Roan O’Brien: Researching the User Experience of Retail Innovation

Roan, a User Experience Design student has been working for Mission Zero on his graduation project since February 2021. Roan’s research is focused on retail innovation and designing a dashboard to present purchasing behaviour to retailers. As an active member of the Mission Zero community, Roan also voiced the character “Huxley”, a pair of modular headphones, for Mission Zero’s podcast “Wasted Tales”. Roan took part in a short interview to tell us more about his work.

Tell us about yourself

Roan: “My name is Roan O'Brien, I am 23 years old and I am studying User Experience Design. This is a study that focusses on the design of digital products from a user's perspective. Currently I am in my third and last year of the programme and I am about to complete my graduation project.”

What is your graduation project all about?

Roan: “For my graduation project, I worked with Heleen Geerts and the Retail Innovation & Experience Campus. This is an organisation that sets up projects for MBO and HBO students in the retail and business/management sector, where the students tackle real life problems with retail store owners. The goal there is for students to learn by doing real life projects, and for the store owners to learn from the fresh insights from students. In my project I designed a dashboard where data regarding shopping centres in Leidschendam-Voorburg is displayed, so that retailers can learn from that, and so that the retail projects can be better tweaked to fit with the needs of the store owners in that area.”

This project is also highlighted in an episode 6 of Wasted Tales, where Cleo the concept store becomes a living lab whose retailer learns from students. Listen to that episode

How did you experience working with the Mission Zero student lab and what do you take from this experience?

Roan: “During my project I almost always worked alone and did not use much of the resources provided by Mission Zero. However, it was super interesting to see what other people from other faculties were doing for their (graduation) projects and during some of the meetings we had throughout the last half year I did get some interesting ideas and inspiration from other people. This experience mostly opened up my eyes more to the importance of sustainable and durable design as well as the importance and usefulness of a circular environment/economy. This is something that I would probably like to take with me to future projects, so that I can always keep in mind that designing sustainably will likely have a beneficial long-term effect.”