Over the coming weeks, my classmates and I will be documenting our progress through our second quarter at AC4D. I will use this blog to reflect on the week and provide some insight into what we are exploring and learning and how all is woven together.
My hope is that you are able to find some nuggets in my writing and ultimately have a better understanding of the value and methods behind the often ambiguous design process – taking research of a topic and developing a product or service that addresses a direct need.
So with no further ado, let’s begin.
This week has been a world wind – a constant flow between three different but interwoven classes (Rapid Ideation – Method; Service Design – Theory; and Research & Synthesis – Studio).
After a quarter of foundational work, we find ourselves diving deeper into the design research process and in our Method class we are beginning to experiment with ideation – taking our research and creating visual / tangible product.
In our Theory class, we are learning how to take our research process and apply our insights to improving service for a local organization.
Finally, in our Studio class, we are beginning our six month capstone project, in which our topic is Mental Health.
This quarter we have been given the task of redesigning a mobile banking app. Over and over again. Each time, with a greater degree of fidelity. I will be working with the app for the Navy Federal Credit Union – a bank in which I have had an account since I was 13.
This past Monday we presented our first assignment – a concept map of a potential redesign. The presentation required us to not only present our map, seen below, but receive critique from our classmates. Regarding our critique, prior to class, our professor, Jon Kolko, made it explicitly clear that we were not to offer up a “shit sandwich” – a critical critique smashed between two positive but unhelpful comments. The idea behind critique is to offer tangible and actionable commentary in which the designer can improve upon his design. In my case, I had taken a fairly understandable user interface (UI), but faulty app that crashes, to something a bit more paired down.
I received good feedback on how I could create more distinct buckets for each of the sections and overall, feel confident about the direction of my app. We are now beginning the process of creating user scenarios for five particular goals to be accomplished on the app. Those scenarios will inform our wireframes, or more polished outline of the app, which is due on Tuesday.
This quarter we have been tasked to identify and improve a service for a local organization. My classmate, Sarah Lum, and I have chosen the Austin Animal Center – the largest no-kill animal shelter in the country. They do amazing work and offer services that include adoption, foster, lost & found, and emergency care.
The focus of our project is to improve the adoption process and in particular we are wanting to understand the emotional role of an animal in an adopter’s life and how that affects their service experience at the Austin Animal Center.
Over the weekend we will wrap up our initial research and on Monday have a rough sketch of the current journey an adopter may take through the center when attempting to adopt an animal.
Already this is project has been extremely rewarding to see all the emotions connected to adopting a pet and how that influences the process. In particular, from our initial observations, it’s been interesting to see how, because of their excitement and the rationale to adopt an animal, the potential adopters are willing to overlook a variety of physical and visual hurdles.
We are beginning a six month capstone design project in which we will research a topic and by the end design a working prototype of a product or service. For this project each team of three is tackling the same topic – mental health.
My teammates, Kade Schemahorn and Miranda Hoffman, and I are focusing on military service members with combat experience and their families. At this point we are beginning our research and are working to:
understand the impact of having a family member in a combat zone
We are focusing on a topic that is extremely pertinent. As the scientific research develops, we continue to learn more about the impact of shock and trauma upon the brain. Because combat exposure can lead to shock, there are often negative results. We are interested in how those negative effects might impact a service members’ family.
We spent this week generating leads for our interviews. In addition, we were able to conduct two interviews. One with an ex-service member and another with the wife of an army reservist. Both were extremely insightful and were willing to help us recruit more participants.
With that, we are actively working to recruit participants for the coming weeks. While we have been put in touch with many people who are connected to our participant demographic, we are still working to secure interviews. With that in mind, please let me know of someone related to you (or a friend or friend of a friend) is a military service member (active duty or veteran) who has combat experience. You can reach me at david.bill[at]ac4d.com
Thanks for making it all the way to the end and I hope you continue to follow along the journey that is studying at AC4D.