Designing an automated pizza ordering system

pizza system

This project was a conceptual problem solving test for a User Experience designer. This was my take on it.

Brief: Designing an automated pizza ordering system which can be used by sit down customers at a restaurant by making it an engaging, easy, relevant, exciting and persuasive experience.


First we start off with finding out who our users are. Might seem like a simple enough question but most get it wrong. For our system the user is whoever is affected by the introduction of such a system. In our case the pizza customers, staff, supervisor and system administrator with the focus on sit down customers.


The creative process for the development is as follows:

  • Gather needs and requirements of users into design ideas
  • Build a prototype
  • Users evaluate what has been created and refine the prototype iteratively into an interactive system

Gathering needs and requirements

Methodology: Contextual inquiry

Observing and talking to users in their natural setting about how they currently place orders and related activities. We also want to find out why they do what they do and explore the whole pizza environment.

Conducted one-on-one interviews with users to elicit attitudes, behaviours and needs. About 6 were interviewed then grouped findings into themes which are summarised into Personas (fictitious representations of final product users). A feature list can be drawn out from the personas and low fidelity prototypes or wireframes created for users to test. Iteratively the product is developed, tested and redesigned until we have a refined product.

What was actually done:

Contextual inquiry of Debonairs ordering environment

One-on-one interviews with manager and customers from Debonairs.

Insights from the interviews and contextual inquiry gave guidelines as to what info to include in the design and the challenges faced by current ordering systems.



Concept of creating your pizza meal on a multitouch surface situated on the table. It would visually present options and tracks choices, size (small, medium, large), type (thin crust, thick crust, pan style), toppings (sausage, pepperoni, onion, green pepper, extra cheese, etc.), drinks and price.
Based on the environment in which the pizza is served the following came up. Table is a multi-touch screen (video) with menu which keeps track of order, where it was taken and delivery time. The table also advertises Specials and Hottest pizza meals and can provide a customized experience with a restaurant loyalty card.

Exciting and engaging

Eases the waiting period by providing electronic reading material. Insulated audio spotlight technology (video) for selecting preferred eating music and videos or advertisements to watch whilst waiting. Payment is on the table whereby  the system accepts card with biometric finger print authentication for paying and tipping.
Pencil sketches of  the table top interface with controls and order on the top. Ingredients are displayed on the side and add a playful touch as users create their order using gestures in the center. The price is displayed on the bottom right corner.
Lessons I learnt: 
Creative alternative and out of the box thinking is usually hampered by budget constraints.
Interviewing managers of a pizza joint can be difficult as there is information they cannot disclose. I used charm and wit to draw out what happens with bad orders and how many they got in a week. I found that making the participant feel at ease is critical to getting valuable information. This might mean asking and sharing information not part of the study.

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