Designing Better Shopping Experiences

Using a variety  of research methods, students with disabilities and conventional students at San Francisco State University studied “how the principles of Inclusive Universal Design practice can promote equity with respect to access and use of the physical environment.” Their findings can certainly assist market organizers and their methods should influence how we gather data.

The Symposium & Workshop sought to orient and prepare students with disabilities to educational and professional career opportunities in the design disciplines. There were three primary goals and collaborative interfaces.

(1) To introduce inclusive human-centered design applications in the design curriculum at SFSU that will orientate students, both the students with disabilities and conventional university design students to the holistic benefits of design education and practice that go beyond the exclusive and limited convention of mainstream design applications.

(2) Exposing students to inclusive participatory design empathy methodology.

(3) Identifying and creating design concepts for the product environment and interior space that facilitates one’s ability to access and manipulate the active learning and recreational environment at home, or at school.

This approach to data collection and design is available to busy and to “under-resourced” food organizers through resources and trainings available for purchase, and in online and in-person individual and group trainings.  The two companies that I usually send people to are Luma Institute for their wonderful resources on how to use this process (I also took their in-person course, thanks to FMC and the Knight Foundation) and Ideo, which has influenced some food system funders, like Ford Foundation. Both offer online individual and group courses.

I would suggest that this sort of professional development is exactly what can be included in grants or even sponsored by neighboring businesses of a market to undertake as a team. This approach is similar to the methods that are either included (or will be) in the Farmers Market Metrics program,  in tools such as the Marketshare section of Market Umbrella’s site and in the Farmers Market Toolkit instruments on the British Columbia Farmers Market site.

The final newsletter  includes  findings from these two projects:

Students Design Shopping Cart for Elderly Community

Supermarket carts are solid enough to lean on, but collapsible “granny carts” often used at urban farmer’s markets do not provide appropriate support for people with mobility issues, Fisher explained. “The idea of a cart is not exotic, but (it’s) important to my life,” Fisher said.

After conducting multiple interviews in the aging community, Lopez and Renard realized the need for a supportive personal cart is widespread. Renard said existing carts are generally constructed with weak materials with little attention to aesthetic.

“People put a little bit of thought and design into (portable carts), but they just paint (them) that nasty old-person beige,” Renard said. “Just because people are aging, they don’t want ugly products. They want something that fits their needs but is also stylish – (a product) they aren’t embarrassed to use.”

They credit their inspiration to Dr. June Fisher, an 82-year-old occupational health physician and Bay Area product design lecturer who worked closely with the duo throughout production.

She said she looks forward to having a CityCart of her own, something supportive enough to navigate a farmers market and pick up a few heirloom veggies without relying on someone else.

“The design came from a particular person’s need – my need,” Fisher said.

Designing a Better Shopping Experience with a Holistic Approach to Aging in Place

Several methods were employed such as group and individual in-depth interviews, immersive observations, shadowing and experience mapping session. By means of these methods it was conceived that elderly face several physical challenges while shopping.

These challenges are mostly due to their physical decline, are mainly coherent with the existing literature most of which have not been responded for many years. The main areas of concern were the large size of food packages, standing in long checkout lines, reading the labels, using the carts and baskets, size and layout of stores, shelves and location of products.

The study showed a very social aspect to shopping experience. Participants found shopping to be an experience than can be fun and social. The nostalgia from old ages and existing cultures around the world were two main sources of comparison for the elders. Elders showed to be very perceptive of personal social interactions of them as customers with the seller or store staff. They desired to personally know the staff and be known by them. They liked the staff to remember them and their preferences. They looked for a personal relationship with the staff; one that helps building trust in both parties. They also liked to make conversations and take advice from them on which food to buy or how to cook a special dish with the food and more. Talking of advice was always hand in hand with ‘trust’.

Findings showed that the seniors associated the personal familiarity with the seller and making regular conversations with him to sense of trust towards the seller. The general view of shopping environment was an environment for shopping, having fun and social interactions. They were specifically enthusiastic about communicating with the younger generation and truly appreciated the young people’s patience when they needed more time to learn.

The participants liked to be specially treated, not in a manner  that suggests they are not capable of doing it themselves or that they are old, but a special care based on friendly relationships,

One of the prominent findings of the research was elders’ discomfort when standing in long lines. Some had to physically strain while standing, finding leaning on the carts to be the only option to alleviate the hardship. Also, over the course of study a few times people brought up the idea of a resting area where they could sit for a while and take a breath. The combination of these findings led the researcher to design a service to address the mentioned issues. The service is called, “Valet Checkout”.

These methods can reduce the learning curve for markets and increase the likelihood of success in the final design.

 

Free Human-Centered Design Workshop Offered

IDEO.org is happy to announce the second iteration of Human-Centered Design for Social Innovation, a course that we’ve created in conjunction with Acumen. This seven-week course will get you started using the human-centered design process to create innovative, effective, and sustainable solutions for social change in your community. Last year, we had over 13,000 people sign up for this course. They formed over 4,200 design teams bringing human-centered design to 134 countries. Want to learn more? Watch this short video.

How does the course work? This course is designed with a group-guided learning structure. This means that in order to participate, you’ll need to form a team of between two and six people. Once you have your team, you’ll meet each week to learn the human-centered design process via the readings and workshop materials that we’ve created for you. Along the way, you’ll also tackle a social sector design challenge in your own community.

How much does the course cost? The course is free. 

When does the course start and how long does it last? The course begins on March 31, 2014 and is designed to be conducted over a minimum of seven weeks. However, you can also choose to do the course over a longer period of time if a different pace is right for your team.  

Do I need to be a designer to sign-up for the course? This course is open to all and does NOT require any prior design experience.

What if I’ve taken the course already? We’ve created a bonus chapter for those who want to scope their own design challenge. Even if you learned with us last summer, please consider furthering your knowledge of human-centered design by joining us again!

Who else is taking the course? You’ll join teams from around the world taking this course as part of the leadership classes offered by Acumen. Last year, many participants found it valuable to take the course with their coworkers and explore how human-centered design can add new perspectives to their work–whether it be applied to nonprofits, social enterprises, educational institutions, or international aid organizations. In addition, you’ll have the opportunity to share your learnings, ask questions, and get to know other course participants from around the world via an online Google+ community.

Interested in signing up? Register by March 30th at: http://plusacumen.org/courses/hcd-for-social-innovation/

More information? +Acumen course ambassadors are holding precourse Meetups in cities around the world. Attend a Meetup to learn more and to meet other human-centered designers interested in taking the course. More questions? Email HCDCourse@IDEO.org