News and blog posts from our students and faculty

Monthly Archives: December 2012

Wireframes 6.0

In this final iteration for our wireframe assignment, I feel that I finally started to contain the scope of the issue in my mind while I worked. This resulted in a massive restructuring of the design and an overhaul of the look of the site after receiving help in basic InDesign skills and wireframe logic from Jon K. This final iteration is also a very new one and certainly could use a few more iterations before being called finished, however that seems to be the nature of wireframing such a complicated entity as a class scheduler. All in all I think this is a considerable improvement from previous versions and I am pleased with the accomplishment. I have found the entire project to be fun, humbling and educational.

As a reminder, the following is a template wireframe for a proposed academic scheduler, created specifically for athletes at UT Austin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wireframes 5.0

This iteration continues to expand on the visual buttons and a tidier look throughout. It’s easy to see where the obstacles are in this because as the iterations progress, the hanging chads in the design become increasingly obvious. Nonetheless, it took user testing with a professor at UT, who wanted many changes made to this design, to see that I was still struggling with fundamentals of the layout and wasting time changing the button sizes. This was a heavy but necessary blow, as our instructions in the design process have been consistently guiding us to draw the layout completely before increasing the visual fidelity. Even still my ability to follow these instructions has been inconsistent, partially I think because these tools are all so new that I easily become preoccupied by basic adjustments to the look when I just meant to be correcting a typo. Therefore, some pages in this iteration are at their sloppiest version yet, as I began to return to pen and paper these pages became dumping grounds and place holders. This felt like the natural result of exploring beyond the “hero flow” and so I include them in this collection because I think they show a process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wireframes 4.0

A few major evolution’s occurred in this iteration and all of them can be seen in the single slide below. I moved the status information to the right to reflect many popular websites, like Amazon, with the classes added listed under FALL 2012 and a calendar of the schedule   updating in the box. I minimalized and moved the profile picture to reflect sites like Facebook, and removed unnecessary personal information to decrease clutter. I changed the navigation to one that uses words to allow the user to know where they’ve been. The text in the body was described as shouting by more than one think-aloud tester, and was changed to be less loud. And finally, I began to explore making more visual buttons for classes.

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Wireframes 3.0

For my third presentation of wire frames I thought through the entire navigation of the website in greater detail. Even still, there are a few easily noticed dead ends that were not revealed to me until the forth “think aloud” that I did with an astute UT undergrad. Certain other details, such as a ‘View Syllabus” option, and an enlargeable calendar in the dashboard are additions I will make thanks to talk aloud feedback. Over all, the feedback that I received from students was quite positive. They were relieved to use a site that told them their requirements, as more than one of them was an upperclassman who was now attempting to fit extra classes they hadn’t known were required into their schedules in order to graduate on time. They all became confused at the same points, so I know what to do next, which is a happy place to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Customer Service Blueprint: an exploratory exercise

Influenced by both a reroute in research halfway through the quarter and an inspiring batch of preliminary research, our customer blueprint represents a fantastical dream state of all of the various ways in which the space could be positively designed. It’s unrealistic in nature but proved a helpful generative exercise to help us think through the possibilities. Insights that guided us include:

1. adopting a child is the most emotionally vulnerable you’ll ever be. The language used only enforces that.
2. adoptive parents want to feel in control of something they’ll never have complete control over
3. adoptive families are fighting upstream against a culture that sees them as broken
4. your love as an adoptive parent has to overcome the child’s feeling of abandonment

The blueprint is designed in service to the adoptive family. Though nebulous in concept, what makes this distinct is that nobody in the space is currently playing a holistic support role for the adoptive family. The closest role within the adoptive ecosystem is the agency case worker who oversees all steps, yet doesn’t automatically assume the role of advocate. This service would be both a roadmap and an advocate.

The image below outlines the unique touchpoints that we could design around when we get to synthesis.

The big question is whether or not an online service can play a supportive enough role to satisfy the dearth of emotional assurance that currently exists and what kind of customer service would be needed in order to do so. We’re considering both the role of actual human interaction with the adopting couple as well as physical products that could be mailed at various points in the process.

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Wireframe v.06

V.06 -Final Iteration.

For  version six of the wireframes, attention was focused on the information, navigation, and the interface elements. The main goal was to create a fully functioning and comprehensive version of the wireframes. After going through the process of building the prototype, testing, and correcting it six different times, the process became more fluid.  The tool of indesign was no longer an obstacle in my way.  It started to be used more powerfully to create various layers of depth, shading, and visual elements.

When reviewing this iteration, take note of the following changes: the additional professor and faculty page, the professor modal page, a separate professor rating page, an improved profile page that allows you to edit classes, and a customized email to invite Sarah to sign up for classes.   To review the wires, Sarah is starting her second year of a two year hybrid MBA program.  She has been notified that classes for the Spring semester are open and she can choose her class and pick her courses.  Progress University gives the students the ability to take both online and offline courses.

To foresee future growth of Progress University, we added additional MBA programs which are nested under one main header navigation. With a continued focus on elements and style, the site has a strong functionality.  This made a world of a difference.  Last iteration lacked a flow that would allow the user to move through the site effortlessly. What originally looked like a canvas with a ton of white space is now filled with new features such as pictures and videos shown by elements of grey scale.
All of these changes were made with the intention of providing consistency and overall hierarchy of information.

Overall, this iteration has a strong focus on comprehension and visual elements. Each iteration improved each time, little by little.  The user testing feedback was positive the people that I tested with all mentioned this was something that they had wished they had while they were registering for classes.  That’s all for now.

Dave

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Welcome New Professor Chris Risdon!

We’re excited to add Chris Risdon to the faculty of Austin Center for Design. Chris, a lead experience designer at Adaptive Path, has fifteen years of experience in information architecture, interaction design, and graphic communication.

Chris has spoken at numerous conferences including SXSW, The IA Summit and WebVisions. He’s also a regular at Adaptive Path’s own UX Intensive and UX Week events. Chris holds an MFA in design from the Savannah College of Art & Design and spends any extra time as an educator, teaching Adaptive Path’s UX Intensive workshops and as an adjunct professor at Austin Community College, teaching interface design.

Welcome, Chris!

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IDSE 202- Final Blog

Eric Boggs, Dave Gottlieb, Eli Robinson, & Callen Thompson

 Inspiration and Insights

Our group’s research focuses on seniors and the topic of Aging in Place. We’ve performed multiple stages of research, including contextual inquiries with seniors who use computing technology at home, interviews with experts on the subject of seniors, and two styles of cultural probes, one written and the other photography based, with both seniors and Baby Boomers. Our secondary research throughout the process has been pivotal in understanding what is and isn’t available or working well in this particular field, and helped us determine what insights we were having that were original. Through our synthesis and ideation period we generated 300 business ideas and presented on three of them three weeks ago. Following the presentation we pursued one of the concepts we presented, a concept of crowd sourcing solutions with Baby Boomers to tackle some of the wicked problems that they are most invested in resolving, like environmental issues. By creating a customer journey and touch points map of this idea we could see holes in the concept and realized that we were no longer working with a believable scenario of a user for the service we were designing.

Throughout this time period we were receiving responses to the two cultural probes that we sent out during our research phase. We noticed three very prevalent themes through the process, which greatly informed us:

1. Both boomers and seniors feel a strong bond to staying connected to their families, particularly their grandkids. We witnessed many seniors who use email and Facebook exclusively to see photographs of their family. Both groups sense of community and communication with family and friends helps motivate them, keep them happy, and ultimately alive and healthy.

2. Even the most technologically savvy of the participants struggled to return the photographic scavenger hunt through email. For some, the obstacle of finding their digital camera and getting it to turn on was enough of a roadblock as to stop participation, but for most, the challenge of getting the pictures off of their phone or camera, into an email, and adding text required extreme dedication that left many of them annoyed with us.

3. Almost everyone’s favorite room was the living room, where they described sitting and relaxing.

Due to these insights, the presentation idea we’d considered to be least interesting became the most, especially after creating a customer journey and touch points map. We want to create a mobile, visually simple app that facilitates family sharing and connection through whatever media an individual might use. We picture an analog aspect to this site that may involve book printing and cards, bolstered by an easily reachable customer support service. In reference to the third insight, we’re calling it “Den.”

 

Service Concept

Our goal is to give people a platform to share personal stories, photographs, and information with their families directly, allowing them to be more connected and open. Den connects families in a feed that’s exclusive to the group, allowing a degree of casualness and familiarity that is missing in most online networks. Den uses many of the successes of Instagram and Pinterest in its layout, but facilitates intimacy rather than publicity. A favorite recipe, story, photo, or letter highlighting special moments in a family members’ life can develop a connection. Additionally, a funny story about what happened at the grocery store this morning and the comments that follow are an essential part of creating personal knowledge and friendship. Den is a medium for families to get to know and help each other wherever they are, and whatever level of technical confidence they have.

Because Den is a feed that contains text, photo, video, and audio clips that update as they’re added, there is an element of surprise and fun, creating anticipation from the users. As a mobile app, Den fits seamlessly into the lives of the younger generations that the seniors are particularly interested in keeping up with. Many seniors we witnessed are leapfrogging 20 years of technology and going straight from a landline phone and large, slow, heavy desktop computers used for word processing, to a wi-fi enabled smartphone or tablet. Den recognizes the necessity of ease in photo sharing and is built accordingly. Den inspires seniors to get into the mix through prompts that target the entire family, whether generated from the app or by the family.

Den will be an app. At this stage of anyone could download it and we will scale accordingly.

 

Unique Elements

From the start, Den is different than typical apps. When a new member joins, they receive an email explaining to them how the services work and allowing them to mail personal postcards to family members to invite them. An invitation with instructions is created for those recipients; for example the first user invites their grandmother to join the app through a card she receives by snail mail, generated by Den. Users who prefer email would receive one. We consider it essential for Den to have abundant customer service support that works across all platforms of comfort including phone calls, live chat, email or printed tutorials.

As the new user arrives, she sees pictures of what her niece cooked for dinner in another city, a video clip of her cousin’s kids dancing, and a joke that her 8 year old grandson has just made-up and posted. She can comment on any of these on the app thru text, audio, photo, video, calling them directly, or sending them a physical card. If an individual or family chooses to, they can use random prompts of questions or assignments to share, generated by Den. They will have the option to receive weekly or monthly summaries of family activity via email. Once a relationship is established, she will see that they have the option to create digital and physical photo albums and other memorabilia through the service with the material that is being exchanged.

 

Big Questions

We recognize that the service we are describing has many elements, which would require exceptional work on our part. At this stage of the process, we have no way of knowing the feasibility of the design, and are rather being guided by imagination and the needs we witnessed in the design stage.

We have identified a number of websites as potential competitors for our service and will work to differentiate ourselves. We are comfortable with adapting Den to meet the needs of particular users, for example, people staying in a certain wing of a hospital or in a particular residential unit. It is important to us to provide a service that meets needs of older members of society that will improve their happiness and wellbeing. To do this successfully, the service must work across multiple platforms and be user friendly. It must respect the busy lives that people have at any age and allow them to connect with one another despite schedules. We don’t believe that any of the sites we are considering competition have achieved these essential design qualities.

We plan to do a great deal of user testing and prototyping in the next Quarter to evaluate the essential components of the service and to reflect users’ needs. Prototyping will inform our design further and ensure we are providing something that serves to benefit its users.

Service Blueprint for "Den"

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Putting the Flow in Flowchart | Service Blueprints and Service Design

As part of our Service Design class at AC4D, we were asked to complete a series of exercises that map the various touchpoints a user / customer will experience as they interact with the services and products attending to the business we are developing. The most recent artifact we created is a service blueprint, which can be defined as a “a customer-focused approach for service innovation and service improvement.”1

We conducted extensive research into areas of life in which people are regularly and reliably able to enter a state of flow. Flow can be loosely defined as a state of deep concentration in which a person is fully involved in overcoming surmountable but challenging problems. Our group believes that teaching people how to regularly enter a state of flow is absolutely essential in educating people who are creative, resilient and able to grapple with the complex, wicked problems of society.

Our findings taught us that a certain set of physical and behavioral elements must be present for a person to enter the state of flow, and to derive the full benefit of having gone there. After exploring a number of options of how to create a product that could teach flow, we decided that a learning tool kit / building kit was both the ideal product and the ideal business model for us at this time.

Moving from our design insights into a customer journey map and, ultimately, a service blueprint was a surprisingly helpful exercise. Which isn’t to say that it was surprising that it was helpful. We knew it would be helpful. If we’ve learned nothing else here at AC4D, we’ve all learned to trust the process implicitly (even if we grumble about it occasionally). What was surprising was the practicality of the insights that emerged from the service blueprint.

It seemed likely that the service blueprint would illuminate places where we could finetune the actual, well, service we are providing. That is, the non-physical elements surrounding our product; marketing, messaging, user interfaces and actual customer service. And we did unearth helpful insights in all of those areas. Things got juicy, however, when the blueprint started showing us where we should probably take a look at some core assumptions about our initial product. A few helpful suggestions from the blueprint include:

-        The triumph / failure cycle that is critical to supporting a state of flow can begin the moment the user receives their box. Unboxing can become a prominent part of the experience, It’s a place we can leverage to get immediate user buy in.

-        There are unexpected locations where people are likely use our kits. We’d originally thought of homes and schools. We now see backs of cars, grandparents’ houses, parks, hospitals and offices.  This opens avenues for special edition kits and reasonably priced add-ons and modification kits.

-        We’d defined a number of user reactions and interactions that seemed likely to emerge in our product ecosystem. We now see that these responses, such as reflection, sharing, referring, collaborating, are likely to take place in unpredicted places and with unexpected combinations of people. We are now able to design our platform to offer logical solutions for user response in a wide variety of situations.

-        We discovered additional combinations and re-combinations of people with whom our users can be expected to utilize their kits. Because our kits privilege both solitary and collaborative flow, being able to develop products and directions to accommodate a wide mix of ages, developmental stages and group sizes gives us a competitive edge in a crowded marketplace.

We have been reminded frequently that the service blueprint is a living document. While it answers a great many questions, it is also of immense value in shining a light on future questions. We are increasingly clear on questions we will need to answer at various stages throughout our product development, launch and subsequent processes. We are refining our vision and shared ethos, and as we do so are looking at the blueprint to see where we should weave that into the specific interactions under our aegis. Additionally, we have noted places where we need to be on alert for customer feedback, strategic reviews and additional development.

And that’s the update from the play pen! Over and out.

 

 

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Service Blueprinting – SchoolShare the App!

After performing individual research, Kevin and Will joined forces to create a new product and service for use in elementary school classrooms. The product tentatively named SchoolShare, is a tool which gives parents a window into the classroom. Using SchoolShare, teachers can instantly share student’s work with their parents, to encourage parent engagement outside of the classroom with their child’s education. By simply snapping a picture, teachers can easily share a student’s work in school with parents in real time. Yet SchoolShare is more than photo sharing service, it provides parents access to an important moment within the daily life of their child.

The three stakeholders critical to the success of this product are teachers, parents, and students. Teachers desire more parent involvement in the students education, yet their time is very valuable. Students enjoy sharing their work, yet often lose excitement by the time they get home from school. Parents wish to be more involved, but rarely have direct contact with teachers. By designing our service around the critical needs of each stakeholder, we can enrich a child’s education, by allowing parents to be more aware of their student’s daily classroom activities.

Teachers will make the ultimate decision on whether or not to use SchoolShare in their classrooms, yet they will most likely not be the paying customer. For this reason, we must be sure that we design the service to balance the needs of teachers and parents while making it as simple and easy to use for teachers as possible. The teacher’s perspective is the most important as we design our user experience.

Customer Journey Map and Touch Points for SchoolShare

We have created a service blueprint of SchoolShare to map each user interaction with our service. The service blueprint is a tool that we will use to ensure that the needs and limitations of the teachers and parents are addressed. From a teacher snapping a picture in the classroom, to the parent’s receiving a notification on their smartphone, each touchpoint is carefully evaluated from both the user perspective, as well as the required support from behind the scenes. Linked here, is the full service blueprint for SchoolShare.

 

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