HCDE 210: Sprint 1

By Jeffrey Pinkstaff

I swear I was using my phone for classroom purposes…

1) What did you do?

For our first graded Sprint of HCDE 210 our assignment was to prototype a mobile application designed to help scientists gather information from ordinary citizens. This collection of data is called “citizen science”, which intuitively makes sense — that nonprofessionals are conducting research/collecting data in order to aid the real professionals who can’t always be out in the targeted field — or those who don’t have access to the object of study! To “prototype” our mobile app we used a simple application called “POP” — prototyping on paper.

Prototyping on Paper. Image credit.

The topic of our citizen science app was assisting environmental issues, and my specific quiz section A was assigned the citizen science category for assessing water quality in the Puget Sound area. From this point we were allowed to narrow our focus.

I chose a broad design solution: an application designed specifically for the type of user like myself.

I work a job, go to school full time, and am also my fraternity social chair! Being very involved leaves me with little time for the little things like getting my daily gains from the UW IMA! No one wants to give up their precious time for a cause that they might not view as important (or at least MORE important).

So my target user became: ANYONE. Specifically, anyone who might not care. By appealing to this market I figured I could hit on everyone — because those that do care will obviously use the app!

To do this I tried to design the app to be simple while also hitting the required criteria.

Upload. Earn Points. Get Prizes. (That was what I went for at least)

2) Reflection

While my ideas for my app were good ( at least to me) I encountered some basic problems with my prototyping with POP.

  1. My hand-done drawings weren’t good enough and in my opinion I could have more easily represented my ideas with both color and layout had I used an alternative method such as using Google Slide’s basic shape/color functions while sizing my screen correctly for pictures.
I am on the left hand drawing. I also used my ruler (being used on right) to outline the dimensions of my phone for each screen.

In the future I would allow students to use other mediums than pen and pencil (when I asked in class my answer was “no, just prototype on paper”).

Here is a photo taken from the class photo-pool of a clearer example of design mapping.

I also would have like to spend more time with the design and placing of key functions within my app. It would have been more fun and effective to have a studio section dedicated to user testing (which we were supposed to do on our own) and then play with our prototypes the rest of class.

3) What did you like about this Sprint and why?

The first major thing that jumps out to me about Sprint 1 was the introduction to POP. This. App. Is. Cool.

I am already using it to help me organize my own app ideas.

I also liked that we were given a prompting topic such as “environmental data collection”. This made the task of making a basic prototype app much easier and more focused.

4) How could I apply this technique in the future?

I plan to apply my knowledge of POP to begin to develop my own list of app ideas. Obviously I’ll have to go through the design method process with each idea before I start delving TOO far into the basic prototypes — but I’m excited!

I could apply the technique of citizen science to purely collect statistics data for relevant questions or issues that either myself or users would find with my apps or ideas. They could provide both qualitative and quantitative data that would help my research.

A specific example is a project I am working on in my Informatics 200 class. We are tasked with designing (not necessarily creating) an app to combat an issue of our own choice. Being University of Washington students we were inspired by the lack of connection students feel to other students (and even to professors) in large lecture halls → so our idea became “Classmate” an app that is a form of student social media that takes the best of both worlds from the two top dogs in our focus industries — Facebook of social media — and Canvas representing student work-aid programs.

Some places in society that would go through the same design process we experienced in Sprint 1 would be:

  1. Any engineering field
  2. Product development
  3. User Research Groups

Any of these examples would likely have to test out a product and have users test them in multiple environments in order to iron out the flaws or even to add in a concept that would help the design.

A specific example of this design process is the video we watched for homework on designing a new shopping cart by (I think) the company Ideo.

An extremely basic example of this process could go like this:

Ideo shopping cart. An example of innovation done right. Image Credit.

The Evolution of the Shopping Bag

  1. People used to use shopping bags to carry groceries
  2. The bags ripped/were too heavy or another problem was recognized.
  3. Product Developers recognized this issue and attempt to brainstorm ways to remedy it.
  4. After some time and trial and error the dev team thinks “HEY! This would be so much easier if the bag just had wheels?”
  5. The shopping cart is born.

Thank you for reading my first actual process blog! I look forward to feedback and participating further in this class!

-Jeff