User research





In this chapter we will give the main findings of the user research we carried out. The findings are divided in two categories: direct and indirect. Findings falling in the “direct” category are those that can directly be included in the list of requirements; simple requirements like the size of the pan that should fit in the Fortune Cooker. Indirect influences generally need more research before it can be encased as a concrete requirement in the list of requirements.

We gathered the information by asking questions and observing the women while cooking water or food (a stew) with the Fortune Cooker. In this chapter only the findings are given that can be improved by changing the design of the Fortune Cooker or that give suggestions for a future business model or continuation of the project. The complete list of findings can be found in Appendix 7.

 

Direct influence

Finding

Negative or positive?

Why?

Derived wish or requirement

The pressure pan is the mostly used pan

+ -

Seeing that the pressure pan is a heat retainer (in a way) as well, it could enhance the Fortune Cooker’s goal to retain heat. However, a pressure pan needs a higher temperature to work. It is not yet known if the Fortune Cooker would be suited for a pressure pan.

Wish: The Fortune Cooker can be used in combination with a pressure pan, without having to keep the second heat source on.

Test persons use more than one pan per meal

-

At this point, the Fortune Cooker can only hold one pan. This means that it could not completely replace other cooking appliances.

If the aim is to replace all other cooking appliances:

Wish: It should be possible to fit at least 2, but preferably 3 pans in the Fortune Cooker.

Prototype 1: In order to take the pan from the Fortune Cooker, it has to be tilted.

-

If the pan has to be tilted, it is possible that food will spill.

Requirement: The food can be placed in and removed from the product without spilling.

The test persons

were not able to

fix the mirror on

their own.

-

 

Requirement: The user should be able to adjust the position of the mirror without help.

The test persons find the right way to place the pair of triangles themselves.

-

 

Wish: After explanation of the principle of the mirror, the user will know how to use the mirror without mistakes

Not all the test person’s pans fit in the Fortune Cooker.

-

The user is unable to user their own equipment in the Fortune Cooker.

Wish: The Fortune Cooker should be designed with the optimal relation between size of pans and sufficient insulation.

During testing, the pan was opened several times to stir or add ingredients.

-

The box and the pan lose heat when opened often.

Wish: The Fortune Cooker should lose minimal warmth during opening or this loss should be compensated.

The test persons did not always use the lid on the pan.

-

Less heat is retained in the pan.

Wish: It should be possible to cook on pans without a lid.

The glass in the Fortune Cooker can break after a few times of use.

-

This forms safety issues as well as functionality issues.

Requirement: The Fortune Cooker must be able to be repaired by the user or within their financial and distance range.

Requirement: The materials that are exposed to the heat source can resist a temperature up to a 200°C.

Wish: The transparent surface on top of the Fortune Cooker must not form safety or functionality issues.

The test persons had to crouch to work with the Fortune Cooker.

-

This forms several usability problems: It is too low for older people, it is not visible whether the gas is on, it is dangerous for children, and wild dogs can befoul it.

Requirement: The Fortune Cooker can be placed on a (kitchen) counter, with a maximum height of 100 cm, considering working height, danger for children, sight and dirt. Or, the Fortune Cooker has a working height of maximally 100 cm.

The Fortune

Cooker is

considered ideal to keep food and water warm,

after it is heated.

+-

This indicates the Fortune Cooker will possibly be used to keep food warm, but it is questionable if the person would turn off the gas earlier than they would normally do and thereby will not reduce gas consumption.

Wish: The product informs the user when the heat source within the box can be turned off, either by feedback or intuition.

Prototype 2: In order to work with the pan, the test person had to put her hands in the box.

-

Seeing that the inside of the Fortune Cooker is very hot during cooking, the safety of the user would be at stake.

Requirement: The user will not get burned while touching the product during cooking.

One test person

questions the

cleaning of the

Fortune Cooker

-

 

Requirement: The Fortune Cooker can be cleaned thoroughly within 30 minutes.

Wish: The Fortune Cooker is easy to clean

During

simmering, the

stew does not

evaporate

enough, which

makes the result

too ‘wet’.

-

The Fortune Cooker functions different than their current cooking device.

The food is not considered of the same quality when prepared in the Fortune Cooker.

Wish: The quality of the food is as good as possible.

During testing, someone always had to stay with the Fortune Cooker, so that no children or animals could hurt themselves or touch the food.

-

This means that the user would not be able to leave the Fortune Cooker during cooking, and do other things.

Wish: The product can be left alone with children and animals.

Due to condensation, it is difficult to look through the glass to see how the process goes.

 

-

If the test person cannot see the state her food is in, it is probable that she will open the box instead.

Wish: Feedback by watching, without opening the box, should be possible.

Not all test persons were aware that the door/drawer has to be open when the gas is lit.

 

Gas fire needs oxygen to continue burning. Also, if the gas would not get any oxygen, it would just be flowing gas in the Fortune Cooker, creating an explosion hazard.

Requirement: In case of a combination with a gas hob, the air supply of the heat source should not be controlled by the user.

 

 

Indirect influence

Understanding the cooking process

In Moroccan culture, cooking is a skill that is passed on from mother to daughter. Within our test group, this was not any different. The women learned all the tips and tricks from their mothers, including a deeper understanding of how the cooking process works. For example, they know how meat reacts to different temperatures. The fact that our target group understands what happens to the food while cooking, increases the chance that one day, the user is able to estimate when the gas can be turned off, and for how long the food subsequently should rest in the sun.

However, tests also pointed out that the women have one very important point of feedback during cooking: they need to see the stew boiling in order for them to know if all is going well. If they don’t see their food boiling, they don’t trust that the end result will be satisfying. This means the leap women have to take when turning the gas off and trusting the Fortune Cooker, is even bigger than we had expected. Furthermore, all the test persons indicate to ‘just know’ when the food is ready. They don’t have any other (conscious) points of feedback.

Understanding the Fortune Cooker

As mentioned above, the people we tested with did not expect the Fortune Cooker to work at first. They didn’t believe that the food could be well-cooked once the gas was turned off. This begs the question; would they know when to turn off the gas themselves? And if they did, how many times would it take for them to find the optimal moment, or would they not find the optimal moment at all?

Next to the gas being turned off, there are more actions during the use of the Fortune Cooker that did not go without obstacles. When explained that the sun had to reflect on the pan via the mirror, many of the test persons could not figure this out without being shown the right way. Moreover, most users did not take initiative to turn and adjust the mirror themselves during cooking.

Because tests have shown that there is little understanding of the right way to operate the Fortune Cooker, there is a small chance that the user will be able to find the optimal way to use the product themselves, which means that the amount of fuel they save by buying the Fortune Cooker will probably be less impressive. In order for the Fortune Cooker to be successful, there should be something or someone that learns the user how to use the Fortune Cooker and how to understand the differences between the cooking process they know and that of the Fortune Cooker.

Being open to change

In order to find out whether our target group would be able to make a switch this big, we set up a few question that should establish whether our target group is used to dealing with small and big changes on a daily base. Some of the answers were promising, although our own observations contradict them as well. Testing with these women was quite difficult. We asked them to ‘do what they think is best to do’, but this seems to be something they do not understand at all. This can simply be insecurity – which would be understandable – but it can also mean that they are not used to trying out new things and experimenting.

A few women cook the same meals each week, without ever changing a thing. Slightly more women just cook with the ingredients that are cheapest at that moment, which gives them room to make slight changes in every meal. This is a good sign: it shows that the women are not hell-bent on preparing exactly the same meals every day.

When asked if they would be okay with meals of a lesser quality if that would mean they could save fuel, all test persons answered that they would be. However, it is already possible for the test persons to prepare meals of a lesser quality by turning of the gas earlier, but this is not something they do. This makes it hard to assume that people would indeed let the sun do all the work, and turn off the gas.

Conclusions

Apart from the derived demands and wishes for the final product that are described above, the user research tests the initial aim of the product as stated in the Project Plan. This aim is as follows; The Fortune Cooker is a clean cook stove that aims to eliminate the use of open fire or inefficient stoves as well as to reduce the amount of fuel to be used during cooking.

As our test persons mostly cook their food on gas, the second part of the previous sentence is most applicable. This reduction of fuel consumption can form a financial trigger for the user to purchase the Fortune Cooker (as health issues are less applicable when using gas).

However, field research shows that women do not turn off the gas by themselves before the food, especially the meat, is ready. This means there will not be any fuel reduction and thus the aim of the Fortune Cooker is not achieved. Besides, the fuel reduction that would give them a financial trigger is also not or less achieved.

An important reason for this is that people do not yet trust the functioning of the product.

Therefore, adaptations on behalf of the product should be made. Field research shows that some kind of feedback system is required for a proper use of the Fortune Cooker. However, it is indicated that far less feedback is required for their current way of cooking, as they are experienced with this. Thus, further research should be performed on the user’s learning curve: will there be point when the user is experienced enough with the Fortune Cooker to not need any feedback, or will there always be need for feedback during cooking? When the first one is applicable, one should also research how much time is needed before this amount of experience is achieved, to know whether or not this time forms a barrier to purchasing a Fortune Cooker. Considering this barrier to a purchase, we can also think of the way that the product should be brought to the market. Given the information above, the explanation of the functioning of the Fortune Cooker should have a high priority in promoting the product.

The last thing that has to be mentioned given these conclusions is a reconsideration of Morocco as the target group of the product. The fact that food is a very important aspect of the Moroccan culture results in the women to have much knowledge on the cooking process. They are hereby not only capable, but as field research shows, are also willing to try different ways of cooking. This is beneficial for getting the Fortune Cooker to be used by them. On the other hand, at the same time the importance of food in the Moroccan culture causes higher requirements on the Fortune Cooker for a high quality of the food. Although the test persons say they are willing to hand-in quality for a cost reduction, they do not turn off the gas earlier. As mentioned earlier in “The product: conclusions”, when adapting the product in a way that a same quality of food can be achieved, it is questionable if this is possible without increasing the costs of the product too much.

Discussion
Test persons do not know the concept of testing new products and may therefore be more reticent when was asked to ‘do whatever they want with the product. This could cause the outcomes to be more negative than they should. This reticence could also lay in the culture of Morocco. Another aspect that should be taken into account is that the test persons may not criticized the Fortune Cooker as this is considered impolite. This could cause the outcomes to be more positive than they actually are.

We would have preferred to test more with women that cook on wood fires. At the time we wanted a first, nearby experience, which resulted in testing with neighbours that use gas. The user experience of the Fortune Cooker is not much influenced by this, but mostly the market research could have been more complete when we had been more assertive to ask Farida to test with women that use wood fires for cooking.

A side note we want to add to this is that when we went to give the two prototypes to two important test persons, one of them was really happy to get a Fortune Cooker and she was already talking about where she would put it. This indicates that the Fortune Cooker is indeed being valued positively.