Team: Meera, Alex, Keziah, & Izzi

Week 1

Last Tuesday, we put up community ideas into the class Mural and worked synchronously to form groups that were interested in similar communities.

I put up some ideas or personal to me such as the Buy Nothing community in my neighborhood, as well as the plant buy/sell/exchange group in New York City. Unfortunately no one else was as excited about these ideas as I was, so I looked elsewhere for a community to join. Alex and Meera had posted similar community ideas like work from home spaces, particularly places people have started using since the pandemic and the WFH revolution. Coincidentally, that same day I had gone to a coffee shop down the road to do some design work for my full-time job. My housemates and I had been looking for nearby coffee places to work at and this one just happened to be one we had walked by the other day.

Alex, Meera, Kez, and I started a Slack channel to chat about the community and to see if we were still interested in working together. We decided to start a mess map that was really general in scope so we could drill down later.

We started with work from home spaces New York City and settled on our possible users being employees and students, as all four of us are actually currently working and going to school. Within work from home spaces in the city we got some ideas such as parks, bakeries, libraries, and the most important one of all, coffee shops. We decided to dive a little deeper into the collective knowledge of coffee shops as work from home spaces. It was interesting to see how all of us have different ideas and questions about this community. You can see it reflected in the “potential things to focus on” area. We also did a rudimentary search on the Internet for secondary research found interesting.

Although we're still not sure exactly what we will be focusing on for the rest of the project, I think we got some really good ideas to get the ball rolling.

Week 2

This week, the group dove into our concept and stakeholder maps. Since we had a good discussion last week and mapped out the majority of our stakeholders already it was easy to move into the next step. In addition, having the lectures and readings discuss methods and tips for research was extremely helpful for us going into the rest of the project.

We first listed out who our potential stakeholders may be: employees, students, teachers/professors, business owners, baristas, tourists, artists and coffee connoisseurs. Writing those out helped us figure out which research methods we may want to focus on such as in person talks/interviews and observations while working at a coffee shop ourselves. To go more in depth, we each we created a physical map.

This stakeholder map outlines each potential user and what observations and patterns we can find from the. For example, a professional would use coffee shops for networking, business meetings, co-working, etc and another user would go to a coffee shop for personal use such as dates, meetups and snacks. We were able to find potential patterns and common spaces in them both such as a community at the coffee shop there and a neutral space for all these activities to happen.

We then were able to use that information to create a concept map (shown below). This mapped out the environment, motivations, influences and unforeseen circumstances that our stakeholders may face when they chose to work from a coffee shop. Putting all these aspects into a map helped us to start narrowing down our ideas and figuring out how we wanted to go forward in this project.

This coming week we want to continue to refine both these maps and get a better understanding of what we are trying to learn and how we will go about achieving that. Once we start brainstorming more around research, questions, and activities that we can use, we will be able to get a more detailed understanding of the goals we are trying to achieve.

Reflection

It’s difficult to work toward something that isn’t quite clear yet. The work we’ve done so far makes sense, and I know that talking with stakeholders will absolutely reveal some very interesting things about the coffee-shop work-from-home community. However, I am a bit worried about not finding a problem within our community that we can feasibly attempt to work on. I am a little less stressed knowing we don’t have to have a solid, complete solution by the end of class and that it can be a more of an informal intervention based on what we’ve learned.

Week 3

Context

I did an online card sorting activity and interview with three people (hoping to get more this upcoming week!) I interviewed Martina who is in Pittsburgh, Nimish who is in Boston, and Priya who is in Brooklyn. They are all in their twenties. Martina is a Masters student who mainly uses coffee shops to study and do work, and occasionally socializes there. Nimish is a PhD student who mainly goes to coffee shops to study. Priya is a full-time data visualization specialist who mainly goes to coffee shops to work.

Findings

My (very informal) hypothesis was that location was the biggest factor when choosing a place to work at, followed by WiFi, and outlets. I was surprised that location wasn’t the biggest factor in any one of the three people I talked to. Martina’s biggest factor was quality and affordability of the coffee, Nimish’s was cost of drinks and access to bathrooms. Priya’s biggest factor was the vibe/ambiance of the coffee shop, which include the windows and access to daylight.

Martina’s
Nimish’s
Priya’s

Another thing that was surprising was that all three people felt that 5 to 6 dollars was the most they’d want to spend on a drink at a coffee shop. I didn’t expect such a specific price point to be brought up unprompted by all three people! All three also said that if the prices were a little pricier, they might go once but not return, even if it ticked off all the other important factors on their list. Martina very much had a transactional relationship with the coffee shop in mind when she bought a drink: She felt that buying one coffee was enough to warrant being able to stay at the coffee shop for a few hours.

Nimish and Martina cared about the quality of the menu items, though not the quantity. Priya did not particularly think about menu items when selecting a coffee shop. All three felt that working outlets were a very important factor. In fact, Nimish would not go to any coffee shop if it did not have outlets as his laptop battery does not last very long without being plugged in. Nimish was the only one that would work in a coffee shop without WiFi, but none felt strongly about password protected or unsecured WiFi as long as it worked.

Nimish and Priya cared about table size, which I hadn’t particularly considered when I put “table” as one of the choices. All three did rank “ambiance/vibe” pretty high on the list of importance. Priya and Martina both mentioned the possibility of walking in to a coffee shop and not having space available to work. Priya would rather go to a place that she felt confident would have space for her than try a new place out.

The biggest surprises for me were the factors that my volunteers added on their own. For Martina, sustainability and ethically-sourced coffee was something that she didn’t go out of her way to look at when choosing a coffee shop, but when a coffee shop she went to was outspoken about their ethically sourced coffee, she was more likely to come back. Nimish was very concerned with the cleanliness of the coffee shop; he did not want to have to clean up sticky messes or crumbs left behind by other patrons. Additionally, he strongly disliked coffee shops that have a bathroom with an access code, or where you have to buy something in order to use the bathroom. Priya mentioned that a problem she’d had recently was the gamble she takes when she goes to a new coffee shop. What if their WiFi isn’t stable? What if they have no outlets? What if there is no room for her to sit and work? Also, one coffee shop she had gone to previously with no issues had a random WiFi outage, and she feels unsure about whether to return, what if that had happened during a meeting? Will it happen again?

Reflection

I really enjoyed not having a script to some extent. Each volunteer could pick something and tell me what they wanted about it and I could ask more questions based on their responses. I think this was key to uncovering some of those issues they have with coffee shops. I know this is discovery research, but I wish I would have collaborated a bit more with my teammates to create a backlog of questions or topics that I could ask my volunteers about, especially in the case of Nimish. While Martina was more than happy to talk about each individual factor, Nimish was more reluctant to talk about the ones that he didn’t place on the chart.

I do want to interview at least another 3 people in the following week. I made a post on a local Facebook Buy Nothing group and no one has answered me, so I wish I had an easier way of contacting volunteers. I thought about going to a coffee shop and talking to people there, but once I got there everyone seemed really busy doing their work.

Week 5

This week, the team created an Affinity Map in Figma to consolidate our findings and try to focus on what our primary research revealed to us and interested us.

We had groups consisting of type of uses, location, music choices, common frustrations, esthetics of the shop, etc. We then put star stamps on ones that particularly interested us. It was interesting to see that even though we used different methods and went different places during different times of day, there were some findings that were similar across all research (like not needing secure Wifi).

Post-its with stars

  1. Transactional relationship between payment and space (2 stars)
  2. Music in relation to the user’s preferences/psychographics
  3. Instagramable coffee shops
  4. Coffee users with their laptops and headphones in
  5. Coffee places without enough seats and/or crowded (2 stars)

Moving forward, the team is thinking of ways interventions can be made and how to prototype for these topics. We’re also thinking of ways to synthesize these two research topics. We’ll start by using a map as our object to visualize these locations and as a jumping-off point for prototyping.

Reflection

This week felt a bit slow due to the holidays, but I’m glad we were still able to get some asynchronous work done. I still don’t think that we’re particularly close to having an intervention but I’m still trying to trust the process. I think it would be so easy to just settle on making an app that uses crowd-sourced data to map coffee shops with different tags like #OpenSeating or #IndustrialChicVibes or #NoOutlets and allowing filtering by location, or something to that extent, but I don’t want to settle for something easy. I guess time will tell!

Week 6

This week, our goal was to brainstorm and start creating some prototype or intervention that included our research into the coffee shop/WFH community. We met up and decided to individually write out different intervention ideas we had- from crazy or impossible to easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy as we could think. After this, we affinity mapped all the ideas and discussed what we felt more drawn to and what would be the best way to present our research.

We all had a few ideas that were similar and that we all liked, so we decided to combine them into a physical prototype. It would spell out terminology in coffee shops/unwritten rules, a comic to describe the interactions we experienced as well as a section with all coffee shops (or their bathrooms) based on location in New York City. In addition, we also all like the idea of having an app that is connected to it to be able to see a live view of the coffee shop and all that it entails. Meera and Kez handled the app and presentation, Alex handled the comic, and I chose to work on the terminology and unwritten rules portion of the prototype.

I am still working on my part of the project (the booster shot’s side effects put a damper on my work time, unfortunately). But some of the unwritten rules are as follows:

For patrons of coffee shops:

  • Always buy something
  • Do not take a call or meeting too loudly
  • Do not leave a mess for someone else to clean up
  • Be kind to the barista
  • Allow someone else to sit at your table if you are alone

For coffee shop owners:

  • Be sure to have strong WiFi
  • More outlets is never a bad idea
  • Vibe is important
  • Don’t put a code on your bathroom
  • Offer free water

I plan on adding more and making it cute and then placing it in our zine!

Reflection

I am both excited and a bit underwhelmed by our final project; looking back, I kind of wish we had all collaborated one one final intervention instead of putting several of them together. I know that it would have been much, much harder to find time we were al available to collaborate, but I think it would have been a better experience. This week, I am excited to put all the pieces together and hopefully print a zine out!

Week 7

This is the final week! We continued to work asynchronously (with one synched Zoom meeting to make sure we were all on the same page). Kez and Meera worked on the presentation and the digital mockup, Alex made a wonderful digital comic, and I put together two pages on the “unwritten rules @ coffee shops.” Once these pieces were all complete, I booted up Photoshop (so many things have changed since I last used it!) and noodled around with arranging the pages.

Although my initial idea was to make the zine out of one sheet of printer paper (to make it super accessible and lightweight), it would have been a little bit too tight of a fit with all our information. Therefore, I made the executive decision to make it out of two printer pages and two staples. It’s a but more hefty, obviously, but I think it made the most sense and it worked out alright.

I took a little video to show the size and portability of the zine.

Here are our final presentation slides!

Reflection

This was a great group project. Even with everything being virtual and Covid still happening and all the crazy things in the world, I learned a lot. There are many small things I would have done differently (more interviews, focusing on one facet of WFH at coffee shops rather than the broader topic, meeting more in person), but I feel happy with our final product. I wish we would have pushed it further and actually dropped these off at local coffee shops or interviews people about the zine and what they liked/dislikes, or wanted to add or remove. Seven weeks felt like a lot but in retrospect there is still so much more we could work on!

Hola! Full time UX Designer, part time masters student @ NYU