Starbucks - User Experience Study

Starbucks is a popular place to go and grab a quick meal and an energy boost from their wide variety of beverages. I personally never go to Starbucks, and when I do, I go through the drive-thru. However, I heard from my peers about the stress of ordering inside Starbucks, and I decided to check this out for myself. For about a week, I went to Starbucks multiple times. I observed the cafe during different hours, and while doing so, conducted multiple user tests to get a better understanding of how the experience of Starbucks could be improved.

Languages and Software
Adobe Illustrator / Adobe Photoshop / Microsoft Powerpoint
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The Challenge

The purpose of this project was to get out of your comfort zone and visit a new business, event, club, etc. and take notes and perform user tests on the experience of that specific place. Observing and performing tests allow you to assess how successful the user experience is and where the business can improve. I thought Starbucks could be the right place to observe because it is trendy, and many people go there every day. One big challenge was finding people who were willing to participate in testing. The images showcased below show the different user testing methods used throughout the testing period.

Research Methods

Using the journey map method, I found the first customer had positive experiences from ordering quickly and getting their drink. However, the negative experiences came from not knowing where things were like the lines, where to scan rewards, gift cards, etc. The negative experiences are the same for the second customer I watched. They ordered on the mobile app, but they didn’t get their drink on time, and also couldn’t find the mobile pick up.

Using the body-storming method, I went through the ordering line, trying to keep in mind how people with restrictions would feel going through the line, and found I too got confused with locations such as scanning the app and locating the pickup counter. While going through this process, I realized people who are visually impaired might struggle to order since there is no braille anywhere in the store. Users who use a wheelchair will struggle to get through with the crowd, and the lack of signage doesn’t help first-timers.

Since Starbucks has a relaxing environment, I decided to go with an empathy interview instead of a regular interview, so it was less formal and more conversational. When asked how ordering drinks or food makes them feel, they replied that they prefer to order online so that there is no pressure to order quickly, and they can customize their options. Their reply to how do you like being in the store was that they get anxious not knowing when things are ready, and also standing to wait for their drink, but they enjoy working inside the store after they have their drink. When asked about how they feel overall about Starbucks, the customer said they have a functional work-space and good drinks, but they don’t like ordering inside much.


The first suggestion would be to improve the lack of signage. Add a sign to the scanner, so people know to scan their apps there and also make the mobile order pick up bigger and make the drop off for the mobile order drinks more known that it is a to-go stand, and even creating hanging signs that read pick up here and order here. Hence, people know where to go, and if somebody who uses a wheelchair comes in, it is a lot more organized so they can get around. Next, I would suggest barriers of some sort between the pick-up area and order area, so lines do not get jumbled. Lastly, creating a waiting area where people can sit and wait for their drinks, but also adding a kiosk to that waiting area. These kiosks would allow people to avoid the line but still order in the store, and also, if you are visually impaired, these kiosks could read the menu to you.