Service Design: CRAFTing a Customer Journey

For Service Design, our team (Mariangela, Adam, and Mary Hannah) has been working with a local pay-by-the-hour craft supply business called (fittingly enough) CRAFT. This has meant that we have gotten the wonderful opportunity to interview a bunch of CRAFT patrons and do a little crafting of our own. Service Design is the exactly that, the design of services.

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In reference to CRAFT, it is the creation and orchestration of all the touch-points within CRAFT to act as a single entity in order to achieve the ultimate creative experience for each guest. Our process started with researching what the current state of a guest’s experience at CRAFT is. Next, we did research with the employees of CRAFT to understand the work they do, what they hope CRAFTing guests experience, and any barriers to achieving this ideal. To learn more about how we did each, we have included the introductions to our research plans and where we currently are in our process.

Introductions to our research plans

What is the current state of a guest’s experience at CRAFT?

Focus Statement

We aim to learn how customers currently experience CRAFT. We will use this research to seek opportunities within the service experience that will lead to greater value for the user and the business owner.

Research Objectives

Our goals are to:– Understand the customer’s perception of value, service, and flow from start to finish of the customer journey
– Understand factors that contribute to decision making throughout the customer experience, from start to finish as defined by the customers
– Understand types of people who use CRAFT, define how they identify as creators, and how the service integrates into their making process
– Understand what makes an ideal crafting experience
– Uncover all potential touch points throughout the customer journey

Research Activities

Front of House (FOH) WalkthroughDescription For each walkthrough, members of the design team will accompany a recruited participant from the moment a customer drives into the lot of CRAFT to the moment she leaves. After completing the walkthrough, we will walk with our participants to a nearby coffeehouse to do the Participatory Timeline activity (see below).  Secret ShoppersDescription We will ask 2 secret shoppers to walk through CRAFT  and take at least 15 photos as they go of the following things: – Things that catch your eye
– Moments you make decisions to explore a crafting material or not
– Things you like (fun, interesting, easy, etc.)
– Things you don’t like (confusing, annoying, boring, etc.)
– Things you think should be improved
– Things you needed help onAfter these secret shoppers complete their CRAFT experience, we will move to a nearby coffee house and review their photos with them. We will also have our secret shoppers create a map showing where they moved in CRAFT. Then we will move on to the Participatory Timeline activity (see below).

Participatory Timeline

DescriptionFor this activity, we will prompt our participants to create both actual and idealized timelines of their experiences at CRAFT. First, our participants will write or draw out a diagram of their actual activities in CRAFT, starting at the end of their time there and then working their way back to their perceived beginning of the experience CRAFT offers.
Then for the idealized timeline, for each step mentioned in the previous activity, our participants will select two images from a predetermined diverse array provided by us. They will pick one image that corresponds to their ideal experience of that step and then another that corresponds to an imperfect experience of that step, and then on to the next step, for which they will select another two images, and so on.

 

What do employees do at CRAFT and what do they hope for their clients?

Focus Statement

We have two focal points as we research CRAFT’s back of house. First, we want to understand how CRAFT’s owner, employee, and workshop facilitators spend their time at CRAFT. Second, we want to build a map of a perceived customer journey from the point of view of the workers at CRAFT. We will use this research so that we can find opportunities for innovation, where the perceived customer journey and the as-is journey do not match.

Research Objectives

Our goals are to:– Understand the owner’s, employee’s, and workshop facilitators’ perceptions of the value, service, and flow from start to finish of the customer journey
– Understand the culture of CRAFT among its employees
– Understand the owner’s, employee’s, and workshop facilitators’ roles and – responsibilities, both as stated and as actually lived
– Understand the actual and ideal work experiences of the owner, employee, and workshop facilitators at CRAFT
– Identify pain points encountered by the owner, employee, and workshop facilitators working at CRAFTResearch ActivitiesBack of House (BOH) Contextual InquiryDescription For each inquiry, members of the design team will accompany an employee as they carry out their work. We will inquire about motivations, values, and their personal history with CRAFT.Participatory TimelineDescriptionFor this activity, we will prompt our participants to create both actual and idealized timelines of their experiences at CRAFT. First, our participants will write or draw out a diagram of their actual activities in CRAFT, starting at the point of time when we are seeing them. We will ask them to work backwards and forwards through the their day. Then for the idealized timeline, for each step mentioned in the previous activity, our participants will select two images from a predetermined diverse array provided by us. They will pick one image that corresponds to their ideal experience of that step and then another that corresponds to an imperfect experience of that step, and then on to the next step, for which they will select another two images, and so on.
Customer Journey MapsDescription We will ask our contextual inquiry participants to complete customer journey maps that show all the activities customers undertake while at CRAFT. Starting from asking why customers walk through the door all the way through to the end of their interactions with employees, we will ask our participants to map out all the steps CRAFT customers go through. As they go, we will ask “What’s the best thing that has ever happened at this step?” and “What’s the worst thing that has ever happened at this step?” to elicit stories about each step.

Where we are in our process

We are currently unpacking our research by building a customer journey map.

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We are building this map so we can make the customer journey tangible so that we may uncover patterns and breakdowns. We will use this map to help us ideate and then prototype solutions.

We are hoping to innovate upon CRAFT’s current guest experience in order to fulfill their value proposition. Ultimately, our goal is to help ensure that each guest is able to walk away feeling that they’ve had a valuable experience, one that is seamless and connected wherein guests are able to spread the story of CRAFT to potential future customers. Thus, increasing CRAFT’s bottom line.

Revising The App. Users Are The Best Judges.

During the past week, I performed user testing with 6 users significantly varying in age and background. Based on the feedback, I’ve updated the wireframes that I created previously, and also updated the navigation concept map I initially created 2 weeks ago.

User Testing

My user testing included 6 people, in age ranging from 13 to 48. I was lucky to get a teenager — who is a very confident user of a smartphone, but he has never deal with a bank application. It showed me how a person with no previous experience in the industry and with no expectations like “in my usual mobile bank application this function is here and acts that way” deals with the system.

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Why 6 users? The research has shown that 5 to 10 users is enough to discover most usability problems; I’m going to be sticking to ~6-8 people at a time to apply the limited amount of time we have in our hands most efficiently, extracting the most value out of it.

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As a result of User Testing, I’ve discovered three main problems:

Problem #1.

When people were tasked to deposit a check into a CPC Checking Account, first thing they do is they try to tap on that Checking Account from the main screen of the application (which is the “Accounts” tab) – all 6 people did that. One other person has also tried to open Activities to do that.

“I think that normally I can go in there because that’s how… my Wells Fargo works.”

I felt like I was testing the tool and the approach and not necessarily the flow or the scenario of the app usage. People might have considered the task as a hint, and hearing the word “CPC Checking Account” and seeing it on the screen, they immediately tried to tap on it without looking much at anything, even though the task was in depositing a check, and the name of the checking account didn’t really matter.

Either way, I saw that it’s some valuable observation and I decided to have a way to “Move Money” through an Account page. The only difference going to be that the opened account is going to be pre-chosen in the proper fields (“From” for transfers, “To” for check deposit, etc).

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It’s worth noting that people were learning really, really fast. On the second assignment, they all knew they needed to tap “Move Money” tab and go from there. For the next User Testing I’ll change the order of tasks and will add other options that are outside of the “Move Money” tab to see if the learning has lasting effect. While I plan on testing it on new users, it might be interesting to see if the same users have remembered what they’re supposed to do.

Many applications are non obvious these days. Snapchat is an extreme example. Applications like Instagram and Facebook has a bottom tab bar (similar to my application) that, from the first try, is not really obvious – you can’t tell what’s behind the options. However, first time you try it, it becomes obvious and not a problem for further use. I feel like it’s the same with the banking app that you use often. I try to stick to iOS conventions to make sure application looks familiar to iOS users, and if there’s something non-obvious, it should not be something that is non-obvious every time. Users should be able to learn it very, very easily.

Getting back to the problem, it can also be simply a visual design problem. The buttons on the bottom aren’t sticking out enough. They are of a regular size for iOS tab bar and are similarly used in hundreds of popular applications, however there can be a way to emphasize it with color and icons, maybe using Chase color styling. Regardless, as mentioned above, having access to “Move Money” from the Account page is still very useful because that’s also how many people think – instead of starting a thought process from the actions, they start thinking from the account they want to perform the action on.

Problem #2.

After completing a task, users saw an overlay with “Your transaction is successfully complete” which was, in my prototype, an “exit” back to the homepage (Accounts page). However, it was not obvious for users that they need to tap it. They tried to tap outside of the overlay in free space or on one of the tabs at the bottom or on the “Transfer Money” button again, but not on the overlay as I planned.

“I don’t understand how to get off of this screen… I know I need to go there but how? Yeah, see, that’s obviously… these buttons should always work basically, you should always be able to get through”

Even though some people mentioned that they very like big blue overlay telling them that transaction is successfully complete and found it’s easy to read this overlay as “exit” sign, for most of my participants it wasn’t so obvious. In this iteration I’ll tried to make it is more clear by having a button that simply says “OK”.

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Problem #3.

On the Calendar screen where you are supposed to click on a date, today’s date is highlighted with blue (and is chosen by default), people still click on it (sometimes multiple times) even though there is no action to be taken and you can just move forward.

“I would expect something like “Today” button here or something like that.”

“That is another thing. I hate when it’s always this “Done” option. Once you clicked a date or clicked under it should just go.”

I realized that “TODAY” is actually such a popular “Date” for any kind of transaction you want to do that it makes sense to just have it default on the transaction information screen, so that people don’t even have to click on it to get to the Calendar screen in the first place. And if they do want to change it then (want to set another date), clicking on dates outside of Today is what they will do and it will be actionable.

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Regarding the note that you have to click Done after choosing a date, I think it is still important to have it the way it is, because users may want to “tap around” on the page and having it jump back to the Transfer info page with every tap would be very annoying. I will keep an eye on it in next user testings.

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Even though I said there are 3 problems, there are a couple of problems with the testing tool and approach that I used, and not with the application design itself:

Problem #4.

When users were going through depositing a check, they did not know what to do. In the prototype, they just needed to click on the Image area that it would just automatically get filled out without really taking a picture (Invision prototyping does not allow taking pictures anyway). But users were wondering: “I don’t have a check, what should I take a picture of?”.

“We just don’t have a physical check that’s why I’m not doing it.”

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This seemed like a testing approach problem and an immersion problem. Next user testing, I’ll make sure to have a check prepared with me so that users feel confident they can go through the flow.

Problem #5.

I only prototyped the “perfect plan” screen flow. But all screens should ideally be accessible so that users can surf around, get lost, try everything they want to try.

“I know where I need to go I just can’t get there.”

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With all preparation and technical issues for all 3 tasks the testing were lasting from 3:04 to 7:29 with an average time of 4:55.

The System Usability Scale (SUS) score has calculated to the following numbers:

  • Average: 72.10
  • Median: 81.25

One user was exceptionally unhappy with the fact that you couldn’t just surf around like in the real application and the prototype was restricted to the “perfect plan” (and that overall it was a prototype, and not a real functioning application) – my guess is that it was the user who gave an overall very low score, which lowered the Average score significantly. I will work on finding ways to communicate what you can and cannot do with the Invision prototype so that there are no wrong expectations.

Next time I will try include people older than 65 into the user testing to find out how easy the application is for people who aren’t afraid of banking in general, but might not be comfortable specifically with technologies and smartphones.

Lastly, below is the updated concept map that reflects the current application structure, and also includes further expansion and features that are not fully designed yet.

New Navigation Concept Map

Click to enlarge. Save the photo on your computer to see in full detail.

Iterations!

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.

 

My wire framing process: from lo-fidelity to slightly higher fidelity

Last week, I built concept models of banks, the current state of the TD bank mobile app, and a future state of the app so that I could build background knowledge, make sense of complexity, and envision how to create a more usable application. This week, I began the process of redesigning the TD bank mobile application. The first step was to imagine how real people use the banking application. I imagined users with goals inspired by real people. I wrote scenarios that fleshed out their stories, and then drew storyboards that illustrated how they could use the app to fulfill their goals. The second step was to design wireframe flows that illustrated a journey a user could would take to fulfill their goal using the banking app.

What I learned last week

After immersing myself in the TD banking mobile app and imagining a better system, I knew that moving forward I wanted to keep a few key design principles in mind:

  • Keep the app simple – the current app has too many buttons that lead to the same place. This is unnecessary and confusing.
  • Keep the app visually minimal – there are screens in the current app that are too heavy with color and information. It is hard to know what different key screens are used for because my eyes don’t know where to look.
  • Make core functions more easily accessible – functions like check balance require 4 taps. There should be fewer taps to find this information.

Users, scenarios and storyboards

 I wrote about three potential users:

  • Louis, a junior in college who is living on his own for the first time;
  • Stephanie, a working mother who is also her household’s financial manager; and,
  • Clark, a freelance UX designer who has to manage many clients and subcontractors.

I brainstormed all the goals they may have and prioritized which goals were most important. Starting the app redesign here helped me to humanize the experience that followed. Whenever I got lost in the details, I could remember who I was designing the experience for. On a tactical level, it helped me to fill in fields with realistic data. On a systems level, when I had a question about hierarchy in terms of interactions and information, I could think back to my character and imagine it from their perspective.

Users and goals
Users and goals

I also believe that having clear character journeys in mind will help me to make sense of the critique I will be leading this evening. Though I will be asking my classmates to give feedback on how to make interactions more usable and hierarchy clearer, the core of my decision making will fall back on questions like, “What would Louis, a newbie to financial management and adult life decisions, need?” or “How will Stephanie use the features in the banking app to facilitate uncomfortable conversations with her less fiscally responsible husband?”

 

Once I had each character’s story written in detail, I made a spreadsheet with scenes and screens. It helped me to essentialize all of the details. What is the most salient idea I am expressing? What image would communicate the idea to a viewer? This helped me to narrow in big ideas. (So much of this design process is going from detail to big idea to detail!)

Scenarios, screens and scenes
Scenarios, screens and scenes

Then, I moved to storyboarding. This started the process of first, imagining how characters would realistically be using the banking app. How would they be standing? Where? And then, it served as a bridge to thinking about the interfaces. What would Stephanie want to do if another mother pays her back in the middle of the park with a check? What interactions would be fast and convenient for her?

Storyboards
Storyboards

Storyboards to wireframes

In the process of storyboarding, I started to build out wireframes. So much of the design process is working in the right level of fidelity for the stage of process you are working in. While storyboarding, I would draw a storyboard with less detail but would have the big idea. This would prompt moving to another sheet of paper where I would sketch the interface with more detail. It’s a cycle of fidelity. Storyboards have low fidelity but are filled with big ideas. They moved me to start thinking about all the details I needed which prompted me to think about details, spacing and hierarchy of the interface. So, I would sketch the interface and then the flow at a higher level of fidelity on a separate sheet of paper. But then I would return to the same (or different) storyboard to think about what the user would do next. What would help Clark keep his records most organized when transferring money to a subcontractor’s account?

Wireframe sketch
Wireframe sketch

Once I had one complete wireframe journey complete, I moved to designing my wireframes in sketch.

Wireframes in sketch

Below you will see each of the flows that I have developed so far.

The following flows are inspired by Louis. In the first flow, he starts a recurring bill pay to help manage his stress. He feels overwhelmed with all of the new ways he needs to “adult”.

Louis sets up his first recurring bill.
Louis sets up his first recurring bill.

Louis finds out he made a mistake when he set up his bill because he missed a payment. So he has to view what he did and change when the bill is set to pay.

Louis views and changes his recurring bill.
Louis views and changes his recurring bill.

Louis is out with his friends. They want to see a movie but he doesn’t have any cash. So, he sends his friend money electronically.

Louis pays his friend.
Louis pays his friend.

The following flows are inspired by Stephanie. In the first wireframe journey, Stephanie is notified that she and her husband have overdrawn their checking account. She checks her balance.

Stephanie checks her balance.
Stephanie checks her balance.

Stephanie wants to set up a notification for her and her husband so that they know when their checking account will hit $500.

Stephanie sets up a notification.
Stephanie sets up a notification.

Stephanie gets a check from a friend in the middle of a party. She wants to deposit it.

Stephanie deposits a check.
Stephanie deposits a check.

Stephanie wants to transfer some extra funds into her daughter’s college account.

Stephanie transfers funds.
Stephanie transfers funds.

Next steps

First, I need to finish making every screen in my system. Second, I will go out into the field and get feedback from real users. I can’t wait to hear what they say!

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.

 

Concept Mapping: Understanding Mobile Banking

The second quarter has started, and in our Rapid Ideation and Creative Problem Solving class we are learning how to redesign a mobile banking application.
The first step in our process has been to create a high level Concept Map of the basic activities that entail managing ones money through a mobile app.
I decided to choose my Bank of America mobile application since it is the one that I use the most. I have always had mixed feelings with this application and its web counterpart. The mobile app seems easier to use in some aspects but harder for others, and viceversa.
Before we dived into concept mapping, as a group, we started by brainstorming a bunch of words that we associated with banking. With these words, we created a 2×2 matrix in order to identify relationships between the main features / actions related to banking. The rows & columns with the greater number of interactions/relationships between each other are the ones that I identified as the essential features of the mobile banking activity:
2×2 Banking Matrix
 
Highlight 2x2 matrix

Once I identified these essential features, I translated them into a more digestible visualization – this is how the following “Relationships” Concept Map was created:

Relationships Concept Map (Low Fidelity)

Relationships - concept map

After this first attempt, I switched to Sketch and re-created a high fidelity version of the map:

Relationships Concept Map

%22Relationships%22 Concept Map(no title)

After our relationships map, we started by “dissecting” the existing application. We did this by taking a screenshot of every single screen on the app. We were to explore features that we had never imagined existed. We ended up with hundreds of screens. This helped us create an understanding of how the flow of the application worked, and it looked something like this:

Existing Screen Inventory 

Screen Shot 2017-10-30 at 11.27.34 AM

We then created a Navigation Information Architecture Concept Map based on the existing application. It got very saturated and complex after a while.

Existing Navigation Information Architecture Map

Existing-BoA

Legend

  • Circle size: I decided to communicate features with higher number of options by enclosing them in a big circle, the more options the feature had, the bigger the circle.
  • Line weight: I also decided to communicate higher frequency of feature use by using a thicker line weight.
  • Dashed circle: Are the customizable features that you can add from “settings”.

After recreating the existing Bank of America mobile application concept map, my understanding of the use of the app was bigger and brighter. I discovered new features I still don’t know if I’m ever going to use, but it also helped me think about possible use case scenarios of how I would go about using the app for a particular situation I were to encounter.

I used this new knowledge to create a redesigned version of the BoA mobile application:

Redesigned - BoA Concept Map

For my redesigned version, I highlighted blue and relocated the areas that I’ve noticed are important and might not currently be in the right place. BoA’s application puts their “Help” button front and center – which stays on the header – so that users can access and type in their questions for self-help. But a more clear placement and wording could guide users accomplish their most common banking tasks in an efficient way.

Bank of America’s mobile application has many features and products that can make it somewhat difficult to navigate, although I attribute the navigation difficulty to a few interactive elements. The app allows for customization which aims to fit different user needs. But this customization capability isn’t immediately obvious and can go unnoticed by many users. I asume this could be especially the case for those users that don’t take the time to explore the capabilities and who just prefer to schedule an appointment at a branch for their needs.

For the rest of this second quarter we will continue working on re-designing our banks mobile application. I’m excited to show the rest of the process!

 

 

Reimagining the TD Mobile Banking Application: from sense making to a future state

In this week’s assignment for Rapid Ideation and Creative Problem Solving, I practiced systematic knowledge creation in order to develop a vision for the future state of a mobile banking application. The process to come to this vision was driven by my own sense making and belief that when a digital product is developed with higher order systems thinking, the product will be more effective, designed with a user’s experience in mind.

The first step I took was to build my own background knowledge on banking. I listed all the banking concepts I could imagine, systematically found relationships between the terms, and built a backbone for the fundamental purposes banks serve. From this foundation, I was able to create a hierarchy of bank knowledge that would fuel my future vision of what a mobile banking application could be. Ultimately, this process led to the banking relationship concept map linked below. Constructing my own mental model for the purposes of banks, what functions and sub functions they perform, and how they fit into the larger financial ecosystem provided me with a framework to make decisions later in this process.Bank Relationship Map

The second step I took was to create an information architecture map of the current TD mobile banking application. This involved physically recreating the entire user flow of the app. I navigated throughout the whole application to create a schematic of the application. I learned how a user would interact with each feature, making notes of breakdowns, and possible opportunities for optimization. I was also able to learn TD banks current hierarchy – what “features” are most important, where are different applications linked more than once, and what functions a user would have to hunt for. This led to the information architecture map linked below.

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After taking a step back to reflect on how I conceptualized banking and how the TD bank currently designed their banking app, I was able to make new connections. In the above map, you will see that TD bank does not have a clear hierarchy guiding their user interactions. Different applications can be navigated to in multiple ways but it is unclear why this is important. There are also different functions that appear to be higher order and yet, are confusing and don’t appear to serve the user.  I first sorted the features into categories that made more sense, specifically, account management, services, support and profile. These categories matched what I believe to be the purposes banks serve and also matched TD bank’s current application functions. From this, I could easily sort all of the functions into these categories. Thus, you will see a future state of the mobile banking application that has clearer hierarchy. I also made a few decisions including making support easier to access, as well as making security a higher priority from the user’s perspective.

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My evolution as a design researcher

As I am halfway through my first quarter of Interaction Design Research class, I am reflecting on my evolution in terms of what it means to do design research as well as how my current project researching the animal product food chain has evolved. As a budding design researcher, I am beginning to grasp what it is I need to practice and learn – how do I step into a world I’ve never lived in, feel comfortable with uncertainty, capture data that reflects how people really live their lives, and gain empathy for all of my participants. I am beginning to understand the complexity of this task and am finding that I as I fumble through my first research project how much work it is going to take on my part to embody the methods that will lead to deeper and more meaningful insights.

At the beginning of the quarter, my teammate and I decided to focus in on how food is distributed from farm to restaurant since it was a topic we were both intrigued by. Our initial research question was to understand how Austin area farmers and ranchers get products to market. Our research started by talking to subject matter experts and doing secondary research. As we began to feel more confident in this brand-new problem space, we practiced contextual inquiries – we tried our best to be able to bear witness to the ways farmers, food distributers and restaurateurs lived their day-to-day lives.  We tried engaging our participants in questions that would reveal the gaps between how they wanted to live their lives and how it was actually unfolding. As we heard stories about how farmers would get their products to restaurants, we heard time and again how important communication was – from building trusting relationships between stakeholders to farmers consistently updating restaurants about what crops they currently have for sale to restaurants making requests and staying updated on all of the farms in the area.  Almost every prompt my teammate and I came up with returned to how important clear and consistent communication was to each stakeholder. Therefore, we narrowed our focus to gain additional rich insights into how individual farmers and restauranteurs feel about their daily communication.

 To begin to unearth how our participants feel about their daily communication, my teammate and I developed several participatory activities. Before the interview, we asked our participants to keep a record of who they spoke with. During the interview, we worked with our participants to create a map of all of their interactions that encodes different information like frequency, importance and method of communication within the map. We then used this map to stimulate stories. At the end, we asked our participant to design their ideal communication.

It was amazing to see how using this kind of activity facilitated storytelling. A powerful moment occurred while my teammate and I interviewed the chef of a well-established farm-to-table Austin restaurant. As he described his relationship with one of his food distributors, he segued into talking about a meaningful relationship he has with a new local restauranteur. At first he was talking about ordering an animal product, how he predicts how much he needs, and what it is like working with this particular distributor. Next, he described challenges he has.

This led into a story in which he recounted a moment last week when a new chef did not have enough fish to serve his customers that day and texted our participant to ask if his restaurant had enough to share. Our participant took out his cellphone to show us the text exchange. He walked us through what happened and how the text moved him to reach out to his other chef friends for the fish. In this moment, I felt like I got to peer into the lives of a network of chefs and how they managed to support each other. In the end, the new chef was supported by his network (who are also his competition!). I believe that entering into the interview with a mindset that my teammate and I would co-create an interaction map with our participant facilitated this meaningful finding.

Of course, as mentioned above, I am a budding researcher and just now learning about how much I still need to learn on how to be an effective design researcher. In my next interviews, I have a few things I want to improve. First, I really need to be prepared for anything. The night before, I should make sure my cellphone can take hours of video (because I found out that it can’t in the middle of an interview), my computer is ready to take notes (after I had typed 8 pages of notes in the field, Word would not let me save the document – something that has never happened before) and I bring several different kinds of notebooks depending on where my participant takes me (small and large notebooks that open in a way that I can carry them one-handed since I need to be ready for anything). Second, I want to modify my participatory methods to go deeper. I see how powerful participatory research methods are at getting participants to open up, share stories, and reveal insights I could not predict. In my next iteration of this kind of interview, I want to ask questions that help me to understand who are the influencers in the participant’s business as well as what the real impact communication has on day-to-day operations. I want to delve into their sense of ideal relationships so I can learn what may currently be broken. Third, I want to internalize possible models I will eventually develop from the data my teammate and I are recording in the field. I believe this will help me to record the right data for future use in the synthesis process.

The designer I want to be

As a student in his first quarter at the Austin Center for Design, I am beginning to develop my own philosophy for how I want to be a designer when I enter into the professional world. In the course titled Design, Society and the Public Sector, I read foundational texts written by design practitioners and academics that are reflections of what it means to them to have impact as an interaction designer. In the most recent cycle of readings, we focused on the meaning and development of value as well as the underlying principles for creating value for consumers and citizens of the world. In order synthesize the articles, I created a short comic that I will present below. First, I will provide some context for the story I wrote.

As a basis for understanding my perspective, I start with two of the readings (written by Jon Kolko and Don Norman) that introduce differing perspectives of innovation and that pushed me to ask the question: “Where does/should the concept of innovation live?”

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As expressed in the diagrams above, the authors focused on two kinds of innovation. Innovation from the perspective of new technologies can lead to conceptual breakthroughs and eventually change how humans interact. Examples of this are the automobile, the computer and the cellphone. On the other hand, innovation can be seen from the perspective of the consumer. This kind of innovation is subjective and defined by individuals – in the ways they see their own lives and how they use or do not use services and products.

As a future designer, I am interested in focusing on innovating from the perspective of users. Thus steeping myself in the human centered design process makes sense.

Comparing the positions of each of the authors we read (Norman, Kolko, Sanders, Gaver and Dourish), I am beginning to build a framework for thinking about how to develop innovative solutions to wicked problems (as they are experienced on the human level). At its core, the human centered design process is, “…an approach that values uncertainty, play, exploration, and subjective interpretation as ways of dealing with [the limits of knowledge].” (Gaver, pg. 1) This pushes against the dominant belief in the value of quantification, predictive models and a positivist methodology for understanding how to design innovative solutions. However, humans do not experience the world in predictable and rational ways. Instead they are constantly creating the world they live in. The context that people operate in is embodied. Context is, “…something that people do. It is an achievement rather than an observation; an outcome, rather than a premise.”  (Dourish, pg. 22)

Since I want to be a researcher and designer who wants to innovate from the perspective of users, I have to be able to get at the lived experience of humans. I need to figure out methods for capturing that data and making sense of it. It is not as simple as coming up with all the variables that need to be quantified, making objective (context-free) observations, and asking people to respond to surveys. It requires getting at how people really behave, think, and feel. In order to do this, I need a mindset in which I believe I can co-create with my users so that I can access my users’ experiences. Co-creation is an “…act of collective creativity that is experienced jointly by two or more people…where the intent is to create something tis not known in advance.” I believe this loops back to the quote I presented from Gaver. An act is only creative if it is playful, uncertain, and leads to subjective interpretations. As a human centered designer, I need to embody this mindset in order to capture rich data on how my users think, behave and feel. I can do this through creative activities or presenting them with cultural probes wherein I capture reactions to unexpected and irrational stimuli. Of course, just as any positivist scientist would tell you, you need to process lots of data. In the qualitative research world, we do this through synthesis. As Kolko states, “…Synthesis is a sense making process that helps the designer move from data to information, and from information to knowledge.” (Kolko, pg. 40)

Now that I’ve laid out some of the thinking I have been doing on what kind of designer I want to be, I will speak about the story I will present below. As I reflected on the articles, the idea of play stood out.  When humans play, they are doing, creating, and revealing truths about themselves they would not in a rational state of mind. Thus, I centered my story on three individuals, Marvin, Kolko and Sanders. Marvin is lonely and wants to play. Kolko shows up and stimulated by an artifact (a stick), their unconscious desire to fight is acted upon. Sanders shows up and stops them. She works with the boys to co-create another solution to helping them all feel included. They synthesize this information and come up with an insight: they all want to play in a treehouse. I believe within these simple interactions I summarized the above points: the kids innovate changing their lived experience, co-create, play, imagine, and act as a designer should.

Value comic-01 Assignment 2-02 Value comic-03 Value comic-04

 

 

 

True Story: The get to know you game for people you’ve known your whole life.

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Thanks to everyone who has been following and helping with our AC4D project, True Story. We are so excited to share with you what we’ve created and what’s next for our product.

Our Project: A Recap

Over the past 9 months, Maryanne Lee and I have been researching, designing for, and testing solutions that can help families members communicate more openly. Specifically, while we were conducting qualitative research around the impact of aging on family relationships early in our project, we found that adults and their aging parents often have trouble discussing aging-related life transitions. For example, discussions around limiting driving or moving into assisted living are often too difficult to broach, and are put off until moments of crisis. We felt that we could create something to help facilitate open communication among family members much earlier, so that when aging-related discussions eventually occur, the family will already have developed a culture of open communication.

We talked to 9 participants in our early research to understand the problem.

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Based on the conversations and research we conducted with our participants, we came to 2 main insights.

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In order to create a compelling solution that would stay true to what we learned from our participants, we came up with some guidelines. Our design would need to follow these guidelines in order for us to consider our product a success.

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While we came up with over 300 design ideas that could potentially help families have more open communication around aging-related topics, we finally settled on a game. Though the topics we heard about are serious, we felt a game was the right approach to increasing a culture of communication within families. By using a fun and familiar form, families would have something they could spend time together doing. If we could get families talking through fun times together, we could create a safe space to bring up difficult topics.

The Game

While the ideal state of our design is a full-fledged game, the soul of what we’ve been working on, what we really wanted to focus on at first, is the cards.

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Each card has a prompt to tell a story.

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In fact, the object of the game is to collect stories. Why are stories important? Telling stories helps families not only learn about one another, but over time as stories are internalized, family members understand the values that lie behind each others’ choices and are able to start predicting how each person would react to a given situation. In our research, prediction was particularly important to families with elderly individuals who were experiencing cognitive impairment. Caregiving family members found value and relief in making decisions as they believed their parent would have wanted.

Many of our cards are quite whimsical, sort of get-to-know-you questions. We hope this game is seen as a fun activity for families to do together. Especially for families that live far from one another, ensuring together-time is spent on enjoyable activities is very important.

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But in line with our mission, we wanted to make sure the cards also prompt aging-related discussions. The earlier the game is played, the more opportunity families have to develop a culture of open conversation around these topics. Our research revealed 4 top difficult topics. These are health, driving, finance, and living arrangements. So we made sure some of the cards cover each of those topics.

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Real-world testing

We tested our product out in the real world to see if the game succeeded in creating a safe space for talking about aging-related topics. Not only did our participants feel comfortable opening up about their stories, they also showed they were comfortable talking about otherwise difficult subjects.

One participant shared a story about her daily tasks:

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Another participant recognized the value of the game, saying that it might help her bring up difficult financial topics with her grown daughter.

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Overall, our participants thought this would be useful to get to know family members on a much deeper level.

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How Do You Play True Story?

To play, you start with the deck and 2-4 players.

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Player 1 draws a card and answers the story prompt. He or she has the option of telling a true story or a fiction story.

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The other players guess whether the story is true or fiction.

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Player 1 reveals the answer.

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The player(s) who guessed correctly win a token to symbolize that they’ve collected a story.

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The first player to 10 tokens wins! Please feel free to explore our clickable prototype.

What’s next?

Our goal is to take True Story to the next level by conducting a second pilot test to work on our content and tone. Are we asking the right questions? Is the tone conducive to our mission? These are the things we want to figure out.

That means we need participants! If you’d like a chance to play the game and see True Story in action, please email us to be part of our pilot. You’ll help us make our product even better and we think you’ll have fun doing it!

To pilot or for more information, contact us at:

laura.galos@ac4d.com

maryanne.lee@ac4d.com

Thanks again to everyone who has been following our progress. See you at the pilot!