A project aiming to alleviate stress associated with digital adoption within the retail industry, specifically with using the register.
Based on research we conducted, we found that young people were anxious about learning new technology in the workplace. We set off this project with the goal of alleviating that anxiety and building confidence within young adults (our target audience was 15 to 18 year olds working in retail).
I was on a collaborative UX research & design team. We each had our hands in every aspect of the design process. This case study will highlight and discuss my contributions:
We wanted to incorporate a few things into our design system based on our target audience and research findings:
In retail, the biggest piece of tech employees use constantly is the POS system. Many POS machines that big name companies use are alike in that they are slow, choppy, poorly designed, and error prone. Unfortunately, it is not within our scope to address whether or not a store has implemented a system in a way that minimizes error messaging. Our best chance at minimizing anxiety employees feel on the job is to arm trainees with a tool that can help them learn their POS system the best that they can before they are even on the sales floor.
Young adults (18-25) who have yet to start work or who work in retail.
We wanted to gather information on how frontline workers (of all industries) felt about the digital devices they use at work, so that we could see where we might be able to help.
Three college students with no money... How do we get a survey to a lot of people without breaking the bank? Simple, we share it on every thing we can! We utilized Discord, Reddit, and QR codes to get the most responses from our target audience (frontline workers!).
We were interested in seeing if we would get responses from QR code flyers that had context or from ones that didn’t. We were surprised by this, but our flyers with context got zero scans! The ones with no context got over 30! Do people like the thrill of a mystery?
We analyzed the data from our survey in order to find . I want to stress that our survey was taken majorly by college students, so there is a bias towards younger age groups. We took this into account when choosing our target audience!
We each conducted short interviews with 18-25 year olds that worked in either the retail or food industry. This helped us understand how different people view training and if there were any common experiences shared. Since most of the surveyors were 18-25, we agreed that age range should be part of our target audience because the data accurately spoke for them.
We also had our interviewees walk us through what their training was like. From this, I was able to create a journey map that accurately showed their experience with in-class training. My other team members did another journey map that covered video-training.
Based on our feedback and the people we interviewed, we developed three personas that represented their desires, frustrations, obstacles, needs, and influences. My persona was Sunshine (the biggest persona on the left). I interviewed a barista at Dunn Brothers Coffee and Sunshine is based on that interview. I even put a picture of the POS my interviewee used at their work.
We held a team meeting and each presented our personas and any new and notable findings we gathered from interviewing and journey mapping. Our discussion led to us picking the retail industry to focus on for the rest of this project. We decided this, because we found that the food industry has a lot more devices an employees might use on the job compared to a retail employee. Because of limitations like time and manpower, we chose to focus solely on the POS systems within the retail industry.
I always like to start my ideation phase with a mind map. It helps me see where topics and ideas coincide. I used this mind map to help me better visualize how we could achieve training that increased memorization, motivation, fun, and employee confidence while decreasing anxiety felt.
Using sticky notes, we wrote as many ideas we had down. This process helped us think of things we wouldn’t have originally thought and also to get silly ideas out of our head. We then sorted these ideas out into categories and consolidated any similar ideas we may have had.
We took our sticky notes from our card sort and had people organize them on an impact matrix. This matrix helped us identify what ideas had high impact and low effort to execute.
By doing these activities, we decided to go the gamification route and to tackle training. We were interested in how training relates to confidence with using the POS system in retail.
Each of us drew about 30 sketches (a couple of mine above). We combined my line conqueror idea (inspired by games like Diner Dash) with another teammate’s idea of removing buttons on the POS system as the game increases in difficulty. This game is a simulation where the trainee would learn how to process transactions, returns, and how to troubleshoot the POS when it gets wacky to progress further in the game so that they can be better equipped when actually on the register.
As a team, we developed this map that shows the path a user would go to use the system. We focused primarily on the game pathway (pink section), because that is the main feature or function of our system and where we would be spending most of our time. The process of making this map together helped us communicate our ideas and expectations so that we were all on the same page before any serious design work began.
I instructed my test participant to play through the training game and tell me their thoughts about each page. I found out some insightful information, because my tester was curious about our plans for the game and asked questions I had no answers for yet. It helped me know what users might look forward to and expect.
We were curious to see if our testers would recognize our training simulator as a game, and that they would understand the reward point progress bar, badges, and alert box.
Assembling an atomic design systems helped us take a moment and think of all of the states interactable elements could have. What would it look like in its pressed, hovered, disabled, or default state? After our team created the atomic design sheet, the high fidelity prototype really put its self together.
After multiple mid-fi iterations, it was time to start playing around with color and details of the user interface. We worked on our atomic design and created a design library to achieve consistency within our system and to also make it easier for us to make changes across screens later (via components in Figma).
It was really important that we had an effective tutorial so trainees would understand how to play the game. Through several iterations and tests, we came up with the idea of pop-ups that would blur the irrelevant parts of the screen when explaining how to do certain tasks on the register so users wouldn't get overwhelmed or miss out on the explanation.View Prototype
I can confidently say that we designed a POS training method that could minimize anxiety amongst young adults on the register. We made sure that the language used throughout our game would not make trainees feel like they are being talked to as if they are children (this was a pain point we found in our research phase). We also kept the POS screen interface exactly the same as the one they will be using since it would not be of any help for them to learn any other type of POS. This means that we had to compromise aesthetics as POS screens are notoriously badly designed. That reminds me of another question we asked ourselves during our ideation phase, "The POS is badly designed and not so intuitive, so how can we teach the work arounds and help develop muscle memory so that it can be used with ease?" Our answer was creating a fun game that could relieve frustration and help users memorize tasks that they'd often be operating on the register.
If my team and I were to work on this in the future, we would like to work towards some of the following goals:
I enjoyed working on this project and I found it fun to be constantly iterating based on our user testing throughout the duration of this project.
The first point I want to mention is that this was the first project I had created a design system for and I can never go back. It's important to have a style sheet to reference back to so that your end design is consistent and that changes can be made easily. Even more importantly, style sheets make it easy for developers to build your designs.
This project also helped me learn that you have to always have your project’s scope in the back of your mind, especially when you are in the ideation phase. One of our original ideas when we were card sorting was to make a VR training program. We learned from our impact matrix that it would have a high impact on our users, but it would also take a considerable amount of effort and time. It also might not have been more effective than our desktop training program we ended up designing. Our system is more realistic when you consider our clients and the companies that might utilize our training program. They are not going to buy a VR headset for their employees to train on, but they will use the already existing desktop that they likely already have in their back office.
My last point of reflection for this project is that if I could, I would be more conscientious of who we were giving the survey to. As it is, our surveys ended up being mostly filled out by younger age groups like college students. We would have benefited from insight that older age groups could have given us and our data would have been significantly less biased. We chose our target audience based on our data, so we had to go with a younger age range, but I wonder if we would have explored how older age groups within the retail industry experience training.
That’s it! Thank you for reading my case study!