The answer was a yes, coming from Matt Franks and Lauren Serota in their Rapid Ideation and Prototyping class. The idea of drawing is fairly scary to me, it’s never come easy, nor has it been something I’ve enjoyed to do. I remember in the first week of my masters program in architecture one of my fellow students asked if I wanted to spend the afternoon sketching by the river. I replied with a polite, “no,” but in my head I was thinking he was crazy. Really? Spend a whole afternoon sketching? Sounded terribly boring, I much rather go for a run by the river and take a mental picture, I could draw it up quickly in CAD later anyway. I’ve avoided sketching like the plague since then.
Much to my dismay, I had to pick up a pencil and sharpie in this class – though my disdain for drawing slowly faded through the 8 weeks. I’m not sure where it happened along the way, but last week as I was doing work for another class I thought to myself, “this would be much easier to figure out if I could draw it.” As I was externalizing the problem, I caught myself and laughed, then smiled at the progress I have made. Perhaps I always have had designer-ly tendencies, but never had the tools to communicate them in a visual way before.
I have to thank Lauren and Matt for helping me to feel that I can call myself an interaction designer, because they gave me the tools to express myself as one. Not only do interaction designers facilitate the dialogue between a product, service, or system, but they are, in general, problem solvers. In this class, we each took a problem we had around the topic of food, found an opportunity to fix it, and create a web application as a result. The tools we used to solve this problem include use cases, scenarios, storyboards, process flows, wireframing, and prototyping.
The result of this process for myself is called Eat: Play, a web application for athletes that play hard and need good food to fuel their fun. This app helps find, review, and share crowd-sourced recipes that nutritionally prepare, sustain, and reward your body for a race or event. The athlete using the application can calculate nutritional needs, prepare race plans, and share recipes with friends.
I’ve posted two parts of the process we used on the path to creating a web app, wireframes and a clickable pdf. These don’t display the full functionality of the program, but focus on two different flows that a user might go through while using it – determining how many calories they need during the day of a marathon and browsing recipes to fulfill those needs. Start with the wireframes and follow the purple dots, it will give you a better idea of where you are supposed to be heading before you go through the clickable pdf.
<wireframes> <clickable pdf>
As I use the tools acquired in this class for future projects, I will be most cognizant of the rigor required to produce a cohesive product. It is important to put the work down, take a break, pick it up again, review, and revise; then repeat this process over and over again. And of equal importance in this process is the level of fidelity used in each step. Start at a low-fidelity so you can revise quickly and efficiently, which would have resulted in a more comprehensive wireframe package for myself in this case.
The last bit of advice? Pick up a pencil and don’t be afraid or ashamed of what comes of it, and do it often. I wasn’t afraid to draw when I was little, but only stopped when I became self conscious of what others would think. Instead of watching my niece and nephew color over Christmas, I think I’ll join them. You should too.
Happy Holidays! Let it snow… (a lot, please)