Interaction Prototyping: Citizen Science

What am I talking about

Learning makes you dumber. Let me elaborate, the more you learn the better your understanding becomes of how little you actually know. I promise this all relates to Citizen Science and my recent interaction design sprint.

Firstly this sprint involved brain storming the creation of a mobile app. designed to assist with Citizen Science. Citizen Science exists to help scientists get information that on their own they couldn’t reasonably obtain. The scientists know what they don’t know, so they ask for help to get the information.

The activity consisted of thinking about who would use the app. why and how and filing all this information down into a usable paper prototype. Below are some examples of how that process looked.

first of many brain storming sessions: focus on the user
The results of the user centered brain storming session.
Brain storming motivations for using the app.

Questions, issues, challenges

Over the course of the activity I learned that I have a lot to learn as implied before. How do I keep things efficient? How do I maximize the potential yet keep things simple. What pieces of this app are useful and which are irrelevant. My greatest challenge was trying to apply more then one idea without blowing the prototype out of proportion. What I found was each piece of the application added things that needed to be addressed in many other slides… resulting in an exponential increase in effort.

Example of a piece I had to add to the app. to respond to another.

What I liked

I really enjoyed using P.O.P.. Being able to see my ideas come to life was thrilling. I put some personal touches on the project to squeeze even more positive juices into the project. Namely I thought of a fun app name and designed a cool icon for it which I really enjoyed. It’s also easy to appreciate the creativity app. design allows.

Picture of the logo I made

How to use or not use in the future

Paper prototyping is a fantastic way to communicate the early stages of an idea. I could see paper prototyping interactive projects being a natural and intelligent precursor to investing large amounts of time and money. This type of paper prototyping activity is best used with interactive projects like mobile apps..

A physical product, or large scale system seems like it would be more challenging then helpful to effectively paper prototype. Having a physical usable example of the app. is incredibly helpful.

Seeing how the navigation works and if the symbols are useful and understandable is extremely valuable. Making a video presentation is also a great way to learn how dumb your prototype sounds until you understand it better yourself. Once the project is understood its easy to describe it simply.

So, maybe learning doesn’t actually make you dumber. Though, the learning I experience in this exercise did opened my eyes to the vast opportunities there are to know more about interactive design and paper prototyping. In that way I see my freshly acquired understanding of how little I know as a positive first step.