Reviving the Chase Mobile Banking wireframes

After about two months of collecting dust in far-far away folders on my laptop, Chase Mobile Banking wireframes got their second life this past week!

This time, we are going to see how much it costs to bring this app to life. To accomplish that, I have prepared the wireframes in a format that I thought would be most helpful for the developer who would do the estimation… I’ve made sure everything is good with Sketch, and have organized the wireframes in Invision, and eventually met with the developer to get a rough estimation.

Before the meeting, I felt pretty good about the wireframes. I thought they looked decent and make a lot of sense. To be honest, I was quite proud of my achievement in Q2, especially taking into account the fact that we had two other very intensive classes going on.

Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 9.30.45 PM

I had enough time to forget that the wireframes weren’t *that* good. But the meeting with the developer opened my eyes to how much was missing and how many questions weren’t answered.

Here’s something that I thought was very important about the way I approach this class. I want to ensure that anything I do and learn should help potentially working with remote developers. That’s why I decided to take a risk and try to organize all screens and detailed specifications in Invision. I already used this app for user testing of these same wireframes, and it was the time to explore the capabilities of the app for remote collaboration.

I started with making connections between the screens, adding what is called “hot spots” (clickable areas) – a very long and boring process, but so insightful! I realized that so many buttons still don’t lead anywhere. So many pages are missing. Sometimes, it was not clear where a “Back” or a “Cancel” button would lead. That really helped to do some micro-iterations on certain screens.

Here is my Invision prototype if you are curious!

During one-hour-long meeting with Mark Phillips, owner of “Are You Watching This?”, we were able to walk through all existing flows, cover some of them in much detail, and just slightly touched others. Nothing really surprised me in the estimation. But I was finally hit by the realization that this is a long, very long process to develop a comprehensive set of wireframes for a Mobile Bank App. According to his estimate the app will take him about 8 months to develop.

Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 9.28.51 PM

The process of estimation I had was not as efficient as it could be. I wish I had all the specifications and components list completely done by the meeting with the developer! Not necessary to show it all to him (we only had one hour together), but to minimize the number of questions I didn’t have an answer on. The lesson is learned. But then, it’s clear that the more often we meet, the easier it is to align with the direction and ensure I prepare everything the developer would need from me going forward.

I am looking forward to getting to a comprehensive deliverable for the developer this week and solidifying the estimate.

Building a Service Blueprint for KeyUp

The last week of Q3 approaches, but we (Adam, Mary Hannah, and Mariangela) continue to validate our service idea: KeyUp, a digital solution that aims to connect young adults to training programs and supporting services, with the mission to have them attain a well-paid, mid-skill level career, improve their quality of life, and subsequently, increase their level of civic participation.

While conducting experiments, we finished putting together our website (check it out!  https://www.keyup.org/) which we have shown to a couple of young adults from whom we gathered and implemented feedback. We’ve also been spending some time on building our online presence on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/keyupaustin/)  and Facebook (coming soon).

Screen Shot 2018-02-16 at 8.36.23 PM
keyup.org

Hypotheses

This week, these were the hypotheses we tested in order to de-risk the development of our service:

  • If we manage to get 30 young adults interested in our product, we will get 5 people to participate in co-creating paper prototypes for our digital solution.
  • If we pitch our service idea to 4 stakeholders working in community outreach and also those that specialize in connecting individuals to job opportunities, they will agree to support us in our endeavor.
  • If we create social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram, we will be able to attract attention from key target audiences.

Experiment 1: Testing platform UI

The digital piece of our solution will be the main point of interaction between young adults and our service, so we wanted to make sure that the interface efficiently communicated information that is of relevance to them. In order to do this we created a paper prototype that we intended to use in a co-creation activity with young adults.

Success criteria:

We will get the contact information of 30 young adults, of whom five people will be willing to attend a participatory activity.

Actual results:
We only managed to get 3 individuals to agree to do a participatory research activity.
Reaching out to young adults that will actually follow up with us continues to be a challenge.

Experiment 2: Creating partnership with stakeholders

By speaking to an array of stakeholders, experts in the areas of continuing education and supporting services, we hoped to confirm that they supported and would use an app that would connect young adults with training programs and services to get them into middle skills jobs.

Success criteria:

We talked to four stakeholders hoping that we could detect opportunity areas to partner with them.

Actual results:

The services that we’ve reached out to have been extremely responsive and have started introducing us to other interested parties. We have now had meetings or scheduled meeting with almost every stakeholder that we identified or that another stakeholder has recommended we look into, indicating that we are approaching a comprehensive understanding of the actors in the youth workforce space. Our conclusion as a result of these interviews is that despite their active efforts to coordinate with each other, many of these communities and programs are working in silos. No one we spoke with had a list of all training programs and services available in Austin for people trying to reach middle-skill jobs, and few would even hazard guesses. Therefore, KeyUp would be filling a gap in the efforts of current stakeholders.

Next steps

UI paper prototyping

This week we focused on the researching and refining content for our digital solution.
In order to prove validation of our solution, we need to be sure that the information that we’re providing actually is valuable to the young adults we’re trying to connect to programs and services that will guide them through a sea of educational options.

After having put together a first paper UI kit in order to test it, we realized that we were dealing with an extensive amount of data about existing training programs, careers, and supporting services. The challenge lies in the fact that we can’t just google training programs and make a list of our findings; we need to actually do the due diligence of scrubbing data and provide information about programs that are legitimate and have a good reputation.

IMG_0723
Paper prototype for UI participatory activity

Pivot: We decided to choose three industries that we would like to be “subject matter experts” about so that we’ll be able to provide the best information out there for prospective users. These areas are: health care, tech, and skilled trade jobs, all industries identified as well-paying and high growth in Austin.

Service blueprint

IMG_8305
KeyUp potential end users

After the research we conducted, we realized that there are at least four types of users that could interact with our service. We decided to focus on the user that is in an “exploratory” phase while searching for jobs and that suddenly stumbles upon “KeyUp” through Google or social media. The reason why we decided to choose this user is because they will be following the full KeyUp journey from beginning to end.

Screen Shot 2018-02-16 at 8.29.25 PM
Iterations of Service Blueprints

We will continue working on defining what our service consists of by iterating on our service blueprint as we keep on conducting interviews with stakeholders and potential end users. We’ll use our service blueprint to prompt conversation about our service in order to receive feedback and refine our solution.

Screen Shot 2018-02-16 at 9.01.19 PM
Last iteration of Service Blueprint

 

Iterating to awesome: How to do Usability Testing

In this week’s blogpost, I am going to describe my process for iterating on my Navigation and Information Architecture Map and the wireframes for the TD Mobile Banking App. This builds on two previous blog posts; the first was on my process for creating the original concept map and the second was for my process on developing the wireframes.

In this post, I am going to discuss and present:

  • Usability testing
  • Revising the Navigation and Information Architecture Map
  • Revised wireframes
  • Next steps

Usability Testing

Last week, I developed my wireframes using a process that hinged on imagining a flow through the application that would help well-defined characters achieve a goal. This week, I set out to see if real people could achieve those goals. To do this, I first created a digital prototype using Sketch and a plugin called Craft that links my wireframes to Envision. Then, I went out into the field to find at least five willing participants, primarily in local cafes. Last, I looked back at the data I had accumulated and found the top three design issues that I wanted to revise.

I knew that in order to get feedback on the usability of my application, I would need to present participants with a low fidelity prototype. One recommendation I received was to use a paper prototype. However, I decided to try and learn how to create a digital prototype since I know that people in industry do this. The process was arduous. It made me think more about each step of a user’s flow. Questions like, “What will happen if a user does not fill in a field properly?” or “What sequence of screen would a user most naturally flow?” came up.  I also had to learn the idiosyncrasies and limitations of Craft and Envision. I thought that the time spent on this part of the prototype development was worthwhile because I thought that organizing a paper prototype would be overly onerous, especially when working with participants in real time.

Once the digital prototype was developed, I set out into the field to find willing participants. I had six predetermined tasks: checking a balance, transferring funds to an external account, paying a friend, setting up a new alert, paying a bill, and depositing a check. I wrote each of these tasks down on a separate sheet of paper so I could hand them off during the testing session.

I also prepared myself to follow the Think Aloud Protocol. The steps in the protocol involve first, telling the participant what they are about to do and that once testing begins, all I can say is, “Please keep talking.” I tell the participants that I want to hear what they are thinking as they attempt the tasks written on the sheet of paper. The Think Aloud Protocol is based on a theory that people can explain how they solve problems and that though it will slow down task completion, won’t have an impact on potential task completion. As participants will work through the task, I will take notes and record what they say so I have a reference for later synthesis. I also had my participants fill out a SUS score which is their rating of the application flows. My hope is that as I iterate on the wireframes, the score will go up.

A participant tests the digital prototype on his mobile phone
A participant tests the digital prototype on his mobile phone

A key takeaway from usability testing with a digital product was that a lot of the feedback I got was actually about the limitations of Envision. People got stuck on different screens because Envision is limited in how systematically accurate a user can interact with the product. I also found greater success when users could test the product in its appropriate environment, a mobile phone, and not a desktop computer. I also found that digital prototypes are limiting because they constrain how a user can walk through the application since the sequence is pre-determined. When doing this again, I could of course make a screen and flow for every single way a user can walk through the application, but I think that user a paper prototype may allow for more user control and thus, I can get even better data.

Some key takeaways from my first round of usability testing using the Think Aloud Protocol was that when I write the tasks, I should give users more information about what they may need to enter into each field. I also found that having a setting where I could clearly hear the participant is super important. I sometimes struggled to write good notes because of this. It was also challenging not to step in and help sometimes because Envision made it hard to tap on a field and move to the next screen. I would sometimes end up helping a user because it was just too frustrating for something that didn’t help me get any useful information. Also, after getting feedback from 5 people, I had confirmation that getting many more participants to try the application would not add to the accuracy of what I would learn. I saw patterns emerge already and can imagine that anymore than 10, I would not learn much more.

Of course, I was also able to garner some key issues that I would want to fix in my prototype. They are documented below.

Test documentation-01 Test documentation-02 Test documentation-03Revised “Navigation and Information Architecture” Concept Map

There were two key revisions I made to my concept map. First, I wanted the concept map to reflect the complexity of the application system. My first map was too simple. A future software engineer would have a lot of potential to make up user flows because so many details were missing. So, this necessitated a complete overhaul of my concept map. Second, the concept map would have to reflect the revisions I made to my wireframes.

In order to do a complete overhaul of the map, I started fresh. I went through three paper sketches, getting feedback from classmates on clarity and hierarchy. I made sure that I had different shapes to reflect different kinds of screens and operations. Squares represent places a user goes to. Ovals represent the functions you find in each of the “places”. Circles represent the flows a user takes to accomplish the function. Working through this process made me have a much clearer idea of all of the screens I currently have as well as the screens I still need to develop for a complete application. The feedback I got from my classmates helped me to make a better visual hierarchy. At first I made the ovals a much thicker line weight but this confused my classmates because it made them more important than they should be.

In order to reflect revisions that I made to my screens, my concept map includes a shortcut to get to the main functions a user may want to apply to an account. Also, redoing the concept map made me realize that my I never included a way to logout of the application in the original wireframe set. It also helped me to see what screens I would add a home link to for a user to get to restart faster.

Revised Concept Map
Revised Concept Map

Revised Wireframes

Below are the revised wireframes. First, I highlight the key screens that I revised based on the top 3 problems I chose to revise. Second, I present all of the screens. In addition to the revisions I listed above, I also revised a several other elements. I did these revisions based on what I learned from the critique session in class.

The other revisions were:

  • Graying out a button if it should not afford clicking if all required fields are incomplete
  • Changing the titles of buttons to more accurately reflect what they do (ie changing “Deposit” to “Another Deposit” on the success screen for deposits) or to be more natural (ie changing “Return Home” to “Home”).
  • Adding a logout option on the main menu
    Revised Account home screen
    Revised Account home screen

    Revised View bill - added a home screen icon
    Revised View bill – added a home screen icon
Revised flow for adding a new alert
Revised flow for adding a new alert
Revised login flow
Revised login flow
Revised deposit flow
Revised deposit flow
Revised bill pay flow
Revised bill pay flow
Revised view bill flow
Revised view bill flow
Revised check balance flow
Revised check balance flow
Revised alerts flow
Revised alerts flow
Revised quick pay flow
Revised quick pay flow
Revised transfer flow
Revised transfer flow

Next steps

Next week, I plan to build out my application according to the concept map. I will also do usability testing. But this time, I want to focus on particular flows and to get feedback on buttons and font.

 

If Banking Apps Looked Out for their Users, It’d get a lot more Personal

I can’t stand banking stuff.

I confessed this to my classmate earlier this afternoon as we both worked and reworked wireframes for a banking app. I felt desperately uninspired.

“Banks rule the world!” He replied. Is that true?

What are banks even good for? They provide security. We don’t have to store all our cash under our mattresses. They give us credit to buy things we might not have the immediate funds for (yay, credit cards!). They also help us set money aside so we can save up for something, whether it be a new couch, college tuition, or retirement. But banks could do more to help us manage our money. The institution itself it not approachable, and it gives a lot of people an uneasy feeling dealing with a bank.

Wells Fargo just implemented a new paying system that other banks have adopted as well, called Zelle. It feels like a nod to Venmo, and the interface for the “Zelle” portion of the app is more lighthearted. I decided that I would recreate this flow, keeping some of Wells Fargo’s interactions, like the “contacts” piece which is simple and easy. The main part I eliminated was an enormous SEND/REQUEST screen that seemed unnecessary. Instead I put “Send” and “Request” at the top of the screen so the user could switch between the two, which is a bit more like how Venmo functions.

Notice how the top row of screens have a different feel from those in bottom row which are reflective of the “Send money with Zelle” function.

WF- Pay a Friend Flow

Here you’ll see how you can easily add someone by searching their name or phone number, which I thought was a nice way to easily store them as a contact in the app.Wells Fargo Request Money

Additionally, I added the confirmation page, which I am still reworking. Wells Fargo has a terrible system of sending you a text and an email telling you the transaction will happen in a couple of days.

Sending and receiving money is a very commonplace activity and prior to creating any wireframes, I had spent some time thinking of users and scenarios in which the app would be useful. People often send money to each other when they are sharing expenses, and expense sharing happens a lot when a group of friends are on a trip together.

Artboard 1-100

Setting up a travel plan should be easy. I moved the “Manage Travel” to it’s own tab under account services.

Artboard 2-100

Shouldn’t your bank pay attention to you? If you have a long trip planned, wouldn’t it be nice if you bank helped you prepare for it? With this in mind, I decided to create a way for a user to quickly make a Travel Savings Account and be able to calculate how much they will have saved by the time their trip rolls around.
Artboard 3-100 However, after giving this a bit more thought. I typically don’t let my bank know I am leaving for a trip until the week of my departure. That is hardly enough time to start saving for it. Knowing this, I still thought having a way for a user to easily create a Saving Account on the app could be useful for those with big purchases in mind.

So now, I continue to think about that person on the trip with their friends, making guesses as to how far his money will last and wondering if he can afford the upgrade or not. Banks can better support it’s users by helping them to budget for life’s expenses. A bank should feel like cash in your pocket – you know what’s there and no one is taking money out of your pocket without you knowing about it (ideally!).

As I think more about my next iteration on the Wells Fargo Banking app, I hope it feels a lot more like a friend looking out for you, than like an institution.

 

Banking Concept Maps

Bank Concept 3

When asked to do a redesign of a banking app, it’s important to start off with an understanding of banking as a whole. Why does this institution exist and how does it function?

From here, we can take a look at a banking app that is meant to provide value to the customers of a bank, and understand how the functionality offered to a customer fits into greater picture of banking.  In this case, I considered the Wells Fargo app. The app is relatively robust. It contains many ways to view and manage one’s money, but also a large amount of additional information about the bank and it’s services.

WF Info Arch
Wells Fargo Information Architecture Map

Considering that apps ideally make our life more simple, I thought the best place to start for a redesign would be to simplify navigation and highlight the aspects that the user would want to work with most, namely managing the money in one’s account. Additionally, I removed and consolidated some of the extra information so that it wouldn’t detract from the user’s ease of movement throughout the application.

WF Existing Info Arch
Redesigned Wells Fargo App Information Architecture

Wells Fargo does a great job of positioning a user’s accounts front and center upon login. I decided to build upon this existing frame by moving some functionality that relates specifically to an account within the account’s summary. This way, when a user wants to deposit a check, they are already positioned within the account they plan to deposit into. I did however, keep the general category of “check deposit” underneath the main navigation menu, since this is one of the more commonly used features of a banking app (this is the only reason I started using my bank’s app in the first place!) and it can still be accessed as a stand-alone feature. Other items in the navigation menu I discarded or consolidated into headings that are easier to understand and find the relevant information. For example, “push notifications” was previously located under the “Settings” tab, but I decided it would be easier to find this feature if it was located under a tab with the rest of the app’s features.

There is still work to be done in order to create an app that allows a user to have both an in depth understanding of their finances as they exist, and also a holistic perspective of how they can best manage their finances. With some more emphasis on managing one’s finances in the long term, I believe the Wells Fargo app can provide great value to a user that wants to understand how they can benefit from using a bank and put their money to work for them.

 

You are a Homeless Entreprenuer

Watch the presentation! https://youtu.be/36nnf6wZ2XU

Homeless Entreprenuer [Recovered]-01
Homeless Entreprenuer [Recovered]-02 Homeless Entreprenuer [Recovered]-03Imagine for a moment that you find yourself in a pinch.

You have just graduated from AC4D and for months you’ve been working on the business you started in the program and it was going really well at first, you even took out a loan to jump start production on your idea, but things started to go downhill and suddenly lost all of your money. The bank has come to collect, you can’t make rent any longer so you’ve been swiftly relocated to the street.

You have a sticky relationship with your family. Your parents always wanted you to be a lawyer or a doctor or “somethings respectable”, but you had moved across the country to pursue design and you told them about this business you had started and how great and they doubted you, and you had failed, so they were right. And now you can’t bring yourself to go crawling back. How could you even afford the ticket home anyway?

In fact, you realize that you don’t actually know Austin all that well and you didn’t spend any time trying to make friends these past few months because you have been so immersed in your business that there is no one you can call.

All of your possessions of value were reposed including your cell phone since you can’t pay that bill either, so tonight you are lying beneath a tree in the park beside the new condo that’s being constructed trying to fall asleep, but actually just batting away mosquitos and clutching the $20 that represents the entire sum of money you have left.

So when the sun cracks through the pecan tree’s leaves the next morning you wake up sore and stiff decide to walk the 3 miles to the part of town you’ve seen homeless people gather, back when you used to drive by and avert your eyes from their presence underneath I35, seeking information.

When you get there you realize finding out how to get help is going to be extremely difficult. First of all these people smell bad and they are complaining and anyone that will actually talk to you just tells you a whole bunch of stuff that someone else said and you feel like your swimming in a big muggy soup of nondescript information that doesn’t actually inform your ability to make any decision about how to help yourself.

You read from Chris La Dantec how homeless persons experience restricted access to information and technology which keeps them excluded from not only society but their ability to find employment and securing housing. Now you are experiencing what he meant first hand.

Not only this, you haven’t eaten or slept well in almost 2 days.  The fact that you have to decide whether you should spend your $20 on a taco or buy a ticket to one of the social work offices someone mentioned — which let’s be honest, how can you trust what they said anyway?— is too taxing so that all you can do is sit down and cry into your shaking hands. You weep until you fall asleep in your despair on the side walk in a small piece of shade.

What you are experiencing now is the phenomenon that Dean Spears found in his studies that poverty causes stressful conditions that hinder cognitive function.

When you wake up you hear a voice say “Ugh that smell, these people! They have no self respect. And to think just lying there, not doing anything! How lazy.”

You sit up and look around and see a lady and her husband walking by and realize, they were talking about you. This lady is operating under the folk belief that poverty is the result of bad choices, and not the other way around as described by Dean Spears.

BUT WAIT.

That’s unfair!

You do have self respect. You even started a business for pete’s sake! You are an entrepreneur, and an entrepreneur as defined by Martin and Osberg has an innate ability to sense and act on an opportunity.

So all you need to do it look for a suboptimal equilibrium…..

So you sit and you think and you have no ideas because you are so hungry your brain is quite literally not working.

But then, you happen to overhear a conversation between two homeless men. One of them mentions how they know about some work on the outside of town. This man says that he can’t get out there because he can’t figure out nor afford the three bus tickets it would take. He says that there are actually a group of foremen that need to clear land for several construction projects. The foremen are willing to pay anyone who shows up so long as they bring their own shovels and rakes for clearing the land.

This peaks your interest.

All of the people around you need money, yourself included, and none of them can afford to get the bus ticket, go to Home Depot, buy the rakes and shovels, find out where the job site is, get the bus ticket, switch buses, get the second bus ticket, and show up on time. They don’t know how much that would cost them so they can’t budget for it, which you read was very important aspect as noted by Le Dantec, so they are disinclined to even try, 

If only you could get them the tools and transportation….??

From reading Yunus you know that banks operate under the conventional wisdom that poor people are not entrepreneurial and they don’t give loans without collateral.

So you opt for plan B —You steal.

Sure stealing a car and some tools is probably not the greatest thing to do, but like Spears observed, your poverty is actually causing your bad behavior. And besides, you aren’t that worried about a criminal record ruining things for you given that you have very little going on that could be ruined.

With the car and the tools you start selling rides for a low cost and renting tools to the homeless to take them out to the job sight and it works really well. First of all you realize that not a lot of them had access to this information that there were jobs to be had at these land clearing sites. Secondly, getting there by bus or walking was almost prohibitively difficult due to it’s location. And third of all, no one wants to buy the tools and have to lug them around all the time, but renting them for a low cost was a very appealing option.

What you’ve done is something Prahalad describes as unlocking the purchasing power of the poor, by finding a way to sell to them that meets their unique needs and empowers them as consumers.

You used to think of yourself as an entrepreneur, but now you have embodied what Martin and Osberg call a social entrepreneur because you’ve identified an unjust equilibrium that causes exclusion and provided a solution for a segment of humanity that lacked the means to achieve transformative benefit on their own.

What’s next? Do you turn this business model of renting to the poor into a social business? Do you take on shareholders that are socially minded and care about your cause? Yunus would say you should. He would say you should find partners and dig in. Martin and Osberg would say you should push for scale.

You, however, are still thief. And any business you’d like to build now, whether social or not, will always be tainted and hindered by the crime you committed under poverty. So despite the fact that you are inspired, creative, and courageous your entrepreneurial spirit, innate or not, is not enough to lift you out of your circumstances. 

How Important are You? A Question of Value.

Research Focus: We aim to understand how Austin area farmers and ranchers get products to market. Specifically, we will explore how farmers and restaurants communicate with each other through touch-points along the food distribution chain.


It’s hard to remember all the people we actually speak to throughout the day. And even harder to assign value to those people. How important are they in my life? All of that of course depends on how you define value.

When we set about having farmers and restaurant folk track their communications, we wanted to get at their definition of importance by having them place the people they spoke to on a board accordingly. The closer to the center they placed the person, the more important. I assumed they would define importance by level of monetary value the person contributed to their business. In this I was right, and I was also wrong. What came out was that apart from monetary gain, sometimes a person is important because of the way they make you feel.

My research partner and I conducted this activity with a farmer that we had already spent time with before named Joe.

Joe was in a bad mood that day. My research partner and I could tell from the moment we walked up he was on edge. Busy, aggravated. According to him, everyone was stupid or uneducated. It took some time before he sat down and did the planned activity with us, but eventually he did, and was very open about who he communicated with and which people he thought were awesome and which were annoying.

Joe likes to talk, and even though we spent 5 hours with him the week before listening to him rattle on, we never really saw him be vulnerable. The point of vulnerability is when a man’s true self can be seen. What we learned was, Joe is scared about his future. “This is the most unsustainable thing I could be doing. I have nothing going for me, we are all just pissing in the wind. I try not to think about it.” We were listening to a farmer that feels like he has no other options in the world except farming and doesn’t know how he could ever leave it. “I wish we could have a life. I don’t have a life. If you’re going to work all the time you got to do at least something enjoyable. At least I don’t have money going out the door.” The low pay paired with lack of expenses has kept him a prisoner to the farming world. He told us often how he loved his work, and we could see he felt some autonomy in his day to day, but love of labor has limits. “I work all day, sit on my porch, and get up the next day to work. This is all I can do now. I can hardly hardly support myself, how could I support a family and kids? That’s out of the question. I have nothing put ahead of me. My dad thinks I’m making a bad decision with what I’m doing. But he’s a knot head. I think I’ll be fine.”

The only other life he can imagine is one where he works at HEB, which is ultimately less appealing to him.

Hearing Joe talking makes me wondering if we’ve been missing something entirely. That it’s not communication with business relationships that’s important for a farmer. Maybe it’s communication with people that make them feel connected and valued as a person that they need, instead of like an outliner on society’s fringe.

“I literally don’t leave the farm except to market. I don’t really complain about it anymore. I’m better just staying here. The more I leave the more depressed it get with the world.” Joe’s energy had dropped a bit by the time we left him.

Moving forward with our research my partner and I want to look at a couple of things. First off, we are ditching an activity using images that we thought would be great, but didn’t land well with any other the participants we used it with. Secondly, we want to expand upon the activity that did work well and incorporate a new element that accounts for the amount of time our participants spend communicating with certain people. Hopefully this can help us better understand the trade offs they make throughout their day. Where do they sacrifice time from one activity to feed another? Lastly… we aren’t sure yet. It’s important for us understand the level of impact and influence these different players have on each other’s lives, but we haven’t defined the activity that will best lead to this insight yet.

And for Joe? The perceived problem of the food value chain is deeper than I first imagined. It’s not just helping farmers make money, moving food to market, convincing consumers to eat local, or even shedding light upon the value and commitment of the people working across the food chain. The problem is shifting power and human-beingness back into the system to the people that keep it afloat.

“Products on Products”

“PRODUCTS ON PRODUCTS”

by jay messenger

Jay Messenger Assignment 1-01 Jay Messenger Assignment 1-02 Jay Messenger Assignment 1-03 Jay Messenger Assignment 1-04 Jay Messenger Assignment 1-05 Jay Messenger Assignment 1-06

 

The main inspiration for “Products on Products” is that design is everywhere. Practically everything we interact with has been designed by someone. My keyboard, the Word document I’m typing in, the sofa I’m sitting in, the coffee mug I’m sipping, and so on and so on, outward from everyday objects, to services, and into society. It’s an endless sea of products and meaning-making, interwoven into our daily existence, our cognizance, and our identities.

The idea that there are an infinite amount of layers of design in our lives made me think to draw out a kind of Russian-doll sort of comic. “Products on Products” displays a series of designs within designs – or more specifically: a design within a design within a design within a design within a design – with coda at the end.

Each comic represents the position of one of the pieces we read, discussed and studied for the assignment:

Jay Messenger Assignment 1-01

“Product A: The Hat” represents the position of Maurizio Vitta taken in “The Meaning of Design,” i.e. the theory that, in our era of mass consumption, products and services begin to lose their primary function in the eyes of consumers, and instead become sources of “social significance” to those who consume them. Vitta clearly thinks this is an important paradigm for designers to recognize, but I also think it is critical that consumers recognize it as well, much like Bobby does.

Jay Messenger Assignment 1-02

Product A is then encompassed by “Product B: The Lesson,” which represents the position of John Dewey in “A Need for a Theory of Experience.” Dewey’s main point is that education needs to take the backgrounds, experiences, and inner thoughts of students into account into their education. This can be accomplished through the “principle of interaction” – i.e. displaying sympathy for students unique needs and preferences and incorporating them into curricula – and through the “principle of continuity,” i.e. the idea that students’ experiences must be manipulated, selected, and built on each other. Mr. Robertson is trying to teach according to both of these principles.

Jay Messenger Assignment 1-03

Product B is encompassed by “Product C: The Curriculum,” which represents the position of Emily Pilloton in “Depth Over Breadth.” In this frame, the designer, seen talking to a school administrator, essentially embodies Pilloton’s ideal: someone who has permanently moved to the site of their research, empathizes with the community, and focuses on a highly impactful vector, i.e. primary education. I couldn’t help but satirize the designer’s position a bit, as I personally think it’s really presumptuous to assume you can fully assimilate into a community in this fashion.

Jay Messenger Assignment 1-04

Product C is encompassed by “Product D: The Fundraiser,” which represents the position of Edward Bernays in “Manipulating Public Opinion.” Bernays views the manipulation of public opinion as an inevitable and foundational aspect of democracy; the entrepreneur in this frame is executing his right to do so. Bernays also sees public manipulation as a strategic enterprise – Bernays would likely approve of the entrepreneur’s strategy of simplifying and dramatizing the case of “The Curriculum” in a public setting.

Jay Messenger Assignment 1-05

Product D is encompassed by “Product E: The Common Sense Solution,” which represents the position of Michael Hobbes in “Stop Trying to Save the World.” Hobbes argues that many “common sense solutions” lack adequate follow-up evaluations, and are often scaled such that they are implemented in social settings that are completely unfitting for this sort of service. In this frame, Bobby and Mr. Robertson survey the aftermath of the entrepreneur’s common sense scaling of The Curriculum: a Designer Corps whereby designers are mobilized to live in and re-design the curricula of school districts across the country. It clearly didn’t work out.

Jay Messenger Assignment 1-06

“By-products” serves as both a representation of Vicotor Margolin’s position in “Global Expansion or Global Equilibrium” and as a moral for the story I am telling. Designing is provocation, whether the product be a hat, a lesson plan, a curriculum, a fundraiser, or a national initiative. With everything you design and unleash into the world, you are provoking the society such that there are new expectations, new social significances, new public opinions, and the like. Sometimes these provocations can have unforeseen consequences. This is especially true the higher the scale of your product – and I hope that this comic makes this clear.

We can’t possibly predict all these impacts, but we should at least consider them before we saturate any given market with any given product. We are expansionists – that’s inevitable – but we must try to take the Margolin’s equilibrium model into account.

 

Redesigning myAT&T – Sketches to Digital Wireframes and User Testing

After completing our sticky note storyboarding in Rapid Ideation we then moved forward by creating higher fidelity wireframes using pencil and paper on a phone screen template. Previously, we only concentrated on the most important task or idea for each screen in our sticky notes. Because of this key information within each screen was missing to fully realize what the experience may be like. By moving to pencil and paper it allows us to consider the more granular level detail of each screen, such as UI components and the navigation. Here are a few examples of some of my sketches.

Sketches

The next step was to critique each other’s screens for anything that might be missing or confusing. At this point we may have been missing back buttons or smaller detailed informational items that were less important to the primary point on the screen, but still important to include. One benefit from beginning with sketching is that changes are much easier to make, part due to the effort involved and arguably we are much less attached to what we have created at this fidelity. Once the entire flow made sense in sketch format, we then moved on to digitizing our wireframes (view full resolution).

Wireframes

Iteration is very important at this stage from feedback about the designs we are working with, both from other designers as well as users who are not as familiar with the project. To confirm our designs were communicating what we intended, we conducted user testing via the “Think Aloud Protocol”. With this protocol we ask users to tell us everything that is going through their minds about what their seeing and feeling about each screen. From feedback we received during user we took into consideration on future iterations of our wireframes.

To set this up I created a Craft InVision prototype to be able to tap from screen to screen. At this fidelity it’s pretty close to what a final experience may look like and can be used to gain valuable insights about usability and perception of information on the screen. I also plugged in the phone into my computer and recorded what was being used and said during the user test. Lastly, I took notes to highlight breakdowns or opportunities I noticed or the user mentioned.

One of the main findings that came out of user testing was learning that people gravitated towards the account tab I was using in my navigation when they wanted to submit an insurance claim, or suspend a device. I intended them to go to the device tab to do so. Although, these users did eventually get to the intended location, and admitted that they felt it made a little more sense than what they were accustomed to (they were probably just being nice), their feedback told me I should provide a button within the account tab to navigate to these same locations.

Another change in my designs that my user testing informed was for a more consistent messaging system. I realized that I had 3-4 different ways of showing confirmation that the action had been completed. There was also a place where I could have included a more clear success message that was missing. As soon as I updated this users had no confusion as to whether or not the task was completed.

Over the break I plan to iterate more on my designs and test them in front of other people focusing on more error states and any edge cases that arise to make sure the functionality of my app is complete.

Concept Mapping – Creating Understanding

Concept mapping is intended to create an understanding around an unfamiliar space. The idea is to step back and abstract the space you’re looking at to create a high-level understanding. This idea is much more ambiguous than the previous mapping exercises I have created, which caused some difficulty at the beginning.

My first iteration was purely a site map. Although site maps are very useful, they are more beneficial later on in the design process. In retrospect I was approaching the assignment with a literal mentality, which led to a literal artifact. The limitation of being literal while creating a concept map is potentially missing the opportunity to acknowledge important relationships of bigger ideas within the ecosystem you’re trying to wrap your head around.

Concept Map v1

The overall assignment is to redesign the mobile experience for managing your AT&T account. We began by conducting research asking participants what his or her top five pain points from a list include we created as well as keeping it open for them to add his or her own. In addition to surveys we read reviews about the current experience to further inform the emotion behind what exists. From there we created a matrix that identified overlapping features or pain points within the current app experience. This served as a stepping stone to start creating our concept map.

Moving forward the class identified the primary six criteria that will be included within our final design. I think this is one of the reasons why I had a mental block at the beginning. Something about identifying criteria prior to creating the concept map caused some confusion on my end.

One of the moments where it started to click for me personally was when applying the question of ‘what?’ rather than ‘how?’. Looking back this seems to obviously be the “correct” question when creating an artifact like this, but that’s not where my mind was. This helped me clear the literal block I was having. The following image is of the white boarding session where that moment occurred.

ATT Concept Map Rough

After some more exploration and iteration I arrived at a concept map that I feel is more conducive to the exercise. Even the visual layout at a glance shows more of a ‘what’ mentality rather than ‘how’. The circles represent nouns within the system while the connecting lines represent verbs, labeled as such. There is no question that concept mapping is a valuable tool, especially when applied to more complex problems.

Concept Map v2