case study:

The Bozo Bottle

Generating a better solution for Prime students.

Prime Digital Academy is an 18-week immersive program dedicated to helping speed up the process of creating software developers. I wanted to create a water bottle that was designed specifically for the students and let them focus on their goals.


The Challenge

Students at Prime are focused on one goal: to become software developers and break into the technology field

Being surrounded by technology makes many students nervous about leaving drinks on their desk. My challenge was to create a water bottle specifically designed that satisfies all of their needs and desires while giving them the confidence to use the bottle in their day-to-day routines.

The Approach

To fully understand the issue that needed to be solved, I started by creating a heuristic analysis of an existing water bottle a student might use. I then created design concepts based off my findings, as well as some initial observations and interviews I conducted with students. After receiving feedback on my design concepts, I choose one to focus on and created a lo-fidelity physical prototype at Leonardo's Basement

After evaluating my prototype by conducting usability tests with students, I gathered feedback on what they liked and possible changes I could implement. I finished by creating a design plan that will be able to help move this lo-fidelity prototype into a final version that could be put into production. 


 

Heuristic Analysis

I used Jakob Nielsen's 10 heuristics to create an analysis report. I walked through each task slowly and deliberately while taking notes and then ranked each task from "minimal error" to "catastrophic failure". I also categorized each task into different heuristics. After ranking each tasks, I took photos and noted some of the main concerns and problems I had with the water bottle.
 

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Design Concepts

Based off of my Heuristic Analysis and observations of students, I created three design concepts based on different issues that I identified and wanted to focus on. The concepts were centered around:

Connectivity, Safety, and Portability.
 

 

Design Concept #1
 

The smart water bottle will be the first “connected” bottle of its kind. It pairs with mobile and desktop applications that reminds you when you need to drink more water, how much is left to your goal, when the filter needs to be replaced, and the temperature of the contents. One of the biggest issues that this bottle solves is getting people to drink enough water throughout the day.

 

 
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Design Concept #2
 

Rounded bottom that is weighted helps keep bottle upright. If bottle tips over, it will correct itself and become upright again. The short and wide shape of bottle also helps increase stability. Sometimes, plain water is hard to drink, so by allowing users to add their own ingredients to enhance the flavor of the water through an infuser, it increases the amount of water someone would consume. Bottle has concave shape with grip near top of bottle so it fits in hand and has good grip-ability. Mouthpiece has wide opening, allowing good flow with twist cap that secures so when bottle tips, nothing spills. 

 
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Design Concept #3
 

Easily packable. Easily storable. The idea behind this water bottle is to be able to store and transport easily with a limited footprint. Can be used in the workplace but also great for taking on-the-go. The lid contains a solar panel that powers the UV light purifier that helps make water drinkable. 

 
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Prototype & User-Testing

After getting feedback on my concepts, I decided to combine two main features from different designs. I wanted to give the feeling of safety to the students when placing a water bottle on their desk and not having to worry about tipping it over and spilling. The image that kept coming to mind was the inflatable Bozo the Clown toys with the weighted bottom. When you tried tipping it over, it would always correct itself and become upright again. I decided to model my prototype with that in mind. I also wanted to give the capability of being compact and portable.

In my initial interviews, many of the students mentioned that they liked having bottles that they could put in their bags when not being used. Most water bottles currently on the market have rigid bodies and take up too much room when packed away. I wanted the body of the bottle to have a collapsible element to help decrease the overall size and make it more compact. 

I was able to build my prototype at Leonardo's Basement and use whatever equipment and materials they had, which was a great way to stretch my creative muscles. Since this was a lo-fidelity prototype, I wanted to focus my build around the two main components that make this bottle unique. I evaluated my prototype by putting it in front of different students and running them through different tasks. I walked the users through a list of tasks that I wanted to test.

Some of those tasks included: filling the water bottle, drinking from the bottle, washing the bottle, packing the bottle in their backpack, and knocking the bottle over on their desk. 

After receiving all of the user's feedback, I documented changes that needed to be made to the prototype before the next round of testing would be conducted.

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Research & Design Plan Next Steps

After evaluating my prototype and documenting the feedback, I created a research and design plan for moving my concept forward into a final prototype and production. I identified what still needed to be learned, how I would go about collecting that information, and what the next steps would be.
 

 

Issues that need to be resolved:

  • Materials - users found materials to be unappealing

  • Size of base - users were concerned about base being too large

  • Weight - users wanted bottle to be lighter and were concerned about base being too heavy

  • Rigidity of body - users concerned that body was too flexible

  • Ease of use with one hand - users found drinking with one hand difficult

Next Steps:

  • Create Additional Prototypes - After learning what the main concerns the users had, the next steps needed would be to create additional prototypes varying in sizes and materials. Each prototype would focus on a specific issue that needs resolved.

  • User-Testing - Take these prototypes and do a multivariate test with them. The results will provide more insight into the specific impact of individual element enhancements and what are the best combinations for users.

  • Contact Manufacturing - Contact water bottle manufacturers to get an idea if prototype is feasible and costs of materials/manufacturing timelines.

 

After multiple iterations of prototypes, I’ll be able to create a final prototype based off findings from the multivariate tests and talking with a manufacturer. I’ll be able to take the best parts of each prototype and combine them to form a final variation.

From there, I would do a final round of user-testing on the final prototype. I would then do more iterations if any improvements are found to be needed.

 

 

Conclusion

This was a brand new experience and a great learning opportunity for me. I had never been tasked with creating a physical prototype before. I learned that the students at Prime all had different expectations from a water bottle (besides the obvious). The most challenging part was creating the actual prototype in the time allowed. I knew walking into Leonardo's Basement, I was going to be limited in resources, but taking my concept from paper to a physical object was challenging.

Next time when tasked with something similar, I would make sure to dedicate more time to creating the prototype. I could tell that the users had problems at times of the evaluation because the lo-fidelity bottle lacked certain basic functions that hindered their ability to complete some of the tasks they were given.