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.

The Murky Waters Leading to Research Clarity

For our 2nd quarter project (which will ultimately become the capstone of our program), we were asked to investigate the topic of college completion and persistence. Our group, consisting of Kelsey Greathouse and Sara Miller, has decided to focus our research specifically on how resource-constrained post-traditional students persist through post-secondary education in moments of struggle or hardship. We have decided to focus our research on students aged 18-24 who are working through school, who are the parent or guardian for a child, or who come from an underserved high school.

This week, we worked on creating a plan and process for the research we will be conducting over the next few weeks. To do this, we first sought to define the focus of our research. This was a murky process as we worked and reworked our interests. We went broad, then got stuck in the weeds, and finally, through many forms and drafts we found a hint of clarity.  We incorporated background research to understand how this question is being asked or answered in other research or practices currently. We learned a lot during our research and uncovered the term Social-Emotional Learning as something akin to what we are interested in learning more about in this research.

As we adjust to our new group of two, we found getting outside input was very helpful, so we reached out to our mentors. Using their feedback along with many conversations, we were able to move from a long list of biased questions to a couple of activities that we hope will bring out an in-depth understanding of what are participants are going through.

Our next step is to reach out to research participants this week and begin interviews!

Research Plan Research Plan

Slicing the Service

We are deep in the heart of the of our client design research projects. With 9 weeks of project planning, interviewing, data collection, transcription, and theming behind us, we have just 7 weeks to go before we present our final product to our client.

The Buzz Mill team (of myself, Kay Wyman, and Shelly Stallings) has been hard at work at our next phase of synthesis. For the past two weeks, we have been working on what is called service slices. Services slices are an opportunity to visualize the process of experiencing a service. After presenting some of our themes to our client, we had the opportunity to have a very candid conversation with the business owner and his management team that allowed us to understand the mission and greatest value of the business even better. We did this by presenting the business owner with a sheet of paper that listed the various values we had heard communicated by him and his staff. Immediately, the business owner and his digital asset manager stated that their greatest value was getting people in touch with nature. They want folks who walk through their doors or speak about them to their friends to know that Buzz Mill is the place you should go to “log out.”

Since there is not one clear process for how this happens currently at Buzz Mill, our team decided to focus more broadly on instances where this is or where it seems it should be happening but is not and then visualize it.

To start, read back through all of the data we collected during interviews and observations and pulled out utterances and observations that were associated with actions. But, we were sure to only choose actions that were associated in some way with “logging out.”

From there, we read through each utterances in this new set, and, first began to pick out physical things that people had used while completing the actions referenced in this list. This helped us understand what is physically being used right now to help people “log out.” We found it particularly interesting that there were so many digital artifacts.

We first drew this by hand and then Shelly converted it to a digital format.

Artifact Artifacts

From there we pulled out utterances and observations that were associated with the environment. This exercise helped us see very clearly and visually how various environments come into play in the process of logging out, taking into account distance and associations between various environments.

This was also drawn and then converted to a digital format by Shelly.

ENVIRONMENTEnvironment

This left us with pure actions and the people associated with them. We then began creating two diagrams that highlighted these interactions. One diagram documented any and every instance of behavior and information exchange. The other focused more on the driving impetus behind these actions as expressed in the utterances by documenting the power, policy, influence, and emotion behind each action. We drew these diagrams collectively as a team and were left with what look like the scribblings of John Nash in A Beautiful Mind. Except with not a much standardized equation behind it to be able to offer some explanation at first glance. Nonetheless, it made quite a bit of sense to use and helped us really identify areas where the process of “logging out” whether has a patron, a staff member, or a member of their nature survivalist club, the Lumber Society, may break down.

You can see the finished product of our drawings below.

B and information exchange PPIE

Clearly noticing the confusion and chaos of these diagrams, we decided to pick out three processes to present to our business owner. We decided to create a third diagram for each of these processes that tied in elements from the behavior and information exchange diagram and the policy, power, influence, and emotion diagrams. These new diagrams were to tell the story of the process and the greatest influences on this process in more clear and visually appealing way.

You can see these three final diagrams here.

In this diagram, we combined utterances from three members of upper management who very much create and refine the vision for the Lumber Society. We combined their vision for how an individual should be first hearing about and interacting with the Lumber Society into one visual diagram.
In this diagram, we combined utterances from three members of upper management who very much create and refine the vision for the Lumber Society. We combined their vision for how an individual should be first hearing about and interacting with the Lumber Society into one visual diagram.
This is the story of one patron's experience at Buzz Mill. You will notice that he has been upwards of 5 times and sees Buzz Mill very much as a coffee shop and has not understood the larger mission.
This is the story of one patron’s experience at Buzz Mill. You will notice that he has been upwards of 5 times and sees Buzz Mill very much as a coffee shop and has not understood the larger mission.
This is the process a Lumber Society Member went through to first hear about Lumber Society and then become a member. Each exclamation point is a moment of missed or a very closely made opportunity that could be solidified by more of a process at Buzz Mill.
This is the process a Lumber Society Member went through to first hear about Lumber Society and then become a member. Each exclamation point is a moment of missed or a very closely made opportunity that could be solidified by more of a process at Buzz Mill.

We chose each of these for the way in which they communicated the service slice process to our client. Presenting the service slice of the Lumber Society process as told by upper management and then contrasting that with an individual who interacted with the Lumber Society in a way less linear than the management would imagine, and then a patron who has been to the space many times and has not understood the larger mission of the business or at all understood the intention or value of “logging out.”

Sketchy

This week for our Studio Drawing class, we were tasked with conceiving of 10 activities that one might do in their daily life and drawing a sketch of that communicated that activity. I went through at least three iterations of each sketch/activity. And you can see some examples of those activities and iterations below.

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This was a challenging but fun assignment.

The first way in which it was challenging was the same way this class has been a challenge so far. I tend to focus on the details of an image and when creating a sketch it is important to selectively choose which aspects to emphasize and which to allow to be less defined. As such, my focus for improvement continues to be around which lines to emphasize and at what weight to emphasize which lines.

That said, sketching, like any activity when practiced repetitively and diligently, is something that is easy to improve upon. And I am in awe of how the exercise of sketching each day in this course has improved the strength of my images.

In my previous post this week, I told the story of how I came to create a narrative that synthesized 7 readings we read this week. For that assignment, I was easily able to sketch the story because of my learnings in this class and then very easily able to translate those images to compiled shapes in Sketch, to offer my images in a graphic and digital format.

I look forward to continuing to grow in these ways artistically and digitally.

Narrative Synthesis

For class this week, we were tasked with synthesizing seven readings which tackled the concept of designing solutions for poverty. We were asked to create a narrative (or story) that discussed this synthesis and then visualize the narrative in a comic strip format.

I began this assignment by considering the main points of each of the authors by writing a short three to four sentence summary of each reading. From there, I recognized similarities between some of them and recognized that they could be divided into three groups in terms of the stance that each took. The phrase “school of thought” kept popping into mind as I thought of a more specific term than group to define each.

The word school made me think of fish. And I went with that thought to create a comic about a fish.

My comic tells the story of a fish (who is secretly, but not so secretly, me) who has just graduated from school and she is looking to join a school of thought. She is a designer and, like so many millennials, she wants to change the world. Specifically she is interested in tackling the problem of poverty through design. She has to choose one School of Thought to enroll enroll in. However, I was imagining a School of Thought to be kind of like college, where you enroll in one school but have the ability to take classes at others.

My fish is trying to decide where to go. She refers to the Atlantic Ocean’s version of U.S. News and World Report and narrows down her list to three options. She then goes on school visits and meets fish professors at each schools (which are in fact the authors of our readings).

Comic Strip

In the end, she decides to attend the School of The School of Designing Solutions to Poverty Geographically. She believes that in order to solve a social problem like poverty, you must really understand you population. She sees that there cannot be one blanket solution to the problem and is excited to learn from professors who are tackling the issue from more of a global standpoint by inciting collective action between industries, others who are working on a very local level but across disciplines, and others who are very focused on creating one specific solution for a local community and constantly iterating on it.

She hopes to take one semester of classes at the other two universities because she sees value in considering folks who are suffering from poverty as consumers so as to give them buying power and more of a say in markets as well as creating businesses who’s goals are to work to alleviate poverty.

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After I wrote out my story, I drew it out with paper and marker, going through a couple iterations on each slides. From there, I started to convert my physical designs to digital ones by drawing everything up in Sketch.

I had a great time doing this assignment. Having studied English in college, it has been difficult for me to consider how to visualize some of the ideas around synthesis that I have had with our readings and the ability to add in another storyline on this assignment really allowed all of the pieces to come together for me.