People Design Business
Understand pain points and latent needs to help build a new, innovative scooter. The findings would be used by different teams, including engineering, marketing, and design.
We reframed the problem from scooters to mobility, then used a combination of traditional qualitative research with ethnographic tools, and design.
Research, operations and director of Purple Audacity Research and Innovation (India). I played the role of a project lead.
A leading automobile manufacturer , focused on the 2 wheeler market.
Understanding pain points to guide new product development
This project was done before Design school
research design considerations
Given the scale and type of study, I realised this project required perspectives of different stakeholders. I called the operations and research team for a viewpoint sharing session. We downloaded all inputs as a story of requirements and challenges, without mentioning the team it came from, thereby changing ownership from “mine or yours” to “ours”.
Extremes and mainstreams - Designing a solution that will work for everyone means talking to both extreme users and those squarely in the middle of your target audience
Those who travel alone v/s with pillions (elders, kids, spouse + kid) v/s who carry material (ex, grocery, equipment, etc)
Mix of men and women (since they have different physiologies and concerns)
Capturing perspective of pillion as well as rider
Both scooter and bike riders
I decided to observe riders travelling through varied Time of day, Distance, Road conditions, and Weather to understand different experiences
Since people get used to travelling in a certain way, it is difficult for them to articulate the challenges these situations create. Therefore, I caused a deliberate disruption, understanding pain of a long-distance travel from a short distance traveller
pre-defined target group
The client desired to conduct the study among 4 psychographic segments: Free spirit, Differentiation seeker, Responsible provider, Security seeker. This segmentation was basis mindset and needs from a scooter
approach for data collection
We used multiple methodologies in a phased manner
INFRASTRUCTURE AND MOBILITY: Through a group discussion with people from different parts of the city, we collected information on areas considered good and bad for scooter use, bottleneck v/s smooth areas
TRIANGULATION TO GET PAIN POINTS :
a) Ride along: Observing people ride to capture latent needs through body language & non-verbal cues
b) In context immersion at rider’s home, to supplement our understanding of the ride and understand needs, pain areas, travelling realities
c) Operations team in their free time was stationed at parking lots to record rider-pillion-scooter interaction in their natural environment
We captured pictures, videos in this step to create “User generated stimulus” to inspire and spark ideation during the next step. Categorized this data in different heads
IDEATION WORKSHOP : Using stimulus generated above, we conducted ideation workshops with creative students from different fields to generate solutions ideas for challenges noted
tools to elicit information
Observation sheets to record every minute detail: person’s physique, facial expressions, riding behaviour at different points of the ride, posture changes etc.
For Ideation workshop, I started with an IDEO tool, 30 circles exercise to get the juices flowing, Solutions were then generated using creative techniques like
Epitome – How would a mother design for safety
Anti-christ – If you had to make the scooter inconvenient, what would you do
Inspiration – What ideas can we borrow from a product designed for comfort, ex, a lazy boy
Timeline of different aspects of personal life, and timeline of vehicle purchase to map how the two are related
Travel and transport map of the person (distance, frequency, company, destination, etc) to see which conditions made a scooter ideal / not ideal
Ideal scooter in a make belief film: Fantasy travel, where everything was possible brought out desires
analysis and synthesis
We followed a step by step progression for our analysis process to move from specific responses to abstract
Data from each unit was placed under heads of the discussion guide. At the end of this step we made an Empathy Map (*a tool of d-school at Stanford)
SAY: What are some quotes and defining words your user said?
DO: What actions and behaviors did you notice?
THINK: What might your user be thinking? What does this tell you about his or her beliefs?
FEEL: What emotions might your subject be feeling?
Data was synthesised, and categorised under 5 pre-identified + 1 new head of balance. Here, everything that was heard and seen for the 4 segments is downloaded, making a matrix of of those 2 parameters.
Consisted of two components:
a) Analysis framework – Recognising patterns in the data and placing them under a framework to synthesize
b) Arriving at the theme - The common thread of pain points and desires for each segment
While the framework helped synthesize large amounts of data, the themes gave the client insights into conceptual design directions for each segment
the opportunity framework
Since the findings would be used by different teams: engineering, marketing and design, we worked on a framework which could talk the language each understood
The articulations with respect to the pain points are not random, but fall under specific lenses-
a. NAVIGATION LENS - The problems in doing/ executing a task/ activity on a scooter
b. ANATOMY LENS - Pain/ discomfort in the body part related to the execution of these tasks
c. DESIGN LENS - Pain areas with regards to the scooter (parts, performance) – E.g. braking, poor shock absorption, fiber body, feminine looks
**Please note that the information shared below is only a glimpse of the vast data collected
LENS 1: THE NAVIGATION LENS
While scooter riding is considered simple, we found 72 activities involving only the rider, 96 if pillion was added, and 103 if child was added. Eliminating repetitions gave 94 unique activities
Current large number of activities is an opportunity to automate and make riding simpler
To help prioritize actionables for the engineering team, we chalked out high frequency and high intensity (those requiring greater physical effort) activities from the huge laundry list
Holding the grab rail at the back arms need to be twisted – uncomfortable and unsafe
Must get up every time you must get petrol filled
LENS 2: THE ANATOMY LENS – FEW PAIN AREAS
Excessive use of feet
Pillion footrest touches rider
Hands get cold in winters; gloves make hands slip
Difficult for person with long legs to fit in the front space comfortably
Cannot kick start while sitting, must stand
Chances of touching the hot silencer
LENS 3: PARTS OF THE SCOOTER – FEW PAIN AREAS
Poor pickup, worse when there is load or more than one adult passenger
Unlike bikes, braking is not instant
Engine heats up faster
Petrol tank below the seat means person must get up each time
Poor shock absorption
Fiber body unstable at higher speed. vibrates when other vehicles pass by
Given no visor, air hits directly
Smaller tyres increases chance of skidding
Requires frequent servicing
segment specific insights
For each segment, I turned every bit of information I had on the PERSON that represented the segment in my mind – What did I know, What did I learn, What did I see, What did I feel, What did I hear, the interconnections between these, the contradictions between these
what does the free spirit seek
Irrespective of whether this segment spoke about pain areas and desires wrt comfort, convenience, safety, performance or style, one common thread I identified that ran through our interaction was
Need from vehicle: Don’t force me to stop
Please note – While arriving at this common thread or theme, I had to understand what was desired in more and more abstract terms, to see the linkages that existed in apparently disconnected quotes.
For example: Wrt convenience, User mentioned that he found the petrol tank too small for long rides, that he had to stop often (interruption in thrill). Wrt safety, he mentioned that vehicle is not as durable (tenacious) as bikes.
A researcher visualization of what he sought:
what does the differentiation seeker seek
Theme: Attention (to detail, seeking)
Need from vehicle: Technology loaded, futuristic
An interesting dimension is the two-fold meaning of attention – This segment paid attention to every small detail, almost finicky. They also sought attention from those around them. So we suggested the client to design for ATTENTION – to detail & seeking attention.
impact of the project
DESIGN TEAM: Understanding and exploring different facets of what each segment was looking for
ENGINEERING TEAM: How to make the product human centered and intuitive basis deep user understanding, human anatomy and evolutionary biology
MARKETING TEAM: Where all scooters tried to compete with bikes on being MACHO, these insights gave them a different space to position in: The intelligent man
Scooter as a category is a rational animal. The consumers are fully aware of the tradeoffs and make an informed choice. Scooter is preferred for: Carrying load + Being a family vehicle which multiple people can ride
Free Spirit and Differentiation Seeker scooter owners are compromised buyers. Bike still remains the canvas for style and impression
RATHER THAN COMPETING IN THE BIKE CATEGORY, THE NEW SCOOTER, THROUGH INTELLIGENT FEATURES AND TECHNOLOGY, PLAYS ON THE “INTELLIGENCE” POSITIONING