A 24-hour Design Challenge: Rigorous Trust to The Team and to Myself

For this 24 hours design challenge, we were asked to design for an Amazon subsidiary called Audible to address the navigation problems users have when listening to an audiobook, considering various use cases as well as devices. From this intense project, I learned how to make the best use of every minute, set a flexible agenda, take breaks and most importantly, trust rigorously and communicate directly to teammates as well as to myself.

Make decisions quickly with little data

One of the most frustrating moments I had during this project was when we tried to narrow down the problem space. We don’t have enough time to get solid research or enough data to support our decision. Standing in front of the whiteboard, full of insights and assumptions gained from prompt and our own using experience, we had no idea which was the right problem to get started.

Hours passed, we were way behind the schedule. I will never forget the anxiety I felt at that time. Finally, we just picked one problem we all agreed that had design opportunities achievable within 8 hours. Because most of our teammates worked together before, we trusted each other a lot, and because we used the thumb-vote very frequently, we were able to make decisions quickly and make sure everybody was on the same page. Later when we talked to professor about our solution, his reply was very instrumental :

“ When there is not enough research data or rationale to support how to narrow down the problem space, one of the solution is to choose a design problem that can cover more use cases or user groups.”
voting protocol helps to make team decision quickly and effectively

Effectively communicate with stakeholders very early on

We pulled out the prompt at 12:30 pm Thursday, and we had our first meeting with Marty, our “stakeholder”, to seek design suggestions at 9:00 pm , when there was only 7 hours left to the deadline. This was the biggest mistake we made: we focused too much on making team agenda and forgot to book time with stakeholder as early as possible. By talking with Marty, we finally realized that our solution was based on a too ideal assumption that users will use the app only when they are free and looking at the cellphone. What about when they are running, driving, or being occupied by other tasks? Thanks to the trust and effort every teammates put in, we finally expanded our original idea to other moving use scenarios and finished all the design tasks on time.

Still, this thrilling experience helps me to remember an important lesson: Check the schedule of stakeholders and managers at the beginning of a design project and involve them into design process as much as possible. They play an important role in helping the project move forward and making design decisions.

Love my teammates

Before this project, I never imagined that I can collaborate with other people from different backgrounds to champion a design challenge within 24 hours (we even took our own photos for the presentation slide). This all attributes to the wonderful teamwork. I really love my team!! We respect each other and everybody contributes a lot. This makes me realize that how important building close team relationship is, even more crucial than having a successful design outcome for one time.

(Meet our design character “Faith”, who doesn’t look like one of our teammates Hope at all!!)

Special thanks to professor Marty Siegel and all the teammates!

If you have any question or suggestion, please reach out via email: doutian@iu.edu

More about my work at www.iamdoutian.com