For this project I decided to tackle the problem of making back to school shopping more convenient. This problem is an issue for approximately 29 million households in the United States. I created an app that not only facilitated people in their shopping, but would help with retrieving their children school list and give them the option to shop local or online.
Every July and August, elementary school parents start their back to school shopping. Depending on their school district and how many children they have this can be a worrisome hectic task. The problem comes when teachers ask you to buy very specific school supplies for each child in each grade. This problem can be very time consuming, inconvenient and costly.
Create an application to accommodate parents of school age children, to shop for school supplies every fall. This application should be able to be a quick reference to the Childs back to school list and display available stores near your area.
“ I hypothesize that finding specific items for each child in each grade, all in the same place is a problem for young working parents of elementary children. Current solutions focus on buying school supplies online, but it can be difficult to make specifications such as certain colors, wide ruled vs college-ruled, brads and pockets that the schools require. I think a product/service might address this gap by creating a mobile app that allows you to search several stores and lets you know what items are in stock. My initial focus will be young time crunched parents. “
User Research
I started my usability testing by selecting 3 - 4 Individuals. These individuals were not the same individuals I used for my questioning for user persona’s. Two of the individuals where parents of my children’s friends. The other two where co-workers with 1 - 2 children of their own. I made sure to select people with children with at-lease one attending K - 5th grade. I made sure of this because I noticed those are the parents that have a more complicated list of items.
For this problem I wanted to approach it from the working parents prospective. Someone who juggles work and home life. I initially created two persona’s
- Single Parent
- Working Parent w/ multi kids
user protocol for interviews
User Research Survey
Format: A scheduled in-person Interviews
Timeframe: 45 min. session
I.    Interview opener
II.   Baseline information 
III.  Back to school shopping / Current state
IV.  Back to school shopping / Future state (concepts)
V.   Conclusion

Who was tested
I ended up surveying 5 individuals for this short sprint:
Carrie, Ellen, Freddie, Chastity, Brian
Two are single parents, and 3 are married with multiple kids
Initial thoughts after the interviews:
- I see that the goals and frustration are quite similar for single parents and for married/partnered parents.
-People just want convenience
-Possibly looking at the problem from the a school level now
-Creating something digital that the teachers could do
findings report
In doing research for this problem Ive found:
- Not one parent looked forward to this task each year, because of the time consumption and the hassle
- Parents that see this as a issue have kids in Elementary school opposed to middle and high school
- Parents feel if you wait too long to go shopping, stores can be reminiscent of Black Friday, the way stores like Walmart and Target get disorganized and picked over
- It can be stressful to not find what you are looking for and you have to make multiple trips
- Parents often have issues obtaining the list or obtaining the list in a timely manner
- Elementary schools websites are often poorly organized and hard to navigate
- Shopping online has not really equated to quicker results due to searching and scrolling through pages; finding yourself debating if larger amounts is a better buy
- Some parents wish schools could do the heavy lifting on this topic
Reframing the Problem​​​​​​​
Every July-and August, elementary school parents start their back to school shopping. Depending on your school district and how many children they have this can be a worrisome hectic task. Teachers ask you to buy sometime very specific school supplies for each child in each grade. The problem comes when you go and try to buy the supplies that don’t always come readily in those attributes.
“ I hypothesize that finding specific items for each child in each grade, all in the same place is a problem for young working parents of elementary children. Current solutions focus on buying school supplies online, but it can be difficult to make specifications such as certain colors, wide-ruled vs college-ruled, brads and pockets that the schools require. I think a product/service might address this gap by creating a mobile app that allows you to search several stores and lets you know what items are in stock. My initial focus will be young time crunched parents. “
APP Sketches
After doing the testing, I found a few things that will help me achieve my desired outcome. First, I found out people look for familiarities. If you can create something, there are simple things you can do to get people to buy-in faster. One of these things for my project was the navigation bar. People felt my app lacked a standardized menu bar. The second thing I learned to make my app more useful was language. Use language that the user will use or if you are creating language define it in plain sight. Lastly, simplify and define what it is that you want to user or customer to do. I notice that on some pages, users were unsure what came next or what should they do next in their process. I need to create markers to entice users to follow as a vehicle to deliver them to the end goal. Also, I need to create a way to share your achievement on social media.
I believe the implications of this type of tool will not only help people, but make their lives easier. It aims to be simple, useful, and convenient.  With an application like this people should be able to cut significant time off of the time it takes to complete the task of back to school shopping. I believe giving people the options of shopping online or shopping locally really opens the door for choice and also lets people feel like they can shop on their own terms.
This will be an ongoing project.
To be Continued ...

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