Let your sight guide you through the Atlanta History Museum
As part of our final design sprint in our Human Design Interaction class, we were tasked with re-evaluating our earlier designs for the Atlanta History Museum that we designed specifically catering to an elderly group visiting the center for a weekend, and extending it to include a physical interface through which our target user group could benefit through. We did our evaluation in two distinct parts. The first part was revaluating our existing interface, and subsequently redesigning certain aspects of it according to our findings. Secondly, we brainstormed and designed a physical interface that we thought would be better suited to our target demographic. I will now walk you through the steps we took in order to create a full-fledged system for our target demographic.
Revaluating our early designs
To evaluate our early designs, we thought the questions were left best answered by users who were seeing the system for the first time, as opposed to us, who were impaired by our perspective as designers. We sent out our designs to our HCI Class, along with individuals in our circle, who we thought would give honest, unopinionated feedback. We had considered even contacting elderly individuals to get more “complete” feedback, but due to time considerations, we were not able to.
We designed our survey through a simple Google Form. The questions we asked were simple: who do they think our target user group is, what did they like about the website; if any part of our website is unnecessary; if any part of the website was confusing; and finally if there is any room to improve on the current website.
In addition, we also had feedback from our instructor, and our class as a whole, which specified things people liked, things people wished for, and things people hoped for.
We had tabulated all the answers, looked for points that we thought were in agreement across all our feedback, identified points that were in contradiction, and finally decided on what we would address in this iteration of the product.
Now let us click the zoom button in our smart glasses, and understand each of these results in detail. First let us see at first glance, what people think our target user group is.
At first glance, this pie chart seems very divergent, and it may even seem that we were not very good at targeting our expected user group. But, let us just rethink that for a second. Look at the purple and the blue boxes. It seems that Adults (of no specified age group) and senior citizens had accounted for over half of the user responses. This was definitely a good sign for us, as we later had discussed as a group, senior citizens are not often associated with tech, and for firsthand users of a completely different generation, correctly pointing out that this design was in fact for senior citizens without any obvious cues, is slightly difficult. Next, we wanted to see what exactly had gone right in this design, by looking at the rationale behind their reason:
This also provided us with more reinforcement that we were actually on the right track. Seeing that people associate words such as “family” and “adults” with our design, was exactly what we had set out to do, and although it was difficult for users to pinpoint exactly that it was for a senior citizen group, we thought we had done well initially.
Next, we looked for actionable points that we could work on in our redesign. So we had asked our users, exactly what we would change, and these were the answers that we had received:
The actionable items that we had received that we decided that we immediately need to work on were: changing the font and including pictures to make it more suitable for elder visitors. In addition, there was some feedback that we thought we could combine with our intuition, and the feedback we had received in class before, such as revamping the aesthetic element of our website. We realized this meant making the website more compact, reducing the aesthetic, and making sure that the animations were smoother. There were also some conflicting areas, as from our class feedback it was said that our “Need Help-Call Us” button, was too big. However, our demos and some of the feedback seemed to reflect that this was a well-liked feature of our website.
So finally, the things that we decided to change were the font face, the white space, and smoother animations throughout the website. You can find a demo of our redesign at the link below:
Demo of Redesigned Website
Designing the Physical Interface
In designing our physical prototype for the Atlanta History Museum, there were a large number of things we had considered. We first thought of interfaces that our target group is most familiar with, and things that often come naturally to them.
We had then considered the Museum experience that we were familiar with throughout our lives. Museums are often very busy places, and finding directions and the relevant help at the correct time can often be very difficult and infuriating. For example, last summer, I had taken my nephews to the Natural History Museum in London, and while juggling two nagging toddlers, finding the toilet seemed like an insurmountable task. The closest attendant, was at the help desk, navigating to which seemed like a bigger challenge. If this mounts such a challenge to an able-bodied 23-year-old, imagine what it must be like to a senior citizen, to whom mobility is much larger of an impediment.
So, after some rigorous brainstorming at the Hatchery, we concurred that the one item that comes very naturally to the elderly is glasses! We immediately thought of the Google Glass, but with the added advantage of being fitted with prescription lenses and corrective zoom to help our target users. We also thought of the fact that most elderly people have a problem seeing nearby distances, which can be sold or rented without prescription, which we thought the Museum could leverage.
We thought of also what this prototype would entail, we immediately thought of a head-up display-like feature, which would allow them to see products they like at bookshops, exhibits, directions, or even approach attendants. We had summarized all our ideas into this moldboard, from which we got most of our later design inspiration:
Designing the Actual Interface and Device
When designing this physical interface, we wanted to do it in two phases. The first phase is designing the actual physical device, subsequently creating the screens that the users will see to concretize those designs, and finally bringing it all together with the full demo.
To create the actual physical device, we settled for a design we had found for glasses, and then 3-D printed that. Initially, we wanted to go for a form factor that resembled the “Google glass”. We had preferred that originally, as it meant that we did not need external lenses, and it could potentially be retrofitted on top of existing glasses that the user may already have had. However, in terms of 3-D printing, we faced numerous issues.
The biggest issue of this design was that the individual “hands” of the glasses were very thin. This posed a very large challenge to 3-D print, and after 3 runs which took two hours each, we ended up scrapping the entire idea and going back to the drawing board.
This was the point where we ended up going back to a more “traditional” form factor and looking at designs that more closely resembled glasses as our users would know it. We wanted to have an Aviator like feel to it, as museums are a place someone takes a lot of pictures in, and it allowed us to create something that would complement nice family photos as well. Our next iteration looked something like this:
This design was much simpler to print out and allowed us to create a working prototype in one run. It was also significantly sturdy for us to present in a live demo in class. Since our final design was sorted, we could now move to final screens that our users would see.
Designing Screens That The Users Would See
When designing the final screens, we wanted to take full advantage of our form factor and allow the users to make use of the wider viewing angle as compared to a traditional screen. An example of this can be seen below:
For example on this screen, the device does not consider things within close proximity but the entire visibility window, to navigate to a toilet in the next room. This design also highlights another aspect of our design. We wanted our users to be self-sufficient in navigating the museum without any help. With little or no help they would be able to find the exact places that they are looking for at the utmost ease or convenience.
We also recognize that the museum experience is not an isolated virtual experience, but in fact, revolves around interaction with people. We wanted our device to be aware of that and make use of people around the proximity. An example of this can be seen on the screen below:
With this feature, our users can let the people there to serve them find them, instead of the other way round. This also allows us to talk about another feature we plan to incorporate into our product. We also want to have gesture control which would allow users to find something at more ease, and even voice-enabled features such as changing languages, and calling for help.
Our Entire Prototype is clearly explained in the demo video below!