Problem

Wheelchair users are facing more issues when shopping in a physical store, especially in the following aspects. Here we will focus on the last problem.

  • Aisles between racks are too narrow for them to get through.
  • Racks and displays are too high to reach.
  • Accessible fitting rooms are often unavailable due to inappropriate occupation.

Solution

Here we present FittingEasy, a convenient app that helps wheelchair users go through try-on process smoothly. The main functions are:

  • Reserving fitting rooms online.
  • Pre-ordering clothes to try on.
  • Scanning barcodes on price tags to check fittingness.

Please check the interactive prototype.

Process

This project followed an evidence-based design process. Feedback was collected in every step.

Logistics

Team Members

  • Kaylin Broussard
  • Karthik Srinivasan
  • Jemma Yang

Time Frame

  • Aug. 2017 — Dec. 2017

Personal Contribution

  • User Research
  • Solution Design
  • User Testing

Research

interview icon

Interviewed several experts within the field

survey icon

Launched a survey to collect user data

literature review icon

Conducted literature review on existing products

Through thorough research, we identified three major problems they are facing when shopping in a physical store. And unavailable accessible fitting room is more upsetting compared to the other two problems due to the reasons below.

  • Other fitting rooms usually don't have enough space for wheelchairs. Thus, if some accessible fitting rooms are being used as a storage, they probably won't be able to try on at all.
  • Wheelchair users usually take longer to try on than other people, which would give them psychological burden that someone else would be upset about it.
  • Waiting in line for getting into fitting rooms can be exhausting.

We also determined the following design criteria to guide our design process and final evaluation.

  • Learnability: How easy it is to learn for novice users.
  • Efficiency: How efficient it is for users to perform specific tasks.
  • Error: How many errors users make when performing tasks, and how severe they are.
  • Satisfaction: How satisfied users feel about it.

Interview

We interviewed 4 participants including two wheelchair users, an occupational therapist, and a research scientist who specializes in accessibility. We obtained many key user insights and identified our problem space.

"Clothes shops cram too much stock in which leaves little room to get by."

"The shelves are always so high, and I can never reach them!"

"Fitting rooms are the worst because they always let normies go in them, and I have to wait."

"About 1 in 10 assistants will ask if I want help or try and pack my clothes into my bag for me — DON'T EVER force your help on me!"

Survey

We launched a survey with questions about their current shopping situation and opinions about it. We found some strong evidence to prove that wheelchair users are not having satisfying physical store shopping experience, despite the same need as we do.

  • Nearly 75% of respondents said they would go out for shopping.
  • Comparing online shopping and physical store shopping, 30.8% prefer shopping online, 15.4% prefer physical stores, and 53.8% have no preference between the two.
  • When asked whether they would ask for assistance when shopping in stores, 46.2% respondents said they prefer not asking for any help.
survey pie chart

Literature Review

We also read through retail news, technical reports, peer reviewed articles, and other relevant information to better understand previous solutions. For example:

the oak fitting room

Oak Mirror | Photo: Oak Labs

memomi

memomi | Photo: MemoMi Labs

Design

brainstorming icon

Held a brainstorming session and narrowed down to three design concepts

paper sketch icon

Paper-sketched our design concepts and made storyboards

user feedback icon

Conducted a user feedback session to narrow down design concepts

In the end, we presented our final design solution as illustrated below.

storyboard

Brainstorming

During this session, we came up with plenty of ideas around our three problem spaces. Then we coded and categorized these ideas by their type, such as body scanning, virtual assistants, tactile displays, and mechanical solutions. Once we structured the data, more patterns emerged. Next, we combined similar ideas, and compared each idea's feasibility to narrow down to three design concepts.

brainstorming session: a girl is putting post-its on the white board
brainstorming session: a half of the entire white board
brainstorming session: a half of the entire white board

Paper Sketch + Storyboard

With three design concepts, we started to paper sketch main interfaces. The following images are part of our original design.

the first paper sketch
the second paper sketch
the thrid paper sketch
the fourth paper sketch

We also made some storyboards to help us illustrate our design concepts. The image below is one of our design concepts.

storyboard

User Feedback

After we finished paper sketch and storyboards for our three design concepts, we launched a survey and interviewed experts to gather user feedback. We got many valuable insights and reconsidered how we could better design our final solution. Eventually, we built our final version of design concept incorporating shining points of each original ones.

Prototype

Having determined our final design concept, we built wireframes to specify our design. And eventually we designed the prototype FittingEasy which supports wheelchair users in the following steps.

  • Sign up and enter measurements. Users can change their measurements anytime in the profile page.
  • Reserve a fitting room. Users can check reservation details in the home page.
  • Scan barcode to check if the item fits. This featured function reduces try-on time.
  • Wait for the fitting room to be prepared. FittingEasy will provide details about preparation process. Users can also check the remaining time.
a gif image of signing in and entering measurements

Sign up & Enter measurements

a gif image of reserving a fitting room

Reserve a fitting room

a gif image of scanning a barcode and checking the fit of the item

Scan barcode & Check fittingness of items

a gif image of waiting the fitting room to be prepared and checking the information of remaining time

Wait for the fitting room to be prepared

Evaluation

After we finished the prototype, we had several experts and users go through our application. Through cognitive walkthrough and user testing, we got their impressions and identified design flaws.

6 participants icon
Participants

2 experts for cognitive walkthrough, and 4 users for user testing

evaluation icon
Evaluation Methods

Cognitive walkthrough and user testing

metrics icon
Metrics Measured

Learnability, efficiency, error and satisfication

The graphs below is an overall evaluation on our design.

evaluation result

Cognitive Walkthrough

We conducted 2 cognitive walkthrough sessions with experts. The experts were given the same tasks designed for users. The experts would identify issues as they tried to perform the tasks, and also answered questions about the interface.

User Testing

4 users helped us perform user testing. As they performed tasks, we asked them to think aloud. Once the users completed their tasks, we asked several follow-up questions. Then they rated our design through the questionnaire based on SUS.

Recommendations

Based on testing results and user feedback, we provided the following recommendations for further improvement:

  • Cut off the unnecessary parts of measurements to reduce the burden on users, conduct research on necessities of each body measurements for shopping.
  • Use dynamic images (e.g., GIF) as the measurement instruction images instead of static ones, users would more clearly understand how to measure their bodies.
  • There should be a measurement service set up in store, offering assistance and tools for users to measure their bodies.
  • Adjust timeslots for reserving fitting rooms, conduct research about average time that users spend in fitting rooms.
  • Our design should also be a major function of online shopping, users can choose items and reserve fitting rooms at home before their visits to physical stores.
  • Add a "call for assistance" button in the app, it will be easier to ask for help in the fitting room.
  • Add instructions to familiarize novice users with our app, let them know how our app works.

Conclusion

This is the first project that I was involved from the very beginning to the end. I learned a lot about evidence-based design process. Being proactive in every step, I have laid a solid foundation for future design work.

I was also impressed with the importance of accessible design for people with impairments. A wheelchair user said:

"You probably never think about what technology means to disabled people. For you, it is just an alternative option, but for us, it helps us to survive in this world."

I believe our work will benefit people significantly. I sincerely hope more and more people will join us in this cause and contribute to a better tomorrow for those in special needs.