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CBRE 360

How might we turn a corporate campus into a home away from home?

Nike approached CBRE with the challenge of making their 286 acre and 75+ building corporate campus more friendly and accessible to the workers who make their daily life there. My task was to launch a study into the feasibility of food delivery and catering within the CBRE 360 mobile app.

CBRE Case Study: Text


CBRE Case Study: Text
CBRE Case Study: Image

User Surveys and Personas

Initially I started with a stakeholder objective of creating an in-office food delivery app for the everyday office worker.

With a tight budget and even tighter time frame, I decided to launch a series of user surveys targeted towards currently employed office workers working at medium to large corporations. This had the dual goals of verifying the viability of this business objective and building a basic persona around what would be our core user.

  • Who is the user base?

  • How does our user perceive work lunch breaks?

  • What rituals do they enact?

  • What pain points and emotions do they associate with work lunch?

  • Do users even want this feature? 

  • In an already saturated marketplace, what user niche CBRE could occupy?

After checking and verifying with several rounds of surveys, I found that the original user we had in mind didn't actually want to have lunch delivered to their desk. Many preferred to bring their lunch from home if they were going to eat at their desk. Why pay money for such an "un-fun" experience, when buying lunch is costly? Furthermore, users treasured the social bonding and excitement associated with the experience of leaving the office to go out to eat.

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Pivot and Validate: User Surveys, Interviews and Personas

One silver lining I uncovered with my previous rounds of testing was the idea of catered in-office team lunches - which sparked an entirely new train of thought: what other edge cases for ordering food might have been overlooked?  

  • Who else orders food in the office? 

  • In what situation?

  • Are there any rituals or biases around this practice? Pain points?

Looking at the data, I decided to investigate another MVP use case:  admins who order for semi-formal or informal group meetings. Regular office teammates who ordered food for informal group meetings tended to prefer already well established food delivery services such as Grubhub - an already saturated marketplace. 

I launched another survey round to get a stat sig number of response data on my new use case, also shoring up that data with qualitative in person user interviews with several VP-level administrative assistants who had experience coordinating semi formal meetings.

From my research, I found that the admins generally were older women age 55-75 who disliked and mistrusted technology, and were uncomfortable with using smart phones. They also loved the person to person contact involved with coordinating events and meetings, building years-long friendships with local restaurant owners and industry vendors. Several admins mentioned the idea that those interpersonal relationships gave them "insider treatment" and perks not available to to the average customer.

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CBRE Catering Flow by Lara Olson

CBRE Case Study: Text
Catering MVP flow by Lara Olson.jpg
CBRE Case Study: Image

Concurrent Rapid Iteration Wireframing

To explore what kind of effort would be involved in creating a food delivery feature, I kicked off a concurrent round of rapid exploratory wireframes while my second round of research was underway. Using data from the first rounds of survey results, I looped in a few other UX/UI designers for fresh ideas and brainstorming for the "nuts and bolts" MVP UI of the feature.

Looking at the wires and whiteboards we created, I soon came up with a good number of logistics questions:

What would comprise an order? Would we have one bulk catering order? or could multiple users submit their sub-orders to the order "manager"?

Who is paying? Would the "order manager" pay for everything, or would sub-orders chip in for their own meal costs? How do we make sure every entity in the chain gets their payment? What API and security integrations were needed?

How would we get the order to the food provider? POS API integrations? Track the order? Manage unhappy paths for orders and customer support? What kind of interface or website would need to be built for food providers to upload and edit even the most basic menus and prices? 

Who would deliver the food? Since not every food provider offers delivery, would this person be employed by the building as a sort of concierge? Who would carry out the day to day scheduling and management of these delivery people? What about security? These delivery people would need verification for building access and ID badges for floor access.

These questions would be augmented by round two of testing, but made up a basic "skeleton" of the feature that would need to be built, regardless. 

CBRE Case Study: Image


After several rounds of user surveys, card sorting exercises, and user interviews, along with logistic and competitive research, I found that workers needs were not best served by a food delivery feature. Workers enjoyed getting away from their desks and getting away from the office, even if it is just to get out in the fresh air for a minute. Admins were mistrustful of mobile apps, and loved the phone conversations and friendships they built while coordinating meetings. 

Could CBRE invest the great expense and time building a feature, re-educating users and persuading them to change their mindset? Yes. (My caveat: trying to change user mindset is a tough proposition, and should only be done with a long term game plan in mind.) Should they? No. After sitting with business stakeholders and reexamining our app goals and mission statement, we found that the user could be better served by offering app features that only a building maintenance and real-estate provider could provide.

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