We try so hard to leave our mark, to make something unique and be remembered.
As an engineer turned UX designer with no professional design degree, I wanted to be noticed by the world by making something new and unseen, setting an industry standard for a unique design. To create something new, I changed the existing user flow. But I forgot one small thing, the end-user doesn’t care about how clever the creator or designer has been in their products but only the utility.
Futuristic Labs’ mission of automating everyday cooking intrigued me. They had designed RIKU - the world’s first rice and curry maker which was all set to reduce the time people devote to standing in front of the curry and stirring it while it's cooking. I was handed over the project to design a Recipe Creation Tool that can be used to onboard recipes to this smart kitchen appliance. Our goals aligned even more when, just like me, the stakeholders also wanted to do something different than basic tables and forms, seen in almost all recipe maker tools online.
Mistakes were awaiting me as I embarked on my journey
Excitedly, I started the design process and followed the 5S framework. Starting from interviewing stakeholders, and business requirements to studying the competitor market, I thought that I have covered everything. I made our user personas based on assumptions, and thought, what could possibly go wrong? Well, everything. My assumption was my first mistake.
Later, we designed the MVP (Minimal Viable Product) version by Oct 2021 and tested it for many months. Testing is what showed us what can be improved and we got a few good suggestions from the users themselves. Keeping all the shortcomings of MVP + the scope of the next version in mind, I designed the RCT for version 2.0. The MVP looked a little like a backend tool, hence in the next version, I had to make something that works for the external users as well.
User Research was the Key to Understanding our Customers The next thing to do was - to use a form-like structure instead of multiple page flow for a user-friendly interaction. We had incorporated one of the two things we were trying to avoid: a form. I was determined to at least keep the contents inside the form different and unusual and that, to my astonishment, led me to my second mistake. In the testing for V2.0, users found it difficult to use the unusual and new interface within the form. They demanded to bring back the familiar ingredient tables.
Now, the design had both form & table, and the only difference between us and the market was the input fields we were asked to fill. To my surprise, this is what the end user wanted: familiarity with their existing mental model. There are still improvement areas as there always will be, but eventually, all these failures led us to our first win. The effort to onboard a smart recipe on this tool decreased massively.
What I learned throughout my journey of trying to design a unique RCT is:
Uniqueness is secondary. Simplicity comes first.
Keep your end users in the loop from the beginning. Don’t assume a lot about your target users.
Don’t be afraid to look like your competitors, especially at the beginning stage.
The timing is crucial.