User Testing Wireframes

After getting critiques on our wireframes last Monday, we made edits to our wireframes and did some think-aloud testing with users. This was my first time doing user testing so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

It was my very first test with my very first user and she couldn’t get past the first button! And it wasn’t even a real button, it was a Touch ID button but she wasn’t sure where to press. I immediately saw the flaw in my design. The only clickable part was the bit explaining that it was Touch ID but I should have made the whole screen clickable so that no one got stuck on a “button” that actually requires hardware.

Log In

Luckily her reaction was not the trend for all of my tests (whew!). Two of my other flows went well for all the users with no surprises and no one getting stuck (Access Security Code, Deposit a Check). My Set Alerts & Notifications one was the biggest problem area and I believe it comes down to the fact that Capital One has users leave the app and go to Settings to set all alerts and notifications. Many of the users I tested got stuck here, not knowing what to do, not knowing what the options meant and not sure how to navigate back.

Allow Notifications


This is something I want to address in my next iterations. Capital One obviously wants users to turn on notifications (since the alert pops up as soon as you log in) but there needs to be a better way. That’s what I’ll be working on over the next few weeks.

I will also be working on my interview techniques. I did fairly well at letting users self-guide through the app but I definitely need more practice saying, “What did you expect to happen there?”

Wireframing the Capital One App

Our assignment this week is to create wireframe flows based on the banking app concept models we’d made for Assignment 1. It’s at this point that I understood how lacking my original concept map was. (The grade I received on it was also a good indicator.) If someone were to try and build an app from my map, well, they couldn’t.

On the plus side, I found that creating a complete picture of the app through wireframing was much easier for me than through concept mapping. On the slightly more negative side, I was getting into the weeds quickly by trying to build every possible path. I think I was overcompensating for my concept map’s inadequacy because I started to turn my wireframe flows into if/then statements. Which was not the assignment. (That’s the next assignment.) Luckily I was able to back out of it and create specific flows (e.g. Depositing a Check) vs. every possible flow ever.

Here is one I did for turning on notifications. The Capital One app will prompt you to turn on notifications every time you log in (unless you’ve already turned them on). Using this function, I’ve shown how it will take you to the iOS settings and allow you to set your notifications. (Not pictured are 2 more notifications screens [Show Previews & Notification Grouping] that I did build but omitted for this image so the words would be legible.)


Another wireframe I built was born out of a need for accessing my security code. Capital One has a specific security code that users need in order to import transactions into third party apps, such as You Need a Budget. I needed that code this week for, yes, You Need a Budget and it’s not accessible via the Capital One app. It has to be done online. So in my wireframe I added it as a category under Profile > Security.


I also gave it a Reveal/Hide function in case you hit it by accident and don’t want people to see it.

Once I stopped thinking about every possibility and zoomed in on what screens will take you from point A to point B, this got a lot easier for me. Next week we’ll be building the prototypes and testing users to see how well our wireframe designs are working. Stay tuned!

Here/Not Here

Last Sunday I was trying to brainstorm on my 5 business ideas that I needed to make Lean Canvases for. I had 2 ideas so far and wanted to brainstorm with fellow students. But I was at home. Was anyone at school? How could I know?

And I thought, if only there was a Marauder’s Map for AC4D so I could know who’s at school.

And that’s how I got my idea.

Here Not Here

If you’re interested in staying abreast of its development, check out my landing page and sign up to receive updates. Thanks in advance!

Concept Map of Capital One Mobile App

The assignment was to choose a banking app (why am I actively using 3 banks?!) and create a concept map of the current design and a concept map of how it could be improved.

I chose the Capital One app over my other banking apps because recently I’d logged into the website and couldn’t find what I needed to find. I wanted to see if that translated to the app. (No.)

What I found in doing the first part of the project, taking inventory of the existing screens, was that I really liked the way it was laid out. I heard fellow students complaining about their apps having too many buttons or screens being weirdly repetitive and I wasn’t seeing that. I found it fairly easy to take the existing screens and lay them out in a clear hierarchy. (Don’t let my sketches fool you, it was clear to me!)

CapitalOne_Sketch_JF CapitalOne_Screens_JF

When I started to digitize the concept map, I realized how many steps I’d missed. And that I would have to dig a bit deeper into the app to represent its full capabilities. Here’s what I came up with.


And as far as navigation goes I really found no way to improve upon it, save one small thing. When paying bills, you can click on “Pay to” and select one of your payees or you can Add Payee. However! When you’re transferring money and click on “Pay From” you can select one of your linked accounts but there’s no “Add Account” button. I couldn’t find anywhere to add an external account within the app. Not even a button sending you to the website to do it.

Since my concept map didn’t even get this deep here’s an image of how I’d update this bit.


Otherwise, frankly, good job, Capital One.

Jen, Laura & Vicky’s Capstone Project Kickoff

Last week we learned the topic for our capstone project that will carry us through the rest of the year: College Persistence and Completion. We met as a group for the first time a few days before our first class and brainstormed on topics that interested us and questions we had surrounding the project. During our first class, Sarah Saxton-Frump spoke to us about her organization, PelotonU, and their goals regarding this partnership.

We then broke out into our groups to form our Focus Statements. One thing that interested us after hearing Sarah speak is how shame and, more specifically, impostor syndrome play a role in students’ education decisions. We wanted to focus our research on women’s experiences because we’re interested in women’s rights and gender in/equality, e.g. the gender pay gap that still exists in the workforce today. So our focus statement is How imposter syndrome impacts women’s post-secondary education trajectory, from cultural background to employment.

One thing we have learned since crafting our focus statement is about how the educational landscape has shifted recently and there are now more females graduating than males. We find this especially interesting since impostor syndrome often manifests when people are considered successful, so focusing on women should offer us a rich data set.

Right now we’re finalizing our research plan, narrowing our selection of participants, and deciding whether to interview only women or both women and men to provide an interesting point/counterpoint. We start interviewing this week and look forward to learning about these humans’ experiences!


Theory: Being a Designer

Throughout this Theory class I’ve been asked again and again to show my perspective. Regurgitating the info we’ve learned isn’t enough. And a lot of what we’ve read in this last section resonated with me more than the other readings. (I’ve heard the same from other students, I imagine this is by design.) And I’ve been thinking about what I should use for the presentation and whether I should tell a story similar to my Harry Potter presentation and if so, what device should I use? Mad Men? The Wire? Beyonce lyrics? Beyonce gifs?!

And all of that seemed like something else for me to hide behind. This reading section is about Problem Solving, Being a Designer and Process. I’ve been calling myself a designer for 20 years, this needs to be about me.

When I graduated high school, instead of buying the official graduation announcements I designed my own (mostly because my dad is cheap and wouldn’t pay for the official ones when we could do them ourselves). I opted to put a quote in the announcement and this is what I chose.

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.
-Pablo Picasso

Maintaining this child-like approach to creativity I think would create the world Pacione envisions where everyone should be designing. Everyone should be thinking of ways to create something that does not yet exist, no matter what discipline they consider themselves to be in.

Fast forward a few years and I’ve been a designer at a print shop, a marketing firm and an ad agency and I’m frustrated. I get a new job (chalkboard artist/signmaker) at a company I admire (Whole Foods Market) and I’m doing work that feels important. At least, making local profile signs for local farmers feels more important than making business cards for oil company employees.

And in hindsight I realize that in that role–more than in any of my others–I got to use Tim Brown and Jocelyn Wyatt’s concept of inspiration, ideation and implementation at a very fast pace. For example, I learned that chalkboards were not masterpieces, they were usually erased and redone quite frequently. It was better to try something quick and get the message up than it was to use several valuable hours attempting perfection. So if I didn’t like something, I’d have the chance to do something better in a week. They weren’t complete failures but I’d walk through the store and make notes, like, “Well, that doesn’t look as good from far away as I thought it might.”

A few years later I definitely got to use what Edward de Bono calls lateral thinking. I was in a new role, still at Whole Foods Market, that had never existed before in our region, supporting the store artists, and I was charting my own course. I hired two more support people, former store artists as well, and we set a plan to help hire, train and support store artists so they didn’t feel like silos. We didn’t adopt a system of colored hats but we had to constantly update and change our guidance and advice because what worked for one store didn’t always work for another store. (That sounds like Hobbes, too, while we’re at it.) And since the chalkboard artist role was so unique, we were the only members of the regional team who could truly empathize and help problem-solve.

Fast forward a few more years and I’m still at Whole Foods Market, but I’m the Regional Art Director. I have a team of 6 and I get to be part of exciting projects, like designing a whole new sign template for the Produce department. (I’ve actually inadvertently done what Pilliton suggests and I’ve immersed myself in a culture for 3-5 years so I can better problem-solve for with the users.)  But I wasn’t happy.

What was missing?

First, while some of the problems I was solving could be called ill-defined, none of them were even close to being called wicked. Second, Pacione’s model of learning/understanding/making really resonated with me but it’s not what I was doing at Whole Foods Market, or at many of my past jobs. His model shows a repeating cycle of looking at a problem, understanding it, making something to solve the problem and through that making acquiring a deeper understanding. Repeat. Through repeating that process, one arrives closer to a solution.

Pacione’s model looks like this:


I feel like what I’ve been doing my whole life, not just at Whole Foods Market looks more like this:


There was no reflection or understanding after the making step and I know I’ve seen projects happen where there was no understanding before it.

So here I am at AC4D and I’m looking forward to using the creative thinking I’ve been using all my life and applying it across other disciplines.


Week Seven (Seven?!) Reflections

Two days after my last Reflections blog post we got an email from Ruby saying that they were no longer mandatory but if they help then of course we should keep blogging. And I thought, “I like them, I’m going to keep doing them.” And then three weeks went by.

After I felt like I needed to toss the rules out the window in Theory/102 I made my presentation using Harry Potter as my analogy to talk about poverty. I didn’t even mention the authors! And it was fun so I was excited to present it, which is something that was missing in my previous presentations. And besides getting good feedback from Scott, a guest faculty member and my peers after class, I actually felt proud of it. I really went home and gave the presentation to my husband because I was that excited about it. Poor guy.

In our 101 class, learning how to theme has been a challenge. We’ve had something like 2 weeks to be theming but I feel like today I’m starting to get it. This afternoon the advice we got from Jon/Matt/Scott sort of clicked for me. We present to our client in like 40 hours. We’re not going to be able to theme all of our utterances before presenting. We’re just not. Or, we’re not going to be able to theme all of them AND get the sleep required for a healthy lifestyle.

I’ve also talked to my mentor twice in the past few weeks and she’s really great. The first time we talked I joked that timeboxing was just another way of never finishing anything. She said that was true but also it was good because it means I’m moving forward in ALL the things. And it prevents me from hyper-perfecting one thing and letting everything else lapse. I agree with this in theory but when it’s crunch time I’m definitely only focusing on one thing.

We talked this week and I asked for her advice on theming and she gave me some great getting-started tactics. And she gave me two helpful bits of advice. For theming, sit with the data. It takes time and being there in the room and doing the thing. The second thing she said was, this is the fun stuff. There are plenty of parts of this entire process that she didn’t like but theming is something she really enjoys.

Next week is the final week before Q1 ends. Which means 3 presentations and a review with faculty. Am I already nervous? You betcha. But I keep reminding myself of Scott’s advice to our class on Thursday: to approach this week with kindness (for ourselves and others), with patience (for ourselves and others) and with rigor. Wish me luck!

Design & Poverty: The Harry Potter Lens

Sometimes when I want to understand something deeper I apply a Harry Potter lens to it. I’m a Meyers-Briggs ISTP, which Harry Potter character is that? Oh, it’s Harry. That makes sense: I’m in my own head a lot, I’m not trying to be the center of attention but when it comes down to it, I’ll get things done. And I’m an Enneagram 5, which Harry Potter character is that? Snape? Oh, well, that didn’t help as much.

So I did the same thing for this assignment. I created a comic strip called “Harry Potter and the Plight of the House Elves.” In adding my perspective, I chose to do it through Harry. The author’s perspectives I chose to have Harry represent were Hobbes, Pilliton and Yunus.

For the entire comic strip, click here.

Harry Potter spitting Hobbes realness.
Harry Potter spitting Hobbes realness.

I definitely agree with the idea that what is a good solution for one group won’t apply to everyone across the board. As a designer it’s a reminder for me to dream small and perhaps more importantly, stay flexible! In solving wicked problems I may never be able to dust my hands and feel like I’m done.

Harry Potter and the Words of Pilliton.
Harry Potter and the Words of Pilliton.

In theory I agree with Pilliton that you have to really immerse yourself into a culture in order to solve the problems worth solving and ensuring that they are problems worth solving to that community. But it’s terrifying and I don’t feel ready to commit to that level of work yet. I’m sure that if something arose that I was passionate about, I’d move in a heartbeat. But selfishly, right now, I’d rather find a problem worth solving somewhere cool, like Stockholm or Berlin.

Harry Potter and the Grameen Bank.
Harry Potter and the Grameen Bank.

Harry’s final solution looks a lot like Mohammad Yunus’ plan for the Grameen Bank- incremental freedoms (amounts of money in the case of the Grameen Bank) to help them lift themselves out of poverty. When I first heard about the Grameen Bank 10ish years ago I thought it was revolutionary. I haven’t looked into it recently, maybe as Hobbles suggests, the model has cracks showing now that it’s expanded and maybe it doesn’t work everywhere. (That would be my suspicion.)

In the end, Harry finds himself wondering if there were a magical school where he could learn to solve these wicked problems. In that regard, Harry and I are in the same place: school. But he’s learning magic and I’m learning methods. Hopefully one day, though, when I’m practicing what I’m learning here it can look like magic.

Week 4 Reflections

Apparently we’re halfway through Q1? Scott mentioned that in our Theory/102 class on Thursday.

We had another assignment and presentation due in that class this week. We had to take all 8 authors we’d read and place them on an axis of designing for/designing with and then create another axis of our own choosing and plot them along that axis as well.

It felt like I was making a very personal assertion. It felt vulnerable that I chose an axis of “where the designer is in the process” and then placed the authors on it. I can tell you now that that’s not what came across in my presentation. I still got the feedback that they wanted to see more of my perspective in my project.

I also realized I took a too-literal approach to the assignment. I could have taken the info I’d absorbed and placed my take on it regardless of the actual assignment instructions.

It reminded me of a design project in college where we had to do 4 stages of a page layout. Stage 3 was the final layout, Stage 4 was “break all the rules.” I went wild! I applied filters to my photo, I made my line slanted, I made the header neon pink! My instructor said, “No, that looks great, that’s your 3rd stage. Now go break all the rules.”

I’ll keep you posted on how I show more of my perspective in my next assignment!

103 Assignment 3: Life Drawing

I have a hangup about figure drawing. I was an art major in college and I had a 3.98 GPA in my major- I got As in all my classes except figure drawing, where I got a C.

So I went into this last studio session with more than a bit of trepidation. But Pat makes it fun. I appreciated that he went over the basics first before we started live sketching. I’ve also historically been afraid of drawing faces (so much room for error- obvious error!) but again, Pat made it fun. We don’t need to take a hyperrealistic approach to drawing faces, we just need to get across an idea: maybe a gender or age or emotion.

Faces we drew in class.
Faces we drew in class.

For this assignment we also needed to sketch out in the real world. I did a few of my sketches at Austin Bouldering Project both in real life and looking at a photo. With more time (less sleep?) I might have benefitted from doing one version where I traced a photo. I’ve found that doing that with my daily object drawings helps me focus on which parts of the drawings to highlight.

Austin Bouldering Project.
Austin Bouldering Project.