if she’ll put them on the sink as the sink contains dirty dishes as well. Also, placing the vessels on the slab, the soap bubbles draining out of the vessel making the slab dirty
  • The heat in the kitchen is unbearable for Rhea due to the heat Rhea couldn’t bear working in the kitchen and she’ll run out of the kitchen
  • Rhea doesn’t like the cloth with which she has to clean the kitchen or wipe the mess from the kitchen Rhea doesn’t like the cloth because it’s dirty and also it’s wet and it has a bit of smell in it

User 2

  • It’s difficult for kamal to adjust all the vessels into the vessel container shelf There’s no place where Kamal could place vessels. Moreover, the section that he has dedicated to placing vessels cannot be utilized at the most
  • While cutting vegetable mess is created Vegetable peels creating mess has to be cleaned
  • While washing dishes, one can clash with someone who is cooking in the kitchen This can be annoying for both the users feeling constricted and not able to perform their task in an efficient manner
  • Kamal’s mother doesn’t take rest while working in the kitchen She doesn’t take it as she thinks it would break the flow of her work
  • The kitchen is hot It’s difficult to stay in a hot area

User 3

  • Shamita’s kitchen has no proper ventilation Shamita feels suffocating inside the kitchen
  • Shamita feels her mobile phone is not safe in the kitchen Shamita is worried about her phone and it might affect her focus while she’s working in the kitchen
  • There’s a lack of space in the sink area Shamita feels congested and she’s not able to do her task efficiently and effectively, it due to the grinder next to the sink and then the tub where washed vessels are kept
  • If the pluck point has a chimney connection, the grinder has to be taken to another pluck point which is far from the actual location where the grinder is kept It becomes annoying and tiering for Shamita
  • Cutting vegetables creates a mess Shamita has to clean the mess
  • Kneading the flour creates the mess Shamita has to clean the mess
  • The liquid spilling out of the grinder Shamita has to clean the mess
  • When Shamita opens the window for ventilation the stove’s flame gets off. Shamita can’t prepare her meal while the stove is off
  • Shamita’s vessel section is far from the cooking area Shamita has to move to and fro the stove and vessel section

User 4

  • Anudyoti doesn’t like the wind coming from the window, the wind gets dust along with it
  • Anudyoti doesn’t feel safe keeping his mobile phone in the kitchen, he’ll carry the mobile phone for listening to music or talking over calls
  • The water splash coming from the sink while washing dishes. The splash is all over the floor and also get’s into the meal
  • While washing the dishes, the washed dishes have to be kept on the slab that is a bit away from the sink area. The water spills out from vessels on the floor, and also the procedure is time and energy-consuming
  • Anudyoti gets tired inside the kitchen. He stands for a long time in the kitchen
  • There’s no proper place for keeping the spice boxes. He keeps the spice box on the slab which is consuming space there and he’s already having less space
  • Anudyoti has to prepare his meals and do his office work at the same time sometimes. He has to move to and fro the kitchen and room
  • Anudyoti sneezes while preparing the food. Germs can enter into the meal which is disturbing

User 5

  • Mousami doesn’t feel safe carrying her mobile phone inside the kitchen. She has to take her mobile phone to the kitchen for answering calls
  • Mousami doesn’t have a space to let the kitchen cloths dry. Her kitchen gets dirty when she hangs cloth
  • Mousami spills milk, tea while boiling them. She’ll clean the space which is time and energy causing also she needs the energy to redo the work
  • The stove goes off due to the air coming from the window. She can’t prepare meal with blowed off stove
  • Mousami’s sink is less spacious and there’s no proper lighting over there. She keeps the washed vessels on the right side of the sink which is consuming space
  • Mousami gets tired while working in the kitchen. She’s to stand for long intervals
  • Mousami wishes to have some private space in her kitchen. It’s awkward for her to cook in front of her guests
  • Mousami has to do her kitchen work and office work together at times, its difficult two mange two things together
After looking at the framed problems. This is what I felt

3. Ideate

This is the only stage where we need to think of the solution to the problems framed

After framing the problems, in the ideation stage, I tried to solve them by setting a timer of 5 minutes and generating maximum ideas within 5 minutes for each problem.

The moment I get solutions to the framed problems

Following were the ideas to framed problems:

  • Rhea moves to and fro the stove area and the microwave area, to watch video on her mobile phone.

Create a space for mobile in front of the stove

Mobile stand

Stove adjust somewhere, where the phone is kept

Use something like a selfie stick

Mobile hanger

  • Rhea spills liquid out of her grinder while preparing drinks

Use lids with better grips

Use cloths to wrap it around the lid

Grinder warning of the spill, if the lid is not tight or if there’s any chance of spill

Automated cleaning of spill

Grinder not working if there’s chance of any spill

Lidless grinder

  • While kneading flour, the surrounding area gets messy

Using high depth vessels for kneading

Use Kneading machine

Use automated machine to knead flour

Something that could suck all the flour dust

  • Rhea doesn’t like placing the soaped vessels in the slab or sink

Separate place for placing soaped vessels

An automated dish washing machine

  • The heat in the kitchen is unbearable for Rhea due to the heat

Fan or Ac

  • Rhea doesn’t like the cloth with which she has to clean the kitchen or wipe the mess from the kitchen

Something for cleaning that dries out quickly

Something like a tissue to use(use and throw)

  • It’s difficult for kamal to adjust all the vessels into the vessel container shelf

Vessel container which has large space and where multiple vessels could be adjusted

  • While cutting vegetable mess is created

Cutting mat which has a section for the peels

A knife that collects all the peels

Automated cleaning of the mess created by the peel

  • While washing dishes, one can clash with someone who is cooking in the kitchen

Keep distance between stove area and the sink area a bit large

Easily shiftable stove

Change the area stove kept

  • Kamal’s mother doesn’t take rest while working in the kitchen

A chair inside the kitchen

A chair which is easily movable and whose height is adjustable in order to sit and do the work of the kitchen

  • The kitchen is hot

Ac or fan

Draw out heat from kitchen

  • Shamita’s kitchen has no proper ventilation

Some ventilation area can be provided
Fan can help

  • Shamita feels her mobile phone is not safe in the kitchen

Creating a safer place for her mobile to be kept

A mobile stand

  • There’s a lack of space in the sink area

Placing the grinder on some other pluck point

A grinder that won’t need a pluck point

Creating a space for washed utensils to be kept
without consuming extra space

Dish washer

  • If the pluck point has a chimney connection, the grinder has to be taken to another pluck point which is far from the actual location
    where the grinder is kept

Using extension board

Switchboard with two pluck point

Grinder which needs no pluck point

Chimney which needs no pluck point

  • Cutting vegetables creates a mess

An automatic cleaner

A cutting board with an area where peels are to be collected

A knife that would collect all the peels

  • Kneading the flour creates the mess

Using vessel that has more depth for kneading

Use kneading machine

Using an automated gadget for kneading

Something that could suck all the flour dust

  • When Shamita opens the window for ventilation the stove’s flame gets off.

Change the place of the stove

Using Induction

  • Shamita’s vessel section is far from the cooking area

Vessel section near the stove

Vessels near the stove

A separate vessel container which would have basic vessels used
while cooking

  • Sometimes Anudyoti doesn’t like the wind coming from the window

The window with a filter that will not allow dust to get in

The window with blades, with which user can decide the amount of the wind that they can allow to get in

Swing can be added to the window, changing the direction of wind flow

  • The water splash coming from the sink while washing dishes
    annoys Anudyoti

The tap can be placed in a lower position

The tap’s flow can be distributed like that in a shower

The tap’s opening can have a separately attached funnel

The sink’s material can be such that it doesn’t allow water to leave
from the surface

The water flow from tap can be made very light

  • While washing the dishes, the washed dishes have to be kept on the slab that is a bit away from the sink area

A sink system that has extra space with it for the washed vessels

A tub can be kept in a stool, and washed vessels can be placed there
Later the vessels can be transferred to another place

  • There’s no proper place for keeping the spice boxes

A portable system can be there, which will contain all the
boxes and the system can be kept anywhere else if space is
used by some other stuff

A portable shelf in which all the boxes can be kept,
can be hanged on the wall

  • Anudyoti has to prepare his meals and do his office work at the
    same time sometimes

A live information system that could inform the user
in which phase its meal is in

A warning bell from the stove if the meal needs attention

A space for the laptop to be kept safely in the kitchen

  • Mousami doesn’t have a space to let the kitchen cloths dry

Creating a space in kitchen that would dry out cloth by
hot air blow

Adding a wire outside the window, for hanging cloth

Dry it using hairdryer

  • Mousami spills milk, tea while boiling them

An indicator that will warn the user by making some noise

The stove or the system turns off automatically as it feels the needs to do so

System would store the timing and it will automatically turn off the
system

  • The stove goes off due to the air coming from the window

Have flameless heat

An induction

Change the direction of air by adding blades to window

  • Mousami’s sink is less spacious and there’s no proper lighting over there

A sink with an area where washed vessels can be kept

A separate portable container where washed vessels can be kept and then kept anywhere, wherever space is there

  • Mousami wishes to have some private space in her kitchen

A curtain can be added to the border of the living room and kitchen

The stove can have walls that hide

Now it’s time⏰ to choose 3 ideas among all

For this, I first analyzed all the ideas closely then choose 3 ideas. The top 3 ideas are:

💡Top idea 1

Your idea: Creating a mobile stand that is portable and can be used while working in the kitchen

Reason you picked this idea: A mobile stand will provide space and safety as well for users, and users can keep their phones in the kitchen without any fear. Moreover, they can keep the phone wherever they wish to it will consume less space

💡Top idea 2

Your idea: Creating a sink that has a separate section for keeping the washed vessels, to make the sink area less congested

Reason you picked this idea: The sink by the users has been considered as the congested area and this congestion is due to the tub that almost all the users keep next to the sink. A sink with an area where washed vessels can be kept without occupying a lot of space

💡Top idea 3

Your idea: A Grinder that is lidless and will warn the user if there is any chance of leakage

Reason you picked this idea: While interviewing the users I found out that grinder spilling out liquid is one of the major factors why kitchen gets messy, So a solution like a grinder that will be lidless, making the leakage chance very low and even after that if there is any chance of leakage the grinder will warn the user

I choose these top 3 ideas on the basis of problems that they are solving, these top 3 ideas are the solution to maximum user problems

Me before getting into the PROTOTYPE stage

4. Prototype

In this stage representational model has to be created. The model can be made in anything it can be in form of a sketch, illustration, or any other form

  • It is usually advised not to spend much time and money on this stage.

For prototyping, firstly I had to select one idea out of the top 3 ideas. So, I decided to go ahead with creating a mobile stand in the kitchen, the reason why I choose this idea is that in today’s time mobile has become an important part of our lives and no matter we always want to be close to our mobile phones

I was really excited to work on the prototype but as I started working I had so much confusion🤔 about how would the stand look like, how to make it portable, safe for mobile phones, less space-consuming. So, I started by taking each point once instead of thinking about all of them together, I started creating ideas with a pencil at the beginning, and later to make it more clear I created the prototype in Figma

Prototype with sketch
Prototype in Figma
  • This mobile stand has a base through which it can stand
  • A metallic pipe is connected to it which is flexible so the height and the angle can be decided by the user itself.
  • The front screen portion has a transparent plastic material through which users can easily have access to their phone, the touch is accessible
  • The mobile holder has a pocket-like structure through which mobile can be inserted from the top portion and removed from the same
  • It also has a grip holder which assures that the phone doesn’t fall
  • The rear portion of the holder has a portion that is not covered through which the camera, torch, and fingerprint sensor can be accessed
  • Also, this stand can be cleaned, in case it gets dirty by wiping it with a wet cloth
Felt this for a moment

5. Testing 🔬

In this stage, the prototype build will be tested by the users, and after that, the product will be modified if needed by taking insights from the users' feedback

I requested my team members especially all of my users to be there on the group call. Then, I presented my solution in front of my team members, and they rewarded me with such helpful feedback. The feedbacks were:

  • The phone might get affected if I use it near the stove area because of the low height
  • The base might not hold the weight of the mobile phone
  • While using the phone, the user also charges the phone at the same time but there’s no space in the stand through which the charger can get in (There should be space for all the plugins, speaker, volume up-down button, and power button)
  • I don’t have space in my slab so I keep my phone on the window but this stand cannot be placed on the window

After getting such invaluable feedbacks I made points of changes that are required on the solution to incorporate them in the solution

  • I will try to get a base that would hold the mobile phone
  • I will try to find a way so that the plugins and side buttons can be used
  • I will try to find out a solution in which the stand will occupy minimum space and also it can be placed in any place
  • I will design the stand such that it can be held on more height

Learnings from Project

1. User Interview is actually not like a typical serious interview it’s just about understanding the user and user’s behavior and I loved doing this interview

2. While interviewing users one should always ask ‘Why’ for any statement any likes dislikes or habits informed by the user

3. There is no right or wrong question while you’re interviewing. The only thing is one should try to avoid making questions that will lead the user to answer in a biased way

4. The interviewer should never provide the user with a solution immediately because then the user starts giving biased answers.

4. While doing the testing try to get less feedback on the product and emphasize more on getting feedback for how the user problem is getting solved by the product

5. As a User Experience Designer the solution is not always related to screening it can be in any form

Excited to do following in future

1. To interview users for upcoming projects keeping in mind the things I have learned and unlearned in this Design Thinking Project

2. To learn more and more at the end of all the projects that I do

3. To solve more and more real-life problems for the users

#StudentForLife🤘

Thank you! for reading this case study. I hope you enjoyed reading this case study, if yes then please clap to appreciate my work. If you have any feedback, I’d like to hear from you 😃

I'm a User Experience Designer. Solving user problems and business problem with the help of design