Kaahor Xorai

Online platform for linking producers and sellers
in the Traditional Handicraft industry

Overview

Through this project we wanted to design an intervention for a user group which is technology backward or has had extremely limited acess to technology.

We chose the brass and bell metal workers of Hajo who were engaged in the traditional metal-craft industry of Assam and address the needs of a population in a culturally-significant but declining industry.

Project Details

Duration

September 2014 - November 2014

Tools Used

Photoshop, Illustrator, Invision App

Team

Abhraneel Sarma
Aditya Parihar
Kushagra Kushwaha

Role

We jointly conducted contextual inquiry and engaged with brainstorming and sketching sessions, and wireframing the solution. I extended the wireframes to hi-fi mockups.

Outcome

We designed a platform which will connect the producers to sellers directly and create a transparent network for distribution. Our design enables the user to choose orders placed by sellers and also present and sell their own products to the seller network. The solution was designed for tablets as it affords greater penetration into the community through cheap tablets, or can be used at a community level.

01. Objective

To research on the brass and bell metal workers in Hajo, an user group which is technologically backward; and design an intervention to aid them in their occupation.

02. Methodology

We employed a user centred design methodology, as described below, for this project.

Preliminary Research and gap analysis to identify a potential user group and understanding the current scenario.

Contextual Enquiry by visiting the workers in Hajo and observing and interacting with them.

Affinity Analysis of the the information gathered from literature review and user interviews.

Persona building to understand the needs and motivations of the users.

Identified the Constraints and Design Goals and Brainstorming on possible solutions to create an intervention.

Design of a solution to provide better producer-seller linkage in the consumer chain.

03. Literature Review

Literature Research revealed the plight of the traditional metal craft industry in Assam and provided a strong theoretical understanding of the factors which are affecting this industry.
Based on this, we identified the following research questions for the User Interview phase.

Research Questions

How has the economic status of the population been affected?

How has the government intervened in terms of aid or promotion?

Are there being provided with sufficient resources for education and healthcare?

04. User Research

Interviews

We conducted 3 preliminary interviews which attempted to explore the identified research questions. Although the interviews revealed that the initially identified problems were relevant, we had to review our initial assumptions in order to focus on understanding the different business models adopted by this population.

Following this, we conducted 5 structured interviews to understand how the orders are placed and the products are sold. This revealed a crippling lack of infrastructure and resources to sustain this business from a economic standpoint.

Findings

The household nature of the industry and the lack of formal training confines the scale of activities to individual household.

Price of raw material is increasing more rapidly than the selling price causing a decline of the industry.

Lack of demand outside Assam, due to the coarse nature of our work. Fine quality products with intricate engravings, which are more in demand are really time-consuming and require a lot of skill.

Competition from industries outside Assam which uses machines to produce cheaper and better finished products.

Personas

Based on the observations and documentation from user interviews, there emerged three different types of users which were modelled into personas.

05. Brainstorming

Problems Identified
  • The lack of a producer-seller network.
  • Workers often face is the exploitation by middlemen and sellers.
Constraints
  • Poor connectivity (telecommunication and road)
  • Lengthy Manufacturing Process and high cost of resources
  • Technologically Backward - limited access to computers and smartphones
  • Financially constrained and high illiteracy
Design Considerations
  • Focus on application for android tablets owing to the availability of cheap tablets
  • Simple UI with text-to-speech output for onscreen elements
  • Ensuring accountability of buyer and sellers
  • Local (assamese) language compatibility
  • Promotion of community ownership through trade unions

06. Design

Taskflow
Sketches
Wireframes

Based on multiple iterations of sketches we developed the wireframes and detailing out the design, navigation and interactions for the interface.

07. High-Fidelity Mockups

The user interfaces were designed by acknowledging all the design considerations that we had accounted for previously. We attempted to create an interface which emphasized greatly on the usability aspect for our target audience.

We also felt that all the visual elements should be based on the context of the users so that they can identify with the elements.

08. Reflection

Since this was my first interaction design project and involves population from my home state, I often think about how this project could have been improved.

How feasible is a technological solution for such a population? This emerged as a discussion during a job interview and in hindsight I feel that we didn't sufficiently evaluate and compare alternative non-technological methods to address the issue.

I would have liked to extend the idea to create a more challenging design problem: How can the industry be modernized and contemporary? One solution could have been to connect producers and sellers with artists to create new designs. This was not considered in favour of a more rational solution, howver as a student project this was an excellent opporunity to consider out-of-the-box ideas.