Designing for the User: Ideation to Lo-Fi Prototyping

This week our team of Kim Nguyen, Aaron Steinman, and myself  began creating and testing low-fidelity (lo-fi) prototypes of our four capstone project concepts. We will test and validate these ideas for the next three weeks to decide which one we will move forward with and build in Q4.

Getting to Ideas

Building on the research we conducted in Q2 with post-traditional prospective and working students, we applied rapid ideation techniques to come up with over 100 design ideas in our problem space.

Aaron moves a sticky-note design idea into the feasible/impactful-not fun quadrant
Aaron moves a sticky-note design idea into the feasible/impactful-not fun quadrant

The challenge was to use our insights combined with prompts, such as patterns we see in the world, and write down ideas – lots of ideas. All the ideas. I had a ton of anxiety about my ability to come up with “good” or “innovative” ideas. The rapid ideation methods helped to just start thinking.

We then filtered out the ones we found less fun, impactful, or feasible to make until we had just four sticky-note ideas left. This was a harrowing process as the results would dictate the direction of our final project.

I keep reminding myself that we need to keep what we learned from the people to whom we spoke in mind and we need to validate our design decisions based on real user feedback. The most important questions to answer moving forward is: Are we designing with the user? Are we building on a solid foundation from what we heard in the field?

Lo-Fi Prototyping

This week we considered how to test aspects of our four concepts by creating lo-fi prototypes and getting out into the field. The prototypes are ways of conveying the idea to others in order to quickly gather feedback to push iteration. Below is a synopsis of our current four concepts.


Concept 1:  Crowdfunded College

A platform that supports students soliciting loans for their education by crowdsourcing

Problem

Working students have to prioritize work over school, which leads to stress, lowered academic performance, or stopping out.

Hypothesis

College students and prospective students will want to crowdsource student loans in lieu of working.

Testing Method and Prototype

We created a workflow diagram to explain how the concept would work.

Crowdfunding College Workflow Diagram
Crowdfunding College Workflow Diagram

We will test this diagram alongside a short storyboard to help validate the idea. Since the user would have to go through a lengthy process to solicit and repay loans, showing people the process should help them consider if that’s something they would find valuable.


Concept 2:  Me Mentor

An app that promotes habits of reflection 

Problem

Our participants told us how their time in school was challenging, not only because of the workload and academic rigor, but also the emotional and energy drain that it takes to operate through obstacles. We also heard an overwhelming need for a support network and positive people in their lives.

Hypothesis

Low-income, working college students will want to and have time for goal setting and reflecting.

Testing Method and Prototype

We created a worksheet that helps with goal setting and reflecting and created a landing page to drive traffic. Anyone who signs up with their email can receive it for free.

Me Mentor_Guide_1


Concept 3:  Pre-Hire

An organization that uses the “apprenticeship model” to connect students to jobs in their field of study that supports their learning

Problem

Much like the Crowdfund College concept, Pre-Hire tries to answer the problem of being torn between the two competing demands on working students’ time: work and school. 

Hypothesis

Employers will be willing to hire and support students in completing their course of study (e.g. with flexible hours).

Testing Method and Prototype

We created a pitch for employers to quickly grasp the concept and let us know if they would be on board to proceed.

Slide from the pitch to employers for Pre-HIre
Slide from the pitch to employers for Pre-Hire

 


Concept 4:  College Etiquette for the Bathroom

A book that delivers information about going to college in a humorous way

Problem

We learned from our research with prospective students that some did not go to college after high school because they did not have a “plan.” When they think about going to college now, they perceive the process to be a “simple” series of steps. This obscures the truly complicated web of obstacles to applying and persisting to a degree. 

Hypothesis

High school students will be interested in learning about college through the medium of a humorous book.

Testing Method and Prototype

We created a book cover and a table of contents to show potential users and gauge their interest.

College Etiquette for the bathroom cover mockup
College Etiquette for the bathroom cover mockup

 

What’s Next

This week was a tough slog towards prototyping and understanding how to test our ideas. We will need to catch up on testing early this week, iterate, create new prototypes to test further aspects of our concepts. And then we’ll do more testing.