My mom has wanted to open a coffee shop for years. She’s been planning and designing her business in her mind all while holding down a full time job, hosting all the major family get togethers, babysitting grandkids; a full life. But her dream is to have a nice little coffee shop serving her favorite beverages from locally roasted beans. She’s finally pulling the trigger and starting her business!

It didn’t occur to me until just recently, after discussing some business specifics, but she is becoming a user experience designer.

Here’s what I mean:

  • Convenience in location

    Obviously a convenient location is pretty critical to a coffee shop. Her business will be in a small town on one of the main drags off the highway. This is essentially on or close to the route for parents taking their kids to school and professionals heading to work.

  • Choice without paralysis

    Her menu includes what you’d probably expect with items like your standard cup of joe, Americano, a pour over bar, and a copule of speciality drinks. The selection is simple and focuses on what people love. The coffee beans are roasted by a local company and are delicous (I got a sample last week. So good!). The menu will be posted behind the counter on a chalkboard. It’ll be easy to read and easy to update as she iterates on her business.

  • Forgetting the haters, embracing the lovers

    Plenty of people in the community will still go to their current source of coffee: the chain grocery store that serves an inexpensive cup of coffee. There’s nothing wrong with that, but that’s not the audience she’s after. People that love a great cup of coffee or tea and amazing homemade pasteries are the target audience, and these people appreciate that you get what you pay for. She’s not willing to compromise the integrity of her product and her dream to attract the haters.

  • Simple way to pay

    I recommended using something like Square to accept payments. It’s a great experience right out of the box and makes it easy to pay and easy to be paid. Win - win.

In terms of visual design there’s also a ton of work to do. What is the shop going to look like? How will you feel when you walk in? How cute are the mugs? Can I buy one? The brand of the shop is still in development since it should elicit the same emotions as what you’d experience when walking in to the physical location. But figuring out how to bottle up that feeling in a unique and recognizable brand is such a challenge.

Long story short– just like founders plan the ideas of their business, don’t fool yourself by thinking visual design and user experience design are separate ideas. Product design (that’s what I do for a living, btw) deserves a seat at the table when it comes to business decisions just like decisions made about a product’s definition and design affects the business.

More coffee shop details to come