Built For Use

For the past couple of weeks, we have worked to solidify the wireframes of our redesigned banking applications. For me, this involved going back through each of my flows and considering all the “unhappy paths.” Often, we refer to the path we want the user to take as a “happy path.” But, what happens when the user tries to do something else other than the one option you have given them? Or what if user error has caused them to get off the initial path? How do they get back? When I say that I have been considering the “unhappy paths” for the past two weeks, I mean to say that I have been considering all the paths that a user may take beyond the one I have chosen for them and then building out a flow that represents that.

To add, I have spent time refining, organizing, and adding annotations to my flows so that they may be presentable to a developer. Oddly enough, as a designer, I have spent a lot of time considering the user of the ultimate app in creating my wireframes. The exercise of making them readable to a developer asked me to consider another user, in the developer, for the first time and to consider how to make our wireframes most readable for the ones who will have the ability to make them into anything more than .png files.

I met with a developer (and former AC4D alum) this week to discuss my wireframes, consider gaps in my considerations, and get an estimate of the amount of time (and money) it will take to create my app. Below I am sharing some of the various flows I created:

Check Balance w:Annotations

Deposit Check

Transfer Money (Part 1)

Transfer Money (Part 2)

Transfer to Non-Wells Fargo

Set Alerts

Pay A Friend

Automatic Payments

In order to make our work as readable as possible for a developer, it is important to break down the various complex components of screens to show what they entail. Below you can see some of the components I included the “break down” I gave to my developer.

Breakdown

As I met with my developer, I learned about the estimated amount of time each screen would take to build. I learned that some elements would take significantly longer than others because of small customized elements I chose to include. I also was able to learn about gaps in the comprehension of my flow. He was able to break down the various screens by time estimate in a spreadsheet.

Screen Shot 2019-03-18 at 4.59.15 PM

My meeting with my developer was very constructive. My biggest learning is that I am possibly being “too detailed” in the wireframes that I am developing. That my intention is communicated more than I assumed. As I continue to build out my wireframes and annotations, I will work on being more strategic in my time and noticing what I can assume someone would know as standard from the Apple Human Interface Guidelines or other such guidelines.

I have estimated that it will take 198 days to build my app but imagine as I work to build out my last couple of flows that number will expand by a bit.

Reflections and Solidifying of Concepts

The capstone team of Sara Miller and Kelsey Greathouse spent the past week better defining our concept and business plan as well as reflecting on the past 3 quarters and how we may use our learnings from those quarters in this final quarter. Our concept is LaunchPad, an ongoing event and summer workshop series that supports teachers in making a transition out of teaching and into a new field.

Learnings and Reflections From the Past Three Quarters

In Quarter 1,

we learned…

  • How to synthesize disparate information
  • The application of design theory to design work
  • How to formulate and articulate a unique viewpoint
  • The importance of narrative to communicating a concept
  • To have courage to put ideas into the world and get feedback

…in the process, gaining the tools of…

  • Presentation
  • Sketch
  • Illustration
  • Recruiting
  • Contextual inquiry
  • User interviews
  • Transcription
  • Storyboarding
  • Theming

In Quarter 2,

We learned…

  • The value of working creatively with a team (melding ideas with people around you)
  • Systems thinking
  • Creative recruiting strategies
  • How to present project updates to a large audience
  • About and executed on the process of service design

…in the process, gaining the tools of…

  • Managing a client
  • Co-creation with a client
  • Storyboarding as a tool to communicate a design concept
  • Sketch
  • Product exploded view creation

In Quarter 3,

We learned…

  • The application of insights from research to a broader audience
  • Validation of demand by putting imperfect things into the world

…in the process, gaining the tools of…

  • Concept zooms, showing how a concept works in a larger ecosystem and when zoomed in
  • Rapid design concept creation, framing a problem
  • Pitching
  • Wireframing
  • Usertesting
  • Lo and high fidelity prototyping
  • Theory of Change
  • Lean Canvas
  • Forecasting
  • Business model creation
  • Market research
  • Landing pages

 

Vision for One Week After Graduation

After listing our learnings and laying out the tools in our toolbelt, our team was able to clarify where we want to be one week after the program, knowing our timeframe and our goals. In short, we hope to be able to clearly communicate our business concept and our plan for its development to any investor, partner, or user. But, not only do we want people to understand our concept, we want it to provoke and wow them.

 

We hope to do this by creating a narrative explaining our work on this project, a service blueprint, a business plan, a provocative demo, a tested MVP, an outreach campaign with measured results, and at least 2 confirmationations of investment or partnership. We hope to run a pilot of our product before the end of the school year. We are currently imagining that pilot to be an informative event for teachers on the first steps towards leaving the field.

 

In the next week, we will be creating artifacts that help tell our story, begin creating a landing page, and start getting the word out there about the event we will be creating as an MVP.

Our Concept and Pitch

As we mentioned before, our concept is LaunchPad. LaunchPad is a event and workshop series that supports the transition of teachers from transition into a new profession. As such, we created a short “elevator pitch” for our concept and where we are at in the development currently.

 

We exist to create a world where, people do not feel stuck in and feel empowered to pursue paths outside of their current career. In order to make that vision a reality, we’re creating a product that helps teachers transition out of teaching. To do that, we’re working to answer the question of what is the best solution to help them do that and what are the components of that solution. This week we’re going to ideate several formats that our solutions could take, define what components each format would have, compare each of those, validate, if needed, and choose a format.  

 

The Canon of Designing for Social Impact

Over the past two weeks in our Theory of Interaction Design course, we have read 16 articles by 15 authors. These articles varied in intended audience and format, from informal articles on online forums to published articles from academic institutions. Each of these articles explored the concept of design for social impact. And, each took one of three different lenses to this topic: current trends in design for social impact, examples of design for social impact (both positive and negative), and exploration of an aspect that affects positive design for social impact.

We also read two articles which provoked deeper reflection on our individual identities as designers which I will discuss after I share a bit about each along with my biggest learnings from the collective anthology.

 

Current Trends in Design For Social Impact

We read four articles, which commented on trends in the design for social impact space. All offered a critique of these trends which spurred some consideration in me, as a future designer, about how I plan to interact with these trends as a professional.

Social Business Plan Competitions

Michael Gordon and Daniela Papi-Thornton explored the current trend of social business plan competitions. Social business plan competitions “invite students to address a specific, pressing concern, typically in a short period of time,” essentially a hackathon for designing a business that has social impact. Gordon and Papi-Thronton argue that, in looking for a business idea as the solution, these competitions favor the creative idea over understanding the problem space and developing an informed solution.

What kept coming to mind as I read this article was the idea that the same scrutiny should be applied to any social impact business. It is possible that someone could be a part of a design competition and design a solution for a problem they understand deeply, having it be equally as effective as a result. In the same way, it feels quite possible that anyone could create a social impact business in a less condensed amount of time that creates a negative impact on the population it hopes to serve. Is the real issue in the reward offered by these competitions? Is it in designers creating solutions for problems they don’t understand? Is it a matter of time? Just because a business has investors and real people it is serving now does not mean it is more impactful.

Considering “the Poor” as Consumers

Aneel Karnani critiqued C.K. Prahalad’s BOP theory and the trend amongst multinational businesses towards applying that theory. We read about Prahlad’s theory in our first quarter theory course. Essentially, that business is missing out on profit by not selling to the millions of people living in poverty. He argues if they were to consider this a target audience of their product impoverished customers would be brought out of poverty by gaining purchasing power. Karnani argued that Prahalad’s theory is flawed and inconsistent with evidence. He says this is because the transaction size of a good that an impoverished person could afford is so small it is not worth it for businesses to invest in those kinds of products. He also mentions the large cost associated with distribution and marketing to poorer populations, since they usually live in rural, uncentralized areas. As a solution, Karnani says we should consider the poor as consumers if we truly intend to lift them out of poverty.

Many of the points Karnani brings up were ones I considered when reading Prahalad so appreciated his similar lens to the argument. Including an alternative solution (of recommending businesses think of poor populations as producers) really bolstered his concept. As a designer, this concept emboldens me to consider ways I may involve a local population or a population in which my company is hoping to affect change in actually building the final product.

Conducting Effective Research

Jessi Hempel discusses the design research practices of Studio D, a design firm. She tells the story of a research trip to Saudi Arabia in which they were doing research for a project for a telecommunications company. Rather than targeting a group they hoped to reach and interviewing them, Studio D essentially conducted contextual inquiry with their users to understand their needs.

This article highlighted the even greater importance of research in design for social impact. Truly understanding your participants can allow you to build designs that not only make an impact, do not negatively impact the populations you are hoping to serve.

Designing FOR (not with) Social Impact

Joyojeet Pal spoke about the pitfalls of design for good. He talks through a couple reasons for the rise of “design for good” mentioning the emphasis put on social impact by universities, amongst other reasons. He asserts that design for good implies intentionality and in order to make a real impact designers must understand an issue in depth. He says participatory design does not happen enough to make things that are truly impactful.

The point I most appreciated in this article was the idea that we must recognize the limits of design and honor the people whose lifework it is to make an impact on communities. As a soon to be professional designer who studied social work and urban planning in my undergrad, I have great regard for those professions. I recognize the ways in which their work is much different than what a designer would create and intend to work hand in hand with these kinds of professionals in the design process with and then pass the baton to them the moment a larger design vision is created and communicated.

 

Examples of Design for Social Impact

We read three articles discussing three separate examples of social impact initiatives. Amongst all of them, there was a lack of clarity around what impact these ventures intended to have if not a lack of clarity around the actual impact they generated for the populations they served. While each of these seemed creative solutions, it made me think back to the Gordon/Papi-Thornton reading to consider these examples for their impact rather than creativity of the concept.

The Highline

We read an article by Laura Bliss which discussed the intentions with which The Highline, a green walking space, was created in Manhattan and how the space has been problematic than positive for the neighborhood. The main offering for why is is problematic is that it is mostly utilized by wealthy tourists and not the people who live in the public housing directly next to the Highline. It was conceived of after 9/11 as an effort to thwart an expected exodus of business from New York. Bliss argues that the space should have been better codesigned with the neighborhood to serve its original purpose while making it accessible to the community.

I was yearning for more examples of why this is a problem. Ironically, I felt I wanted the voices of the neighborhood in her article to hear what their issues with the development were. This diluted her solution statement around cocreation. It made it feel broad knowing that it is possible that the Highline is offering some benefits to the community and that there could be adjustments made or additions added that mitigate some of these problems she raises if we heard more from the populations who live around it.

Robinhood Restaurant

Lauren Frayer tells the story of the Robin Hood Restaurant, which is designed to charge the rich to feed the poor, in Spain. It uses the profits raised during breakfast and lunch to feed free meals to the homeless at dinner. She speaks about the owner’s desire for the people who dine at night “to eat with the same dignity as any other customer. And the same quality, with glasses made of crystal, not plastic, and in an atmosphere of friendship and conversation.” She mentions unemployment (at the time the article was written in 2017) was at 20% so it was a prevalent issue for the community.

While I imagine some would call this a bandaid for the real problem, I think bandaids are needed to help with the impacts of the problem, while ideally the root cause is being tackled simultaneously. The aspect that stood out was that, while those experiencing homelessness may feel like any other diner in their general dining experience, they are never interacting with paying customers. In this way, the business model innately otherizes this population from everyone else. Without changing the business model, how might this venture grow or be iterated upon to provide that kind of interaction? What would the impact of that be?

Crowdfunding Homes for Haitians Post Earthquake

Adele Peters wrote about a nonprofit called New Story, which built 150 homes in Haiti after the earthquake, at a much faster rate than larger nonprofits were able. She remarks that they were largely successful because large donors donated the cost of the overhead of the nonprofit while smaller donors had the ability to contribute to an individual home, learn about the family it would house, and get updates about the building progress. They were also able to be effective because they were focused on this sustainable solution of housing rather than more immediate solutions like food, medical assistance, etc.

What I felt was missing from this article were the ways in which the organization is measuring impact and ideally adjustments they have made to their model to be more effective. They mentioned a partner called Mission of Hope in the article. It would be great to know exactly what their partnership might look like and if Mission of Hope is measuring the impact of the partnership and their work.

 

What Can Impede True Social Impact

We read 6 articles that discussed aspects that can affect actual impact of social product and business development. Generally these articles discussed how using technology to solve social issues can have an overwhelming impact if not utilized correctly, how branding can exaggerate or mask true impact, how often business ventures fall short of actual impact because of a lack of follow through, and how motivations for giving from donors can have an affect on actual impact.

Technology

In an excerpt from his book, Mark Manson talks about how technology is causing people to be over inundated with information. He talks about how “the world runs on feelings,” how emotions are what motivate peoples actions. He highlights how when there is too much information, as there is now, everyone can find some information to support their individual feelings and in this way people become divided.

This is a very important point for us to be considering right now as designers entering the workforce at a time of great political, economic, social, etc. division. It feels important to recognize that providing people with an overabundance of information can actually work to divide people. As a designer this inspires me to bring simplicity with an emphasis on human connection to whatever I may be creating.

Branding

Alex Holder talks about how brands have the ability to emphasize the “impact” of a product through branding but that there is not much accountability for how much actual impact a product is having. He takes his argument to a more provocative level stating that in fact branding the impact of a product is essential for it to sell today, regardless of whether there is actual impact.

Branding is a part of the product development/design process. If we, as designers, are not considering how something is branded we are overlooking a big part of how a user will interact with our products. As a professional, I hope to be constantly be measuring the impact of and iterating on a product I might create to be serve the population we intend to impact. A big piece of this is working with marketing to ensure the branding actually reflects our true impact.

Branding Again

Cindy Phu also talks about how branding can skew impact. She specifically refers to the Project (RED) campaign, which provides 50% of profits from all (RED) products to AIDS services in Africa. She brings up points around the buying power of the consumer and asks, “If people are willing to buy an iPod that says (RED) but not willing to donate the cost of an iPod to AIDS services, is bad to harness that desire?” She speaks of the many pitfalls of this campaign, most importantly the lack of transparency about where these earned profits go and who they affect.

The idea of harnessing the buying power of consumers did not sound like a bad one. It alludes to the same argument I made earlier about creating a bandaid while the real solution is being built. At the same time, Project (RED) has been around since 2006 and it feels as if the concept should have been iterated on many times at this point and more transparency given to the campaign. Potentially if that were the case, the solution to the root cause would have been generated at this point and the organization could have moved onto another cause to affect change within.

Branding 3.0

Our own Jon Kolko also discusses the influence of branding on social impact. In his article, he conflates branding and UX saying that they are both, “colorful way(s) of framing total control over a consumer.” He says, “we must acknowledge the huge responsibility implicit in our work and constantly vocalize how our work supports humanity and the cultural landscape that surrounds us.” So rather than focus on just the “colorful way of framing” things we must be considering the larger ecosystem we operate within. He talks about how successes are too frequently tied to profit and marketshare rather than positive and long-term culture change.

As a former social work and urban planning student, this is not something you have to tell me twice. But I appreciate the freedom this perspective gives me a designer to push boundaries on the tactile problems I am solving to recognize the larger change it is creating as a result.

Follow Through

Our instructor Richard recounted the experience of attending a design challenge at the Twitter headquarters, which asked participants to consider how to make Twitter accessible to the community. His team created a grocery story concept that would offer interactive events within the community. Unfortunately he visited Twitter again later to see that none of the concepts had been implemented.

This reading raised questions of the importance of expectation settings. Was this workshop intended to truly develop something within the community? Was it an opportunity for people to creatively consider a solution together? Was it meant to just be a forum by which the community in which Twitter exists could come together? This echoes a similar sentiment I expressed when discussing the examples: the importance of being clear about the impact you intend to have.

Expectation of Reciprocity

Our instructor Richard discussed his experience with creating a funding campaign, comparing it to a few others he found online. He speaks of this idea that when people give they want something in return, if they have not already received something from you previously and feel obligated to give in the first place.

I appreciate the opportunity for reflection on what motivates people to give at all that this offered. It seems the motivations people have to give are strong (especially in this climate of giving and impact that Holder spoke about) and provoke consideration of how might we harness that motivation and what people expect to get from it towards a cause to make an effort as impactful as possible.

Why it matters to me

This week we also read an article, which described two types of people: an order muppet and a chaos muppet. An order muppet is risk averse, appreciates things that are predictable. A chaos muppet thrives in the unexpected.

We also read an article which was a conversation between our instructors Richard Anderson and Job Kolko about the value of theory to design.

As I consider these articles and how I will interact with topics they discuss as a designer, I recognize the large responsibility I have as a designer. These articles provoke me. They cause me to agree or disagree wit their assertions and thus develop my one cannon of truth, my own theories for how I hope to design professionally. My biggest takeaways this week would be:

  • the importance of setting and communicating expectations for impact
  • the importance of measuring that impact and iterating on a product to ensure it is serving its intended purpose
  • the importance of co-designing with other professionals and users throughout the process

Jon and Richard’s conversation helped me more deeply oncsider the value of what I was reading. While the muppet article, beyond the fun aspect of it, helped me realize how I may best contribute to a team who is working to reach goals for impact, where my weaknesses may be in achieving my hopes a designer, and how I may work to strengthen them.

 

 

 

Bringing Definition to a Business Idea

This week the team of Sara Miller and Kelsey Greathouse made strides with our final two concepts:

 

  • Casa – turnkey living-learning community for students enrolled in bootcamps
  • Launch Pad – a summer workshop series that gives teachers the confidence, knowledge, and ability to identify and articulate their skill set needed to enter a new career in recruiting

 

For the past two weeks, we have been working on building and refining two pitch decks for these concepts and have learned a lot in the process. We have outlined this experience and all we have learned below.

 

#1 Creating two decks for different audiences

 

In an effort to more deeply consider and define our concepts, we began by creating two decks for each concept: one for the ultimate customers of our products and another for potential investors or partners in our products.

 

For Casa, we have identified our early adopter customers as perspective bootcamp graduates. Ultimately, we may home to expand the qualifications of our residents to allow students who are enrolled in online programs or who have designed their own educational curriculum through a compilation of alternative learning pathways. Yet, to start, we will be focusing on connecting with prospective bootcamp students to give us a targeted subset of our audience to design for and speak to in marketing.

 

As far as investors for Casa, we created a deck to be presented to the bootcamps themselves as we are imagining they would be important promotional and operational partners in our business. This is another way in which we imagine targeting bootcamp students would be a most valuable place for us to begin: with the right partnerships, it would allow us to utilize the existing infrastructures of these programs to connect with our students initially, best support them throughout our learning and fill in the gaps on outcomes assistance at the end.

 

In this process, we began to consider our business and revenue models at a much deeper level. We spent some time looking at potential properties to buy in Austin, looking into grants for coliving and affordable housing development, and considered the process by which bootcamps could inform their perspective of our housing option.

 

It was in the process of creating similar decks for Launch Pad that we transitioned our concept in the way we spoke about last week (from a website that aggregates alternative and informal education into a summer workshop series for teachers). The process of considering who our customers and investors would be with our initial concept stirred conversations around how we may be able to create a product that would be financially viable while ensuring that we would be solving the problem we initially set out to: to allow individuals to see and have the confidence to pursue alternative career pathways. We will speak more to how that concept really was able to come together in the next step.

 

#2 Hone in and condense to one deck

 

The next step in our process was to take a look at the finalized decks we created for our two respective ideas (a total of four decks) and condense them into two decks, one for each concept. This was a essential part of bringing definition to our concepts.

 

With Casa, it was a matter of simply reviewing the two decks we had created to identify which elements we hoped to incorporate into our narrative for a larger audience, one that could resonate for customers and investors or partners.

 

 

We decided to begin by highlighting the dramatic growth in number and students enrolled in bootcamps over the past 5 years. As this slide iterates, there are over 60 more bootcamps today then there were in 60. We also emphasized how the population of students enrolled in bootcamps has grown from around 2,000 in 2013 to over 20,000 today.
We decided to begin by highlighting the dramatic growth in number and students enrolled in bootcamps over the past 5 years. As this slide iterates, there are over 60 more bootcamps today then there were in 60. We also emphasized how the population of students enrolled in bootcamps has grown from around 2,000 in 2013 to over 20,000 today.

After setting up this trend, we introduced the problem that exists because of it, which our product is attempting to tackle: that with this rapid scaling of the marketing not all bootcamps will deliver on their promise to transition students into a career in tech. The schools that survive will be the ones that have students who evangelize their programs because of the enriching experiences and supportive community they had there.

 

To provide evidence of this, our team spent time scouring the reviews on a site called Course Report, which is a Yelp-esque site for bootcamp students, to get a sense of what themes existed amongst the 5-star reviews and what the biggest complaints were across the 1-star reviews. Across the board, we heard that the larger community of a program and support that that community offers is important. We shared some quotes from these reviews in our deck.

 

We then introduced our concept as the solution to this problem. We spoke about the business model which will be sustained through student rent and renting of our event space. We spoke about our plan for beginning our venture by simply assisting one cohort in securing housing and relocating to Austin, in our first year. This is will allow us to get to the know the student experience very deeply and be able to create a product that serves them best. Our intention in this first year is to solicit bootcamps for a portion of tuition if these students ultimately enroll. In the following year we will work to secure a living environment and build the infrastructure for students to be able to move in.

 

As I mentioned before, the process of creating this deck for Launch Pad was a bit more reflective. As we made our initial decks, we immediately felt that the audience for both and the solution our problem was solving for was too broad to clearly communicate what we were confident was a very strong concept. Our customer in that first round was “professionals” and our investors or partners would be “companies.” Our value proposition was that, through what we were imagining to be a website, we would make it really easy for recruiters and hiring managers to be able to see what a candidate gained in each of their professional or alternative educational experiences to truly fit the best candidate into the best fit role. The value proposition to professionals was similar in that we would provide a tool to allow you to define and articulate your skill set to level up or over into the role you want, while also being able to identify gaps to see what you needed if you were not quite there yet.

Screen Shot 2019-02-23 at 7.48.09 AM

In the very initial stages of creating these decks, it became obvious that our concept was amorphous and our audience too broad. We had spoken with many recruiters over the past couple of weeks and validated a need. But, this problem immediately felt bigger than we could tackle in one product and we realized a need to hone our focus.

 

In one of our conversations with a recruiter at Google, she had said in a casual manner that Google will often look for applicants who were formally teachers when hiring recruiters. At first listen, this did not seem at all intuitive to either of us. But as we pressed her with a couple of questions about it, it became immediately clear that this was nearly an obvious transition given teachers ability to communicate effectively, evaluate and guide people, manage various stakeholders, amongst others.

 

Our minds went back to that idea as we began considering how to focus our concept. What if we could really focus on helping get teachers into recruiting? What would we learn in the process of helping some teachers transition into a new field that could be applied to other fields? Enter our new concept: the summer workshop series for teachers that gives them the confidence, knowledge, and ability to define and articulate their skill set to be able to apply it to a new career in recruiting.

 

As just alluded to, our hope is that by focusing on creating a sort of formula for really understanding the gaps between these two careers, neither of which necessarily require a higher degree or very technical training, we will be able to really understand the pain points in any professional’s transition to a new field and ideally be able to create a solution that solves for those pain points and allows anyone to make the transition.

 

We chose to focus on teacher because of the high attrition in the field. Our new deck pointed this out as the very obvious problem that exists for this population (as it does for any who want to change careers).

Screen Shot 2019-02-23 at 8.09.03 AM
That most teachers will want to leave teaching. 50% will leave in their first 5 years.

 

We also emphasized the growth of the recruiting market, which is expected to grow by 14% in the next couple of years.

 

All of this in the effort to set up our solution. We assumed that teachers will want guidance in their transition an so allowed our service to be an a la carte series of workshops. Each teacher will have a consultation with our team and we will assess where they need extra support and enroll them in the specific workshops we offer to get them to a point of confidence and great presentation of their skills by the end of the summer.

 

In our deck, we spoke about how we will begin very much as a concierge service, helping teachers one off to learn from them on a smaller scale at first and be able to develop our product in a way that meets their needs best.

 

We also worked to make sure that this deck spoke to companies (specifically hiring managers and recruiters) as well as teachers looking to leave teaching. We highlighted the overlap in skills between teaching and recruiting and the rising demand for recruiters in our new deck.

 

#3 Move forward

 

With each of these concepts, we have a much clearer sense of our audience and have considered a number of funding streams. However, our team is completely set on creating a solution that really solves the needs of our customers. As such, we are not married to the concepts we have created here, now.

 

Our intention is to place these concepts in front of the audiences that they will serve (the customers) or affect (investors or partners) most and get feedback.

 

This week, for Casa, we spoke with a student currently enrolled in a web development bootcamp in Denver. Half of his class has dropped out of the program and is down to 6 students. We learned about the importance of expectation setting and the importance of feeling settled (whether technically or physically) to success in a program.

 

This next week we have meeting scheduled with the teams at General Assembly, Hack Reactor @ Galvanize, and Austin Coding Academy to hear both about the pain points on business side of building a strong community that evangelizes their school as well as barriers they have witnessed on the student side to having that stellar experience.

 

For Launch Pad, we also spoke with two teachers, one who recently left teaching and does not have a plan for her next role and another who is seriously considering leaving teaching after 7 years. We learned a lot from these conversations about the overwhelm that teachers feel in all the opportunities that could be available to them after teaching from graduate school to property management. We also learned about the strong way in which teaching can be tied to a person’s identity and the fear of leaving teaching and loosing what feels like an essential piece of who you are.

 

In the upcoming week, we hope to speak with a couple more teachers to really understand this experience and begin to hone in on our concept.

 

What we could use from you

 

As we enter a week long break from school, we look to hone down to a single idea. We will be gathering all the information we can over the next few weeks about these two concepts (both of which we are very excited about) and ultimately making a decision to persist with one.

 

  • If you or anyone you know is familiar with these populations, teachers, bootcamp students, or recruiters, we would love to connect with you or them
  • If you or anyone you know is familiar with developing or working for a similar business concept to the two we have above, we would love to swap notes.


Feel free to reach out to us at sara.miller@ac4d.com or kelsey.greathouse@ac4d.com

Ch, ch, ch, Changes

This week the team of Kelsey Greathouse and Sara Miller had a busy week of continuing of developing our concepts and developing physical representations of those concepts. We have three major updates on our progress.

Update 1: Decision to Not Persist with Our Network Nearby Concept

 

We made a tough decision to not move forward with one of our concepts. We gave each idea a score of 1-5 in the qualities of each being: financially viable, viable to get off the ground in the timeframe we have, amount of interest expressed for the concept in our interviews, and personal interest in the concept. From there we added up the scores of each and ultimately, LaunchPad and Casa had the most amount of points by far.

For many of these qualities of Network Nearby, we had put a “?” where the others had actual values. In our initial interviews for Network Nearby, we uncovered a deeper problem than the one that we had initially hypothesized: that in order to feel empowered to “network” people must first feel they have value to offer another person or business. Our initial concept of a networking app solved the problem of making it easy for people who already wanted to connect to do so, but the population we most hoped to reach (individuals looking to build a community or learn about alternative career paths) often did not feel they had value to offer to relationships, so were not seeking that out.

In short, moving forward with the concept would mean conducting more interviews to better understand the problem space so we could have a better idea of what a product would look like. And, as a team, we worried that another week of interviews in a problem we were excited about but without a solution would set us back on our other ideas.

This is an update of our business plan for our new model!
This is an update of our business plan for our new model!

Update 2: Adjusting Concept of Launch Pad

 

Deciding to move away from our Networking Nearby opening time and mental space to focus on our other concepts more. In that time and mental space, we took another look at both ideas. After synthesizing the information we learned in interviews, we realized that there is a broader need to help people in one career path be able to see the pathway towards a different career path. This allowed us to be able to remove ourselves from our initial concept of a website and consider other solutions that did not fit within the confines of a website.

We had heard in an interview with a recruiter last week that her company will often look for former teachers to be able to fill the role of recruiter. We were interested in this thought process and hoped to dive into what might allow a teacher to be a successful recruiter. What skills does a teacher have that could translate well to recruiting? What are the gaps in their skills that they needed to fill on this own or that this company filled with onboarding that would make them successful?

Simultaneously, we were attempting to find a way to scale our idea down to be able to create something that would be truly effective. We had learned a lot about what recruiters look for in hiring interviews and in reviewing applications as well as how they value alternative education. Considering that teachers are a population of professionals who have a specific skill set and some may be looking to make a transition, we decided to focus on them as our customer segment.

This allowed us to generate a product that specifically served them. For it, we came up with a personalized summer workshop series that helped teachers gain everything they needed to effectively transition into a career in recruiting by the end of the summer. It will be an a la carte service where teachers pay for a consultation and then are essentially given a curriculum of classes to take over the summer based off of their individual background. We then partner with companies who hire graduates of our program and we are given a percentage of their salary as payment.

This upcoming week we are going to connect with teachers to see if they would be interested in a program like this. We also hope to connect companies to see if they would have interest in partnering to hire graduates of such a program

 

Update 3: Service Blueprints

 

After deciding to release one of our ideas and reframing another this week, we sought to delve a bit deeper into the ideas to create service blueprints. Service blueprints are used to map out the interactions a user has with a service or a product. Thinking through each of our two ideas, Casa and Launchpad (v2), we started by posting sticky notes on our boards with the process of each.

In creating a service blueprint, we were required to breakdown each service into stages of consumer use. From discovering the product through use and even after use, we mapped out what the user experienced during each stage, what interactions they would have with the product, and what back of house work did we need to do to make these things possible.

This is our service blueprint for Casa
This is our service blueprint for Casa.

We quickly realized just how complex our ideas were and each category quickly became quite granular in interactions. Both ideas will require many resources, a lot of time, and a lot of manpower to make happen. This exercise provoked questions of how we would scale our ideas, what are our MVPs ultimately, and how we may be able to begin to build with 20% of our MVP to scale properly.

For our digital renderings of the process, we sought to simplify the larger process and look at bigger buckets of interactions to give a more clear overview of how someone uses our products.

This is our service blueprint for Launch Pad,
This is our service blueprint for Launch Pad,

How you can help!

We are hoping to connect with…

  • Students currently enrolled in bootcamp programs
  • Employees at bootcamps
  • Teachers interested in transitioning out of teaching
  • Companies looking to hire recruiters

If this sounds like you or anyone you know, email us at sara.miller@ac4d.com or kelsey.greathouse@ac4d.com. This is an opportunity to be a part of the development of our products in the beginning stages and would love for you to be a part of the process for as long as you would like!

Building Budgeting Features Into a Banking App For Dummies

The past two weeks have been a journey. After testing and making adjustments based off of our findings to the banking app wireframes that we created in this first part of this quarter, I have been working on adding in additional functionality. This functionality would allow users to do four things:

  1. View spending reports that show a snapshot of their monthly finances
  2. Give them the ability to compare a transaction to like, historical transactions (at the same type of business)
  3. Allows them to create and adjust a budget in comparison to their income
  4. View their spending in relation to their budget to show what amount of unbudgeted money is safe to spend on a transaction

Step 1: Remap your app

The first step in this process was returning to my concept map, which is a map of the entire application. If you were an app explorer (more likely a developer), you could ideally refer to my concept map and get a sense of where in the bigger picture the functionality you are working on fits.

In order to consider where and how to add these new features into my app, I needed to consider where may be most logical to place them in the current outline of my map. To do this, I printed out the digital version of the map that I had created in the first part of the quarter and began placing post-its over the portions of the map that imagined would be expanded to add in this functionality.

IMG_3157
This was my first iteration! Just messy initial thoughts being jotted down on post its so that I could easily move them around the map if I found they fit better somewhere else.

From this first iteration, I did three more before I felt the new functionality was placed in the most logical spots in the app. I knew that aspects of this could and probably would be challenged (or confirmed) in my user testing so did not spend more than a few hours iterating on this.

Step 2: Get inspiration from competitors

This second step slightly overlapped with the first. As I began thinking through ways to fold in this functionality, I wanted to know how other applications were providing these features now. My research into competitors with with the intention of gaining clarity around two questions

  1. If other banking apps have similar features, where are they placed within the app?
  2. How do applications that offer similar reporting and functionality show these relatively complex figures and projections now?

I wanted to know, at a quick glance, what was working and what was not about the way these applications were formatted.

To answer the first question, I looked at the current Wells Fargo app, as well as the Chase app, and the Bank of America app. The Wells Fargo application had nothing in the way of any of the features I was hoping to add in. But, both the Chase and Bank of America applications offered the ability to “Set a Goal.” A goal was something you were working towards and would be interested in budgeting for. Both applications allowed you to determine an amount of money to set aside each month to meet your goal and then would actively pull that money from your account each month to be able to reach that goal.

While I appreciated this feature, I considered that creating a goal and then setting aside money each month to achieve that goal without considering your income, current trends in your spending, or recurring bill payments (and then most likely prompting you to scale back spending in one of the other areas) could be irresponsible. To add, if those applications did prompt you to consider other decreasing your spending in other budgeted areas, would it consider your spending across various cards to give you as accurate a view as possible?

The next logical step was to consider applications that provide these features outside of banking apps. The two that I looked into were Olivia and Mint. Both of these took a very different approach to budgeting. Olivia allows you to connect your bank accounts and then allows you to interact with an AI over text to give you updates and adjust your budget. Mint offered many of the features that I was hoping to build in my app. Much of my app was inspired by the Mint interface and I will explain that more below when I share my wireframes.

On the competitive analysis portion of this process, I spent about an hour as, again, I knew that most of my design, despite how much of it was informed by competitors would be challenged and confirmed in user testing.

Step 3: Build it

My next step was to make “the thing.” And by “the thing” I mean the actual wireframes of the screens that would supply these features. There were a couple of parts to this step. The first was to draw physical representations of each screen.

IMG_3158
Here is one part of the flow I created for budgeting a check.

From there, I converted each flow into Sketch to make clean, digital representations of my app.

This is the flow for "Checking a Transaction" recreated digitally in Sketch.
This is the flow for “Checking a Transaction” recreated digitally in Sketch.

Finally, I took each individual screen and uploaded it to Invision. Because they were static graphics at this point, I went through each slide and gave functionality, or “pushability” to each image on the screen. This made it so that when you clicked on a “Save” icon, it would take the user to the next screen or part of the screen it was intended to.

The prompt "Add Budget" was confusing to all 5 users here, even though they had clicked on a prompt on the previous page to do so.
The prompt “Add Budget” was confusing to all 5 users here, even though they had clicked on a prompt on the previous page to do so.

This process was more painful than I want to admit. Budgeting is something that feels both so valuable to anyone and aligned with what most banking apps hope to provide. However, because most banking apps do not do this now, it felt like chartering unchartered territory.

Most all of the functionality of our apps that was built out in the first part of the quarter were things that were familiar to me as a millennial. Depositing an check online is something I have done before. Checking my balance online is something I have done many times.

To add, these actions were all things that most users (including myself) are required to do. Building and managing a budget is arguably just as important not not considered as essential to the way people interact with their bank. It was very difficult to imagine up each screen that I created and ultimately I was not even mostly confident in what I planned to put in front of people, but knew that putting my designs in front of people and getting feedback would lead towards a direction and a better design ultimately.

In the end, each of the flows created by the addition of these features fit into this larger flow.
In the end, each of the flows created by the addition of these features fit into this larger flow.

Step 4: Testing Your Design

This final part was another of much learning for me. I did a total of 5 user interviews.

Screen Shot 2019-02-13 at 3.39.02 PM

To recruit my users, I asked friends to connect me with their friends and asked colleagues at work that I did not know on a personal level for their time.

In the end these recruitment efforts coincidentally led me to a demographic of user that was very homogenous: 5 millennial women. Ideally, I would have loved to have a more diverse user group in terms of age and gender, but ultimately in the timeframe I had, this was the group that was able to assist. And they gave me a lot of wonderful feedback.

I asked each user for their age, their current bank, and the way that they currently manage their money. In that last question, I learned that budgeting is not something that this group does formally at all.

I also learned of two other money management apps: Cleo, which is very similar to Olivia but sends messages over Facebook messenger, and Dave, which will loan you small amounts of money on interest and automatically deduct that amount plus interest from your next paycheck. Two interesting notes about this. One, it feels significant that 3 of these budgeting apps have a name that sounds like a human name. My user who used Dave even said she liked using Dave because her “dad’s name is Dave,” and it made her feel like she was “asking (her) dad for some money, without having to actually ask (her) dad.” Also, I was curious about the privacy and security issues that could arise from using text and Facebook in apps like Cleo and Olivia.

I asked each user to complete 3 tasks:

  1. You are thinking of taking a weekend trip at the end of this month but are unsure if you have the money to do so. How would you check to see if you will have enough money to go on a trip that you are budgeting to cost around $300?
  2. You see that you only have about $100 you could devote towards a trip but you really want to go. How would you see if there is any part of your budget that you could reduce and then go about resetting it?
  3. As you are doing that, you are reminded that you went to the grocery store today and you spend $90, which feels like more than usual but you are unsure. How would you go about checking to see if this is more or less than you usually spend?

Each interview was conducted on a phone, as they would interact with the app once its in production. In my last round of testing, more than half of my users were tested on the computer. I found this time around that users interacted with my app much more naturally because they were viewing it on the phone. To add, I believe that because it was on the phone (the environment it is meant to be viewed in) it caused users to think a bit more critically about how they were interacting with each step of the process and give more constructive feedback.

I also stood behind each of my users as they were interacting with my app and asked them to explain every moment to me. In this way I could see where there hand moved at every moment while asking them questions in a way that was less personal than sitting next to them. In my last round of interviews, I sat next to a couple of my users as they interacted with the app and I believe this put an additional layer of pressure on their feedback.

To add, in this round, if there was a moment where they hesitated, I would ask them what they were considering and thinking about which prompted them to be more open and inclined to sharing more without even being prompted.

Findings

In all, I learned a lot from my user interviews. Some of the biggest themes in my feedback was…

  • In ways that were not as apparent in my first round of interviews, using the very best verbiage was important in this round. There were moments that users did not understand the word “Budget” in the context of other words.

    The prompt "Add Budget" was confusing to all 5 users here, even though they had clicked on a prompt on the previous page to do so.
    The prompt “Add Budget” was confusing to all 5 users here, even though they had clicked on a prompt on the previous page to do so.
  • In the same vane, users had trouble making the distinction between “Budget,” “Income,” and “Spending” at various moments when interacting with my app.

 

While people appreciated the information in the top portion of the app, when I asked each person to describe what they were seeing to me, each person struggled to identify what each image was conveying.
While people appreciated the information in the top portion of the app, when I asked each person to describe what they were seeing to me, each person struggled to identify what each image was conveying.

One user said, “I don’t understand why this one is red. It feels like maybe if it is trying to tell me I budgeted more than I am making there should be a negative dollar amount on the far left telling me how far over I am like in all the other graphs?” In my next iteration I would most likely keep the top graph indicating the amount of budget the user has spent for the month, offer another type of graph to show the user how their spending compares to their income, and a simple alert at another point in the flow (when they attempt to save their budget) letting them know that their budget is higher than their income.

  • 4 of my 5 users when prompted to do the final task I asked them to complete, “checking to see if they spent more on groceries today then they usually do,” were confused why they would ever want to do that. Each of them was able to navigate the page that allowed them to compare the transaction to others but said they would be more interested in seeing how much of their budget for the month had been spent.

Check A Transaction 4

One user said, “It is not like, if I see that I spent more than I usually do, I will buy cheaper things next time I go to the grocery store. But, if I can make a mental note that I have x amount of money left for groceries budgeted this month, I may try to refrain from buying that bottle of shampoo that is on sale just because.”

Next steps

The next step is to make adjustments to my app and do some additional testing to make a final iteration. Stay tuned for an final update on things in a few weeks!

Low Fidelity Prototyping : Week 2 In Review

This week the team of Sara Miller and Kelsey Greathouse pushed forward our three design concepts. It was a week filled with revelations in all three concepts.

We developed pitch decks for each idea. The exercise helped us articulate the problems each of these concepts seeks to solve by challenging us to be clear and cogent of why the problem exists and why an outside audience should care.

We then worked to put our ideas (in the form of our pitch decks) in front of 5 interviewees from a variety of backgrounds as we continued to do research in to the competitive landscape of each of these concepts. We learned learned a ton in each interview, in our research, and in some of

Concept 1: Casa 

“a co-living environment for students pursuing alternative education”

Problem: Bootcamps and other forms of alternative education lack the community and enriching experiences that are necessary for student’s success during and after the program.

Hypothesis: There are difficulties known and unknown at conception in running a co-living environment, we seek to understand what those are.

Testing Method/Prototyping: We developed a pitch deck to better define and illustrate our ideas during our interviews. We sought to connect with people who have managed or created co-living environments.

This week, we spoke with the Associate Director of Living and Learning Communities at the University of Michigan. She manages both the academic living and learning communities (based around disciplines) and theme housing (based around common interest). The academic based housing provides additional ways for collective reflection and alternative formats of interaction with each other and the subject matter. For example, they do implement Dinner and Dialogue sessions, where a faculty member comes into the residential dining space and the students are able to interact with each other and faculty over a meal.

mlc

Next, we want to understand the housing situation for bootcamp attendees as it is currently. In the upcoming week, we will connect with students currently enrolled in bootcamp programs to better understand the ways in which they are able to form meaningful connections and create enriching experiences that support them during and after the program. We have the assumption that students find some of that in their living environments and seek to know which environments (whether formal or otherwise) are doing it well and where there is room for improvement.

 

Concept 2: Launchpad  

“a website resource that allows people to identify their skills, where those skills are transferable, and what skills gaps they might have”

Problem: People struggle to identify all the skills they gain from a certain role and then struggle to identify how those might be transferable to another role.

Hypothesis: That recruiters have a sense of how to validate alternative education and see ways that it may apply to roles they are hiring for.

Testing Method/Prototyping: We created a pitch deck and interviewed 3 recruiters.

This week, we interviewed three recruiters at various organizations in Austin. From those conversations we learned that they value experience, skills, and ability to adapt higher than they value just education. Some organizations also have a more holistic approach to evaluating applicants and look for areas where people may have transferable skills.

We also learned that Google has created an algorithm that takes veterans’ job codes and identifies jobs outside the military where their experience may transfer. This was a great discovery and we hope to understand how we may incorporate something similar to a wider variety of people.

veteran search

Next week, we are hoping to create a more concrete prototype of our product (getting into wireframing of our site and feature development and definition) beyond our pitch deck. We want to be able to better visualize what the resource would look like and how it would operate for our users, customers, and stakeholders.

Concept 3: Network Nearby

“an app that pairs people up for one on one interactions to help them build their network”

Problem: People are unable to identify the value they bring to a larger group and thus feel disconnected from many communities and isolated.

Hypothesis: That people are successfully finding ways to meet offline that allow them to feel connected and understand their own value to and role they play in a larger community.

Testing Method/Prototyping: Created a pitch deck, interviewed 1 of the organizers for LinkedIn Local (networking event), and attempted to connect our friends for coffee dates

This week we spoke with one of the organizers of LinkedIn Local to hear about the ways in which they are considering how to engage otherwise strangers. We learned a lot about how they structure their events to offer some sort topic for attendees to learn about in the form of speakers.

We also went through an exercise of attempting to pair our friends with one another to connect (in the way one would on our app). And, it was hard! We realized that it is very difficult to connect people who are not proactively attempting to connect. It is also very difficult to generate some sort of equation by which two people will find a point of connection. As such, we decided to scrap the exercise and just begin at the point of identifying people who want to connect with someone new. We plan on sharing out a Google form we created in the next week to identify people who are looking to connect with new people.

Screen Shot 2019-02-08 at 5.18.57 PM

In the next week, we also hope to shift focus to less consider a solution that pairs people together to create forced interactions but rather a solution that empowers people to make connections on their own. We are interested in exploring ways that people can build confidence in the value they bring to a community or a relationship and the ways in which people are building that confidence now.

What we need:

We are hoping to connect with:

  • Current bootcamp students
  • Bootcamp employees who field questions about community or housing
  • Individuals who have effectively created a visual or physical representation of their skillset without having a degree to land a job
  • Individuals who have effectively built solutions (whether a product, an event, or otherwise) that empowers people to build connections (to network) by identifying their own value to relationships

If you know anyone who fits this bill or if this sounds like you, email us at sara.miller@ac4d.com and kelsey.greathouse@ac4d.com !

Testing the Frame

This week, we began our first foray into user testing our redesigned applications. I conducted 6 interviews with men and women aged 25-33. I had each go through the exercise of completing three actions with my redesigned Wells Fargo application:

  • Depositing a check
  • Setting alerts
  • Paying a friend

I began the entire redesign exercise with the intention of simplifying the existing application. It was apparently upon immediate analysis that the existing app had many ways to navigate to the same thing, making it unclear what was the quickest way to accomplish what you needed. I hoped to reduce that in my redesign.

However, I noticed from my very first user interview that, while there were a number of changes that I made which helped, there were small and big changes I had made that caused confusion and increased the time it took to complete an action.

In all, I had 8 key findings from my interviews:

  1. Top, center-justified logo gives the impression that it is clickable and should take users “Home”

    Multiple users tried to click the logo to go home and got frustrated that they had to click the back button to get where they wanted to go.
    Multiple users tried to click the logo to go home and got frustrated that they had to click the back button to get where they wanted to go.
  2. “Sign out” button on the bottom of each page sends message that Wells Fargo “wants user to leave the app”

    Currently, there is a center-justified button at the bottom of each page of the Wells Fargo app. I had a personal opinion at the start of my redesign but 3 of the 6 interviews remarked on this throughout as a negative experience.
    Currently, there is a center-justified button at the bottom of each page of the Wells Fargo app. I had a personal opinion at the start of my redesign but 3 of the 6 interviews remarked on this throughout as a negative experience.
  3. Deposit confirmation screen does not give enough confirmation

    Two of my participants felt underwhelmed by and untrusting after viewing the deposited check confirmation screen.
    Two of my participants felt underwhelmed by and untrusting after viewing the deposited check confirmation screen.
  4. While distinction of information included in both is clear the titles “Profile” and “Menu” are confusing
  5. Users understood that the "Profile" tab contained personal information where the "Menu" contained account information. In my next iteration I will be testing other names for the "Profile" section.
    Users understood that the “Profile” tab contained personal information where the “Menu” contained account information. In my next iteration I will be testing other names for the “Profile” section.
  6. + 7. Not understanding the mail or push notification icons

    None of my users immediately understood the "Mail" symbol (which was meant to look like a stamp, though multiple people remarked that it looked like a frame) or the "Push Notification" symbol. In my next iteration I plan to test the symbols on the right to get a sense of if those are clearer.
    None of my users immediately understood the “Mail” symbol (which was meant to look like a stamp, though multiple people remarked that it looked like a frame) or the “Push Notification” symbol. In my next iteration I plan to test the symbols on the right to get a sense of if those are clearer.

8. No sense of how to navigate to the action of Paying a Friend

In the wireframes I tested with, users navigated from the menu to a screen where they were asked to select the account they wanted to transfer from and then select the account they wanted to transfer into, one of the options being to "Pay a Friend." Few got even to that point and so in my next iteration I want to ring things in sooner.
In the wireframes I tested with, users navigated from the menu to a screen where they were asked to select the account they wanted to transfer from and then select the account they wanted to transfer into, one of the options being to “Pay a Friend.” Few got even to that point and so in my next iteration I want to ring things in sooner.

There were also a number of ancillary learnings about the login page and some of the other functionality within the app that I look forward to also exploring in my next iteration.

There were a lot of learnings this week but the biggest was around how to conduct proper user testing. My first interview I sat directly next to my participant and I found that this made the interview more intense and conversational than I wanted. The next interview I stood behind the participant while they navigated the app. This was an awkward dynamic in some ways (as I hovered to see what they were pressing and what they were looking at) but ultimately led to much better insight.

 

Framing the Problem

This week in Mapping Digital Interfaces, we were tasked with creating wireframes that redesigned out banking app.

This exercise built off last week’s exercise of creating a concept map of our redesigned banking app.

Below I have illustrated the process of setting alerts in my newly designed app.

Set Alerts

And here I have illustrated the process of depositing a check in my new app.

Depositing a Check

Wells Fargo App Diagnosis

This week for class we had the opportunity to really analyze the system of a banking app, by creating a concept map, which is a diagram that depicts suggested relationships between concepts.

I had the pleasure of analyzing the application of the large banking corporation, Wells Fargo. The application has many functions.

It is not the most user friendly application as many paths that the user can take lead to a page asking the user to call a number or visit one of their locations. It also has many paths that overlap others that already exist.

IMG_2945 (1)

To create this map I began by taking screenshots of the various pages of the app and printing each of them out. Once I did that, I was able to identify what the various functions and call to action on each page was.

From there, I started mapping these interactions and loosely found a way that each interacted with the other.

Quickly, my map became a mess. Four iterations later I created the one you see above (which still has many intersecting lines) but revealed many things about interactions within the app.

Generally, there are a lot of paths. And many of those paths lead to the same place as others. It can be difficult to know the one (ideally intuitive) place you should go to find a specific function.

To add, some prompts simply lead to a page asking you to call a number or visit a location, which feels like an unnecessary path.

IMG_2946 (1)

As such, as I considered my redesign, I wanted to make information on the app (which most all seems apt and important) more equitably distributed.

This was a very challenging exercise mostly taken up by creating a readable concept map design that showed the layout of information within a extremely robust and complex app.