What I learned from Wind-up Toys- 1/13/16

Stacie bringing in her wind-up toys reminded me of show and tell as a kid and how I was always fascinated not by what other kids brought to share, but why it was so special to them. It’s that dialogue of sharing excitement about something . And I realized during class, that is what designers do. Our job is to make the most mundane thing (like Home Energy Scores) engaging and at least feel important enough to demand attention.

I think one flaw I have in my design process is that I always put more emphasis on function and practicality, without really thinking about the desirability of the product. This semester, I want to create something fun and exciting for the user. Similar to the wind-up toys, although they don’t particularly “change the world”, they bring joy to the users which is just as meaningful.

First Studio Project- 1/19/16

It’s really interesting to work with a client because in all our previous projects, what we had to do was basically already planned out by the instructor. This class we finally had a chance to clarify what we were even trying to achieve with all this new found knowledge on HES scores and blowdoors. I think more than anything, I learned how to communicate with a client today and to try to understand what Tim wanted from us. And I think it’s a reflection of the industry, where sometimes (most of the times?) the client doesn’t exactly even know what they want either. They just want their customers to understand why something is important and as designers, it’s our job to figure out what kind of story the client wants to tell.

I’m grateful that we were finally able to simplify the message to a few diagrams by the end of the class. And I’m excited to see what kind of solutions my classmates and I are able to come up with. Having a real life problem to work on is a little intimidating, but it’s also definitely rewarding to see what impact design can make on the world.

Many Solutions- 1/21/16

I always find myself jumping in to a solution right away. Before the end of the client’s presentation I was already thinking of what the final product might look like. I think the post-it exercise really served it’s purpose for me; it forced me to think about the big picture message before restricting myself to a particular medium. Honestly, I was disappointed in myself for not being able to think more outside of the box when people proposed ideas for a community event or approaching the problem from a kid’s perspective. I only thought of the solution through a print medium because I believed that was what the client wanted. I need to stop assuming that the best solution is the solution the client expects, because as designers we are equipped with skills that allows us to see from a bigger perspective.

Thrill Mill- 1/24/16

I’ve been spending my weekend at this Start Up incubator bootcamp for this side project I’ve been working on. They taught us how to pitch, how to make our company sound valuable and worth the risk for investors. It was incredible to see how applicable these lectures were to the project we’re currently working on in C. Although we’re not exactly using speech to convince our audience, we’re using visual elements to persuade the homeowners that the HES is worth it. We learned how to tell a story through our pitch, make sure people understand how big the problem is and why your idea is the solution for it. Although I’ve never been very interested in the business world of constantly being “on” and selling selling selling, I was pleasantly surprised how much I can learn from this experience as a designer.

The lecturers also gave a shout out to design thinking and the importance of the iterative process in business. And we also filled out persona and business model worksheets, similar to the ones we did in Systems last year! I guess it’s kind of true that design itself isn’t really a concrete discipline, but more of a way of thinking that can be applied in so many different aspects.

I’m kinda all over the place-1/26/16

Ideating has always been a hard process for me. More than once I suck the enjoyment out of a project by trying to focus on the most practical approach and trying to solve the whole problem. I have this idea of making a nice print piece that sticks with the storyline of my post-its, with the buy-in of not feeling very comfortable in the house. But somehow it’s not very exciting to me. Since I think it’ll take a more stats and serious tone.

accordion fold booklet with paper slider

And in response to that, I always try to think of an outlandish idea that although maybe very exciting, is sometimes distracting from the main point of the project. I had a lot of fun bouncing off ideas with Lily Kim about making a game targeted towards high school students who have to take HomeEc classes. It’s a game where houses compete against each other in order to get sold first, where they’re allowed to make choices in remodeling to make their house “more sellable”. For example, equipping the house with beautiful granite countertops may give you points in the beginning, but equipping the HES score will give you more health points.

house wars! kinda like transformers but with houses

My last idea is more in between in terms of “weirdness”. The buy-in is also to point out the uncomfortable areas of the home, but through a web medium. The user is going to be able to explore the house (I’m thinking of using a flashlight effect where they can see inside of the house) It’s to bring forward house improvements that might not be very apparent to the home owner. After exploring, the user can see how a “sad house” compares to a HES house.

comparing the inside of houses, same exterior, different interior!

It’s kind of scary that I have three completely different half-baked idea and I know it’s time to focus on one. But I’m still not sure which direction would be the best.

Project Content- 1/27/16

“Spot the differences”

Houses with the same model may look similar, but if you look closer, there are hidden problems that are invisible to the unobserving eye. Can you spot the differences?

House POV voice? “We may look similar, but if you look closer, there are a lot of hidden problems that are invisible to the unobserving eye. Can you spot the differences?” (changes my target audience to younger users?)

Story about two externally similar houses (name them?) Low HES is always complaining about how he doesn’t feel well, High HES is like the perfect standard? Low HES wants to become more like High HES → learns about the HES score and energy efficiency.

Low HES house:

Mold is a result of high humidity in a home. Moisture from clothes dryer vents, leaky air conditioners, showering, and cooking can cause a home to have high humidity levels.This happens when there is water leakage and wood becomes damp enough to sustain mold or mildew. Untreated, mold can cause respiratory issues and structural damage.

“I got Mold in me! It’s the result of high humidity, I feel like I’m always sweating in my insides. This happens when moisture from clothes dryer vents, leaky air conditioners, showering, and cooking causes me to have high humidity levels. Then, wood becomes damp enough to sustain mold or mildew. Untreated, mold can cause my people to have respiratory issues and damage to my structural foundations.”

High HES house:

“Since mold is a moisture issue, the contractor helped seal my air duct leaks, made sure my clothes dryer vented directly to the outside, and updated my heating and cooling system to be more efficient.”

Low HES:

Drafty Rooms: “It’s so breezy in here, there’s always cold air leaking in through my every crack. From electrical outlets to windows and doors, the warm air I’m trying to keep inside is escaping away.” (mostly attic leaks)

High HES:

“I got a contractor to check on my leaks and he found a big one in my attic! He was able to patch it up and now my airflow is much better. I can stay feeling warm!”

Low HES:

Cold floors are such an inconvenience! My people always have to wear fuzzy socks while walking around.”

High HES:

“With good airflow, my people can walk around barefoot anytime without feeling uncomfortable.”

Low HES:

“Ah-choo! It’s always so dusty in here, I can’t stop sneezing. Where can is all this dust coming from?”

High HES:

“After sealing air ducts, dust stopped circulating in me. And changing the furnace and air conditioner filters made a huge difference too!”

Low HES:

“Moist air coming through my walls is causing my beautiful coat of paint to peel. I just want to look nice again.”

High HES:

“Controlling humidity doesn’t only fix mold problems, but my paint stays on as well!”

It’s been a while- 2/2/16

A lot has changed. I was describing this project like it was squeezing toothpaste, like ideas were only coming out bit by bit and never catching on to a work flow.

I think my problem was that I was allowing the medium I was planning to use to dictate my content. I wasn’t at a place where I solidified what I wanted my message to say. Depending on how I displayed the information my content would change. For example, the original idea was to have a flashlight web effect that allowed the user to see inside the house through a little peephole, with the message of how energy inefficiency problems are sometimes not apparent. However, for one, I knew I didn’t have enough experience with coding to fully prototype this idea to the certain fidelity I knew I wanted from the interaction. Another problem was that why would the homeowner need to explore the house from the outside looking in, when they have full access of their own house. The next idea that I jumped to was using a magnifying effect I found on the web, with the similar message of exploration and finding problems in the house. At this point, I had created a vector image of a “problem” house. But I realized that once again, although the magnifying effect was cool, it felt forced because in reality the user wasn’t really gaining any information from using this effect. I could have added minuscule text within the house, where the user explored the house with the magnifying glass they’ll be able to read more information about certain energy inefficiency. But I also wasn’t able to figure out the code for the magnifying effect/didn’t have time to sit down and learn javascript in a few days.

Throughout this time, I was still figuring out if I wanted to compare a “problem” house with a “good house” directly. I knew I wanted to show a comparison but would it be too overwhelming if there were two pretty detailed images on the screen? In the end I switched to only showing one house and using a simple click method for the user to read more information. Honestly, I still fleshing out the content as I’m going, but after getting some visual elements out, I feel like I at least have a direction I’m heading towards.

I think it’s coming together- 2/5/16

Looking back, my process has been so messy, honestly even with a few days left on this project, I haven’t pinned down the exact tone and written content for this project yet. It’s only through making these more hi-fi prototypes was I able to really come to understand what I was missing and what direction I wanted to go towards. I guess that’s the real meaning of finding solutions through making and I was hesitant to make for too long when I was trying to figure out how I wanted to display the information. I should’ve just dived in. But I’m liking how this is ending up. I still need to have a more enticing entry point to the story/website and focus on what audience (in this case high schoolers taking HomeEc courses?) and what tone I should use. Hopefully, everything would come together at the end even though my process for this was pretty disjointed.

I’m Done! (I think) — 2/8/16

From the last post, all I really needed was to somehow to tie the whole story together. For the visuals, I tried to stick to the color palette, using the similar tones. And using the same style in the vector drawings. I wanted a cohesive feel throughout the whole website. I think the one thing I would want to fix at this point would be the written content of this piece. I was going for the more playful tone, but I don’t know if it really came through with each section. I honestly didn’t change much of it from the last iteration/should have put more thought in to it. (could work on a more cohesive tone of written voice as well.) I should be a little bit more mindful with the hierarchy of my text as well. At this point, I’m hesitant to make any changes because it’ll mean I’ll have to re-key all the interactions on Invision. All in all, I’m pretty happy with how this came out.

Presentation- 2/9/16

I felt that I could have presented my work in a much better way. It’s a little frustrating when you know that you failed to convey your project in the best way possible to the client. You want the client to get your idea and the thought you put behind it. One mistake that I totally regret was not showing the full experience of the website. I was too flustered trying to change from Invision to PDF and missed showing how the user would interact and learn from each section of the website. I should also have put more effort in organizing my slides so the client would clearly understand the parts of my project. Tim’s questions in the end to clarify journey through the website kind of reinforced the disorganized way I presented. But that’s that, I can’t go back in time, I just hope that my visuals left a big enough impact on Tim. Just another thing I can learn from in the future.

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