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Construction Junction: Uniquely

Mobile UX / AR Concept / Business Case 

For this project, my teammates and I were asked to design a mobile service that makes use of two new emerging technologies for a client that has a product-oriented business.

The deliverable should work to increase sales and drive customer satisfaction. Ultimately, the client should receive an app that delivers a service to its customers. To begin our process, we conducted online research to learn about our Pittsburgh-based client, Construction Junction. We then created stakeholder maps to identify the flow of value between individuals.

We isolated opportunities for a mobile service before deciding on the emerging technologies to use. As a team, we settled on incorporating augmented reality and a conversational user interface into our app. 

After creating several iterations of our imagined mobile service, we developed a roadmap that detailed a launch plan. We sought to use this roadmap to pitch to executives at the company for funding. At the end of the project, we prepared a business pitch and showed off our work to interested investors.

 

Team: Nishchala Singhal, Lu Yang / Duration: 4 Weeks

Contribution: User Research, Wireframes, Storyboards, Mockups, Prototypes


During this four week project, we thought of ourselves as a contract team for our mock client, Construction Junction.

The business is located near campus, just twenty minutes away. People come from far away to visit the warehouse in search of reusable home appliances and construction materials at a reduced price. Generally, the customers consist of residents, corporations, contractors and institutions. Donors drop off all sorts of items, from doors to toilets and floor tiles. Construction Junction's mission is to support and promote conservation of resources through the reuse of building and furnishing materials. They want to provide used items with a new home.

 
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Since none of us were well-acquainted with Construction Junction, we began by researching the business and its organization.

This allowed us to identify the key stakeholders, relationships, and services, which we then represented through a stakeholder map. Doing this allowed us to and where there are pain points in the system between stakeholders. It led us to think of the ways we might introduce a new mobile service to Construction Junction’s customers.

In parallel to making the stakeholder map, we compiled a document filled with information about how the business operates. We were so surprised to learn about the different programs and committees that exist to help keep Construction Junction running. There are various partnerships, for example, that help provide seasonal and temporary job opportunities to those interested in gaining work experience. For our final iteration, we made sure to account for all the individuals and businesses associated with Construction Junction.

 
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To help identify some of the problems faced by stakeholders today, we listed out assumptions about Construction Junction’s relationship to its customers.

For each prevailing assumption, we wrote out the opposing statement. This got us thinking about service breakdowns once again. We found that there were opportunities to create a new mobile service around issues of delivery and navigation, for example. Utilizing the new perspective we gained from reversing assumptions, we then framed a series of questions exploring how we could address Construction Junction’s pain points. We pushed ourselves to create a very exhaustive list of questions that poked at service design cases. For example, we asked “Can CJ provide an inventory expert to guide the in-store shopping experience?” Could we offer a chatbot guide to customers?

 

In doing these exercises to get us thinking about the space in a new perspective, we noticed one issue kept resurfacing in our discussions about the current customer experience.

Customers need help finding items that suit their specific needs and preferences. They also need assistance in navigating the warehouse to get to the item they need in the most efficient manner. We brainstormed the various ways we could tackle these issues through the use of emerging technology. After synthesizing ideas, we created our first low fidelity wireframes to visualize a possible solution.

The wireframes first show off a chatbot feature that could assess customer needs and make suggestions for items to purchase accordingly. Then, computer vision could be used to scan through inspiration images that customers upload to the platform. The app would then give item suggestions based on what’s in the inventory. GPS information could help calculate an optimized in-store route to pick up suggested items, saving customers time and energy. Lastly, augmented reality overlays could help customers stay on their navigational route and offer new suggestions along the way.

 
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From the in-class critique, we received questions concerning our use of augmented reality and the feasibility of building an item inventory:

  • This mobile service would require a comprehensive inventory, which may not be feasible. How would we get the information?

  • Some customers may actually like perusing the aisles in the warehouse and may not want an optimized navigational route.

  • Tracking where all the items are in the store for the navigation feature seems infeasible. How could we do this? Would we need to place GPS tags on each item?

  • It could get tiring for customers to navigate through the whole store while holding their phones up to use the AR feature.

  • Construction Junction wants to make money and see an increase in sales. Would this app accomplish that?

 

We quickly realized that we were in need of additional research so we took a trip to Construction Junction on one of the weekends.

We talked to customers to better understand how we could improve the shopping experience, online and in the warehouse. We engaged in observational research and interviewed different shoppers. This helped us pinpoint specific problems to address in our next iteration. First, we walked through the warehouse to see if we could find crates that matched what we had in our image. We were unable to find it on our own. There were barely any employees available on-floor to assist us. We eventually asked a front desk employee to help us out. He went to the back of the warehouse inventory to take out the item we wanted. We were surprised he was able to match the item so well!

 

We learned a great deal about what our customers like and dislike about the current shopping experience at Construction Junction.

Construction Junction doesn't provide enough assistance to customers in the warehouse. It's pretty overwhelming to go through all those items on your own. We found that customers like to shop with specific requirements in mind. Most people cared to and items that matched the dimensions they needed. Aside from the dimensions of the item, many people prioritized the look and uniqueness of the item. I was surprised to learn that price isn't a huge concern. They figure that whatever they buy at Construction Junction will already be significantly cheaper than what could be offered by competitors.

[More content coming soon!]