I would be lying if I said this was a smooth journey but that’s what I thought when I fought with my group members to choose the Bathroom area for my ‘Design Thinking’ Project. And I was happy because everyone uses a bathroom and I thought it would be easy for me to ask them questions and build the conversation, get insights, etc. But was it? You have to read till the end to find out. Such great learning and an unlearning journey it was.
In this project, I understand users’ problems that they face daily in their house with the respected area and how to solve it with the ‘Design Thinking’ approach.
Design Thinking is an approach that helps us to understand the problem and to get practical innovative solutions. It focuses more on solutions rather than focusing on problems. I followed the below stages to solve the problem.
In this project, Anudeep gave us 5 areas of the house initially. and everyone has to fight with each other to get their area. We had to tell our unfair advantages; in the end, the other group members would decide who could get that area. We were 10 members in the group. We fought and earn our areas. I won the bathroom area after two fights. Once everyone is allotted different areas then I started working on the process. The first phase of Design Thinking is to Empathize with the user.
The goal of this stage is to identify users’ pain points after gathering the necessary data. One can collect the data through primary research or secondary research. For the project, we took interviews with our group members. I took 5 interviews and almost everyone is having similar issues but the reasons were completely different.
Here are the questions which I asked during my interview. But I learned that these questions should work as a guideline and you can improvise as per the user’s response.
1. Are there any specific elements or features in your bathroom which is useful or convenient?
2. What essentials do you store in your bathroom? Eg towels, and toiletries a.How do you currently store and organize your bathroom essentials? b.Structure of storage? Close or open, Height of storage
3. Are there any areas of your bathroom where you need more storage?
4. Are there any particular issues or challenges you face with your bathroom?
5.. How do you manage cleaning & maintenance of your bathroom?
6. According to you which area of your bathroom is underutilized?
7. How do you manage the ventilation of your bathroom?
8. Do you have a window in the bathroom? where it is located? Any issue with the window?
9. Do you think there are any issues with accessibility or safety? Is it easy to use for everyone? Like kids or people with mobility issues?
10. What is your opinion about your bathroom’s layout or functionality?
11. How is the structure of your tile in the bathroom?
11. How do you choose lighting in your bathroom?
12. Is there any specific area where you need more lighting?
13. How do you manage hot water in the bathroom?
- Geyser? inside / outside, where is a switch of the geyser
- How do you identify which one is for hot water and which one is for cold?
Things I kept in my mind during the interview:
- I should ask open-ended questions so that I could get more information from the user.
- I should not ask hypothetical questions
- I should not ask leading questions
- Even though I was recording interviews with the user’s permission I took handwritten notes as much as possible
These are questions I came up with. I also added some follow-up questions and improvise on some of the questions as per the situation. so I went ahead and conduct interviews. I get to know everyone has different situations and different issues. As per their habits, routine, and demographics, they have different problems and needs.
I organized all the data and divided it into users like, unlike, the problems they have with area and the gaps I found out.
Once I finished my interviews I gather all the information I had and categorized it in Figma. First I check if there are any common issues. I found plenty, then I divided the issues on the basis of similarities they have. Such as issues related to bathroom structure, storage, tiles, Cleaning, etc. Also, I checked if there is any unique problem that only this user has and why they have it.
I also note down why these problems are important to the user. In this activity, I get to know if the problem is really important to solve. In this stage, I also get to know even if the issues are the same the reasons behind the problem are different for the users and then it becomes easy to connect the dots. I removed some of the issues which were common, also those which were related to bathroom layout or structure, and some which are surface level where I did not probe the questions and hence couldn’t get to the root issue.
So after thinking about the problem from every angle possible I landed on to ideate stage and it was finally time to think about the solution. In this stage, the goal is to come up with as many ideas as possible. Remember no idea is a bad idea
I followed the ‘Crazy 8’ technique, where you have to note 8 ideas that come to your mind in 8 minutes. Honestly, I could not think of 8 ideas for each problem but I note down as many as possible. So Once I noted down all the ideas which were in my mind it was time to choose the top 3 ideas from all the ideas.
These are the top three ideas I come up with:
1. Movable storage area
I choose this idea because Multiple users having issues with storage height or they couldn’t reach while standing or sitting. Even with movable storage, kid can easily reach it in this way they can easily adjust the height of the storage from the tiles
2. Multi-use adjustable cleaning equipment
A user can clean bathroom tile and wall tile and it will come with a detachable wiper to wipe the water also it will save storage space. It will come with 3 tools and one-rod
3. Adjustable Chair
Bathroom stools are mostly very short in height and its not accessible by everyone. So with an adjustable chair, anyone can comfortably use it in the bathroom or even outside the bathroom.
Now it was time to finalize one idea from the above three.
For the prototype stage, I decided to go with the storage issue in a bathroom as almost everyone has issues with storage. I decided to make storage movable in the verticle direction so that users can easily reach the storage. So this is the sketch with I come up with.
Basic idea is to provide enough storage where users can put some daily essentials and extra soap and shampoo bottle and their electric devices as well.
For the top container, I thought of providing a plastic transparent cover that can slide back easily so that users can easily see what is inside and easily reach the essentials. Because of the plastic cover, the essentials will not get wet and it will also have enough space for tall shampoo bottles.
The middle container is open and users can keep anything inside it at their convenience. The third Container has a plastic lid that the user can use for the second container two. The third container has a handle on the side so that users can pull it down if they want and once they release the handle it will fold back. These three containers are connected to each other with a common rod. and all three containers are mounted on sliders so that they can easily move in the vertical direction. Also, all the containers have holes in the bottom so if there is any excess water such as water from used soap it can easily get out of the container.
To put this storage on the wall I thought of giving the option of strong adhesive so that users do not have to screw the wall.
After Finalizing my sketch I decided to get feedback from my teammates.
The 5th stage of the Design Thinking process is to test it with real users. I present the entire idea and the sketch of the prototype. The feedbacks I received from my teammates were :
The height of the container and slider would be the issue as it will occupy more space.
What if I want to put my extra towel in it?
Adhesives will be able to hold the weight of the storage? what If the user wants to store the 500ml bottle inside?
Can you add some hooks somewhere so that the user can hang some stuff on it too?
After receiving the feedback and motivation from my teammates I decided to make a few changes and because I had my reasons to make certain decisions earlier I decided to take the Expert’s opinion 😉I checked on ChatGPT and compared other options
For example, there was a suggestion for using a magnet or screw to fix the storage unit on the wall instead of adhesives. ChatGPT suggested, for heavyweight storage, the screw is always the wise option and it also gave me the pros and cons of musing adhesives, magnets, and screws and it made my decision easy. So I decided to use screws so that it can bare more weight.
I also added some hooks so that users can hang their essentials on them. and added one more plastic transparent lid on the second container so that the user can have flexibility on what they want to store inside and even if it’s close to the shower nothing will get wet.
In this stage, I learned that you can’t apply all the feedback in the design. You have to check which one to give priority to and what are your constraints. Also how your decision will help users and impact business. Your every decision should have some reasoning, research, figures, and facts.
Do you think the process is over? For this project: Yes. But Design thinking is a continuous process. We will always get feedback, we will do the research to improve the product we will make the changes and we will test with the user. And not necessarily we will always follow the same path. I am so excited that I learned it in an easy way and learned it while doing tonnes of mistakes. I learned it from my mistakes and from others’ mistakes too.
Thanks to the UXM community I got to know how I could use AI tools such as ChatGPT and Midjourney. This is one of the images I created using midjouney. Though it is not exactly the same as what I had in my mind it inspired me to add some changes to my original design. Such as I decided to go with transparent plastic so that users can easily see what is inside it
I am grateful that I got UX Anudeep as my mentor and the wonderful UXM Community.
So with that, I am concluding my case study, and thank you so much for your valuable time.
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