alex.wykoff@ac4d.com

Alumni

Alex Wykoff

I make a living by breaking software and testing assumptions about user behavior. After 6 years, I have seen what a difference good design can make on the implementation and outcome of features.

Aside from my technical background, I also have a passion for education. Coming from a family of educators, I’ve witnessed the difference a passionate teacher can make on an individual, classroom, and community. Before my career in software development, I was also preschool teacher in Seoul, South Korea.

Growing up in a rural central Pennsylvania community then living in metropolitan cities like Seoul and Austin, I have come to appreciate the differences each area and culture provides. I see the next year at AC4D as a chance for me to acquire the skills necessary to help underserved areas without disrupting the environment which make them so unique.

When I’m not behind a laptop or burying my nose in a book, I like to walk my dog, practice Kendo, and explore Austin with my wife Qian.

Recent blog posts

New Quarter, New Queery, New Hubris

As Chelsea and I continue our quest to bring Queery to life, we had to start extracting a singular thread of reality from the mystical cloud-of-what-could-be. In many ways I think this has been the most challenging aspect of our work thus far. Every decision is a hard-fought battle between individual expression of hopes and…

How to create a pilot app for $1.54 (and a fair amount of time and aggravation)

Fair warning, this is a technical post and doesn’t cover much (if anything) design-related. I just wanted to share what I used to allow for us to build up a prototype without much cost. As we are knee-deep into the fourth and final quarter at AC4D, the task is to pilot our ideas within the…

The Spectrum Project Final Update – From 0 to Queery

Introduction As my partner, Chelsea Hostetter, and I have reached the end of quarter 3, it is time to summarize what this time has meant for us and where we will be heading as we step into our final quarter at AC4D. However, before we dive into that, some thanks and recognition is in order.…

The Spectrum Project Update 6 : Getting specific

Last week, my design partner Chelsea Hostetter introduced Scenario Validation, where we allow the user to read through and imagine particular uses of our application. In particular, Chelsea highlighted the core of our application which we believe works well: CoffeeRoulette’s best features include: a curated community of trans*friendly folks, initially seeded by the alpha testers…

The Spectrum Project Update 4 : CoffeeRoulette

As Chelsea and I mentioned in our previous post, we made a pivot to focus on getting strangers to come together over common interests. As we came to a consensus on our vision, we needed a way to externalize this and test it with participants. So we made the analog version of our ideal service:…

The Spectrum Project : Update 2 – In an ideal world…

As our project continues, Chelsea and I will be volleying back and forth with blog updates. When we last left off, we presented Theory of Change and received some initial critiques. We have refined the idea to give a more prominent role to mentors in the community, and have shifted the role of the box…

IDSE201 – Final Revision of a Thermostat

Explore, Build, Test, Revise The past 8 weeks have been a iterative exploration into the design of a thermostat, but the lessons learned along the way are much more varied than simply ‘do it again’. By utilizing a process of exploration, user testing, and iterative development of wireframes, I was able to gain insight into…

IDSE201 – Revision 6 of a thermostat

Curveball At the start of last class, Matt gave us two new requirements: 1. The device must be able to connect to the wireless network (or have a really good reason why not) 2. You need to prevent the user from breaking the A/C system by turning it on in the winter. This late breaking…

IDSE201 – Revision 5 of a thermostat

One more time… Getting this far into the iterations, the work shifts from radical changes to polishing and refinement.  If you compare my previous specification to this current iteration, the two major changes you’ll notice are the addition of Scheduler flow screens and a special new addition, callouts… Callouts! The major improvement for this iteration…

IDSE201 – Revision 4 of a thermostat

As shown above, these are the revisions of the thermostat mentioned in my previous posts. I’d like to share my design process with you so that you can see how I got from flow diagram to interface and iterated on that interface. Research The basis of our research was to explore a Honeywell thermostat and…

IDSE201 – Revision 3 of a thermostat

Wireframes are an important part of the design process. They give the designer a chance to put their notions through a reality check before fully developing a product. In my particular case, I have been developing a new thermostat interface. One which has a mobile component as a remote control and scheduler. As seen in…

Spectrum Project – Week 2/3 Update

Week 2 flew by rather quickly, but we did manage to accomplish quite a lot. Firstly, we landed an interview with participant 1. They provided a lot of useful insights and pointed us toward some great secondary research materials. We rapidly prototyped a cultural probe using a small journal and post-it notes. While it was…

IDSE201 – Revision 2 of a thermostat

After some good feedback from Professor Matt, I have incorporated some elements from an app I love. http://forecast.io/ is one of my favorite sites and I particularly love the iOS version. Their swipe-up reveal for a weekly forecast space is one particular interaction I love as it provides a clean way to access a lot of…

IDSE201 – Revision 1 of a thermostat

When we look at the evolution of thermostats over time, we see the gradual inclusion of new technology. However, the ubiquity of smart phones allows us to reconsider the function and utility of the old wall wart. Last week I was tasked with exploring a Honeywell thermostat and creating a visual organization of the navigation…

When experience isn't always a good thing…

For our final presentation in theory class, we read through an interesting array of authors from various fields: Herb Simon’s artificial intelligence paper on problem solving, ‘The Structure of Ill Structured Problems’. Chris Pacione’s design thinking paper, ‘Evolution of the Mind, A Case for Design Literacy’. Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman’s science paper, ‘Judgment under…

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