This project started from a request from one of my friend who just joined Facebook this summer and rent a 1B1B in Sunnyvale. She knew my work experience in interior and architecture design so she texted me to ask for my advice on layout and decoration solution for her new home. While I was picking IKEA furniture for her online, a question came to my mind: why IKEA can’t provide an easy solution for people like her?
People in lack of room layout experience are often frustrated in home decoration and furniture purchase when they move into a new place.
Redesigning IKEA Place by adding an automatic room layout tool in current main menu, they will be able to decorate their new room efficiently and enjoyably.
The first thing I did is to look at current target audience of IKEA. Below are two key findings (data source here).
Who shop at IKEA and how do they look like?
These are very important clues for me to specify my target user. Combining with other information, I was able to have a sense of How IKEA target audience like:
In order to scope down my target user and know their pain points, given the IKEA target user insights above, I talked with five people who just finished their new home decoration at the ages ranging between 24-30.
The interview spun around following questions:
Why they choose IKEA? What are some difficulties they have when decorate their room?
Based on the insights, I built two personas representing the group of people that I designed for - student with more function oriented goal and young adults with more customized need.
In order to mapping the pain point into timeline, I walked through current workflow of how to figure out a room layout in real life. There are three struggling moments:
When and why they are struggling during decoration?
How might we improve green hand users’ room decoration experience and attract them to the IKEA community?
Heavenly, IKEA Kitchen Planner, IKEA Place are popular tool in the markets that help users to plan their room. They all solve at least one or two pain points in decoration process as I analyzed above.
None of them cover all the three key pain points.
A New Workflow?
According to these, what if IKEA provide one new tool that cover the three pain points?
Based on the three goals, I conducted a series of sketching sessions to brainstorm and come up with possible features and methods that could potentially improve the current home decoration workflow. I first try to brainstorm solution for each of these pain points and then integrate them together. However, I soon realized the real difficulty here is how to make this product functional enough to cover all the pain points but also make it light, easy to use, systematically rather than separately. Finally, I decided to take the technical advantage of IKEA Place, as a mature visualization tool, and integrate layout solution and furniture solution together.
Then I started to brainstorm how layout solution and furniture solution can be integrated into IKEA Place. In short, the problem here is how to generate a feasible layout that meet the room condition and user’s individual expectation, and then generate furniture combination accordingly by computer?
In order to have a more feasible and trustworthy workflow for that, I asked three colleagues who were doing interior design in my company and also recalled my own practice in interior design.
Based on our common agreement on how an interior designer design a room, I digitalized the principles so that it is digestible for computer. Basically the workflow for the problem is:
I created a sample database for user choosing “work”,”sleep”and “social”.
I sketched out two task flows for the new IKEA Place: 1. Using AR to scan the room and figure out the room shape and area; 2. Using a four step quiz to collect user’s expectation, including activities they expect in the room, expected atmosphere of the activities and budget .
Then turned it into wireframes and built a lo-fi prototype in Principle.
Test and Design
I recruited four people to try out the lo-fi prototype in front of me. I asked them to imagine that they were about to move into an empty house and decide to decorate their new bedroom, using the new IKEA Place. Below are two key feedback.
“ I want a social space in my room but I don’t really care about how it looks like. I don’t know how to choose.”
Add a “I don’t care” choice
“Why can’t I complete purchase here? ”
Add a “I want this” in the cart menu
High Fidelity Prototype
Easy to access
The layout tool will have an easy entry-point from IKEA Place main menu. The hover button will give it enough exposure to the users.
Quick measurement by AR
Use current measurement and calibration feature in IKEA Place to scan the room.
Four-step quick quiz
to collect further room condition and more customized expectation: activity, atmosphere and budget.
Quick solution in AR
After the quiz, a room layout solution that fit the room condition and user’s expectation is displayed in AR.
See other options
By clicking the “See Other” button, different solution will be displayed in AR and the user can choose the one most fit as a base to improve
Manually adjust and buy
User can manually replace furniture pieces. Besides, furniture list is automatically generated and user can buy it directly.
Be brave to propose and be cautious to validate
In this project, the problem keeps refining throughout the entire process, along with alternate zoom-in and out. As a designer, it is easier to scope down the problem and tackle that issue. However, the problem sometimes can only be solved from a holistic view with comparatively high effort.
The initial thought is to find a way to improve user’s experience in room decoration. During the research, I found this problem is a complicated issue which is a result of interlacement among three key pain points. Not until competitor analysis did I realized that it is still painful if only partially addressing these pain points. At that moment, I managed to zoom out a little bit and need to find a solution systematically.
The final concept inspired from my practice in interior design. The digitalization process of a designer’s thought is challenging but is also a step worth to take in order to validate an ambitious solution. I enjoyed this project a lot!