Smart Cycle

Designing a Smarter Laundry System

 

UX DESIGN | UI DESIGN

Project Summary

What is the most difficult User Experience problem that people have to overcome when doing laundry? Is there a technological solution to it?

This was the essential problem that my colleague and I had to solve. We had to identify key pain points and determine the best product or service that we could design to reduce these areas of stress. The entire project had to be completed in three months, with a demonstrable prototype at the end.

To tackle this problem, we first broke down the process into six steps: Research, Journey Maps, Sketches, Wireframes, Design & Prototyping.

Research

To start off with, we had to determine the scope of our target audience. Did we want to help make laundry easier for student and young people or the elderly? After identifying key areas, we decided to focus on small to mid sized apartment buildings with a shared laundry unit.

Our ideal persona was a 25-year-old single male – and he did laundry twice a week. We investigated the typical journey of our user (through interviews and surveys) and realized that his biggest pain points involved accessing a machine and preventing his clothes from being removed by another patron. Based on the culmination of our research, we created an empathy map to highlight the key emotional states that our persona was experiencing.

After looking at different methods, we realized that a web-based local service could potentially solve these problems by helping patrons reserve machines and book their laundry times in advance. They could see if a machine was available before trudging down to the laundry room, and they could have their clothes locked for a certain amount of time to prevent others from accessing their machine.

Journey Maps

To test this, we began mapping out journey maps and planning all the touch points that a user would experience with our service. We found that it was possible even with larger families with several children to coordinate their laundry decision-making.

Sketches

Now that we had a firmer sense of how it would work, we next discussed what exactly it would look like. We started sketching out the mobile version, not only because our user would access our service primarily with a mobile device, but also because we designed it for the smallest screen first, and the larger desktop version would use that design as a basis.

Wireframes

We took those rough sketches and started refining them in Axure, just to get a basic sense of the navigation.

At this point, we quickly realized we had an issue. Our plans for the design were based on assumptions about how existing UI and interactions currently work. But what about two, three years from now? We had a standard calendar booking feature, radial buttons for selecting a date and time to do laundry. However, nothing we were developing looked like a modern, sleek app that would actually make the laundry booking system easier. It would most likely intimidate people. And that would defeat the whole purpose!

Researching trends in other areas, we realized that the service would be better if it was more text-based, and had a personal assistant feel – similar to sites like Songza. Based on this pivot, each screen would query the user on their preferred times, and try to anticipate and intelligently book them for the best period with the least amount of effort on behalf of the user.

UI Design & Prototyping

Our final result was an interactive, high fidelity design prototype that would demonstrate the basic user flow: looking at available washer & dryer units; booking a time; receiving a machine door code; signing up for a notification when the laundry is ready. At the time of this writing, the UI is being updated and built into a prototype using Framer.

Overall, we felt our product would satisfy a targeted group of people that currently have no way to deal with laundry booking and scheduling for small to medium apartment complexes. We hope that through the simple design and interaction, it would reduce tension and worry when multiple people have to share a limited amount of laundry machines. Of course, the more complex hardware component, key to this whole design, would be wifi connected devices on each machine to broadcast their status to the network. This IT solution is way beyond the scope of our initial design.

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