The design challenge

Interview session with McDonald’s customer
Design creating process

Redesign McDonald’s cup lid

1.0 Introduction

Pollution is a serious growing problem the current world is facing today. One of the biggest concerns that causes the pollution in earth is plastic. This is because plastic takes from 10 to 1000 years to decompose which will also give negative impacts towards the natural environment and the lives on earth such as animals, plants and even humans as it contains many toxic components. In order to overcome this problem, we as a responsible user, should reduce the usage of this plastic for it.

As an effective way to stop the usage of plastic, on 1st August 2018 McDonald’s took the initiative to start the no straw program. To support this campaign, McDonald’s have started to stop providing straws to the customer. Even if has many positive impacts to the environment, it still gives some negative impact to the customers. Customers are facing some problems such as spillage of the drink and difficulties to drink while carrying out other activities. This problem has inspired us to redesign the lid of the McDonald’s cup which would enable the customers to drink without facing any difficulties. This will also be an effective and new way to drink both hot and cold drink without using straw.  For this design challenge, our group took the challenge to redesign the McDonald’s cup lid to make the no straw campaign more effective and to raise awareness about the motive of the campaign.

2.0 Empathize

Empathize refers to the sources that has been used to gain information and details that are required to complete this assignment. Both primary research and secondary research has been done to collect information that are related and can used as a support material to our topic which is redesigning the McDonald’s cup lid. Primary research refers to methodology that used by researchers to collect data directly without depending on the data that has collected before this. Example of primary researches are survey, focus group, interview, questionnaires and observations. Secondary research refers to the research method that uses the information that already exist such as news reports, articles, books, journals, sources from internet websites, magazine and many more.

The primary research methods that we have used to gain information that supports our topic are interview and survey. To get the feedbacks from the customers about straw less campaign has been gathered through interview section with the customers in MacDonald. We have conducted unstructured interview with 3 customers at the MacDonald that is located in Tabuan Jaya.

Picture 1

The interview section was conducted with a customer named Nik Muhammad Syafiq bin Nik Mat as shown in picture 1. In his point of view, he told us that drinking without straw causes the ice from cold drink to directly contact with the gum and teeth which causes sensitivity. He also mentioned that it is difficult to drink the drink with straw while driving as the drink tend to spill out of the cup. He also suggested the future graduates to redesign the lid of the cup with a small spout which allow us to drink in little amount and to avoid spillage.

Picture 2

The second interview section was conducted with Nur Syamira binti Muzammil as shown in picture 2. She supported the no straw campaign by saying that she feels that it is an efficient way to spread awareness to the Malaysian community about the effects of straw towards the aquatic animals as well as the environment. Based on her experience, she has not faced any problems while drinking without straw.  She also suggested us to create a cup lid using biodegradable plastic as it is eco-friendlier.

Picture 3

The last interview was conducted with Siti Nur Faqira binti Muhammad Razak as shown in picture 3. She shared some of her bad experiences that she has faced after the campaign started. She told us that her friend’s drink spilled as there was no lid given to the customers who eat at MacDonald. She also mentioned to us that she agreed with the no straw environment, but there should be a cup lid created to make it easy for the customers to drink and also to avoid spillage. We also did another interview to choose the most preferred design of the lid by the users. This interview was conducted with two users from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak. Picture 4 shows the first informant of this interview was Keetha Viloshini A/P Suppiah and picture 5 shows the second informant named Hanis Suhaili Binti Fohzi. As the result of both the interviews, we came to conclusion on which prototype to choose for this project.

Picture 4
Picture 5

Apart from that, we also conducted a survey to get feedbacks from the customers. The survey focusses mainly on the problem faced by the customers after MacDonald have stopped providing straws. The survey contains 10 questions and 5 Likert scale such as strongly disagree, disagree, moderate, agree and strongly agree. This survey was conducted with 20 respondents. The table 1 shows the questions and the results that we have obtained from the survey.

Table 1

The results of the survey show that majority of the customers agree that redesigning of the cup will be able increase the satisfaction of the customers toward the no straw campaign and can also replace the straw. From all the three interview sections and the survey that we have conducted, we have come to a conclusion that redesigning of the cup lid can solve the problems faced by the customers without the straw. By doing this, we can provide an alternative to straw and can encourage to create a straw less environment.

We have also conducted another survey which is requires the users to choose the perfect size of spout for the cup lid that we are going to redesign. Table 2 shows the results of the survey.

Table 2

The results from the survey shows that majority users prefer a cup lid labelled D which has a spout that has circumference of 8cm and height of 1cm. The cup lid B that has a spout with 3.5cm circumference and 1.5cm of height was chosen as the second highest choice while the cup lid labelled E with 8cm of circumference and 1.5cm height is the third choice. The informants of the interview also prefer the cup lid labelled D because the height and the circumference of the lid is just perfect to drink as it allows the perfect amount of drink to flow out of the cup. After we received the final results from the survey and the interview, we have decided to use the most preferred prototype which is prototype D that has circumference of 8cm and height of 1cm as the final design for the McDonald cup lid.

We have also done secondary research from the newspaper articles and textbook to do this project. The article below was taken from the new Straits Times. From this article we get to know that McDonald’s stop providing straws from 1st August 2018 and the reasons why they have started to take the initiative to reduce the usage of straw.

Apart from that we have also used book to gather the details that are required to complete this project. The book named ‘Universal Principles of design’ contains all the details and principles an object should have. We have referred to this book to clarify the doubts that we had regarding the principles that our design should follow. 

3.0 Define (Forming the design brief)

The design brief or problem definition of our design challenge project that we have identified is:

What is the problem?

  • The current cup lid that requires the usage of straw .

Why is it a problem?

  • Does not support the straw less campaign.
  • It lacks the features that allow user to drink directly from the cup.

When the problem will be faced?

  • During drinking process as users are not provided with a straw and users cannot drink directly from the cup lid.

Who are affected?

  • McDonald’s Customers

Which area are affected?

  • McDonald’s branches

How to overcome problem?

  • By creating or redesigning a cup lid that would not require the usage straw and enable the consumers to drink without any difficulties.

4.0 Ideate (Idea generation & idea selection)

The no straw campaign that was started by McDonald’s has inspired our group to redesign the McDonald’s cup lid. Firstly, we focused on the possible solutions that could be improvised on the McDonald’s cup lid. As the focus is on a straw-less concept, the current lid for cold beverages definitely requires a straw. The design that we are inspired to innovate is a cup lid that is suitable for both hot and cold drink. In order to eliminate the usage of the straw we first tried to find a design that would apply similar functional method of a straw.  From our research, users create low pressure when they suck on the straw, the higher pressure inside the cup will cause the liquid to be pushed upwards into the straw and to the user’s mouth.  Following this, we came up with our first concept of design where we wanted to create high pressure inside the cup without using a straw. To achieve this, we came up with an idea of using the vacuum concept. With the combination of idea from the suction pump inside a laboratory, we wanted to make a built-in suction pump which would create a vacuum in the cup thus creating a difference in pressure. This difference would push the drink upwards and into the spout. When we sketched the idea, we found out that there are many unnecessary elements in this design. It is complicated to manufacture and the performance load is also high.   To replace this complicated design, we then came up with a simpler design as Ocklam Razor principle mentioned that simplicity is better than complexity. So instead of building this complicated design, we opted to try a simpler mechanism that has the same functionality. We chose to build a lid that can be used for both hot and cold drinks. We ensured that the plastic material used for the lid is able to withstand both extreme temperatures. This is done to safeguard the user’s health and safety.  For the design aspect, we came up with a more upfront solution where users would directly drink from the spout. In regards for the diameter and the height of the spout, we created a few prototypes where the first one is the spout with the circumference of 3.5cm or equal to the diameter of a ‘Bubble-Tea’ straw. Next, we made the spout with the circumference of a 500ml mineral bottle spout which is 8.0cm and lastly, we also made a spout with the circumference of 9.5cm or equal to the spout of a 1 litre mineral bottle.  For the height of the spout, we came up with 3 different heights consisting of 1cm, 1.5cm and 2cm for each of the circumferences. We have a total of 9 lid modals which we then conducted a survey to choose which spout size that the users prefer the most. For this design, we also made a small hole on the lid. This is to reduce the performance load when using it.  It is done because the small hole allows air into the cup which increases the air pressure inside the cup which in return would allow more water to flow out of the cup. For hot drinks, the small hole can act as a channel for the heat from the drink to escape. If the user wants to keep the drink warm for a longer period of time, they can close the small hole by sliding the tab on top of the hole. To avoid drinks from spilling from the cup, we made sure that the edge of the lid can be secured tightly to the cup.

5.0 Prototype (Concept development)

After comparing both the designs that we have sketched, we confirmed on the final design that we are going to proceed with. The final design that we choose also follows the universal principles of design. After we choose the final design from the sketch, we made a 3D drawing using the Adobe Illustrator

Picture 6: Side view
Picture 7: Top view

Once we were done with the 3D drawing, we were unsure of the size of the spout that we are going to make. To determine the most suitable lids that users prefer, we have made total of 9 modals ranging of different diameter and height for its spout. The material that we have used to make the prototype is UHU glue, Lighter, papers, hard transparent plastics, safety pins, cellophane tape, McDonald hot and cold drink’s cup with lid. The picture below shows an example of prototype that we have made.

Picture 8: The prototype

We then carried out a survey to get the user’s opinion on which lid they prefer the most and carried out an interview to get the feedbacks about the design and to ask the reason why they prefer the design. Our concept of development is to design a lid that is not complicated to use, easy to manufacture, safe, and also user friendly as well as will not require the use of straw anymore. We apply 5 universal principles of design to the concept development for the lid. The first universal principle of this design is closure.  Closure is a common design technique that uses the human eye’s tendency to see closed shapes.  People tend to perceive a set of single, recognizable pattern out of an arrangement of individual elements. For example, this lid design is not confusing for users.  There is only one spout to drink the drink and this will not cause confusion to users.  The second universal principle of design is Ockham’s Razor.  We choose the second design instead of the first design is because the second design is a simpler design. As stated by Ockham, when given a choice between two designs, the simpler design would be selected rather than a design that have a complex design. The third principle is performance load.  Having a small hole on the lid can reduce the performance load when users drink. This is because the small hole help air to enter the cup and creates more pressure in it which will push the liquid upward at a higher amount and allow the users to drink satisfyingly.  In hot drink, the sliding cover can reduce the performance load by just sliding the tap to cover the hole if user want to keep the drinks warm and can slide it away from the hole if user want to cool down the drink without opening the whole lid which requires more time and energy. The next principle that we apply in our design is satisfaction.  It is often preferable to settle for a satisfactory solution rather than pursue on an optimal design. Comparing the design of lid that use vacuum and the final design that we choose, the lid with vacuum concept has a more optimal solution but the design of lid with the perfect circumference and height of spout as well as hole with sliding tap gives more satisfaction.  Symmetry is also a principle that can be used in this prototype. More specifically, our prototype follows the reflection symmetry. Reflection symmetry shows the mirroring of an element, which means both the sides of an element will have the same size. Our prototype also has the same size on both the sides and there is a symmetry.  The final universal principle of design is factor of safety.  The factor of safety for a design can be done using more elements that is thought to be necessary to offset the effects of unknown variables to prevent system failures.  Factor of safety also known as the factor of ignorance.  Safety factor is essential to reduce the failure in design. The factor of ignorance in our design is we want to design a lid that can prevent the drinks from spilling.  Having a closed surface can reduce the possibility of this disaster from happening

6.0 Summary

The main reason for this project is to facilitate user to drink without the presences of straw. Thus, our group come up with the idea of straw less McDonald’s (McD) cup lid as most of the customers faced the same problems after McD supports the straw less campaign. We have conducted an interview session and survey to McD customers to get their feedback regarding this project to finalize the exact design for our prototype. Our designated prototype followed about five Universal Principle of Design and created using special software called Adobe Illustrator. As this redesign cup lid will be able to reduced the usage of plastic straw, we expect that McD customers will no longer depend on straw. We hope our society be more aware about the purpose of the straw less campaign with the help of McDonald’s.

7.0 Reference

  1. A. B. (n.d.). Qualitative Research: Definition, Types, Methods and Examples. Retrieved from https://www.questionpro.com/blog/qualitative-research-methods/
  • Lidwell, W., Holden, K., & Butler, J. (2010). Universal principles of design. Beverly (Massachusetts): Rockport.

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