Progress Update on SELect: Optimizing Effective Advising

Product: a tool to assist advisors of post-traditional college students broach the topics of self-advocacy and social and emotional learning. Our tool is a questionnaire that optimizes the short time advisors have with their students, making sure that the sensitive root causes of problems are the center of the conversation.

Team: Cristina Suazo, Zev Powell & Adam Niederprum

 

This week

  • Recruited pilot participants
    Huzzah! We’ve recruited two organizations who are excited to pilot our product. It’s looking like 5-6 advisors will use our product during their meetings for the next two weeks. We have 2 other advisors each from different organizations who are interested. Even when organizations cannot pilot, due to implementation friction, we’ve still been getting rich data because of their reaction.
  • Created pilot
    The goal of a pilot is to let the intended user experience the products core value in an unsupervised.
    For our pilot, we created two parts. Click on the link for a preview!

    • 1) questionnaire for a student
    • 2) a report for advisors to see the student’s response.

We are cobbling together this pilot using typeform and google sheet; it’s important to use pre-existing resources and not overbuild. We had to tailor the questions a bit for different organizations.

  • Create Demo video
    We’re in production of a simple demo video. The purpose is two-fold: share our concept with any interested organization in a quick & digestible format. Also, it can serve as a mini tutorial of the pilot so advisors using the product will have clear expectations on what it will require of them. Encourage buy-in of both the organization and the pilot participants.
  • Create an MVP (minimum viable product)
    We’ve created three different types of MVP to validate three different questions:

    • VIDEO DEMO “Do advisors have a need for this product.”  Show stakeholders and users the demo and based on their reaction, validate or invalidate the concept.
    • DATA ANALYSIS “Can advisors use this?” Show an advisor real responses from their students. Test if the responses are useful, and if it prompts an advisor to reach out to a student who might be struggling.
    • PILOT IN REAL ADVISING SESSION “Can advisors use it and it works?” The pilot used in context. Test if using the tool resulted in a conversation around a student’s personal life.
  • Created key research questions
    We established the unvalidated assumptions, then determine the questions and metrics to test product and validate its feasibility. Here are the key questions we will need to be answered from the pilot or MVP

    • Did any student’s response use language that, characteristically, is vulnerable and open?
    • Based on the student’s response, would advisor be compelled to intervene?
    • During a meeting, did conversation around personal life happen?
    • Was it more in-depth than previous meetings with the same student?
    • Did the conversation lead to clarity on the “root cause” of an issue?

 

Next week:

  • Collect Data. Student responses will start to roll in. We need to capture not only the students response but also document the advisor’s experience and reaction. To do this, the advisor will take brief notes about the meeting and also we will follow up with a debrief call to probe deeper on the value of the product.
  • Synthesis- Analyze the student’s response and the outcome of the meeting. Take metrics. Create insights.
  • Finalize and send demo video. Recruiting feels like fishing. Sending this demo video is a quick simple method to “bait” organizations and pique their interest.

How you can help

  • Watch our demo and give feedback. If you are interested in seeing our demo please follow this link. We want to know your initial reaction and feedback
  • Connect us with professionals in the space of CRM systems (Customer Relationship Management).

 

 

“Roadmaps are extraordinarily inaccurate”

“Roadmaps are extraordinarily inaccurate” I learned from Scott, an experienced Product Manager. It came as a surprise because I put all this work into trying to accurately triangulate the cost-benefit of each feature, but it will never be accurate?! If that’s the case, then I ask myself, why even bother? If it is not for estimating time and cost, then what is the purpose of the roadmap?  The answer: It is for strategizing.

Decisions, Decisions

Building a product road map forced me to look at my app from an entirely different angle.  Instead of asking “what could be” for wireframes, I now ask “what should be”. How can I make this app a reality as quickly as possible? What are the key components? What can wait for later (wait for more money, time, and feedback)?

The biggest constraint for my banking app is that I want the bank to be entirely online, no brick & mortar. I had to prioritize features that were essential to the key functions of a bank.

Core Functions of a Bank App Feature
Deposit your money        –> Deposit a check
Withdraw your money   –> Find an ATM
Monitor your money      –> View transactions

Below is the roadmap. It is portioned into 4 versions in <30day increments. The different colors mean that the features have similar components or were from the same flow. I used colors to ensure that features are being built in the right order. It also means that a developer who worked on one color should also work on the same color in the next version.

Product Roadmap in 30-day release increments

302.2-3 Sketch artboard line up - Copy of Product Roadmap

302.2-3 Sketch artboard line up - Copy of Product Roadmap (3)

Process

Before I started making decisions, I first played around with my options. I made squares of paper for each feature so I could shuffle them around on a table. The paper squares were different sizes to correlate with the days it takes to build them. Also, they were color coded because a lot of white piece of paper was hard for me to interact with and process.

IMG_4105

To make the squares I started with the spreadsheet (image 1) I already had from prioritizing features. All I had to do was add blank cells per day. (image 2) Print and cut.

(Image 1: Step one- spreadsheet for sizing features)

Screenshot 2019-03-27 18.51.45

(Image 2: Step two- insert a blank cell per day. For example, a two-day feature has two cells.)

Screenshot 2019-03-27 16.20.59

 

How do I think like a developer? Lessons learned from my first sizing evaluation with a frontend developer

So now what? I have wireframes that have passed the user testing rounds. But wireframes can only go so far. The next part is to pass the feasibility test. This is the part when the rubber meets the road. As designers have to take our head out of the clouds, come down to reality and start answering the hard question of “Is this app even feasible?” To answer that, only a developer would know.

1. Take Inventory: Break down the wireframes into distinct components. Make an exhaustive list of all features and controls.

First I go frame by frame and identify each distinct component (the capabilities of the app). I am learning to look at my wires in an entirely new way. I made a spreadsheet (image 1.1) to map out an exhaustive list of feature and how they work. It’s important to know this app backward and forward- all the logistics and also the rationale. As a thought exercise for myself, I answer these four questions for each screen.

  • What does the user see? (front end)
  • What is the purpose? (feature)
  • What does the user touch and do? (controls)
  • What does the app think about and do? (backend)

Screenshot 2019-03-19 02.02.52 Image1.1: Feature Capability Spreadsheet

Then once I had all my thought out of my head, I annotated wireframes (image 1.2) aka. redlining), this is a visual that correlates with the features and controls outlined in the spreadsheet. Below is an example, in red are the features; in green are the controls.

!mage1.2 Annotated Wireframe (red for features' green for controls)
Image1.2: Annotated Wireframe (red for features’ green for controls)

 

In preparation for my meeting with the developer, I created simplified and clean versions of the feature’s spreadsheet and annotated wireframes. I also printed out all the wireframes in order to go through the flows. The developer requested printed versions instead of digital because it is easier to look at all the wireframes laid out. It’s also easier to mark up the paper with notes.

2. Size it: Sitting down with a front end developer, I go through each feature in the context of the user flow. Then they determine it’s feasibility and cost.

It reminds me of ordering a cake. I know the exact components: chocolate cake, vanilla frosting, sprinkles and rosettes on top, but I do not know how to make the cake. It’s up to the baker to quote how long it takes and how much it costs for ingredients and labor.
During the meeting with a developer, we first went through the user flow while I verbally described what the features were. Then the developer asked clarifying questions before he finally gave an estimate of how many days it would take to build each feature for the flow (image 2).
My learning moments happened when the developer asked a question I was not prepared to answer. Here are a few of said questions
  • “Is this button custom? or standard?”
  • “Where does the information live- on the device/client or on a server?”
  • “Is this code reusable somewhere else in the app?”

Screenshot 2019-03-19 02.16.58Image 2: Sizing estimate for each feature

All in all, the developer estimated that this banking app with all the features included would take 54-71 days to build.

Thing I will do differently at my next sizing estimate meeting with a developer:

-Bring an abbreviated site map to give a general overview of the app.
-I will make my own estimate predictions prior to the meeting.
-Ask “how can I make this more lean?”. This is a good question because a developer can create solutions to acheive the same end, but by different means.
-Propose more features even if I do not have wireframes to show the developer. 

3. Prioritize. Choose which features make the cut. Weighing between the user value and the development cost, I will re-prioritize which features are most important.

Stay tuned to see which features get cut and why.

How to Finish Strong.

As we approach the final stretch of the AC4D intensive design program, here are our team’s reflections on how to finish strong.

5 Things to Keep Doing

  • Constant creation and iteration of low fidelity visuals: concept maps, product roadmap, etc. to make high fidelity versions.
  • Always be willing to get feedback and show your work even if it’s not finished.
  • Balance subjectivity and objectivity to develop insights.
  • Improve skills in visual storytelling.
  • Balance client relationships. Get paid. 

5 Things to Start Doing

  • Learn the fundamentals of product management and agile.
  • Learn how to piece together a product for high fidelity.
  • Pitch a vision that has tangible results.
  • Play to my strengths and personality.
  • Practice describing my niche as a designer verbally and written: “I’m a designer who utilizes social and emotional learning to design …”

5 Things to Stop Doing

  • stop- getting caught up in my weaknesses and spend my time toiling in them.
  • stop- stressing over self-created deadlines.
  • stop- Making an artifact digital without first making paper versions
  • stop- Attempting to learn every Q4 403 concept fully.
  • stop- shying away from asking stakeholders for compensation.

Where we want to be in 6 weeks

  • I want to be able to improve my ability to create coherent and engaging visuals that represent our product.
  • I want to be able to identify myself as one type of designer and explain it succinctly. And I want to have a badass portfolio in hand. I want to build a product that is adopted by an organization.
  • I want to increase my ability to de-risking an idea.
  • I want clarity on my perspective as a designer and what skill sets I bring to the table.
  • I want to prototype our product with at least two organization.
  • I want to be able to reflect on having balanced an academic experience, for myself, with creating a valuable deliverable to the community. [Sometimes I feel that those processes are at adds. Sometimes I sacrifice focusing on assignments and specifics to be able to push out a deliverable for a deadline for our capstone project. After graduation, I want to have learned the tool kit AND used it. Doing 1 and not the other doesn’t suffice. ]
  • I want our capstone project to be in the hands of the users, advisors. [As students, it feels odd asking for all of this attention from our local partners for something they didn’t exactly ask for in the first place, a group of designers getting really deep into their work.]

4 Types of Fallacies in Social Impact Design

“Design is a conversation. Interaction design is the design of behavior, positioned as dialogue between a person and an artifact….Ultimately, it serves to affect behavioral change in participants.” “Conversation is only a metaphor for interaction, but it’s a useful one.” -Jon Kolko, “Our Misguided Focus on Brand and User Experience”

With conversations, we can change someone’s decision, opinion or behavior; a design can have the same influences (Kolko). The most insidious conversations or design are those that change behavior of participants but are based in an illogical, false or unsound premise; also called a fallacy. A fallacy occurs when the ideas of their argument might be arranged in a logical manner, but something they said isn’t quite right. The content is wrong. In the same way, a design solution is built with an intent that seems right, but the outcome (the content) is wrong. If the design solution does not produce positive behavioral change, then it is a fallacy (What’s a fallacy? See bottom of page).

Here is a list of some common design fallacies that I have seen in Social Impact Designs

  1. Tech-chauvinism: When a design assumes that technology fixes everything. Example: Uber for Shelters.
  2. Empty Promise: When momentum for an idea builds but doesn’t amount to traction or impact. Example: Business plans competitions
  3. Slactivism: When a design idea mistakes consumerism for impact. Example: Product(RED)
  4. Thwarted Intention: When an idea is designed for the community instead of with the community. The final design is used in a different way than originally intended. Example: Highline Park, NY

Why it’s useful to identify fallacies?

Understanding the nuance of these patterns seen in social impact design, will then allow you to quickly identify the pattern, poke holes in the concept and then create an informed opinion. Also, it can be used to critique one’s own designs.

How do designers prevent fallacies?

Ultimately, we can’t. We are fallible humans. One thing we can do is course correct. The most important way to keep a social impact design accountable is to create metrics, measure impact, identify short-comings and iterate. “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”


 

What is a fallacy? Here is a quick rhetoric lesson.  A logical fallacy is an error in reasoning common enough to warrant a fancy name. Knowing how to spot and identify fallacies is a priceless skill. It can save you time, money, and personal dignity.  One common fallacy is called:

“Slippery Slope”: when an argument starts with a seemingly benign premise or starting point and working through a number of small steps to an improbable extreme.

Example: The unsound argument of a teenager to their parent.  “But, you have to let me go to the party! If I don’t go to the party, I’ll be a loser with no friends. Next thing you know I’ll end up alone and jobless living in your basement when I’m 30!” This parent should not be swayed by this emotional appeal because it is not a valid argument.

 


 

 

 

User Testing for a “2 in 1” Bank & Budget app

Create, Test, Revise, Repeat.

Our assignment this week was to create budgeting features to our banking app.

Paper prototype
Draft paper wireframes

1. CREATE: Make Prototype of banking app as a clickable wireframe

What I made: First I drafted out wireframes on paper. Then I made screens using sketch. The final step to make the prototype ready for user testing was to make it clickable. I used InVision to create hotspots between the slides.

One thing I learned: There are advantages to starting with paper wireframes rather than drafting digitally on sketch. For me, paper wireframes are less about drafting a visual and it is more an exercise to force me to create an exhaustive list of the possible components. Also this helps to identify which components are repetitive enough to be a symbol.  I am still learning how to systematically build a robust and organized symbol library for an app. Once I figure out what works for me, then I can edit and create new screens faster.

 

Screenshot 2019-02-15 23.38.38

IMG_2370

2.  TEST: Do usability testing with a prototype

How I tested: Utilizing talk aloud protocol, I observed users click through the prototype. I gave users a prompt for each flow. “So you’ve always wanted a dog and you decide one of the first steps is to start setting aside money. Your user goal is to see how much is in your savings. and second is there a way to start allocating money for this “puppy fund”. what I was looking for in the test was to see how the user interpreted the copy and if it made sense (e.g. “safe-to-spend”, “Add Savings Goal”, Set aside or Save by a date”). I made sure the prompt was vague enough that the user did not think there was only one correct answer. 

One thing I learned:

For mobile apps, test on the device not on a desktop. I downloaded the InVision app on my personal iPhone and handed it over to users for the testing session. Even though my screen is small (and also cracked) I learned more from the user. I can see if they use any tap gestures. Also if the app layout is big enough on the screen. In the beginning of the interview, I explain to the user that I will give them a goal and I will see how they click through the app. I emphasize that I am not testing them to see if they get the goal correctly. If anything I am testing the app to see if it is intuitive. Also, I tell them to be completely honest & candid; It won’t hurt my feelings. If anything it will make my project better.

3. REVISE: Identify the major problem points

What problem points were identified? The icons to represent savings and expenses. I separated these two actions. In my mind expenses are for recurring transactions like rent, insurance, phone bill etc. So I chose an icon that looks like a calendar. While savings is for more one-off purchases. I picture savings as a locked vault of money that is off limits from spending. So I chose an icon with a lock. Most users understood the icons, but only after clicking around the app. One user thought that the funds were like a CD which you cannot access at all and they are “locked away”. To revise the icons I will put labels under the icon. So it is quicker for users to learn what the icons are associate.

One thing I learned: A big picture takeaway was that inherently a budgeting app is super difficult to create because each user has a different mental model of what budgeting should be. Not only does a new user have to learn how to use the app but also they must learn how to think about their finances differently. Users first have to understand the best budgeting practices before they can fully utilize the app’s features. So how can we design something that can incrementally teach users while they are also using the app?

 

4. REPEAT

Stay tuned next week I will make revisions based on the user feedback

 

Wireframe winnowing

Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than in the one where they sprang up.  – Oliver Wendell Holmes

This week I took ideas out of my head, transformed it into a scrappy prototype and then put it into the hands of a user. I made simple wireframes for a banking app, which allowed me to take a rough idea and quickly make something tangible to show people- as opposed to babbling about a high concept idea. The beauty of wireframes is that it is an apparatus to “transplant an idea into another mind”, and in that way, get deeper insight and feedback to grow the idea.

With this assignment, I set out to streamline the banking apps to its bare essentials. It proved to be a slippery slope because I cut out too many features, leaving the app too light. Below is a flow I made in Sketch and InVision. Give it a whirl!

The user goal is to transfer money to a friend. Send Justin $50.00 for utilities.

Screenshot 2019-01-22 11.39.49

The major feedback was about the end of the transaction- there is no confirmation page. Users had no reassure that their money was transferred successfully to their friend. To fix this I will try something simple like a home screen banner and see if that is effective enough.

Banking apps are tricky because we want the app to imbue trust and reliability. Its important to build and preserve customers confidence that they are in control of their money. But at the same time we do not want the user going through too much hassle and hoops in the process. How do I make an app like aluminum, robust but light?

Site Map of Simple Bank app

How do you take the primary functions and responsibilities of a bank, then distill it into a streamlined mobile app? To find out, we dissected a banking app and created a concept map. In essence, we exploded all the elements of the app into a visual representation.

First, I needed to take stock of all the functions of the app. I took screenshots of the app, page by page… by page, by page, by page. At the end, I captured 64 pages in all

 

Screenshots
Screenshots

Next step, in an excel sheet, I wrote down every function, feature, information, action and even icon.  I wrote each word on a piece of paper and re-organized it on the table. Once satisfied with the configuration, I converted the work into a digital format.

All in all, the app is very clean and light. It hits the sweet spot. It is robust, but not complicated and bloated. The major feature that sets this app apart, are the saving and goals section. The app gives tools for the user to manage their budget in real time. The app allows the user to input their expenses goals, as well as savings goals. In this way the app let’s the user know exactly where there money was spent. With this knowledge, the user can make more informed financial decisions and create prudent spending habits. With each transaction the app can how each transaction has affected your financial goals and expenses; It tells you if you are “On track” or “Off track” of your financial goals.

For the re-design, I propose that Simple bank should provide a live chat with a financial coach. This feature will enable users to fully take advantage of the pre-existing savings/expense tools. Below is the site map of the app; the parts in blue are  the additional “Financial Coach” feature.

IDSE 302.1 Concept Map_redesign

 

“So you want to think like a designer?…”

Here is a hypothetical conversation between three different designers (a engineer, graphic designer and AC4D student) and their thought process. This conversation strongly reflects the  views of Pacione’s “Evolution of the Mind: A Case for Design Literacy”, Brown & Wyatt’s Design Thinking for Social Innovation.

Engineer: What do you even learn in design school?

AC4D Student: I do what you do: “imagine something that doesn’t exist and then plot the path from imagination to existence” (In the words of Pacione)

Engineer: So you think you can do what we do?

AC4D Student: well, the similarity is that we all solve problems. Entertain this: “how would each of you design something to solve “Food Waste”

Engineer: Obviously people need a garbage can. Let see, an average person can easily pick up about 10lb of weight therefore a garbage can that yields 4 gallons would work. The dimensions would be have something like a 36″ height and 24″ diameter. I’d have to be made out of galvanized aluminum to be not only light weight but recognizable- you know that iconic silver aluminum trash can.

Idse 103 how designers think page 3

The graphic designer reached for napkin to sketch on. 

Graphic Designer: “I would make a reciprocal that is pleasing to the eye and simple. I would label it “trash” in san serif font. I probably should add an interesting feature like a pedal to open the lid. I have a feeling that will be a big seller!”

Idse 103 how designers think page 4

AC4D student: I like both your ways of approaching the problem. One solutions is subjective- rooted in what we know and designing how things are. The other more objective that utilizes intuition and designing how things ought to be. They answer the question: “What do we use to dispose food waste?” However what would you design if you answered the question: “How do people dispose of their food waste and Why?” I first must acknowledge that it is a wicked problem.

The student then highlighted examples of how “food waste” is a wicked problem as outlined by Rittel & Webber.

  1.  Managing food waste is not about a right or wrong solution but rather a good or bad. A trash can is a perfectly good solution and there are hundreds of different plausible solutions that fall on the scale of bad to good.
  2. Keep in mind that food waste is a symptom of a larger problem. For example, in USA, 40% of prepared food goes to the garbage. This mentality is an influencing factor to the problem of food waste disposal.
  3. “the designer has no right to be wrong”; He or she is responsible for any unintended consequences of a design. For example our current food waste system leads to turtles getting caught in soda can plastic thing. In a way, that responsibility is on the designer.

 

AC4D student: Once I’ve thought about the scope of the problem, I will try to define the problem. I will observe in the kitchen how people interact with their food waste and document their behaviors. With this information I would then make a prototype and iterate. This whole theory or method, if you will, is related to the practice of”design-thinking”. A solution that best reflects the design thinking method would be the garbage disposal. It is integrated into behaviors of the user. They are at the counter preparing food or washing dishes, and the sink is a very convenient location to put food scraps. Then it get transported out of the house through plumbing. This cuts out the step of taking the waste to the curb than a truck takes it to a landfill. I am not proposing that this is the most optimal solution, but only a solution based on human behavior.

Idse 103 how designers think page 5

Engineer: So did you come up with these methods  yourself?

AC4D Student: No I’m borrowing methods from other designers who practice Design-thinking. Currently there is not a true formalized discipline, like your fields.

 

 

Phase 2: From Data to Themes

Over the past two weeks our team (Vicky, Gerald and Cristina) have been making sense of the data gathered when we interviewed individuals about their experience and interactions with Lettuce. Lettuce is an Austin-based meal delivery service that strives to create a sustainable, hyper-local ecosystem that grows and distributes food that is fresher, healthier, tastier, and costs less.

What’s our research process?

In our last blog post, we discussed how we recruited and interviewed 17 Lettuce subscribers and staff. Since then, we have transcribed each interview by breaking those transcriptions down into individual quotes (or “utterances”) which each reflect a single sentiment. This resulted in over 1800 utterances that we pinned to the walls of our studio space to begin the process of synthesizing the data. During this process, the quotes were moved around the walls and grouped together using post-its. As we “walked the walls” to make sense of all of the data, we looked for patterns by always asking “why” to discern the behavioral intent underlying the words themselves.

What emergent patterns did we find?

During our research process and through the process of synthesizing this data, we have noticed a number of behavioral patterns and interesting commonalities across some of the individuals that we interviewed. Some of the most salient patterns revolved around the different ways that people value the Lettuce service. Here is just a sampling of those emerging themes:

Theme 1: In an isolated world, people seek a deeper connection to food.

One of the first recurring patterns that came out of our data was the desire for a stronger connection to local food and the food system. Some of the Lettuce subscribers spoke about their desire to support their local community and farms. Some expressed a passion for sustainability and understanding food systems. What was most interesting to our team, however, was the pattern of people expressing a desire to develop a deeper connection to food.

During the interviews, we did an image association exercise in which we presented a number of photos to the participant and asked them to talk about their reactions to any particular images. One participant, Somme, picked out a photo depicting urban farms and said “this one resonates with me.” She imagined a future with farms and orchards interspersed with housing and said “I want to live on that side”.

urban farm exercise

When we drove to visit a new Lettuce subscriber in her home in Cedar Park, Pepper reflected upon she sometimes felt a sense of isolation living in her suburban community. She didn’t feel like she had a strong connection to local food system because she didn’t participate in community supported agriculture (CSA) or anything like that. When asked about her motivations to sign up for Lettuce, she said

“I like the opportunity to do something that supports our local economy and is a deeper connection to where the food comes from.”

This recurring pattern of desiring a deeper connection to food also came up later in our conversation. Pepper’s 18-month-old toddler was finishing his Lettuce Classic meal across the table from us, and she mentioned that she would like to bring her son on a tour to visit one of the Lettuce farms. She said “I think when he gets older, that’d be really fun. I think he’d really like that.” Pepper wants her child to have the opportunity to visit a local farm to begin to instill in him a sense of connection to our local food systems.

Theme 2: Healthy food and time are at odds.

We found an interesting ironic pattern among the interviews. We could sense that accounting for time was a common problem of enjoying healthy locally sourced organic food. One of our interviewee named Keegan declared, “I also like to cook a lot, and I like fresh food, but I really don’t have a lot of time to do it, so anything to shave off time for me.” We found quite a few people describe an earnestness for healthy organic food, but various reasons couldn’t make it happen. We found patterns of people equating Farmers’ markets and local fresh food with better quality and taste and yet subscribers were unable to muster the energy, shift priorities or squeeze it into their schedules.

Despite acknowledging a strong preference for quality food, one person admitted to going to the grocery store instead because of time. Interviewees like Margaret even said,

“There’s a farmers’ market right down the street, and so, I could very easily — if I had the mental energy and the time — go by myself to get things to make myself meals.”

Alicia also expressed a keen interest in shopping at a farmer’s market, “I have this [feeling of], ‘Oh my God, I want to do that today!’ But we’re more night owls, so getting up for a Saturday morning farmers’ market just doesn’t happen.”

These are otherwise simple problems to fix on the surface, but we also see there are more pain points associated with this behavior. The pain points are related to resource management such as time and energy tied to family, work and other cognitive loads)  We found that Lettuce had uniquely positioned themselves to alleviate most issues when a subscriber described Lettuce as a cross between a CSA (community supported agriculture) and a meal kit delivery.

Theme 3: Customers want to “eat sustainable” but need support.

Incorporating a sustainable life takes work. It’s hard to make this change. Customers seek ways to make it easier to live a sustainable lifestyle and they need some added support. When making decisions, people have this inner dialog about criteria of what is sustainable: local, seasonal, zero-waste. Here are a couple specific examples from our interviews that illustrate why it’s hard to make sustainable choices.

  • Dilema 1: Liz wants to by local organic produce but it is more expensive. Either she buy local and goes over budget or the alternative, she buys from an industrial farm in Chile. Both options will make Liz feel guilty .
  • Dilema 2: Liz researches what is in season- eggplant- but then does not know how to cook it and accidentally makes the eggplant too salty.
  • Dilema 3: Liz wants to compost but doesn’t know where to put it. Also is afraid of attracting bugs.

Situations like these make you pause and ask- it it worth the work? Lettuce alleviates these dilemmas. It provides local, seasonal produce and composting while also being affordable, tasty and zero-waste composting.

Theme 4: Customers subscribe to their ideals

Customers are subscribing to their ideals. When they click “subscribe” they are not only getting food, but also the means to achieve their ideals. When participants talked about Lettuce, they valued it for many different reasons. Those reasons are always in the context of how lettuce aligns with their ideals be it sustainability, health, time saving, quality- the list goes on. Here is an example of a participant comparing Lettuce to other meal delivery services. “I don’t know of anyone who’s doing it more sustainably. If I did, I might switch…”. It is interesting that she wouldn’t switch because she is unhappy with the product (i.e. the food) but rather the sustainability component: her ideal lifestyle.

Theme 5: Lettuce alleviates more grievances than it causes.

There was a pattern where customers voiced minor grievances where Lettuce come short. However they were not phased in a way that they were complaining. Instead the grievance would be qualified with saying “but it’s fine”. We found 15+ comments that said “but it’s fine”. For example, one customer suggested that it’d be nice to get more salad dressing with the meal. But it is fine because she just added more olive oil to stretch the dressing. Another said that the recipe card is flimsy and gets dirty easily, “you know that it was printed on a normal office printer”. But it’s fine because she actually finds it endearing, calling it “rogue” and “old school”.

A pile of utterances from multiple different interviews that have the phrase "but it's fine".
A pile of utterances from multiple different interviews that have the phrase “but it’s fine”.

These types of grievances are not complaints. The general sentiment is that customers acknowledge that they are in a partnership with Lettuce and are willing to meet them halfway. A customer will give this business leniency because he or she loved having Lettuce service integrated into their life. They trust the service and want to see them be successful. So long as Lettuce creates more value for subscriber than problems, then subscribers are happy.

What are next steps?

The above mentioned themes revolving around the various ways in which people value the Lettuce service are just a sampling of some of the patterns that have been coming up as we’ve been synthesizing the data. At the beginning of next quarter, we will be focusing on service slices, which is basically the process of making sense of Lettuce’s service design all the way from the farm to the subscriber’s table. We’ll also continue to synthesize our research to develop deeper behavioral insights. Finally, near the end of this semester, we will develop a few opportunity areas for Lettuce to improve their service based on our research synthesis.