CMU Dining Services


The CMU Dining Services team is looking to improve spatial design and wayfinding of the Marketplace to improve the experience for both students and dining staff.


Team Lead: Michelle Dang
Other Members: Jaimie Chan, Elise Chapman, Thien Le, Sunniva Liu, Teresa Yang

Community Partner


CMU Dining Services

Fall 2021-Spring 2022

Human-Centered Design Process


define target problem spaces

How Can We's that define problem spaces to research

  • How can we reduce the wait time for students?
  • How can we help dining services fully implement sustainable practices?
  • How can we give students more autonomy in their food choices?

Initial knowledge and assumptions

  • Staff is overwhelmed and underpaid for their contribution to the service
  • Layout of dining services cause confusion for students when ordering


understand your problem spaces

Empathize with stakeholders through personas or stories

  • Students prioritized taste of food and dietary restrictions when choosing dining options.
  • Students believed that Hunan and the Exchange had the best ordering experience.

Key insights from additional research

  • Students believed that ABP and the Marketplace had the worst ordering experiences. This is due to long wait times, confusing spatial layout, and poor signage.
  • Students wanted healthier, diverse options, clearer ordering systems, and cheaper costs.


define your goals and determine your impact

Narrowed down How Can We's to ideate for

  • How can we alter the spatial design to improve work efficiency for the dining staff?
  • How can we alter the wayfinding to make the order experience clearer for students?
  • How can we research the spaces in restaurants and other college dining locations to improve the Marketplace?

Specify qualities that would make a solution have successful impact

  • Reduced wait times for students
  • Clearer communication between students and dining staff
  • Reduced confusion for students when ordering


generate a variety of solutions for meaningful change

Sketches and process

  • Redesign menu at different locations to better communicate what is offered on a block
  • Add/alter lines and checkout area/ordering areas
  • create signs to indicate where lines start and where you are supposed to order
  • Keep payment system at different locations consistent
  • Designated area for Grubhub orders (Tahini)
  • Stickers on floor
  • Designated waiting area, lounge situation
  • Menu accessibility
  • Communication on website of what is open and when hot food is available


make your ideas into tangible projects

Final prototype

Our first prototype addresses the issue of the queuing system. We designed floor stickers to clearly designate areas for waiting, paying, and food pickup. We tested different placements of the stickers and observed the movement of people.
Our second prototype is a speculative eatery, Viet Nom^3, using an electronic ordering system. This would minimize miscommunication between staff and students as well as streamline the process of ordering and picking up food.
Our figma prototypes can be found here:


get feedback to uncover insights and improve your solution

Next steps based on the insights

Our next steps are to implement our floor stickers for long-term use.