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Category Archives: Portfolio

IMPOSITION TO INFLUENCE: The designers role in affecting a system of beliefs

The dictionary defines a value system as being an open set of morals, ethics, standards, preferences, belief systems and world views that come together through self-organizing principles to define an individual, a group or a culture.

So what if the organization of these principals is not so self defined?

What if these principals are molded, formed and influenced by ideas and objects that surround the self whether intentionally or not, influencing the belief systems and preferences that define a person as the person they are.

In the past couple of weeks we as a class keyed in on 6 author’s writings. Some being recognized designers, some design historians, some design thinkers. Through reading and re-reading and analyzing the scanned pages of 6 very different theories and experiences, notated with dialects from the translated Italian version to very straightforward literary magazine articles; I couldn’t help but notice that each author, whether they were a working designer or not, all had a sense of there being some sort of behavioral shift that came out of the end product of a design experiment or idea. As if the designer was given a power to control the thoughts and actions of their subjects through manipulation, experience, product, or education. Some I found a little off putting I have to admit. To be a designer to me is not to revel in the idea that you can puppet a community into jumping off the commodity cliff, but ideally perhaps educate thorough innovation, or aid in a person or communities hardships through easily accessible tools.

Although it seemed that my final conclusion was just more questions about “how do you know if you are doing it right??” I was at least driven to put down on paper my thoughts on how the 6 authors we studied fit on a simple, and very biased scale of a designers role to either manipulate and impose a value system into a public, work to adopt and understand the value system of their public, or to try to gently influence and broaden a public already established value system.

So here you go, my own personal version of a scale of importance that the role of design has, as I see it, through the ideas of Bernays, Le Dantec, Vitta, Pilloton, Dewey, and Margolin.

Click to Enjoy

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Mobile Apps for Disaster Recovery

Giving tools to people engaging them to create is the best way to encourage more volunteering response. Having the chance to craft and sculpt any of the surroundings people are in gets to the heart of volunteering. With this app the goal is to give a set of tools that stimulate a volunteer to inform about damaged areas into engage others to volunteer. By raising awareness of the need the stronger the community responds and the better survivors still feel connected to the community. I can’t think of a greater way to increase community awareness than to make tools for them to raise awareness of an disaster.

Below is an phone app for people involved in volunteer service. The goal is to engage others to become volunteers and help out on similar projects. One way that I am exploring this space is by utilizing music. This phone app below is a walk through of how an individual can document the work that they are doing and share it in a fun engaging way with other people. Music is the medium that transmits a messages to others. By having a application operating from the ideas of creative problem solving this can be a solution for natural disasters not being quickly dropped by popular media for other stories.

The other concept for Natural Disaster relief work is rooted in supporting the survivor directly.  Having an emotionally supportive phone app that provides a step by step process on how to recover from a natural disaster can empower survivors. Most of the time people are unprepared and unknowledgeable on the steps to take after a disaster occurs. The goal of this app is normalize the process of recovery by providing goal setting in task managed approach. This is an application that incorporates a task list to provide a better understanding of a sense of accomplishment. In the workflow below a user is given a set of tasks to complete in each category. The idea is to project the frustrations of the daunting task of recovery into a more understandable language with small steps and goals.

Other engagements that the app can have is check in to evacuation center. Allowing check ins on the mobile device will allow a better managed intake as well as have a the ability to communicate in multiple languages. Discussing this with peers has raised some ideas of who to focus this type of app too. Another idea I found to be profound was make this an app geared more toward kids. By creating a rebuilding education tool that incorporates the methods of play to engage kids could be extremely beneficial to the rebuilding process.

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Design Ideas For Disaster Relief

Natural disasters, and the interrelated social aftermath they cause, present an ever-expanding social plight. Through my research, the complexity of this issue has become increasingly clear. As a designer, I plan to solve for these solutions through methodical testing anditerations. The two avenues through which I will begin seeking these solutions are by examining, first, the effectiveness of the intake process of evacuation centers and, secondly, the effectiveness of volunteer readiness.

All survivors of natural disasters go through an intake process in order to receive assistance and aid. The purpose of the intake process is to collect information for agencies to report on. The Red Cross is the main point of contact and oversees the intake process for most natural disasters. While researching at the Onion Creek Evacuation Center, I was able to get a strong understanding of the intake process. I found that success of this process can be compromised by a variety of variables most commonly logistics, language barriers, lack of volunteers, loss of paperwork, and basic disorganization. In an effort to help mitigate the problem of access and outreach, mobile registration services is one design idea that would benefit both survivors and volunteers. This alternative to the intake process would allow for survivors to preregister and schedule meetings with case managers more efficiently. Mobile registration can provide information on needs before volunteers arrive and allow responders to estimate the numbers for supplies more accurately and more quickly. This format for registration, and the increased access it would provide, would be able to promote the idea of a safety ground and next steps for recovery. Mobile registration also provides a platform to educate survivors on the next steps available to them for recovery. See below for a story board that outlines a mobile app that can help families recover faster.

 

My second design idea involves finding new and different ways to engage volunteers in order to alleviate the havoc of natural disasters. A city’s best way to help its citizens alleviate the devastation of natural disasters is to provide preparation and information ahead of time. My research indicates that it is difficult for most community members to find out how to volunteer and help their community during these times of crises. One way to resolve this problem is to establish a website that provides information about disaster relief and matches users with volunteer opportunities. For individuals who find volunteering unchanging and predictable, the website would engage and challenge them with opportunities to expand on their preexisting skills and experience. Additionally, this platform is a great way to get high school students more involved in volunteer opportunities and ultimately bolster their college applications. Another benefit of having centralized volunteers via a website is that it allows nonprofits outreach opportunities and a way to greater inform their communities. Ultimately, immediate access to a volunteer base would greatly change the nature and efficiency of recovery when disaster strikes.  See below for a storyboard of how a service like this can work and create a community of change.

To see how I got to these as design ideas view

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Thermostat 6: Lessons & Reflection

Since October 2013, I have been working extensively on building a thermostat interface. Taking on the venture of designing a tool that most people have come into contact with adds its challenges and benefits. This is now my 6th iteration of what I have designed and tested to be the “Ideal Thermostat”. To build the initial understanding of what was needed in the thermostat design I focused on two things. One was the lesson outline from the professor that acted as a mock up version of a client requests and the other was to a build concept map off of an existing Honeywell Thermostat. This is the list of “client requirements for the thermostat project.

  • Adjust the temperature (warmer / cooler)
  • Switch between heating and cooling
  • Turn the system off and on
  • Set / edit a 7 day schedule
  • Interrupt the schedule to adjust the temperature
  • Have a date / time function
  • Have thermostat prompt when the the user could break the system by switching A/C on in winter.

After mapping the system, see: (Cleaning Up Design Complication), one thing became a focus to me, simplicity. Looking at the rough draft of the concept map it was apparent to me how overwhelming this particular system is. Initially, I wanted to scrap everything because of how frustrating it was to achieve objectives in the Honeywell system. After initial prototypes failed miserably I began to dive deeper into what the interaction of a thermostat is with a user. I used the book Microinteractions, by Dan Saffer as a guide to build a better concept. It helped me in gaining understanding with how to look at exploring using visual clues for user goal completion. This is using recognizable images and repeatable actions to form a basis in how to use a system. What I began to learn is that I was not designing for visual aesthetics but designing for visual communication. The more effective I can show the thermostat the better the user could make the system a tool to achieve desired goals.

*Bringing users to the desired goal by eliminating multiple options and highlighting interaction through text.

The thermostat successfully incorporates all of the requirements laid out in the beginning of the course. It has been tested with users and iterated upon to this point. The Version 6 Ideal Thermostat is an intuitive design that utilizes the benefits of progressive disclosure and feedback models. This thermostat communicates to the users in a language that is understood by users. The last tests for this thermostat provided feedback that the visual artifacts are successful in conveying importance and how to use them.

*Accounting for user choice. These are multiple states that users can get based off of there decision they make. They provide visual feedback for what the prior decision was.

Overall, I enjoyed this project very much. The thermostat provided me insight on how to investigate mental maps of others. I learned how important it is to use visual artifacts as tools to complete goals or initiate the interaction. Looking back I have been able to bring this thermostat from what I now understand as a conceptual nightmare into well designed deliverable. The process has pointed out the importance to be able to understand when to stop moving the project forward.

This is my final mapping of the “Ideal Thermostat”.

Here are links to the previous posts.

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Thermostat 5: Progressive Disclosure and Feedback Models

This is now my fifth version of the ideal state for thermostat design. I have previously posted other versions of my progress of developing an intuitive design for a thermostat. The posts have included information that has been gained through a process of user testing called “think aloud testing”. It has been helpful for me as a designer to do this because it sheds light on areas that I can communicate better through design.

Over the design process I have learned that what might seem the most intuitive work flows to me is not always the case when it involves another persons point of view. I could understand this from even evaluating testing between users. As a test administrator I get to see different results amongst the different users on how the set out to in walking a path to completing a goal. Using this information I have been building off of the information through testing and now presenting the fifth version in this post. The previous versions of the ideal thermostat can be viewed at the end of this post.

In this round of testing the fluid progress of a user has become much more uniform and clear. Round 5 might be the first time when multiple users successfully completed each task with no more than one decision hesitation and no extra steps taken to complete the desired task.

A big difference in the testing is attributed to incorporating progressive disclosure models into the thermostat and feedback boxes. A progressive disclosure is a design technique I am using to reduce an overwhelming feeling from the user when something that might seem jarring. It has occurred in testing mostly when introducing a new interface or when jumping to different page layouts.

Feedback is a microinteraction technique that is being implemented in the scheduling function of this thermostat. The goal of feedback is to have the user keeping “playing” with the thermostat overtime. I am doing this by providing the user a set of prompts when scheduling is on and adjustments are made. Without this the user is more likely to not use temperature scheduling and disregard its benefits. I have provided example of both feedback and progressive disclosure models below in the breakdown of test results.

Here is the breakdown of test results:

Prompt A, B, C, and D had no hesitations or second steps. Some of the wording in the prompt can be cleaned up to increase confidence level in user flow.

Prompt E: Visually to jarring. Users did not like the interaction and were surprised when the screen went black with only a couple buttons left over.

Correction: Have the off screen appear from slow descending from top as a shield or with a gradient. By doing this a transition will guide the user into the new state similar to a progressive disclosure model.

Prompt F:  Feedback button icons unexpected for one user. After the testing the user discussed that it made sense but they just did not expect that feedback  interaction to happen in the area it happened. This is not good because the primary function if feedback it to have the user find it enjoyable and wanting to engage with the buttons.

Corrections: The layout of the feedback box is being slightly altered. This does not answer the problem space for that one area. Variations will be tested to see if an action can happen in the scheduling to satisfy the users insight.

Prompt F. Example of Feedback

Prompt G: In Order to prevent the users from turning on the AC in the winter a feedback box occurs. It informs users the problems that can happen in a brief statement. The feedback icon also has norgie which is a icon that can be clicked to find out even further information. When clicked progressive disclosure model slides down from the feedback box. It has conclusive information that details why the user is being stopped in their goal to adjust the system to AC.

Users responded well to it. Many liked the interaction and often did not even hit the norgie to discover more info. One participant after reading the feedback box said “Oh, that’s disturbing.” when considering the system breaking.

Prompt G: Example of Progressive Disclosure Model

Overall testing this round has gone much smoother that all previous tests. At this point it feels like I am close to a final version of the ideal thermostat. There is one more round of testing and I plan to make a couple subtle changes and incorporate and system setup section.

Previous Versions:

Thermostat Wire Frame 4

Thermostat Wire Frame 3

Thermostat Wire Frame 2

Thermostat Wire Frame 1

Cleaning Up Design Complication

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IxDA 2014

Yesterday, Scott and I submitted our application to the 2014 IxDA Student Competition taking place next February in Amsterdam. You can find our application documents linked below.

The competition is focused on health records in developing nations. We see the completion as an opportunity to explore the work we’re doing around health records through the framework presented by the completion.  Helping people understand their health is a universal problem; without crucial information, how can we make good decisions around our health?  We see compelling parallels as well as important distinctions between our work locally and the global scope of the competition.

While the problem of comprehensive health records is similar across communities, it is inherently wicked in that it’s significantly affected by the values and conventions of each local community the system exists in.  We’ve been looking at health records confined to our community here in Austin, and the system here is linked to the entrenched nature of American healthcare.

The competition offers us the opportunity to take our built intuition around this topic and apply it to a more open problem space; to generate solutions for communities that are, in many ways, still trying to define their system. These communities have their own challenges, but the space is inherently more open to change and new ideas.  In some sense, designing for communities without a robust existing bureaucracy seems like a great opportunity for design to make a rapid, meaningful impact.  We hope that by competing in Amsterdam we’ll generate some valuable insights that could impact both the communities addressed in the completion but also those back at home.

Our application documents:

Application Video

Food & Identity

Firestarting

- jacob
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Natural Disaster UX Design Project

Moving forward with wrapping up research and going into synthesis there have been many unique situations that have unfolded. From the last blog post on service design models and evacuation centers: Natural Disaster Relief Service Design Project, more information has been collected and interviews completed. The biggest step forward in the last weeks was getting interviews from the survivors of the Onion Creek Flood. This has provided rich data to help during synthesis and the goal is to depict it in a timeline format for a cross analysis with the evacuation service design model. This post outlines everything that has build up to this point in IDSE 203.

I grew up in Colorado, a beautiful place but also constantly threatened by wildfires and floods. For the last couple years the frequency and severity of danger have increased substantially. Its almost now an annual event for to get pictures from family and friends at evacuation. Recognizing the way natural disasters affect so many people to is one of the reasons that I was drawn to research it AC4D.

The other reason for wanting to focus work on disaster relief was from prior career experience. One of the first jobs I had when moving to Texas was providing housing to homeless individuals. I worked with Hurricane Katrina survivors almost every day. Almost a decade later, many of the people many of the people that relocated to texas from New Orleans are still struggling to rebuild their lives. Almost a decade later, many of the people that relocated to Texas from New Orleans are still struggling to rebuild their lives.

Focusing on immersion in the problem space and building rich mental models is the best method for extracting qualitative data. As a design researcher, I wanted to experience first hand the process of what it is like to be involved in relief efforts. Early on one thing I learned about was the importance of maintaining an awareness of the trauma that individuals are going through. For many people in disasters, dealing with loss becomes an overwhelming emotion and needs to be addressed with the utmost care.

It was important to keep this in mind while beginning to reach out to the local Red Cross. The best way to volunteer was to go down to the evacuation center and ask to be a volunteer. After the floods in South Austin an Evacuation Center was set up at the Dove Springs Recreation Center that provided an area for design research. In the Red Cross this is a person who is referred to as a “spontaneous volunteer”. These are usually people who are local and want to help in the efforts in supporting their neighbor. The following is an outline of the information collected from the research portion for IDSE 203 project.

Photos From Dove Springs Evacuation Center

Focus Statement: The focus of this research is to make communication more transparent and accessible for natural disaster relief efforts.

Here is a breakdown of what information collected during research:

Recorded Interviews: Around 325.27 minutes

5 Red Cross Volunteers

5 Flood survivors of the onion creek flood

1 survey from Austin Disaster Relief Network

Non recorded interviews

Private Case Manager meetings with survivors.

To capture this experience I transcribed the events that unfolded from my own personal experience into a narrative.

Volunteer Areas: 3 Days

Intake area, security, ERV distribution, CM, sleeping quarters.

Photos:

167 personal

40 from flood survivor

Contextual Inquiry:

4 Highlighted in bold below in a timeline format.

Here is where the entire research plan can be viewed.

Each disaster is unique and the severity of their impact on a community isn’t just about measuring wind speed or rain fall in a storm. Its about understanding how the disaster and its aftermath are experienced by the victims. Putting a timeline on the most recent events here in Austin the focus is going to be to use it as tool to compare with other models. One model will be the service model map from the first blog post . It will serve as a stable point to anchor new ideas and design insights.

Below is an overview of the timeline of events that unfolded through research. This is a brief of events that unfolded congruently to the design research recently completed.

October 31

A major flood turned a community on the south side of Austin into a disaster area overnight. Immediately response teams came to help victims. Some delays happened along the way because of a faulty flood gauge and many roads were blocked preventing responders to get to the disaster area quicker.

The local news reported that more than 1,000 homes were affected. Many people were rescued by being airlifted from the roofs of their homes to safety. One story that stuck out to me was from one survivor who was airlifted off of their roof to safety. The next day they called into work to report what happened and that they could not make it in. Their boss responded with reprimanding them on leaving their uniform in the house. This is a good example of how disconnected the rest of Austin was to the events unfolding around Onion Creek.

Homes Damaged in Onion Creek Flood

Organizations like the Red Cross and the Austin Disaster Relief Teams began working in the affected area once the flood waters receded.

The area near Onion Creek that morning had cars piled on top of each other and personal belongings from other neighborhoods scattered all over. Many survivors did not know what to do next. Efforts by non-profits included going to the disaster zones “affected area” in large ambulance looking vehicles called ERVs (Emergency Response Vehicles). They provided immediate assistance and presence to the community that people are there to help. Teams would begin the process of filling out paperwork and handing out warm food, blankets, and other donations.

Red Cross Handing Out Supplies to Survivors

November 8th

To begin the research the goal was to get first hand experience with what it is like to be involved in disaster recovery. To achieve this Case Managers at the Red Cross were shadowed for 3 days at the Dove Springs Evacuation Center. This style of research provided perspective from users in their environment. Being exposed to first hand it was not hard to feel the emotional stress and exhaustion that was weighing on everyone’s shoulders.

Contextual interviews with responders were done in a variety of different ways and often spontaneous. One CI was done by having a CM walk through the paperwork that they fill out in process a survivor through an evacuation zone. This was insightful when it came to understanding the perspective of a CM. Another CI was conducted by having some of the RC volunteers show me the different memorial pins they get at each disaster. Every pin had a story or a different chain of events that told a story. A common thing that was said by many of the volunteers is that every disaster is different.

Being a volunteer at an evacuation site exposes research to everyone that comes in contact. People that were working for the city or other agencies would discuss events of the flood. They would openly share conversations and opinions with people they saw as relatable. City of Austin employees at the evacuation center provided (non recorded) information. Most of it ended up being no different that what publicly has already been addressed.

November 17th

The following week was set to focus on the survivor. Neighborhoods along Onion Creek was an affected area that received high levels of damage. Being there was an experience in its own. People’s homes were destroyed and their belongings were being shoveled into large dumpsters that lined every street. People whose homes were damaged and destroyed said that this was the first time anyone had come down to interview them. They were excited to have someone listen to their story.

Example of how many families are living after the flood. This camper is on the main street in the neighborhood and has been a image for news reports for the flood.

Getting to speak with survivors and listen to the stories of what they went through was shocking. Neighborhoods of people spent that night on the roof of their homes watching cars and other large debris barrel down the street. One of the survivors showed me around the area where they were during the flood. They pointed out that every house on the block had holes cut in the roof as the community struggled to get above the flood.

One of the survivors shared with me photos of the flood unfolding. During our interview he spoke of each picture and what he was experiencing. In one of the pictures he described the feeling of looking in to an aquarium as the water on the outside rose faster and higher than the water that was in their home.

Another resource for information was the Austin Disaster Relief Network. The work they do is different in the way that they provide most of the same relief services as well as long term disaster care. For this project they They provided thorough information in response to a questionnaire on disaster communication. This was extremely helpful in understand the techniques used in disaster communication.

The best way for sense making amidst the wealth of information from research is a process called synthesis. To do this photos have been printed out and put on the office walls. The interviews were transcribed, broken down into utterances, and then put on the wall. Expanding the data puts all of the information out in front of you to be better sorted and organized into groupings through affinity diagramming. The next steps will be to continue breaking down the groups of information into smaller groups in search of similarity. There are already many clustering of patterns that can lead to insights.

Utterances Being Formed into Groupings.

Contact has been maintained with individuals in the community. As research it would interesting to reach out again for clarification to make more thorough design decisions.

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Thermostat Wire Frame 4

This is my fourth interpretation of my thermostat that I have been working on for a project in IDSE 201. This iteration of my thermostat built in Adobe Illustrator as a wireframe was to focus on achieving a high functioning scheduling system. I have tried out many types of interactions in the schedule. One of the beginning ideas I had was to use arrow keys to move the hours and minutes. It was effective for users to achieve the desired goal in setting the temp but at a cost. The screen was too cluttered and was overwhelming for people to feel comfortable in. The current state involves using a rolling mechanism that cleans up the space on the screen and features blank areas allowing users eyes to settle when searching. Here are the different versions below.

 

Testing for this round went much cleaner than all previous test. This is due to a couple reasons. The thermostat layout is much easier to figure out because of prompts and well labeled buttons. The other reason is from my growth at facilitating the tests. Early on I took an approach of having relaxed test environment where I allowed for more casual testing. This was not effective in extracting the proper feedback. I have also worked on changing the wording of test questions. One of the requirements that I have been trying to test was the “Interrupt the schedule to adjust the temperature”. I was unsure how to engage the user to interact with this prompt until I changed the layout of the prompt. Below is an example the interface with the latest form of the prompt.

Here are a list of breakdowns that occurred during this round of testing.

Part A: One participant ended up having confusion on the prompt to “return to home screen” since it series flow never left the home screen.

Correction: Changing wording to say “When you’re finished end on home screen”.

Part B: Two participants had confusion with the fan icon being in the on state.

Correction:  Instead of current icon that represents the on state, change with new symbols that are arrows depicting the rotation.

Part C: Unable to set multiple day in schedule due to spin wheel interaction.

Minimal expectation to have more of the schedule to pop up with interaction.

Correction: Experimentation with linear seven day scheduling.

Part D: No problem areas.

Correction: Successfully implement a sensor device that enables the user to know when it is unsafe for the system to be changed.

Part E: Final slide needs to show a better state of being off.

Correction: Sketch various off screens and test them.

Part F: Needs more specificity with being in a schedule and changing the temperature.

Correction: Change prompt to inform user that change will only happen for set period before returning to schedule.

This was the first testing round in which I took SUS scores to allow the user to give me more feedback. I received a SUS score in the range of 80-85 for my thermostat from users.

Below are the rest of the goals that are required as part of this assignment. Click here to see the complete thermostat wire frame.

Adjust the temperature (warmer / cooler)

Switch between heating and cooling

Turn the system off and on

Set / edit a 7 day schedule

Interrupt the schedule to adjust the temperature

New goals: Add a date / time function

Have thermostat prompt when the the user could break the system by switching A/C on in winter.

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Thermostat V4: Microinteractions

I’m now into the fifth week of my thermostat design and it’s starting enter the next level of maturity.  The design began just as a rough outline of functionality; it entered the world as a rough wireframe; that design changed and simplified; last week it took on a new form; this week and in the weeks to follow the design will refine and mature.

Last week my design took a large step forward; the core functionality of the device didn’t change much, but the form changed drastically.  The changes that I implemented this week weren’t as dramatic, but they were deliberate and important.  My main goal this week was to test my design, both with users but also internally, with myself.  I want this design to reflect my intentions and that my ideas are clearly communicated to the user.  One of the primary ways we communicate with the user is through microinteractions.

Microinteractions are the singular interactions we have with objects, systems, or in this case, interfaces.  They’re usually as small as a swipe of the screen, or the press of a button; sometimes they can be as large as an app on your phone. Fundamentally a microinteraction only does one thing, but it does it well.  For most of us a thermostat is a microinteraction – it only does one thing, change the temperature. Once I looked at my thermostat concept through this lens I began to understand why the design has continually tended towards reduction and simplification.  Fundamentally the modern thermostat is overly complicated; I don’t need it to do a million things, I only need it to do one.

The changes I implemented this week and that have planned for the next iteration were driven directly by the make-up of microinteractions.  Essentially microinteractions have two parts, triggers and feedback.  A microinteraction should be easy to trigger and once you do, it should be clear that something has happened.  For example, when you adjust the temperature, it should be clear that the new temperature is set, but also that the system is responding by running the AC or heater.

A big part of my work every week has been user testing. Where, before I was testing the core functionality, this week I was focusing on the small interactions and relationships people had with my interface. Through testing I found that, despite my efforts, many of these interactions were still ambiguous, both in their triggers and their feedback.  Microinteractions are small moments that a user has with you as a designer and ultimately, it’s these small interactions that determine a users reaction to the device.  In these moments exists the opportunity for surprise, excitement, and joy, qualities that I want my device to have.

You can view all of my wires here: Week 5 Wireframes

As always feel free to contact me at jacob.rader@ac4d.com

- jacob

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Thermostat Wire Frame 2

 

In IDSE 201 we have been studying and are learning about the benefits of wire frames. Wire frames create a visual model that test flows and the intuitive state of the design. They function much like blueprints and they can be used in many beneficial ways. During recent tests I was able to use wire frames to help in designing a flow model for a thermostat. Wire frames became crucial in think out loud tests by giving users the ability to interact with a thermostat system. I found wire frames provided me a tool to find problem areas that were confusing and allowed me to make changes quickly. This is an example of where I began with building a wire frame for a thermostat.

Wire frames helped me increase the functionality of the design process. Over the last week I would make changes to the thermostat from feedback I received from users. Testing with the wire frame gave me the ability to better identify problems. It also opened up discussion with users on their thoughts and ideas with the thermostats functionality. Without the wire frame I would be unable to have as valuable of an artifact in user testing. Wire frames allow me the opportunity to get the idea out and in front of users allowing the design to be better refined.

One part of the thermostat I have been focused on is the on/off button with scheduling. I wanted this feature so users can quickly turn on or off the schedule. The schedule is a secondary function and is important for its easy of use. Initial tests the users did not interact with the on/off button because it was difficult to find. I changed the flow so that the user must interact by swiping the button to ON in order to access the schedule. Unexpectedly, I began to see results I did not foresee. The function and look of the on/off switch created recognition in the user.  Users no longer tried to tap to edit, delete, or add new scheduled event. They swiped at objects and focused on features that mimicked the on/off button. This idea is best explain in the book Microinteractions, by Dan Saffer. “When we’re engaged in object recognition, our eyes are looking for familiar shapes, known as geons. Geons are simple shapes such as squares, triangles, cubes, and cylinders that our brains combine together to figure out what an object is.” Below are the interfaces from my thermostat that initiate recognition for a user. The example on the left shows slide movement the example on the right is push button.

Moving forward I am going to have be more critical on how I introduce actions. Creating buttons with unique movement can be a great way to influence a users intuition if done correctly. If a user has to swipe to access a particular part of the interface they are going to assume that they will need to engage with the rest of the objects similarly. This PDF attachment shows my annotated wire frame for the thermostat project up to Nov 18, 2013. Included in the PDF are also photos of participants going through the user test.

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