Fitting Easy is a mobile application for android devices whose main functionality is to help reserve accessibility fitting room for people on wheel chair. Additional features in the application include pre-ordering the clothes before getting to the store, checking the fit of the cloth by scanning the tag on the cloth through the smartphone application.
Survey, Semi-structured interviews,
Empathy study, Usability testing,
Task based analysis and Cognitive Walkthrough
Designers: Kaylin Broussard, Jemma Wang
Sep - Nov 2017
Our key users are individuals who are not able to stand or walk, and who use wheelchairs in their daily lives. They are independent just like the rest of us, and go about doing their daily tasks, activities, and responsibilities. They are adults across a wide range of ages, and face issues navigating less accessible spaces and hence are looking for accessible designs implemented in most places they visit.
Despite the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and accessibility services available at clothing stores, there are still many issues wheelchair users face when purchasing clothing in stores.
Depending upon the kind of disability (paraplegic/quadriplegic), their issues can vary from being unable to try on the clothes in a regular fitting room to needing assistance to get dressed. They love to wear good looking clothes and may have preferred brands to buy clothes from. Though they could purchase clothes online, they like to visit physical stores to find clothing they enjoy, and often try it on before making a purchasing decision.
1. Understanding the Problem
1.1 Data Collection Methods - Semi-Structured Interviews, Empathy Study, & Survey
A literature review was performed to learn more about the problem space, users, and existing products. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with knowledgeable sources and experts within the field including 6 wheelchair users, an occupational therapist, and a research scientist who specialize in accessibility. Though we were not able to observe our target users navigate through a physical store, an empathy study was conducted during which we did complete store visits and documented our observations with attention and focus on accessibility at two clothing stores at Atlanta. A survey was created and distributed online through facebook groups, forums, and websites.
Understand the issues that occur while shopping for clothing in physical stores, how users respond and why.
What issues do the users face?
What do they do to encounter this issue?
What is their motivation to purchase clothes at physical outlets?
Paraplegics, Quadriplegics, Occupational therapists, Accessibility Experts
Recruitment occurred in Atlanta. I distributed our screener survey online through forums, Facebook groups, Craigslist, and Reddit. I also recruited in-person with the help of Office of Disability Service and AMAC Research Centre, both at Georgia Tech.
I created a 19 question survey for people on wheel chairs that about 27 people answered. This collected data on the type of disability, places that they visit often, shopping experience and their frustrations while shopping for clothes in physical stores.
We conducted 6 in-person interviews, 2 remote interviews.
I did an empathy study lead by one of my team-mates at two clothing stores in Atlanta. The findings of this resulted in a User journey map (see below).
1.2 Data Analysis - Data Coding & Statistical Analysis
The data collected from the survey was a mix of quantitative (objective) data and qualitative (subjective) data, while the data from semi-structured interviews and empathy study was qualitative data. A statistical analysis was applied to quantitative data, and qualitative data obtained were coded in iterations and synthesized till they converged into clusters of problem areas.
User journey map
Based on the empathy study that was conducted, I synthesized the findings into a user journey map, which helped my team understand during which phases of purchasing our users faced inconvenience.
I divided the findings into pain points and the problem areas. This made it easier to present to stakeholders and make quick decisions on what to focus designs on. We identified 3 main problem areas that needs to addressed using our solution.
1.3 Key User Insights
Inconvenience in the outside environment
Often times when leaving their homes, wheelchair users feel that most facilities are not accessible or designed with them in mind, thus causing inconvenience to them.
“It takes a long time to buy anything, every trip lasts at least 2 hours, even for just a loaf of bread. Only half of items are available as shelves are too high, or aisles too narrow, or shops have steps at entry, or there is no public transport that can get me to a shop.”
2. Non Accessible Design- Reaching a product or Navigating within a store is difficult
The most common concerns heard from the users were based around reaching a particular object or navigating within a store.
“Clothes shops cramming too much stock in which leaves little room to get by in a wheelchair. Grocery stores top shelves too high to reach.”
3. Lack of concern by the store management and other customers for the disabled
Retail stores and shoppers are not generally concerned or considerate to the needs of customers with disabilities.
“Dressing rooms are the worst because they always let normies go in them, and I have to wait.”
4. We are just like them
They don’t want to be treated differently because of their disability. They want to be independent.
“About 1 in 10 an assistant will ask if I want help or try and pack my shopping into my bag for me - DON'T EVER force your help on me.”
"I make all necessary/life purchases and extra/fun purchases for myself - groceries, pharmacy, books, music, clothing, etc.”
1.4 Identifying the Problem Areas - Fitting Room, Reaching Items & Navigating within the store
From our survey and interviews, we found people using wheelchairs facing several inconveniences while shopping for clothing in physical stores. These problem areas can be divided into three parts:
a. Navigating within the store
Narrow Aisles, narrow check-out lanes and difficulty in opening the doors are some main problems here.
b. Dressing rooms
Less Space for wheel chair to fit inside the dressing room, stores not having accessibility fitting rooms and longer wait-time to get to the accessibility fitting rooms as it is being used by able bodied people are some of the main problems identified with respect to dressing rooms.
c. Reaching Problems
High to reach cloth racks & displays and tall to reach checkout tables are some main issues with respect to reachability in the store.
2. Brainstorming and Sketching
2.1 Brainstorming for ideas
We held 2 brainstorming sessions, each lasted about 90-100 minutes in length. In the first brainstorming session, we came up with ideas that could potentially solve the issues within the problem space and in the second session, we focused on narrowing down the ideas and combining smaller ideas to create bigger ones. We came up with around 30 ideas, that address the main problem spaces as well as some other standalone issues.
The next step was coding and categorizing these ideas based on the idea type, and a second level was the problem space they addressed. Some of the first level codes were body scanning, virtual assistants, wearables, tactile displays, navigation maps, travelling baskets, virtual/augmented reality displays (mirrors, interactive displays), store layout modifications, mechanical solutions etc. The second level coding was the problem space that each sub-category addressed which included navigation, reachability, fitting rooms, and others. Given the complexity and breadth of ideas we had come up with, we decided to convene another session within 48 hours to narrow down the ideas.
2.2 Narrowing Down the ideas - Brainstorming & applying Selection Matrices
In the second brainstorming session, we employed selection matrices to narrow down our ideas based on cost, creativity, feasibility, number of problem spaces tackled, and scope of interface. This session, like the earlier one, lasted 90-100 minutes. We used the criteria we came up for selection matrices earlier to aid in this decision making process and we eliminated the ideas that didn’t meet our idea through discussion which led to consensus. Towards the end of the brainstorming session, we came up with 4 different ideas. After we finalized the ideas, we came up a description of each idea to help us come up with scenarios, storyboards and sketches.
2.3 Sketches & Storyboards
1. Body Scanner
The store sets up body scanning technology which would scan a customer’s body and collect body size information. The information will directly send to customer’s phone while the store won’t have access to it. When the customer finds some favored clothes, they can just use the phone to scan the price tag (there’s a barcode on it), and the phone will show the information about how this clothes fits. Also, the customer can check the virtual image of these clothes shown on a model.
2. Fitting Room Reservation
Customers can reserve a fitting room before they go to the store. They could pre-order clothes online, or select clothes in stores depending on their preference. The selected clothes would be sent to the reserved fitting room before the customer arrives there. If the aisles are too narrow to get through, which is difficult for people in wheelchairs to select clothing, they can just pre-order online and go straight to the fitting room without going through every aisle.
3. Clothing-fit Indicator
The user enters his measurements into a mobile app. The user will have access to look up this information at any point in time. The user will also be able to edit this information at a later point in time. The user goes around the store looking for clothes, and picks the clothes they are interested in. The user can then use the mobile app to scan the cloth (via the barcode on the clothing tag) and the app will indicate using an infographic, how well the cloth will fit them based on comparing user’s entered measurement and the measurements of the cloth.
4. Interactive Display
Users can browse clothing options via a large in-store interactive display screen. Customers browse and search through a system that is similar to an online shopping experience, narrowing down categories and finding specific types of items. Clothes are displayed on the screen in actual size with relevant specification information such as sizing, price, and color options. Customers then have the option to have the clothing pulled for them for in person inspection or checkout, or sent directly to a specified fitting room for them to try on.
3. Deciding the Solution
To finalize the solution, we sent a survey to prospective users of the system, whose contact details were obtained through a survey they previously participated in during research phase of this project. We also asked experts in the accessibility, and the experts who understand our user group to take the survey. We also individually shared the survey with the people who fit our user group. The aim of this survey was to collect more qualitative data to understand the user group’s preferences of our design ideas. The survey contained a screener question to distinguish the responses from the user group and the experts in that domain. We presented a description of each of our design ideas and included a storyboard to illustrate the system that was being described. Based on this, the respondents were asked to vote for their favorite idea and their least preferred idea. We asked open ended questions to encourage participants to explain the rationale behind their choices for both of those questions.
3.2 Narrowing Down - 2 Brainstorming sessions
We had two sessions to narrow down and finalize the system outline and its functionality. The first session was of shorter duration, where we analyzed the data we received from the survey, and decided on the type of interface we should focus on (mobile, website, interactive display etc.). The second session was a lengthier session, where we identified the potential benefits of our ideas, their flaws, feasibility, and the concerns & benefits of the ideas that our user group (respondents of the survey) perceived. We chose the idea that was most preferred by our user group (through survey) and combined it with some functionality of the other design ideas we had, to make it more comprehensive and provide a more profound impact on the problem spaces that we identified in research phase of this project.
After identifying the core functionality of our system, we had to decide on the medium of implementation. We decided that we are creating a mobile application, as we felt that a mobile app has more advantages, as compared to a website or an interactive display in store (which was dropped, due to privacy concerns), as it could be carried anywhere. Using the system, one should be able pre-order clothes from anywhere, as well as order clothes from the store. Mobile being a ubiquitous device, served this purpose of being able to use it from a place of user’s convenience as well as within the premises of the store.
Once we decided the core functionality and the medium of implementation, we identified a set of tasks that our users would carry out using the system, and also important events (or system states) that would occur within the system. We visualized the layout of the dressing room, developed a task flow for the mobile app and also discussed some of the logistics for the events.
Some of the events that we envisioned for the system are:
Reserving the fitting room
Entering the fitting room
Exiting the fitting room
Pre-ordering of clothes through app / ordering the clothes
4. Interactive Prototype
4.2 Interface Screens
Try the interactive prototype below.
5.1 Usability Evaluation - Usability Benchmarking, Cognitive Walkthrough & System Usabilty Scale
5.1.1 Evaluation Technique - Usability Testing and Expert Inspections
From our experiences in research phase of this project, we anticipated that recruiting users for usability testing was going to be difficult. Hence, we decided that, apart from testing our prototype with the user group, we would also seek the assistance of usability experts to help us evaluate the prototype.
5.1.2 Usability Metrics - Ease of Use, Learnability, Satisfaction & Usefulness
Our higher-level goal was to test the following to derive the usability of our prototype - Ease of Use, Learnability, Satisfaction & Usefulness. This was done using measurement of both qualitative and quantitative metrics.
5.1.3 Usability Testing Sessions - Benchmarking Tasks, 4 Sessions
We completed a total of 4 usability testing sessions. Typical tasks of the application were presented to the participants, and follow up questions were asked. An example task was given to the participants, to get accustomed to the format of the session, and once the participant was comfortable, other tasks were given.
As the participant performed their task, they were asked to think aloud, and once they completed a particular task, follow-up questions were asked. When the participants completed all of the tasks, any further questions were asked and the participants were asked to rate their opinion of the prototype through the questionnaire including SUS.
5.1.4 Usability Expert Inspections - 2 Cognitive Walkthrough Sessions
We conducted 2 cognitive walkthrough sessions with usability experts (our peers). The experts were given the same tasks that were designed for the users. While the expert would perform tasks, and identify issues in our prototype, a member of our team acted as an observer and took notes. For each sequence/subtask, the expert would identify issues as they tried to perform the task. The expert would then provide some recommendations/suggestions or discuss about other additional problems on the interface and share some insights with the observer.
5.1.5 System Usability Scale (SUS)
The System Usability Scale (SUS) is a set of generalized industry standard questions to test the usability of a system. We found applying the SUS to evaluate our prototype very relevant in measuring the usability of our prototype.
The SUS questions collected self-reported metrics of the users. Through these questions, we measured ease of use, learnability, effectiveness, performance and satisfaction of the users towards our prototype.
The SUS scale and other subjective data was graded on a scale of 1-5, and hence the overall average of these reported metrics were calculated. Qualitative data obtained from cognitive walkthrough and think-aloud data from the usability testing sessions were coded in iterations and synthesized till they converged into themes.
5.2.1 SUS Scores
Each participant’s individual SUS scores were above the SUS score average (68) which shows that participants rated the system above average. Consequently, the overall average of each score was above average as well. The overall average score from our participants was 84.37.
SUS Score Out of 100
Self Reported Metrics
5.2.2 Self Reported Metrics
Participants used a Likert scale to answer these questions from 1-5 where 1 is least useful, least satisfied etc. and 5 is most useful, most satisfied etc. The average scores for all of these questions were 4 and above. No single participant gave a score lower than 3 in response to the questions.
5.2.3 Cognitive Walkthrough
The usability experts were in agreement that entering measurements and reserving a fitting room, were easily navigated and understood by users. The task of adding clothing to the fitting room, experts felt was less clear. The button to scan barcodes is unfamiliar to users and therefore difficult and unintuitive. Further, the process of scanning clothing was difficult to understand. Once clothing was scanned for fit, one expert felt that the explanation of the fit would not be understood by users. The terms were not descriptive enough to fully explain to users the true fit of the clothing. For these reasons, both experts gave low scores for learnability of the system.
5.3 Positives & Scope for Improvement
5.3.1 Flowers - Features that are good
Although there is still much room for improvement, we also found participants really enjoyed some features within the design. For example, the ability to view clothing fit on a virtual model can be really helpful if the result is accurate.
Also, participants felt the ability to extend fitting room reservation time was considerate for them since they usually take more time to try on due to the inconvenience of wheelchairs.
The barcode scanning gives users the ability to explore in store besides online shopping. It’s also convenient because they don’t need to carry clothes around.
5.3.2 Brickbats - Criticism
Our app needs an instructional portion during onboarding to help novice users get familiar with our app.
In the body measurement portion, participants have concerns that some of the measurements are difficult to take by themselves, and they may still not know how to do it even after looking at the pictures provided
For scanning items, participants missed the function of our prototype that they can choose items online before visiting the store.
In the fitting room, users often have the need to change items and call for assistance, but our app is lacking these features.
5.3.3 Possible Changes in the next version
Demo/instructions as a part of user on-boarding.
More descriptive body measurement instructions (through gifs).
Adding Call for Assistance button when users are in the fitting room.
Final Design Showcase
Created a poster to showcase our designs at a Georgia Institute of Technology event.
The majority of our participants were from Atlanta, which is not necessarily representative of general user group.
Limitations with exploring the service design in real environment
We did not get access to the stores at Atlanta to implement the service design envisioned in a physical store and understand the views of store authorities, if such a service would be feasible.