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Timeframe:  12 Weeks                       Year: Spring 2020                 Role: Interaction Designer

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Ana Ortega

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Madison Horton

(Team Leader)

Team
Overview

Overview &

Challenges

Our app NV was created to become a digital bulletin board. We hoped this app would fix an ongoing and common issue of disconnect within communities and on college campuses. NV is a place where people can look for events in their communities as well as post about their own events. For college campuses, this is an essential tool that can be used by on-campus clubs, the college administration, or even greek life to promote events and fundraisers on campus.  Anyone can use NV and benefit from it immediately. 

Our biggest challenge as a team was the overall scope of the project. As we set forth, we realized how much we wanted to accomplish with this prototype and that meant a large workload on the back end of the timeline. What seemed like a relatively simple idea became almost 100 different interactive screens in our finalized prototype. All of these screens had to be double-checked and made functional but in the end, we were able to succeed through diligence and strict time management.

Finally, with the sudden arrival of COVID-19, all institutional learning was pushed online. We found ourselves having to adapt to the nature of our group in order to be able to remain efficient as our "normal" changed. With social distancing put into place, all user testing had to come to a halt which affected both our user testing process and group meetings. Even without being able to physically meet during the end, we still overcame these challenges as a team.

Process

Process

In order to properly solve our problem, we turned to a qualitative research process known as Goal-Directed Design (GDD). By using GDD we ensure that we are not designing for ourselves but rather for the user's needs. Goal-Directed Design has 6 main "parts" that we must go through as a team in order to successfully create a product that the users can benefit from. 

Research

Step 1

Research

Kickoff Meeting

Due to the nature of our class and its restrictions, there is one step of the Goal-Directed Design process that we were not able to do. This step is known as the kickoff meeting and is usually hosted in order to discuss possible issues, questions, or concerns that a stakeholder or client may have before the research or prototyping phase. Because this project is meant to be completed in roughly 2 months and we do not have a client, we were not able to host a traditional kickoff meeting. To replace the traditional meeting, we filled out a worksheet separately before meeting together as a group.

Literature Review

& Competetive Audit

In order to make educated decisions for our product and its design, we must first research-related materials. We began by researching bulletin boards and their history. Since our app idea was originally based on the concept of a digital bulletin board, it seemed appropriate to research how a bulletin board has developed and evolved over time. Through our research, we will be able to use new information to build strategies for our potential app. 

To better understand what kind of features and functions our potential users might look for in our app, it is important to research and compare our app to products and apps which already exist. The process of researching other products is known as a competitive audit and it allows us to create an amalgamation of features that these apps may not all have at once. We can also use a competitive audit to find features that are useful but perhaps not implemented in the best way and improve on them to further strengthen our own design. This also works in the opposite way as we can pinpoint features that a user might not need or want in other apps and remove it to make our own more streamlined and less overbearing.

Subject Matter

Expert Interview

A subject matter expert (SME) is a person with authority over the domain in which we are creating our app. Our SME for NV was the Director of Student Activities at Kennesaw State University, Drew Harvill. Drew has been working at Kennesaw for five years and started off by assisting the Greek Life Organizations, once Kennesaw State and Southern Polytechnic merged he became the director of student activities on the Marietta campus. Drew explained how student organizations work, what procedures students have to go through with organization and event creation, the administrative side to student life, and what the university can offer to the events and organizations.

 

We are able to use the information gathered from an SME interview to shape our app with information that we would not have been able to gather from user interviews alone.  

User

Interviews

For our user interviews, we stopped and asked four different individuals questions about their level of activity on and off-campus in order to gather information for our design process. 

There was a wide variety of backgrounds and participation levels from the four participants, but they all had similar stories about finding campus activities. The main source of event information came from word of mouth by their peers, followed by checking the university website, like OwlLife, or by receiving an email from the university about upcoming events. They all knew there was probably a bulletin board with event fliers located somewhere on campus, but didn’t bother to search for a board or actually get information from it if they did come across one. Three of the participants wanted to be more active on campus but haven’t found enough information about an activity they would be interested in, while the fourth participant is already involved in multiple clubs and does not want to partake in more activities.

 

In conclusion, by focusing on the user’s goals of having easier access to information about campus events there would be a higher participation level and more campus involvement. 

Modeling

Within the modeling stage, we synthesize the data we gathered from the research stage in order to create personas

Step 2

Modeling

Creating

Personas

Personas are hypothetical users based and created using the research gathered during the interview and research phase of GDD. Personas are a tool used to convey information and concepts to stakeholders in a simplified way. Once created, personas are used to craft context scenarios that shape the functionality and design of our first prototype and eventually the overall design of our product.

Primary

Persona

Name: Kaya Carter

Age: 23

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Bio:

 Kaya is a student in college who has decided to take horticulture as one of her electives. She is very social and is looking for a garden club in order to make new friends and help her do better in class. She is not currently a member of any clubs or groups but is wanting to join one. She has tried to use social apps to find gardening events and meetups but she has had little to no luck. She has also attempted to use her college’s website to find a horticulture organization, but she thought the search process was very overwhelming and was unsuccessful in obtaining information. She hopes to find a gardening club to make new friends so she can get out more and socialize with new people.

Goals: 

- To raise her knowledge of plant husbandry

- To make new friends

- To create new opportunities to get out of the house

Secondary

Persona

Name: Oliver Allen

Age: 24

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Bio:

Oliver is the president of the UFO Club. His club meets twice a week to do activities like watch conspiracy videos, talk about supernatural experiences, and stargaze at the local park. He decided he wants to open his club up to more members so that they could start hosting larger events, and to raise money to go to the local space museum. Oliver wants to get more people interested in the UFO Club but is unsure of the best way to market his club and recruit new club members. He has tried to physically advertise the club by hanging up and handing out flyers but didn’t get the results he was hoping for. He also tried to post about his club on social media but he didn’t have many followers outside of the club, so this strategy also failed. Oliver is hoping to find an efficient way to market his club so that his club can gain more members.

Goals: 

- To create and organize club events

- To market his club

- To recruit new members

Requirements

Step 3

Requirements

During the requirements phase, the personas and research are combined using context scenarios in order to create the foundation for the app's framework

Context

Scenarios

Context scenarios are used to place our personas into the context of our app. We use these scenarios to show how our products fit into the lives of our users and how they might use them. Context scenarios also create a list of requirements which later form the basic elements required for a low-fidelity prototype

We use our context scenarios to support and create our design choices as context scenarios are based on our research-based personas and their needs. 

Primary Context Scenario

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Secondary Context Scenario

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     Kaya has downloaded the NV app because she heard about it from a friend on campus. She has just started her new semester and is currently taking a horticulture class. As such, she hopes to extend her knowledge by searching for garden-related clubs around campus. Kaya opens the NV app and creates an account on the app because she knows she will be using the app more than this one time and over the course of a few weeks or more.

     After logging in, she is confronted with a quick on-boarding process informing her of the app’s basic features and where to find them. She looks on the home screen through the activities that are on the main landing but she does not immediately see what she is looking for. She filters the page to show only club activities but still does not find a gardening club meet-up. By using the search function within the app and typing in “gardening” she is able to find the gardening club at school which goes by the name “Any Other Rose Gardening Club”.

     She clicks on the club’s name in order to be directed to the club’s activity and profile page. On this profile page, she is able to see a description of the club along with images the club has uploaded in a carousel hero image. The page also lists the president and other top-level members of the club along with contact information. Underneath the “bio” portion of the club information, Kaya sees that not only are they accepting members, but they are hosting an open meeting next weekend for both members and non-members at the local park to do hanami (the Japanese custom of viewing cherry blossom trees when they are at full bloom).

     She uses the “ask a question” feature to ask the club page if the event will have food so she knows if she needs to eat before she heads over to the park. Finally, she uses the “add to calendar” feature to add the event to her google calendar so her phone will send her an alert an hour before the event so she can get ready in time.

     Oliver is a huge fan of NV. Since he is the president of the UFO Club, he is always wanting to recruit new members and post about upcoming events. He is able to do this by making a page for his UFO Club. In the sign-up process, he was able to list his club’s name, along with all of the top-level members and their contact information. He was also fronted with a tagging system that allowed him to type in keywords that represent his club.

     He started off with words like Sci-Fi, UFO, aliens, conspiracy, theories, and astrology. After the sign-up process, he is able to make a post about the UFO Club’s upcoming meeting to watch conspiracy videos at the campus library. He hasn't had much time to create a flyer, so he decides to use the flyer creator in the app. He chooses a template that he likes and switches out a few of the colors to achieve a “sci-fi” feel for his flyer. He then inputs the event title, information, time, and date.

     He successfully uploads the flyer to NV and also decides to share the flyer on Instagram and Twitter. Within a few minutes, he can see that 10 people have viewed his post on NV and 2 people have liked it. Five minutes later, Oliver gets a notification that someone has asked a question on the post. They ask, “How long do the meetings usually last?” Oliver is able to quickly respond to the person, and by replying the question and answer are then shared to the comments section on the post for others to gain information. Within an hour, Oliver can see that his post has reached 139 views with 42 likes and has 3 questions. 

Requirements

Requirements are taken from the persona context scenarios. These are elements or features that are required for the personas to successfully execute their context scenarios. For NV, our requirements included a create flyer page, home page, and filter page.

Framework

During the framework phase, the overall look and design of the app come alive. Using our requirements from the context scenarios, we have an idea of what we need in our app and now it is time to assemble it. 

Step 4

Framework

Low Fidelity

Prototype

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We began with a low fidelity prototype session by creating the basic wireframe of our app. Each one of us spent a couple of minutes sketching out what we believed the first few pages of the app would look like. We do this separately in order to create the most possible solutions to the design possible. From here, we pick the elements which work best in the design and insert them into a prototype software known as Figma to create a medium-fidelity prototype.

Mid Fidelity

Prototype

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Once we gathered the most successful elements from our wireframe sketches, we began by assembling them into screens on the prototype service, Figma. We then took our screens and added functionality to allow for user testing to occur. 

 

We tested our prototype by having five potential users go through tasks on our app and receiving feedback through a user testing technique known as think-aloud protocol. These tasks included using the filter feature, adding an event to one's calendar, and searching for a type of flyer. The tasks were based on the key-path scenarios we had created as well as other context scenarios. We use the feedback from these user testing sessions to create changes in the app as problems arise or as more efficient elements are implemented.

Step 5

Refinement

Refinement

During the refinement phase, feedback from the user-testing session is taken and applied to the design. Changes are made which benefit the usability of the app by using data given by users. 

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After our user testing is complete, we were given feedback which we used to refine our prototype and make edits. We added screens as well as revamped others. We even added new features at the request of a few of our testers. 

2

NV

Prototype

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Support & Conclusion

During the support phase, an app is expected to be maintained and consistent. As technology and culture change, so do the expectations of apps and digital products. Due to the nature of our project and its scope, we do not delve into the support phase of Goal-Directed Design but it is important to discuss it. 

Step 6

Support

Final Words

Designing NV was a process which delved very heavily into research and design. Due to COVID-19, our group had to meet digitally for the second half of our timeline. Even still, we were able to complete presentations, accomplish all user testing, and create the entire prototype without being able to meet in person. This app was definitely hard work but our entire group was passionate about creating it and I really believe that comes through in the final design. 

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