During our semester we were tasked with creating an interactive system that solves a transportation and mobility issue in Los Angeles. Our project focuses on the navigational experience at the Santa Monica Farmers Market.
UX / UI Design, Prototyping, User Interviews, User testing, pitch video creation
Anna Larionova, Celso Pereira, Kalynn Porter
How might we empower mobility-impaired visitors to engage with the Downtown Santa Monica Farmers Market more comfortably, while maintaining the authenticity of the farmers market experience?
During our user interviews, we found that many market goers felt the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market was overwhelming and fast paced. There were carts blocking pathways, people were rushing through the market, and users felt that they had to constantly be aware of their surroundings. For someone with a mobility impairment, this environment becomes a source of fear for their safety.
We designed an AR navigational assistant that guides you to the product or vendor using the safest pathways available. Our app allows the user to search for products in the market and follow a step-by-step guide to reach that product. Along the way it informs the user of important waypoints, vendor sales and specials, and easy to navigate pathways away from the overwhelming obstacles of the market.
For this project we were tasked with finding a location in Los Angeles that we could improve a mobility or transportation issue. There were mentions of some popular traffic junctions, or public parks. But when the idea of a weekly two day farmers market was proposed, we couldn’t resist the challenge.
Chefs come to the market to gather ingredients. They use large carts to haul their goods. The large carts become an obstacle for market goers, that make frequent stops in the main pathway.
There is no traffic flow; market goers can be seen walking against the flow of foot traffic which causes people to bump into one another.
It’s a very busy environment with a lot of moving pieces. Commercial vehicles still move throughout the market, you can find bikers riding along the side or walking down the middle, and some pedestrians block established entrances into the market. Because of this, you have to be aware of your surroundings.
“In design, again and again, we see that looking to the average does not produce cutting-edge innovations, instead we should be looking to extremes. […] They are a gold mine for helping us to think differently.”
Denise became the core persona that we were designing for. With all of the challenges that we noticed in the market, we imagined that Denise would benefit the most from our efforts.
There was also the consideration that by designing for this persona, we would make the Santa Monica Farmers Market more inclusive for all users. If we could create a positive experience for the mobility impaired demographic, then we were confident the rest of the population would also benefit and we could create a positive market experience for everyone.
Denise is a wheelchair user in her 30s, who values active participation in her community.
Denise likes to explore the city on her days off. Though she makes plans to avoid heavily congested areas and times.
She can't comfortably move through the market. Her path can become cramped and she becomes worried about hitting people or people hitting her.
"So there’s a lot of bags hitting you, because you’re at the same level. Like I said I used to drive [my wheelchair] with my hand and there’s been spaces that I’ve been that it’s so easy for people to knock my hand over and then for me to drive off in the wrong direction. Just because of a bag or something."
"I felt like a salmon trying to swim upstream. It seemed like more people were coming at me than walking the same direction."
Our team started the ideation process by brainstorming 3 scenarios. After we had these scenarios figured out, we worked through each one step by step. For each idea we set up metrics to define what both success and failure would look like. We also thought of easy ways to prototype our ideas which became incredibly important.
We storyboarded our AR concept to better visualize how the app works and how the user interacts with it.
User enters the market ➡️ Finds our app QR marker ➡️ Uses the app to search for produce ➡️ Follows the AR guide to locate the vendor
We had to think of a creative way to prototype our idea since we didn’t have any way to develop the app. We opted to make a simulated experience for our testers. We prerecorded a video walking through the market, which was split up into smaller GIFs that we were able to upload to Figma and overlay our AR experience. It gave our testers a clear idea of the features of the app along with how it worked while walking through the market.
Once we had our prototype put together, we had fellow students test it. We had a mix of experience amongst our testers. Some were regulars to farmers markets and some were not.
Search screen is noticeably blank, users were expecting to see more information here. Discounts icon is a little unclear for people. Some worry about the tool being too distracting or making people look at their phone even more. People are interested in the pop-ups but were confused on their functionality. I think this was partly due to how the prototype was built.
I enjoyed working on this project and loved working with my team to make it come to life. After presenting our solution to industry professionals I realized that we should have spent more time developing the supplementary experiences of the map. We were told that we created a great connection with the key user and the AR feature, but they were still curious about some of the other features of the app. I think that we became more focused on the work that we needed to complete to present our idea that we didn’t dedicate enough time to really add to these secondary flows. If we were to continue this project I would expand on the map screen to give users an alternative to using AR. For future projects, I plan to spend more time on these secondary flows and making sure we are pitching a robust experience.