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[Project Case Study]

Food Truck Locator App & Site
User Research, Wireframes, Branding, Design, Prototype

Project (IN PROGRESS)

With the ever growing craze of food trucks as a popup commodity, the goal of this project is simply making it more accessible to the masses, while finding new ways to improve the process and experience along the way. So how will this be different? The goal is to combine popular app/social elements like user ratings, gps location tracking, directions to their location, as well as adapting some growing popular features like in app pre-pay option. In some of my premature research, I crossed, poorly designed, clunky, not user friendly sites and apps, that didnt really tell you much about the trucks you wish to visit.

This app prototype functions as a personal education tool for staying current on new practices/trends, methodologies, and design experiences that I have not been able to experience in my career thus far.

     

  • Project: Food Truck Locator App
  • Date: October 2016 - March 2017
  • Roles: User Experience Research & Visual Design
  • Programs Used: Photoshop, Sketch, inVision, Illustrator
  • Deliverables: Branding, Wireframe, Style Sheet, Personas, Prototype, Mobile App, Website (Stage 2)

Research


The food truck app is a personal project that I created after some visits to food trucks, and realizing that the process could easily be streamlined a lil better. How do you speed up the wait (long wait of 20-30 minutes)? Make sure customer is getting the correct order?

Although I was happy with my experience, suggestions of ways to make it faster and more efficient for customers came about. The main complaint was, why can't there be a pre-pay option in the app, similar to a recent feature Starbucks added, or along lines of Panera's popular rapid pickup.

Aside from my order, I did also observe other customers who had orders overlooked. What could be done to make the food truck process as seemless and smooth as possible. Would customers prefer to order thru a website or app, pay before arrival, present reciept at pick up and be on their way? Could it ease line frustration and order clarity? One potential concern, would be a potential limited availability of goods with too many pre-orders. If everyone orders thru the app would there be enough food left for the people just waiting in line and not prepaying?

Competitor Analysis

Starting to get the discussion and research started, I began some in depth analysis of the features and capabilites at several competitors to locate areas for improvement. Below is synopsis of some of the findings.

Upon diving into some of the competitor features and what they offer, the realization came that this app could fill a missing nitch in the food truck app spectrum.

The main driving feature of this app would be the in app pre-pay to ease frustration, speed up the process, and ease confusion. Throughout my research it appears no one has really thought this could be an advantage, either in app or on site.

Another thing that seemed to be lacking with in the apps are the availability of any sort of a food menu. Most food trucks provide a very limited on site menu to keep things simple and avoid a ton of extra supplies needed. Why can't trucks have a menu of the items they have available to prepare right there within the app, on a personal truck page, to make it easier on the customers? Even if the user doesn't prefer to pre-pay or order in the app, one would think have the menu on hand would help users from having to hunt down a menu else where. Obviously this would have to be generated and entered by the specific food truck vendor. As a consumer, I personally prefer to research the options of a truck or restaurant that I might be heading over to dine at.

Survey Questions & Results

A total of 24 participants were asked to complete a survey and answer some general questions, about who they are, what are their social habits, their eating habits, and any previous experience with a food truck.

The top 10 question and their results are featured below.

Personas

Based on the data gathered from the results of the survey, I was able to compile several user personas that could give a glimpse into the potential demographic for the app. It will also helps provide insight into potential preferences and choices a user may make.

Upon completion of the research, some new conclusions were made about some things that were either over looked, or additional approaches that could have been made. One survey question that was overlooked, was asking users what type of phones they use (Apple, Android, etc) to help generate ideas on how the app should be built to benefit all users with little cost as possible. One other resources for user input outside of the survey would have been the actually ask food truck visitors actually at the food truck sight. Due to this project being started in the off season of foodtrucks, that process was not focused on; It however would be a great supporting tool to the survey.

Flowchart, Wireframes, Paper Prototype


Moving on from the research portion, I began using some of my findings to begin sketching out the general flowchart, to start to begin to make some sort of visual sense of this app. First of all below, are some rough pencil wireframes to get the thought process moving.

Once the general direction was worked out, and thought process was in motion.

It soon moved onto taking the rough rendering from pencil to Sketch and start composing the wireframes for the app. Before proceeding the more hi fidelity final app screens, I conducted a user analysis with paper prototypes on several peers to gather some information/considerations that I may have missed.

Final Screens


This section reflects a majority of the final design of the screens and interaction used with in the app. A style sheet is presented here as well to illustrate the overall theme and color palette of the app through out. It dictates the color palette, treatment of icons, and fonts that’s are used as well.

This section signifies the potential final phase of the app with all its screens. From login capabilities, in app pay, order placing, account information, past purchase, as well as multiple ways to be able to search for a food truck

Prototype


Off to the right, a sample prototype (built in InVision) displays some of the interactivity that would be apparent in the app. Since this project was planned to be nothing more than simply a potential project and learning tool/experiment for me, I have not activated every interaction possible and only chose to display several different samples. I did spend extensive time expanding on most of the core app functions. The prototype went thru a couple rounds of revisions, upon doing some user testing among peers as well as just personal designs flaws I was coming across while building the prototype.

Should the app actually go into production, the intention is for it be a hybrid app which would keep cost lower than having to build two native apps, thus allowing more exposure to the masses. With a rather close race in market share between Android and Apple, it wouldn’t really make feasible sense to seclude one or the other on such a niche market.

What I learned


This was an incredibly gratifying learning experience that I have gained extensive knowledge from, and has proven this is a venture that I absolutely look forward to expanding on, either personally as freelance project or as part of a career move.

As I worked thru all the ins and outs, of the research, the specs, and all the details that were needed to accomplish this project. There are a couple things I would have done differently. First of all I conducted a survey thru GOOGLE forms, that I realized missed a couple research points that could have helped improve the understanding of the core demographics and how they interact with their phone.

The survey itself provided me with a wealth of knowledge about how potential users would be thinking. However, if this were to become a real thing, I would need to actually do some in person research and get some 1:1 interviews with people who frequent food trucks. I would have to make a visit to a common location and provide some sort of incentive in return for their feedback. I now realize the importance of conducting interviews, most especially for this type of app.

Overall I’m very happy with the way this ended up. For me the process was a never ending think tank … Think…. RE-Think… Think Again, REPEAT. I was always analyzing (sometime maybe over analyzing) each aspect at every stage during the process.