Qode Cup

Qode Cup

A QR-based application to enhance the usage of reusable cups and thermoses

The Qode Cup strives to support the students and staff at Georgia Tech who use or want to use reusable cups / thermoses (RC / T) when ordering beverages at on-campus coffee shops.

Information Gathering

Prior to narrowing down on a topic, we gathered information on a topic of our choice – reduction of waste from single-use plastics. To do this, we employed several research methods: literature review, field observation, and a survey.

Literature Review

We utilized Zotero to share and store literature and focused on two objectives.

  1. Understand the scope of the problem and historical context.
  2. Examine current solutions to the problem to narrow down the scope of the project.

Field Observation

We observed our target demographic by conducting field observations at multiple on campus coffee shops. Sessions lasted 30-60 minutes and recorded metrics such as foot traffic, average waiting time, bag types, and whether customers held and used a thermos or reusable cup for coffee.


The survey was conducted online through Qualtrics. We had 14 responses through online crowd-sourcing, and 7 responses through physical contact. The questions related to coffee purchasing experiences from on-campus coffee shops and RC / T usage.

Overall, we found that very few (15%) of respondents were aware of financial incentives pertaining to bringing an RC / T to coffee shops. For those that did use RC / Ts, the main consumer needs being met were: saving money, eliminating waste, and personal preference over paper and plastic cups. Furthermore, all respondents indicated that there is importance in reducing single-use plastics and waste.

We utilized information from the surveys to model interview questions and guide our choice to move forward with the Qode Cup design.

Existing Systems for single-use plastics
Affinity Map of Interview Notes


Before progressing further with honing in on a singular design, we conducted 5 in-person semi-structured interviews with Georgia Tech students who own or are motivated to use a RC / T. The questions revolved around usage of and possible motivations to use RC / T and experiences with coffee shops. 

The primary goals for these interviews were to find the users’ motivations, pain points, and possible features that would either strengthen motivations or alleviate pain points found during the interviews.

After conducting the interviews, our group consolidated the findings through an affinity diagram (see photo). These findings include:

  • Users find storing their RC / T inconvenient or stressful
  • Users are anxious about using RC / T at coffee shops
  • Users sometimes forget / lose their RC / T
  • Cleaning RC / T on campus feels inconvenient

Information gathered from interviews and research findings guided us throughout the informed brainstorming and design process.


After consolidating information from the methods used above, we started brainstorming. We met up and worked on ideas for around 15-20 minutes. My method to generate ideas was through a mind map (see photo). The mind map helped me follow multiple train of thoughts while also providing flexibility to expand on specific ones.

After individual brainstorming, our team split design solutions into 3 categories: rewards-based, infrastructure, and cup functionality. From each of these 3 categories, one design was chosen to be expanded upon. These designs were as follows:

  1. QR Code cup with companion application
  2. Mugshare program
  3. Lid display

The design I focused on was the lid display, which will be addressed in the next section.

Mind Map of Brainstormed Ideas
Lid Display Sketch 1


I worked on the Lid Display idea. I sketched several different designs for the lid display, designed a quick task flow for a companion application, and sketched out a few storyboards.

The main purpose of the sketches were to quickly display the ideas that were brainstormed. Overall, there are 3 different sketched designs and 3 different storyboard scenarios that I sketched out. The main different between the designs were the display of information, the technology that the lid display can support, and the location and size of the hole to drink from.

The idea behind the design shown in the caption is to provide an interface for a temperature resistance thermos. There is an interface that allows the user to easily change and display the temperature without affecting the area to drink from the thermos. These ideas were fueled by different user needs discovered from the research section:

  • Users want to drink their beverages at certain temperatures
  • Users want to drink their ordered beverages later

After deliberation, we chose to move on with a different design – the Qode Cup.

Poster Sessions

We participated in two poster sessions during the course of this project. In the first poster session, we presented our initial findings and divergent designs. The second poster session presented our final results. These designs were evaluated and later discussed in detail.

The poster session itself involved posters of all the teams’ project ideas and divergent designs. Industry professionals and peers would walk around giving feedback on the viability and interest of each design.

Following the poster session, we discussed the designs and settled on the QR Code cup design, later renamed as Qode Cup.

Poster Session 1 Poster
Ratings from the Poster Session


Following the sketches, our team made wireframes for the companion application for the Qode Cup.

Following the poster session, one team member, Ryan, made wireframes for a companion application for the Qode Cup.

Design decisions were based on user research from previous methods and further refined through methods below.

Usability Specifications

For the wireframes, I came up with a set of usability specifications to test the design.

To test the design, I utilized a set of usability specifications based on Nielsen’s definition of usability. These specifications were then used for heuristic evaluation.

During usability testing, we used metrics as shown below centered around the specifications we defined here.

For expert evaluation, we used Ben Shneiderman’s Eight Golden Rules as our evaluation method.

Evaluation Plan

We constructed an evaluation plan centered around each task that measured information helpful for identifying improvement areas.

The desired scores were either researched or mathematically calculated per task. To calculate Fitts’ Law, I split up each task into steps and checked each one for necessary finger movement. For MHP (Model Human Processor Model), I defined each step requiring perception, cognition, or motor movement and added the times.

The defined tasks were defined based on common tasks that users would likely do. These ranged from printing out a QR code and setting up an account in the application to ordering coffee with a Qode Cup.

Metrics and Thresholds for Nielsen’s components in usability testing
Heuristic and Expert Evaluation Findings

User Testing and Expert Evaluation

We conducted a round of user testing and evaluation based on our evaluation plan. The results are shown on the left.

We conducted 4 user tests and 3 expert evaluations to evaluate our design. The user tests focused on completing tasks and noting the metrics as shown above, while the expert evaluations focused on Shneiderman’s Eight Golden Rules.

What did I learn from this project?

This was my first time working on a full UX research and design process as a team. The biggest takeaway that I got from this project was the importance of communication. This includes not just communication of work done but also working out a pipeline that works for everyone.

At the end of the project, our team listed a set of future improvements to the design that we would like to make.