Problem Statement

This group project was a rapid paced combination of design research and prototyping aimed at exploring and altering the norms of grocery shopping. As many members of Generation-Y are moving towards online shopping, we wanted to investigate how the experience of buying groceries could be improved and whether moving towards online shopping is an appropriate shift. I worked with Ji Tae Kim and Albert Yang on this project.

Questions I addressed:

  • How to engage people with design research?

    • Cultural probes: breaking down a user experience into specific questions and activities

    • Generative workshops: collaboration towards a desired goal

  • How to quickly translate research into a design deliverable?

    • Active-Decision Making methodology


solution Methodology

Cultural Probes

Cultural probes, interactive and fun while soliciting open-ended responses, are similar to contextual inquiry as users complete them in their natural setting. Our probes and activities focused on what a user valued in the process of grocery shopping, in addition to how their habits and priorities influence their decision-making.


We spent time planning the aesthetic composition of each probe due to the "Aesthetic-Usability Effect" design principle. In giving our participants a Starbucks gift card and demonstrated the time we put into each probe with laser cut boxes, we hoped to actively and passively persuade them to provide quality responses. 

Cultural probe Activities

Shopping from a CEO perspective

By "appointing" each participant as the CEO of a fictitious grocery company, we intended for them to ponder what their desired shopping experience would be, and how a store could assist with that experience. Changing participants' perspective on how shopping could be improved would also activate more of the inherent grocery shopping knowledge our team lacked.

Visceral store review

The "magazine cut-outs" solicited visceral reactions similar to the Smart Design's "Love letter and Break-up letter" in which the emotional connection participants felt with each store was revealed.

Snapchat collection

Using Snapchat as the medium for photographic journaling kept photo documentation casual and provided added context due to the caption. The Snapchat exercise helped us realize how personal food and shopping is, even with undergraduate and graduate students, who we initially presumed wouldn't have that connection.

Generative Workshop

The workshop was with our classmates, who also were researching grocery shopping, actually adding to the challenge of engaging our participants. Forced collaboration was how we decided to increase participation, I remember after the activity was explained a participant muttering, "Oh no, he's so stubborn."

Our activity itself was meant to further investigate how people value groceries, especially how people would approach creating an "essentials" list. 

Affinity Clusters

Our hierarchy was based off of Universal Methods of Design, first beginning with noting any user observations and then generalizing those into user statements. We identified themes of behavior, but didn't overgeneralize our results in order to keep interesting anecdotes and innovative opportunities alive.


Initial Wireframes

Our first wireframes focused on how people recognized products while shopping in real life versus how they were usually portrayed online. The focus on showing primarily the images of competing brands was due to a hunch that most people could recognize their favorite brand by the packaging or logo.

Gallery Shopping demo

This prototype, created in Pixate, which allowed actual user interaction, helped our group quickly see the issues of a gallery-type scanning function. 

New concept: Personalization & Shoplists

We didn't feel satisfied that our research informed our grocery app, so we decided to return to our research and rethink where our design opportunities were. Our new focus was heavily influenced by our user responses involving an idea of an "essentials" list, Trader Joes having a warm, friendly feeling, and the prevalence of treating shopping as a social event.

App Feature Highlights

For a more personalized shopping experience, we intended to build a stronger relationship with the user in order to increase the likelihood of them using the app. A "shoplist" consists of a collection of grocery items that are bought at once and geared towards a certain theme, such as an essentials list, recipe, or holiday. Each user can edit and save other peoples' shoplists, in similarity to Spotify, adding a social networking element.

We used Active Decision-Making for the feedback we received. For example, for our final prototype, we decided to use "best practice" for searching for grocery items themselves, while choosing to "innovate" how shoplists could be shared and saved.

MarKit App Flow

With our final mobile app prototype, we sought to capture both the social aspects many people associated with grocery shopping as well as the necessity of convenience in finding and buying groceries quickly.

What I learned:

  • Different ways to engage people with design research

  • How to optimize the use of affinity diagramming

  • How to quickly formulate ideas based off of research

  • Understanding where to spend time on a specific prototype



Key features we included were access to Facebook friend and celebrity shoplists and the ability to choose whether to pick up items at the store itself or have them delivered at a fee. We wanted to create a personal experience for a user, beyond just suggesting items to buy.