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  • Writer's pictureTiffany

The Home Depot: Homer Cafe

My Role: UX Researcher/Designer

Timeline: 2 weeks

Intro: The Home Depot headquarter office is named the Store Support Center (SSC) and is located in Smyrna, Georgia. This office is home to over 7000 active employees. The Homer Cafe is its main cafeteria with 12 different kinds of food, including salad, sushi, pasta, deli, soup, Mexican, Chinese, Indian, etc. In 2017, Home Depot SSC cafeteria was ranked top 15 in Top 100 Noncommercial Operators with F&B sales of $10.6MM and audience size of 12K, serving 4K meals daily.

Homer Cafe accepts cash or Homer Card as payment. Homer Cafe is open for breakfast and lunch, and closes sharply at 2PM. As I have always seen congested traffic at the check-out lanes, I decided to uncover problems that users face at the Homer Cafe’s checkout process.

Approach: I established a project plan based on the Double Diamond Process Model. I used the first week for research and analysis and the second week for ideation, wireframing, and prototyping.

I. Discovery

1. User Interview

Research Goal: understand users’ checkout process and uncover problems.

Interview Recruitment: I emailed a total of 6 associates from different teams in different buildings in the SSC. A big advantage was that they were all my coworkers and partners within the company. I explained to them that I am working on a UX project to help improve the checkout process at the Homer Cafe, and I was able to interview everyone in a span of 2 days.

Interview Questions:

1) How often do you go to Homer Cafe?

2) Can you walk me through the step by step process of walking into Homer Cafe, all the way to check-out?

3) How is your experience at the Homer Cafe?

User Interview Findings - Major Themes:

  1. Majority of users don’t usually carry cash + coins around.

  2. ATM in the building has a complex line and takes a long time. Some of users’ banks (Capital One, Chase) don’t have ATM.

  3. Users don’t know how much is left in their Homer Card so end up risking time going through the line, being short on a few dollars, and needing to go get it from their desk or car.

  4. Getting in and out of the cafeteria the quickest is one of users’ priorities.

2. Field Study #1

Research Question: Users say they don’t like carrying cash around, but how many people actually use cash to pay for their food vs. Homer Card?

During a peak lunch time on Wednesday, I observed one (out of 6) lane for 20 minutes and observed how 25 users are paying for their food.

Field Study #1 Findings:

Research shows that a wide majority of users paid with cash instead of Homer Card. Based on the user interview, this was “maybe it’s because I’m still new?” even though she was over a year in the company (Allison Koo) - potentially due to the lack of awareness about the Homer Card.

C: User paid with cash

H: User paid with Homer Card

2. Field Study #2

“Getting in and out as quickly as possible” is one of the main priorities for users, my next question is...

Research Question: Between the two methods of payment, my assumption is that Homer Card takes less time to process payment, but how much more time-efficient?

During a peak lunch time on Thursday, I observed and timed:

1) 15 users who paid with Homer Card and 2) 15 users who paid with cash.

Field Study #2 - Findings:

1) On average, it takes about 3X longer time to pay with cash than to pay with Homer Card.

2) Of the 30 people, 5 people (16.7% of total) had to leave the food with the cashier lady because they were short on money and had to go to their desk or car to grab coins and change.

II. Define

1. Persona Identification

2. User Journey Mapping

3. Problem Identification

The problem that I suspect is that the current methods of payment at Homer Cafe are inconvenient and time-consuming.

Hypothesis: Associates need quicker and more efficient ways to check out food at the Homer Cafe.

  • How might we make the check-out process faster, so that associates don’t waste time in long lines and human traffic?

  • How might we make payment at Homer Cafe cashless?

  • How might we make Homer Card into a digital product so that it is conveniently carried around on phones and easily reloaded digitally?

  • How might we allow balance left in Homer Card to be monitored easily and conveniently?

I believe that, by creating a mobile app that Aprons can use to pay for food, view balance, and reload $, we will decrease the traffic at the Homer Cafe, expedite the checkout process, and allow associates to have more enjoyable meals.

III. Ideate

1. Feature Prioritization

  • Using the identified problems in the User Journey Map, I matched them to necessary features that are required as a set of “minimum” features.

  • “Later” items address a few non-majority complaints/experiences from the user interviews.

2. Market Analysis

With the minimum solution requirements, researched and found two solutions in the marketplace that address our users’ problems. With our focus on mobility and convenience of use, I decided to benchmark our solutions off of the Starbucks Mobile App.

3. Wireframing



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