Research Audit Card Sort / Speed Date Generative Interview Scenario Creation Personae
Evaluative Research Process
Concept Validation Interviews A/B Usability Testing Wireframes (low fidelity/high fidelity) Wizard of Oz Motion Prototypes
For my summer internship research project at Samsung Research America, I elected to work on improving UX experience through creating a device ecology framework proposal.
The LOOP framework seeks to create multi-device ecosystem, where devices are aware and work together to create seamless user experiences. We focused on developing features for the tablet, television, and speakers product ecology in the home entertainment context.
Through multiple user interviews and generative and evaluative research methods, we narrowed our final framework to 6 key multi-device features. By employing a human centered design process, we believe these features solve current problems in the fragmented device landscape.
Audio Sync - Transfer audio between devices through gestural recognition and integrated UI on OS level
Smart Keyboard - Don’t bother using the television keyboard UI. Connect nearby keyboard enabled devices to type on the television.
Remote Hub - Store all remotes in one digital hub accessible from TV and tablet. Create groups of remotes that can be easily turned on/off in one tap.
Music Video Now - Allow your TV to recognize and sync music videos to your audio experiences.
TV Screen Capture - Directly screen capture your television through gesture or using nearby devices.
Content Recognition - Curious about learning who that actor is, or what that item is? Content recognition allows users to information out their content through meta data filters.
View full concept video: https://vimeo.com/136531014 (password: Samsung2015)
For our final project in our Interaction Design Studio at Carnegie Mellon University’s MA Design program, my teammate and I created a service that aimed to alleviate the stress of moving and inject sustainable practices around relocating. Our final service eco-system delves into mobile, desktop, and customer service elements, creating a comprehensive service based on extensive user research and human centered design principles.
Solution and Role:
As a small team of two, I was involved in all aspects of the project from research, evaluation, to production. I leveraged my interaction, visual design, and research skills.
My responsibilities included conducting interviews through directed storytelling and card sorting methods during the exploratory research phase. Using data from interviews, I created the customer journey and territory maps. During the evaluative research phase, I contributed to the service blueprint and personae ideation and lead to developing the evaluative card sort exercise, which finalize the service offering. In the final production phase, I translated wireframes into high fidelity mobile/desktop mockups, and created the final video sketch.
We decided to employ some Service Design techniques to address the collection of pain points that lead to people feeling stressed around their move-in and causing their unsustainable purchasing behaviors. Journey Mapping was a useful tool for us to help understand both a) how a variety of different people went about moving and what they prioritized in the process, and b) how the many different stages of the often months- long process of moving all worked to affect each other (and the people negotiating this drawn-out process).
Our initial round of card sorting focused upon utilizing sacrificial service concepts to generate service scenarios participants could respond to. We placed a dozen ideas in in front of respondents for them to analyze. After some deliberation around how best to carry out this card sort, we decided to simply present the cards to the participant and let them read and interpret them, rather than our read each card aloud. We believed that this would yield more interesting data around the directions that respondents most hoped (or feared, in some cases) the services would actually unfold. A common response to a respondent’s question around how one of these twelve early-stage services would work was, “How would you envision [this service] working?” Respondent’s answers would often begin with either “It would be fantastic if...” or “I think it’d be weird/ frustrating/pointless if...”. This was also useful for some respondents who would notify us of similar services that already existed, giving us the chance to learn what others thought of the pre-existing services and any perceived shortcomings in their design or delivery.
- No to Personal Guides- People we interviewed almost unanimously placed GreenGuides as an unwanted service. We learned that individuals felt uncomfortable interfacing with a stranger when they felt so overwhelmed with the move in. We also learned individuals generally feel very capable exploring their neighborhoods on their own.
- Overwhelming Move In Experience- Despite interviewing individuals that embodied a vast spectrum of values, once individuals moved into an apartment despite the amount of time it took to move in, there was a large anticipation to complete the process and to procure necessary things as quickly as possible to begin their new life.
- IKEA Universality- Everyone we interviewed went to IKEA at some point of their settling in phase. IKEA epitomized the one stop shop for moving in, and our respondents noted IKEA for being efficient, cheap, and (well enough) designed.
After these initial findings from our exploratory research phase, we pivoted away from our idea of creating a “fixer” for recent arrivals in a neighborhood, which would be addressing the post-move “settling in” phase. After agreeing that we could create the greatest impact by acting upon the many pain-points we saw in our journey map around moving in (and the subsequent stress), we decided instead to design for nudging the practices around that stage of the moving journey. (See also personae, territory map, journey map, and interview protocol in documentation).
Based upon our prior success with card-sorting in the generative stage of our research, we decided to continue with the method and adapt the approach to help us evaluate the contents of our service’s various packages.
We brainstormed to develop cards for over fifty different potential items that potential customers might find useful in the first two weeks of being in their new home. We then printed the cards and had the same respondents who had participated in our initial card-sort arrange the cards to answer the question of, “What would want to have waiting for you in your new home when you arrived there?” We decided to give users a fair degree of freedom as they embarked upon the sorting process, leaving it to their discretion as to how they wanted to sort their the cards in the initial round (for example, in addition to a “yes” and “no” pile, several of our respondents also built a “maybe” pile, which they gradually built or whittled down over the course of the initial card sort as they sorted through the full list of items). There were three stages of sorting altogether in this evaluative exercise, with each successive stage setting progressively tighter constraints upon the respondent.
We found that participants in the final elimination round, preferred items to services. For example, several participants chose to replace a handyman service with a toolbox, or opted to keep cleaning products instead of selecting a cleaning service. The items most consistently eliminated included incense, shower curtains, Scrabble, flowers, and lamps. Items that were most popular included flatware, bedding, toilet paper, trash bags, wi-fi, hangers, and toolbox.
As we narrowed in to define the exact contents of our package, we heavily based these decisions from the feedback we gathered from the card sort. We centered our package to cover kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom basics. With the exception of shower curtains and eco-light bulbs which we chose to include in our final basic package, the contents of the box almost universally overlapped with items of consensus in user feedback.
We constructed our blueprint around Shelly Evenson and John Rheinfrank’s model that they developed of the “experience cycle” during their work for Xerox developing a usability design strategy during the 1980’s. We categorized our overall engagement with the service across the stages of initial attraction, orientation, interaction, extension, and retention.
Generative Card Sort
Journey Mapping Exercise
Evaluative Card Sort
Evaluative Research Synthesis
homestart | Video Sketch
Designing for Mobile: Ryecatcher
Designing for Mobile: Ryecatcher
Skills: Wireframing (Omingraffle), Exploratory Research, Evaluative User Testing, Information Architecture, UI/UX, Interaction Design, Mobile Prototyping (Invision), Visual Design
Translate Ryecatcher, a web platform that currently serves 6,500 special needs students, for the mobile context. Our team focused to optimize the Noting, Meeting, and Circle of Support functionality for multiple stakeholders including parents, school administration, teachers, and out-of-school support.
Solution and Role:
My contributions to my team included creating the information architecture/site map, concepting and wireframing the Circle of Support feature, and creating the high fidelity screen mockups. I also collaborated with my team in the exploratory research phase, feature-values matrix development, and evaluative user testing sessions.
Exploratory Research: Our research aimed to understand the current RyeCatcher experience and the typical Ryecatcher users who would make the transition to the mobile platform. Our goals included identifying the behavior patterns around RyeCatcher web application and finding themes of user complaints and areas of opportunity for the mobile design.
Methods: Kick off interview with RyeCatcher domain expert; Performed Audits of the current RyeCatcher documents, including a review of the RC design strategy (2012), Experience Map, and User Needs; Evaluated existing RyeCatcher web user-experience; Documented areas of opportunity and areas of constraints.
Findings: Through our exploratory research, we located four primary stakeholders: administrator, in school support, out of school support, and parents. Each stakeholder category required different levels of access to protect student privacy. After gaining an understanding of the current functionalities and typical user behaviors, we created four use case scenarios to reflect features.
Feature Definition and Site Map: The information architecture accounts for the four separate permission settings and visualizes the levels of navigation. It also served to conceptualize the complex user experience and streamline our three main features into elegantly connected functions throughout the app. While the circle previously had limited functionality, our client expressed interest to position it as the centerpiece of the mobile experience.
Circle of Support Development: We saw the Circle as an opportunity to humanize the large data contained in the app through creating individual profiles of all RyeCatcher users and students complete with tagged notes, plan of action, and circle membership information. A challenge was to condense the large student dataset into an easily navigable small interface. After iterating on scroll down and swiping screens, I decided to use a tabbed approach because it presents users with the clearest form of navigation and filters data into organized and meaningful categories.
User Testing (three sessions): We conducted three rounds of user testing, both with our low fidelity wireframes and medium fidelity prototype. We recruited ‘ideal constituents’ who represented the current superusers of the Ryecatcher web application. Using a talk-aloud user research protocol, we asked participants to complete tasks in the app ranging from high to low difficulty. We gathered user feedback and observed any encountered difficulties. Findings including better data visualizations and the need for improved connection between features.
Subject Matter Expert (SME) Interivew: During our initial SME review, we presented our early observation and findings. The main takeaway was that the present app landscape for teachers was high disconnected. Instead of needing a focused app with limited functionality, as we had originally intended, the SME recommended deeper functionality within the app so users could say within one experience.
Reflections: From these findings we continued to iterate on the interaction design and produced a comprehensive set of annotated wireframes which we handed off to the RC client. Had we had more time to explore the project, I would have liked to also recruit participants who were resistant to the RyeCatcher app in order to better understand the entire spectrum of potential users.
Based on the features-values matrix our team established together, I created the information architecture to synthesize the agreed upon features into one unifying experience. It provided me the opportunity to dive deep to consider the micro-interactions of each page and further iterate to simplify and clarify user navigation. Our team later used the information architecture as the road map to build out wireframes.
Low Fidelity Circle of Support Profile View
This marked the first iteration of the Circle of Support view. As a team, we decided to stay low fidelity until we got user feedback. This allowed us to iterate quickly and rapidly prototype multiple ideas.
Medium Fidelity Wireframes
In the Medium Fidelity wireframe phase, I was responsible for unifying the wireframes and developing the template to prototype a mobile experience using Invision. For the circle of support feature, I continued to explore a data visualization feature for users. From the original status bar, I also created a bar graph that documented the temporal relationship to progress for students and another graph that tracked the time spent with a particular student in relationship to the state educational department requirements.
High Resolution Mockups
Working in Illustrator, the visual design process gave me more control of information hierarchy through typography and color. Our team decided to use a material design aesthetic because we wanted to remain sensitive to users of all levels of technological savvy. Working from the team's established visual direction, I was responsible for the final mockup execution and design.
Role: As a member in a team of two, I was actively engaged in every stage of the process from research, brainstorming, concept development, to visual prototype creation. Working with a talented visual designer, I focused on developing our research approach and design strategy. I actively sought to understand problems from multiple perspectives through interviews, observations, and site visits.
Process: Through initial touchstone tours, interviews with school officials, observation at the PCO (Parent Community Organization) meeting, as well as individual interviews with parents, we discovered communication gaps in ECS's relationship with parents. From our findings, we generated a design solution to bring parents into closer dialogue with their children about what they are learning in school.
1 - Touchstone tour 2 - Content Analysis: Mission/vision, guiding principles & six areas of innovation studies, curriculum analysis 3 - Individual Parent Interviews (3) 4 - Expert Interviews - Nikole Sheaffer, Director of Innovation & Development, Shannon Merenstein, Arts and Design Coach 5 - In context Immersion - Parent Community Organization (PCO) meeting
- Ineffective communication surrounding school’s educational ideology, particularly surrounding the 4 guiding principles and 6 areas of innovation
- Despite plethora of communication materials, parents did not understand the ECS curriculum, system, and measures. Parents articulated insecurity of the safety nets in place to ensure student success outside of ECS' nurturing environment.
- Differing expectations on the role of education role stemming from parent’s unfamiliarity with progressive education models and language.
Solution: We sought to translated the school's complex value system into a simplified conceptual model and clearly map the entire student curriculum (K-8) into concise and relatable categories.
However, when we went back to our key findings and observed the PCO meeting, we felt that visualizations were insufficient to solve the deeper communication problems we heard. We completed a second round of content analysis and discovered the use of project documentation practices like Evernote, Schoology and the Observation Journal that grew and evolved with a student's experience.
We asked ourselves, "What would a living curriculum look like?", one that could carry meaning years after the child is grown and graduated.
We studied ECS's core guiding principles and revisited communication themes we kept hearing from parents. "My Living Curriculum" invites parents to actively engage in the school curriculum by completing 10-minute reflections with their child when he/she completes a project or milestone. The curriculum book exposes parents to the school’s educational philosophy and brings them into a closer conservation with their child’s learning and the school. Over the course of one academic year, these easy and brief activities materialize into a complete My Living Curriculum book, capturing their child’s year-long ECS learning experience.
The short time period of the project did not allow us to perform evaluative studies and iterate on our final design concept. Had there been more time, I would have loved to put the prototype in front of teachers, students, and parents to garner feedback and further design a holistic system around the print curriculum. Furthermore,
To view the entire process with more detailed documentation, please see the Process Book.