Balzac's Coffee Roasters


  • Project Manager

  • UX/UI Designer and Researcher

  • Product Designer


Print brochure and mobile app


A 3-deliverable hybrid media project about a local Stratford business. The first two deliverables were individual, and the third was working collaboratively in a group of three. I chose Balzac's Coffee Roasters as the business, and the three deliverables were:

  1. Conducting primary user research to create a print brochure and infographic of the findings

  2. An AR-based prototyped app to invite a younger demographic

  3. A collective community app to enhance the ordering experience, bring in a younger demographic and enrich the arts culture within the shop


  • Adobe Illustrator

  • Adobe inDesign

  • inVision

Balzac's Mockup.png

Left: Final Balzac's print brochure cover. Center: Final AR app screenshot.

Right: Final Community app screenshot.


Picking a local Stratford business, I was to spend 6 + hours there observing the behaviour of the location and their customers. Condensing the findings, the first deliverable was to create a print brochure using Adobe InDesign. After presenting the findings, I was to choose a media type and create a creative solution to a problem found in the research phase, for the second deliverable. For the final deliverable, in a group of 3, we collaborated and chose to create a mosaic of all three ideas.


  1. Conduct user research within a chosen business

    • Introduction, context, a persona and at least 3 infographics

    • Presented in a print brochure

  2. Create a solution to a challenge found in the research

  3. Collaborate and create a seamless solution for a chosen problem


The task of the first deliverable was to find a local business in Stratford to conduct 6 hrs of research about the customer and store behaviour. I chose Balzac's Stratford since it's a quaint coffee shop who opened their first location in Stratford.


I broke up the 6 hr limit into 1 hr chunks so that I could visit during different days and times to observe how that changes the demographic and rush times. In these visits I brought a notebook so that I could record observations of demographics, ordering habits, special factors and more.


Since Stratford has a primarily older residence age, the demographic that I noticed in the coffee shop reflected this. The main demographic was middle to older-aged women and heterosexual couples. Folks younger than 20 were rarely coming in, and, unlike most coffee shops in cities, there weren't many people sitting and doing work. Most people enjoyed sitting in and enjoying conversations amongst themselves and the others around them. The average sit time was around ​​30 minutes.

I also took note of what they were ordering as best as I could with the scouting location I'd chosen, and mostly everyone got a drink, and of those who got a drink, most got some type of food as well.


The Balzac's layout was big rectangle with the counter on one of the long walls and tables taking the rest of the space. I took note of which areas were the busiest, taking into consideration the seat's proximity to the window, cream/sugar station, washrooms and the counters.

After noticing that many customers were asking about the muffins a lot, I noticed that they weren't labelled for kind or price, which resulted in the baristas constantly having to tell customers what they were and how much they cost. 

Picture 1: Collecting data on the demographic, food, drinks and special observations.

Picture 2: The floor map of Balzac's Stratford to get an idea of where the hot spots are

Picture 3: Collecting information from the baristas, and ideating what information to include in the brochure/infographic.


After conducting the research, I gathered the findings plan the brochure. The parts I wanted to include were the background and introduction to Balzac's, a persona of their 'typical' customer, an infographic of the floor map displayed as a heat map of most popular areas of the store, and other graphics to show which products sold the most, demographic peak rush for days of the week and times of the day, eating in vs taking out, etc.

To start the design process, I thought about what kind of brochure I wanted to make. Something that should reflect the style of Balzac's itself, which means creating something unconventional. I decided to create a coffee-cup style spiral-bound brochure with the colours and branding similar to that on Balzac's website.


The final product of the print brochure was created in Adobe illustrator and Adobe inDesign.

Final PDF of the print brochure

Balzac's Video
Play Video

A look at the printed and bound finished product of the brochure


In conducting the initial research, it was difficult to observe everyone and their habits because I wasn't able hear the orders being placed, and often had to use what I saw to judge what they ordered. A solution to this next time may be to choose a better seat in order to either get a better view of the order, or to be in earshot. I would have also liked to be able to see how the customers at Balzac's tipped and found the service, but as there were two tipping methods (tip jar and through the machine) there was no easy way to tell. Lastly, I also wanted to get a closer look to see what specific kinds of foods and drinks people ordered, so next time if I conduct this same kind of research again I would do it for a longer period of time to get more of a feel of the cafe to see how I can do that.


Using the brochure as a base, this deliverable was an extension; using the same business and research, we were find a problem within the business and create a media-based solution.

As I was conducting the research I noticed two problems that I could tackle: improving Balzac's customer experience (specifically with the lack of labels and price on the food), or their lack of a young demographic. The media type I chose to do was an app with an 'AR' element (shown as a prototype).


With this initial idea, I wanted to use AR as a way for customers to use an app to scan the food to find out what it is, its price and nutritional facts, ingredients, allergy information etc.

After fleshing out the idea, I created a paper prototype of what I though the app could look like. The AR would work through stickers placed on the wrapping of each type of muffin. When scanned, the app would show you that muffin; the primary screen being the type of muffin and its price. You would be able to scroll through the different types of muffins as well and choose the one that fits your liking.


This initial idea is a little difficult to create with my skills and creating a prototype without showing the AR function would make creating and implementing the prototype difficult.

Along with this, The scope of the project is also fairly limited, only focusing on a small portion of the business and what could improve the experience. Keeping this idea in my back pocket, I decided to keep brainstorming.

Paper prototype of the Muffin Mania concept

Whiteboarding session to go through problems and potential high-level solutions.


After a white-boarding session to find new ideas and problems, the research in demographics showed that there aren't a lot of young people (< 30) going to Balzac's. This can be explained through Stratford's aging population, but with it's close proximity to the downtown and various schools, younger individuals usually seek coffee shops for caffeine breaks/study spots. With this in mind, I decided to find ways to attract younger customers to the shop.

In brainstorming ideas, I also ran into some limitations of the shop itself which makes it less youth-friendly, but can't that can't be addressed in this challenge (eg. small tables, lack of outlets).

When looking in ways that media can help, I noticed that Balzac's has a way to earn loyalty points that can get customers free drinks, food etc. my first thought was to find a way to make this fun (other than by buying things in the store). Another thought was that Balzac's is known for the posters that they have, a different one for each location, encompassing the personality of that city. There was also a rumour that they have local artists submit work, and the best one is chosen for that location.

These two ideas in mind, I decided that I want to create a Balzac's trivia app that is activated by scanning the poster of that specific location.

Rough whiteboard wireframes and user flow of AR Trivia App


After a white-boarding session to find new ideas and problems, the research in demographics showed that there aren't a lot of young people (< 30) going to Balzac's. This can be explained through Stratford's ageing population, but with it's close proximity to the downtown and various schools, younger individuals usually seek coffee shops for caffeine breaks/study spots. With this in mind, I decided to find ways to attract younger customers to the shop.

In brainstorming ideas, I also ran into some limitations of the shop itself which makes it less youth-friendly, but can't that can't be addressed in this challenge (eg. small tables, lack of outlets).

The final screen flow of getting started with the app, scanning using AR and the homepage.

This second assignment was to be an extension of the first one - same business, using the research and design as a base. The scope of the assignment is to create anything, a video, audio story, virtual reality game etc to bring a new concept to the existing brand. Using my research from the previous assignment, I decided to tackle the Balzac's issue of not having a presence amongst a younger demographic. The medium that I used was an "AR" based app.

I noticed that overall, Stratford doesn't have a very high population of young people, so I started brainstorming reasons why that specific demographic comes to Stratford, and found that the Shakespeare Festival was one of the biggest. The app I prototyped used a mixture of 'AR', trivia, rewards and information as a basis of bringing younger people in. You can scan the Hamlet poster of the Balzac's branch to get started, watch a trailer of Hamlet and then either go to the Festival website, or continue on into the app. Further, you can learn about the artist of the poster, play the trivia games, or do the Balzac's scavenger hunt which I would have added had the time permitted. The trivia has several levels of difficulty and different categories which if you guess right will reward you with Balzac's food or drinks. 

In the making of this prototype, which we had about two weeks to create, I created the screens and assets in adobe illustrator which I then exported to inVision to create the interactive prototype. This highlighted the interaction between the user and the app.

After the initial creation, we conducted user tests to see if the app was simple to use and conveyed the message it was intended to. The result of this test was that the app was, in fact, easy to use, but there were a few hiccups in understanding which order to go through pages when hit with a menu. Since there was no specific order that they had to go through, this was not considered a major flaw. 




The time crunch was a large challenge in this project; two weeks to completely learn new software was daunting and resulted in inefficiently using time and not being able to create everything I had planned. Initially, I had planned on using actual AR software such as ARIS but found that it was too difficult to use and wouldn't allow me to have my project finished in time. I then changed my train of thought to just show how the AR would be seen if it was included, without actually having it. Since I was still unable to complete every section I had initially intended, I decided to make this a prototype where users had to 'unlock' certain things by playing and using the app more. 

Check out the inVision prototype and see if you can earn Balzac's treats! Click here or the screen to the left!



For the third part of this assignment, it was time to meet up with some friends who had also chosen Balzac's as their choice of business and brainstormed ways to collaborate. One of my partners had focused on increasing the ease of placing an order through an app, and the other was looking at sound and the way different parts of the cafe sounded different with different decibel levels and how that changed the experience of a Balzac's customer.


In the ideation phase, together we fleshed out ways of bringing all of our ideas into one app. We created wireframes, low-fidelity paper prototypes, high-fidelity screens and then finally put everything together using inVision. We decided in the end to create an app that has a profile, allowed you to order online, play trivia, and also browse through an interactive map of customer-submitted art (which unfortunately wasn't included in the final prototype).

Balzac's roasters App.png


In the creation of this app, the design was completely revamped into a more modern and minimal design. The focus now was more on ordering-ahead, memorizing customers' usual orders, giving them the time the order would be ready in and suggesting things to order along with what they've picked themselves. We also included the addition of the pre-existing Balzac's loyalty rewards and adding additional rewards won from the trivia to that directly.

To check out the full interactive prototype, click here, or the mockup to your left!


My role in this group project was coming up with ways to mesh our ideas together, creating the screens for all of the categories and trivia questions. I also put most of the prototype together in inVision, making sure the screens fit together and the animations were appropriate for the screen.


This project was quite a learning experience for me. Although we worked together for most of this project, there were often disconnects between team members that resulted in a significant part of the project left unfinished. Several attempts were made to enhance communication, setting different types of deadlines (eg. daily instead of weekly), and communicating with the professor but in the end some accommodations had to be made to once again show that certain features would be unlocked over time. This was a good learning experience, however, because it taught me how to work with people of different work ethics, personality types, etc and hopefully have gained somewhat of an understanding of what to do if it happens in the future.