The Whole Experience

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So the first class project I created focuses on user research & usability testing.  I had originally scoped out Home Depot as our first ‘client’ to conduct usability testing on — in particular, I was curious how the online/offline (clicks vs bricks) would pan out in terms of experience.  But after spending way too much time just trying to get ahold of someone with authority at the warren-like Cambie St location, it was with a lot of happiness & relief that I instead found a non-profit organization (more about them next week) who welcomed our help.

Since our ‘client’ is in the business of selling food to consumers, this week’s class involved a trip to Whole Foods to analyze their experience and as a way to kickstart some ideas about things the students could possibly test and who they might test it on.  I’ve always personally had a love-hate relationship with the retailer, but never really took the time to understand the “love” end of that spectrum.  After spending almost two hours in there store taking a really good and deep look at everything, I started to see why the attraction persists (despite my best attempts at foiling it).

I asked the students to look at it with the following questions in mind:

  • What do you notice first when you walk in?  Is this positive, neutral or negative?
  • Describe the aesthetic.
  • Who do you think this appeals to?
  • What is the quality of the store wayfinding (how do they categorize products?  How are aisles labeled?  Maps?) Do you find it easy or hard to find products?
  • Do you notice any signage?  How are products featured?  Sale products? Sale flyers?
  • How do they convince you to try/buy new products?
  • What are some examples of well-designed “features” of the store?
  • Why do you think people choose to shop here?  List as many reasons as you can think of.

I did the exercise myself and was dumbfounded at all the “data” I collected.  In fact, I had so many thoughts, ideas and associations that I now recognize that I could probably spend hours compiling all of it…which I just may do.  Now just to find a few spare hours…


Interested in the User Experience course I’m teaching? Here’s my previous post:

>The First Class


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