The UX of conversation SECOND PART

Time: October 14 – October 21

Brief: Design a conversation between a human user and a machine.

Partners: Sarah, Jialing

The week started with us presenting our ideas to the class. Although the way we did our research was correct, we did miss the broader picture. In our research, we were very focused on solving the problem of scanning machines. John pointed out that we should be more focused on different things that happen in the supermarket. We also realized that a machine does not necessarily have to be a physical one.

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Customer observation.

For all the reasons above, we decided to change our conversation. We visited the supermarkets again and just observed behaviour. After the AEIOU process, we met and discussed our observations. We realised that we can link all our observations to consumerism.

Although the topic of consumerism was discussed many times, we thought that we could shed light on the way it affects our shopping and thus our way of living. Following the AEIOU framework and our observations, we created five different stories with different scenarios, where we tried to show the inner conversation different people have when they go to the store.

Our storyboards.

We showed the storyboards to a variety of people (different backgrounds, age groups and nationality) that would then rank how accurately the storyboards represent their feelings. Most people agreed with the way stories were presented, but there were some disagreements. People with celiac disease were more bothered by people not taking them seriously in restaurants than they were with the various shopping choices. Another disagreement was with the way our fourth storyboard about the teacher James was presented. People did not see the correlation between his buying choices and consumerism. Although they did not agree with the way we presented the story, they, as well as James in our story, sometimes treat themselves, even if that means going over the budget.

After doing the research, we had to design a conversation between a human and a machine. As the machine we chose consumerism. We wanted to present our idea by making people experience the way consumerism affects our choices. We therefore brought two different boxes of cookies, where one was more expensive and better advertised and the other from an unknown brand and cheaper. We offered them cookies before our presentation. Then we asked on what basis they chose the cookies. The answers differentiated from ‘cookies being a known brand’, ‘the packaging looked more premium’, etc.


Our aim was to make people more aware of the ways how consumerism affects our choices and how it allows us to escape everyday problems through the experience of shopping. Our existence as social beings is affected by the experience of the society we live in and the effort we put into transforming it. In a way, consumerist society has transformed the supermarket into a symbol of the virtual global domination of consumer capitalism. Supermarkets are in this way symbolic of the ideological impact of retailing and consumerism upon contemporary society. (Miles 2006)

The discussion following our presentation was interesting as many people were thinking of a way consumerism affects their lives, but it was also pointed out that the conversation we used had already been portrayed many times. Through this project, I realized that defining problems can sometimes be more challenging than solving them.


Miles, S. (2006). Consumerism: As a Way of Life. London: SAGE.