Assignment #3


1) Pick subtheme

First, here are some sub-themes I could choose:

General sinks: Cleaning, fixing, a day in the life of my sink

Bathroom category: Medicine cabinet, mirror, shower, shaving, toilet cleaning

Kitchen category: Washing dishes, microwave, food prep, food storage, kitchen organization

Other: doing laundry, drinking fountains, laboratory sink usage

I chose washing dishes by hand because this is easy to discuss with people and is also  something I really don't like doing. 

2) Ethnographic tools
Asking: Surveys, focus groups, interviews
Observing: observe users, cultural probe, storyboard experience, persona, map trends
Experiencing: use products, window shop

I chose interviews, observing users, and performing the task myself. 

3) Research

Interviews: I conducted interviews with various people who wash dishes by hand.

Subject 1:
1. How do you wash dishes? What tools do you use?
    I wash dishes with liquid soap and my hands. I do not use any other tools.
2. Why don't you use any other tools?
    I don't like sponges or brushes
3. Why don't you like sponges or brushes?
    They get food on them and then when you reuse them, it just spread that food and germs
4. Why does it spread food and germs?
    There is no way to remove the gunk from the brushes and sponges.
5. Do you enjoy washing the dishes? Why or why not?
    I don't like how long it takes to wash dishes and my hands get wrinkly from the soap and water.
6. Why does it take a lot of time to wash dishes?
    I put off washing dishes as long as I can. Then I have a lot to do. Plus I have to wash each dish separately and scrub hard to get the food off. 
7. Why do you put off washing dishes?
    It is a boring job and I am too busy to wash each dish after I use it.
8. Why do you wash each dish separately?
    I only have 2 hands and no other way of washing them at once.
9. Why do you your hands get wrinkly?
    They are in the water the whole time I'm washing the dishes.
10. Why are they in the water the whole time?
     I have to hold the wet dishes and I use my hands instead of tools. 

Subject 2:
1. How do you wash dishes? What tools do you use?
   I let the dishes soak in soapy water for an hour and then I scrub them with a soapy sponge and rinse them off.  
2. Why do you soak them in water?
    So the caked-on food softens and is easier to remove.
3. What do you like least about washing dishes?
    Reaching in the gross water to grab dishes.
4. Why is the water gross? Do you use gloves?
    The food comes off the dishes and floats in the water. I don't use gloves.
5. Why don't you use gloves?
    They are just another expense and when I tried it before I just got water inside them. I also can't use my fingers as well so it is harder to hold on to things. 
6. Why did water get in them?
    They weren't very long so I splashed water into them and when I reached into the bottom of the sink to grab a dish they went below the water level. 
7. Why did you splash water?
    When I dropped dishes because I couldn't hold them very well with the gloves and also when I rinsed dishes.
8. Do you like washing dishes? Why?
    No, I don't like taking up the sink for an hour and then sticking my hands in the dirty sink.
9. Why don't you like soaking dishes in the sink?
   It piles up high and blocks the tap so my roommate and I cannot use it.

Subject 3:
1. Describe how you would wash a plate.
    I'd fill up one side of my sink with hot soapy water and put the plate in it. Then I'd scrub the plate with my brush to get the food off and then rinse it in the other half of my sink. 
2. Tell me about the brush. What do you like and dislike about it?
   It is shaped like a cat, it has a long handle, I can reach inside cups and bottles with it. It touches the gross food so I don't have to, but it is hard to clean. 
3. How do you clean it?
    I scrub it with soap and water.
4. So you do have to touch the food gunk?
    Yes, but by then most of it is gone.
5. Do you like to wash the dishes? Why?
    No, It is boring and takes a long time and I am tired after work.
6. Why does it take a long time?
    I put off washing dishes because I don't like to do it. By the time I get around to doing it, there is a mountain of dishes to do.
7. Where is this mountain of dishes?
    Everywhere! On the counters and tables and in the sink.
8. What could make your dish washing experience better?
    Paper plates.  Or a maid. Or a dish washer. Or entertainment -- putting a TV by the sink or something. 

Observation: I watched Subjects 1 and 2 wash dishes and these are my observations:

Subject 1: This person's sink was small, which made getting large dishes, like mixing bowls, under the faucet difficult. It also did not have a drain plug. The user had a pump soap dispenser which she could use with only one hand. She had large glasses so she could reach inside to get them clean. 

Subject 2: This user filled the sink with very hot soapy water. The temperature was so high, she was careful not to keep her hands in it for very long. While scrubbing the dishes, she splashed bubbles and water onto the counter. After doing the dishes, she used the extra bubbles to scrub the counter. When finished with her sponge, she rinsed it out with hot water and set it on the edge of the sink to dry.

Thumbnail image for IMAG0256.jpg

Idea Board
Dishwashing idea board.jpg
 I washed dishes myself and noted my experience:

I set the dirty dishes (2 plates, 2 bowls, 1 cup, a fork and a spoon) on the counter top next to the sink. I used soap from a pump dispenser and tried to only use my hands to scrub the dishes clean. The plates and silverware had fresh spaghetti sauce on them, so they were easy to clean. I used a squirt of soap for each item, which was pretty wasteful. It was difficult to reach inside the bottom of the cup and when I rinsed it, the water pressure was so high it caused the water to shoot out of the cup and all over the counter. One of the bowls had caked on oatmeal. I let it soak for a few minutes, but still needed to use a sponge to clean it. The sponge got the gunk off the bowl, but I could not clean the sponge off when I was finished. After the dishes were cleaned, I put them in a rack to dry.

3) Identify product opportunities
      1. Product for scrubbing caked on food that can easily be washed/sanitized
      2. A way to make small amounts of soap go farther
      3. Something to keep hands dry that fits small hands and doesn't hinder dexterity
      4. An attractive way to store dirty dishes
      5. A way to shorten time it takes to wash dishes <----***
      6. A way to get people to wash dishes more often so it doesn't pile up <---***


Very thorough process, and interesting to learn others diswashing techniques. You always here about people who like doing dishes because of relaxation and what not, it would be interesting to interview and observe someone like that, so see if there are differences in processes. And maybe that is what makes it enjoyable for some and not others.

I admire your use of the "5 Y's" and I think it got some good results. I tried it but was always outsmarted by the 2nd 'why'.

One thing that occured to me from looking at your idea board is that dishes and sinks are really not designed to match. Are there any companies out there that make both? That way the two could exist in a way more harmoniously. Also, a lot of stuff is animal themed... why is that, do animals have some sort of association to clean dishes, or is it just because of water and brushes reminding people of animals? I think this would be a good opportunity to get at, as Patrick from Target said, the emotions behind the act of dishwashing, and dishwashing products.

Personally, I try to wash dishes right away after using them so they don't pile up and get dried. I always thought that the dishwasher should just become the cupboard too.

I like your organized process and I think you asked good questions of your interviewees. I think you picked a good broad topic with lots of potential applications and opportunities for innovation (I have a cold right now and I get a sense of dread whenever I see my dishes piling up ... I don't mind straightening my apartment, taking care of my cats, etc. but dishes are a unique stresser!)
One thing I think that might make your post more clear is a summary of what you found, or at least trying to look for patterns or themes from your research. As the reader I am trying to fill in the blanks between your research and your set of product ideas. (It looks like your last two are your "suggestions for improvement" per the assignment? I can see where you got to those from your research but some more linkages might be nice.)

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by grim0168 published on September 21, 2011 9:46 PM.

Assignment #2 was the previous entry in this blog.

Design Wallet is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.