Hudsons Coffee: Mobile app to enhance customer experience

The conflict when the problem is not the problem

The problem is not the problem: Brief vs. Research findings

Even though Hudsons Coffee expected the app to implement features around events to enhance their customers’ experience, from very early stages in our research phase we discovered there was no interests in events at cafes. This led us to a new journey to find other ways to meet the real final goal: enhance customer experience. The result was a service design approach solution where the app became part of the whole experience. Our solution was a double interface solution for two key users: the customer and staff members/barista.

Project Details

Duration: 2 weeks

Team: 3 user experience designers

Techniques used: Contextual Inquiries, User Interviews, Survey, Empathy maps and Personas, User Journeys, Minimum Viable Product, Design Studio, Sketching, Prototyping, Usability Test.

Tools Used: Pen, paper, Post-it notes, Sketch & InVision

My role:

– Conduct contextual inquiries

– Design user surveys

– Analyse & synthesise findings from user research

– Facilitate co-design workshops with the design team: design studio, empathy maps, user journeys.

– Conduct Usability tests and provide input to the development of the interactive prototype.

– Manage project timeline.

The Approach

Process implemented throughout the project

Discovery and Research

After reviewing the brief and having in mind that coffee is such a broad topic, especially in a city like Melbourne; I proposed to start our discovery phase through a Contextual Inquiry process to understand the specific business context. We visited 4 Hudsons Coffee stores in Melbourne CBD in various times of the day (morning, mid-day & afternoon) and informally talk to the staff to understand their type of customers. This first approach led us to takeaways as the main service for Hudsons besides some pain points with the current reward program.


Additionally, we run User Interviews with 8 coffee drinkers to understand their behaviors and motivations around coffee. These allowed us to identify two differentiated type of coffee drinkers: the ones that like to frequent cafe boutiques looking for novelty and variety in blend options vs. those who visit coffee chains looking for a reliable good quality option.

These techniques allowed us to understand and decode the main themes we needed to research deeper using a survey: takeaway, social reasons around coffee, rewards program and events. In the events theme, we required to confirm if our initial finding about people not being interested in events at cafes were common as the brief required us to consider them. The table below shows the main conclusions we got from the survey with 54 responses.

Survey conclusions


Narrowing Scope & Structure

Analyzing and unpacking findings from User Research using Affinity Maps, User Journeys and Empathy Maps

Using empathy maps we discovered three main personas: the handy coffee chaser, the coffee savvy and the barista/cafe attendant. However, our solution would focus on the handy coffee chaser and the barista/cafe attendant as the coffee savvy is not the target market for Hudsons, having this persona in mind helped to remind us what should not be included in our Minimum Viable Product.

Having disproved the event theme as a way to enhance customer experience I started to review the notes of our research trying to find hidden themes that are related to the whole experience when buying takeaway coffee. I proposed to build a Journey Map not only for the user but the staff that provides the service, as they are fundamental part of the experience beyond the product itself (the coffee). Through this process we found that many of the staff pain points ended up affecting the customer experience as well. This led us to work on a solution not only using a user/customer interface through a mobile app but a solution for the staff that would enhance customer experience through personalisation.

Using a service design approach we concentrated on main pain points around the experience using the user journey and key personas Robert & Vicky to build our Minimum Viable Product (MVP)Using Affinity Maps and User Journeys helped us to uncover the key features we should include as par of our solution.

It will include not only the user mobile app, but an integrated staff interface that will allow them to provide a personalised and quick service in-store, keeping at the same time the business goal to integrate the rewards program.

Then I run a review of general digital based rewards program finding a new common trend around using technology that allows tracking the user within the store, including beacons and bluetooth, and presented it to the team. Assuming this a viable technology as it’s already in the market, we started to ideate possible solutions. Through this process I used my existing skills in people and time management to distribute workload according to individual skills. This helped the team to get the best from each member within time constrains. I utilised my facilitation skills to lead the ideation sessions.

Minimum Viable Product of Hudsons Mobile App to Enhance Customer Experience – Integrating key findings from user research and business goals

Before getting into sketching and prototype we prioritised features using a MOSCOW matrix as shown below.

Feature Prioritisation

Sketching and Ideation


With a MVP defined we moved into Design Studio to start exploring concept ideas around the user mobile app and the staff interface.

We created our paper wireframes around the most important scenarios for our users that included:

  • Mobile App: pre-ordering for pick up and ordering “the usual” including automated rewards program.
  • Staff Interface: ordering at the counter using customer history (with a system that detects customer’s phone apps within store) and order delivery management system for the barista.

Using the paper wireframes we proceeded to usability test with 7 people using a guerrilla test approach as it’s very common to find coffee drinkers in Melbourne!. The main pain points:

  • Most users found the “customise” page confusing and weren’t sure what they could do or expect.
  • Users found it frustrating that the checkout page doesn’t provide enough information about how cost is derived.
  • Some users were struggling to navigate around the prototype.

Paper Prototyping and Usability Test


The staff interface paper wireframes allowed us to understand the way baristas work and how orders are processed because at this point we had not explored this area. The staff interface main objective was to support customer experience and not to improve back office processes; but it came natural in order to improve customer experience.

I learned that even though paper prototypes should be lo-fidelity, we missed important key points that created confusion at this point that could be avoided. Even though we built user flows, those could have had a second level of detail, which would have given us enough details in specific tasks through the order experience that could have been reflected on the initial paper prototypes.

Prototyping and Testing

Using the findings on paper wireframes we moved into the interactive prototype using Sketch and InVision. I collaborated running usability tests: a series of 3 iterations with users and 2 iterations for the staff interface (testing the prototype on people that has had a cafe or retail working experience).

The evolution on the wireframes through iterations

Testing the interactive prototype with users

Besides fixing pain points around vocabulary, i.e., favorites vs. the usual to order the most bought item, and general navigation details, we had the opportunity to test the key main features, some of them differentiate the solution from other pre-order coffee apps in the market, that are addressing the specific needs found during research:

  • An option that saves their usual coffee, including customisation, to order in fewer steps was an expected feature.
  • Integrated automated rewards program: when credit is available the system automatically will display it on the check out page ready to be used, but if they don’t want to use it, the option to remove it is there. All users agreed on this feature, no matter if they are the ones that don’t care about a rewards program or the ones that want to keep control.
  • An option to select a pick up time was overlooked in the first iterations as it was a surprising not expected feature. When it was more prominent on the prototype, most of users found the feature as a “wow” factor and some others just wanted an ASAP option as they will only order just before heading to the cafe. This is a feature we found on comparators analysis, not within the coffee industry.
  • A “Pause Order” function that will allow customers to delay their order if something comes across: even though this feature created a “wow” factor in most of users, they wanted to know more about the rules around it.

In general, I learned that simplified processes and a reduced amount of options are a key feature in this type of solutions as people want to go through tasks really quick. Additionally, I learned that trying to include within iterations new ideas can have positive and negative effects on the process. On the positive side it’s possible to test quickly new ideas as the project progresses and new feedback from previous iterations come into place. On the negative side, it could interfere with testing on improvements of other features that had been tested before. In this sense, I believe that having in mind the MVP helps to keep the process in focus.

User Mobile App Lo-definition Interactive Prototype

On the Staff interface side, the problems of back office processes were improved from paper prototypes. However colour coding around customer classification needs to be reworked for future iterations, in general the system supports the solution on the staff side, providing them with information about customer preferences that allows them to provide a personalised service.

Staff Interface lo-fidelity interactive prototype

Finally, we created a video to show the whole experience integrated and show a walk through the prototype from a user’s point of view:

The final interactive prototype:

Next Steps

As part of the iteration in the design process for this app we suggested the following next steps:

Quick wins

  • Alarms and notifications for customers announcing when their order is ready.

Long term goals

  • High fidelity design.
  • Leveraging on company database to expand customer app profiles.
  • Delivery Services as a potential new service (this will require further research).
  • Coffee Runner Add-on.
  • GPS Tracking.
  • Research other users relevant for Hudsons in hospitals and airports as new personas could emerge with different pain points and needs.

Final personal reflections…

This project has helped me to develop a service design holistic approach to the whole UX Design process. For the future, I would approach the usability test process in the same way, testing the whole experience, not just the interfaces, as I think it would bring more insights for future iterations to improve the app and the entire service, as a whole. Additionally, I really want to keep improving my facilitation skills during research and design studio phases as well as my skills on prototyping tools.


This project has helped me to develop a service design holistic approach to the whole UX Design process. We designed not only a Hudsons customer app but a back office interface to improve customer engagement. For the future, I would approach the usability test process testing the whole experience, not just the interfaces, as I think it would bring more insights for future iterations to improve the app and the entire service, as a whole.