IHHE Weekend #3

Design critique museum tour style.

Month three was a pleasant surprise for me. Many of the topics, themes, and lectures were focused on design thinking and user experience, the field that I work in. One of our speakers was a UX researcher like myself. Kate works for the Gehl Institute. She showed us examples of her organization’s work including a really cool Times Square shut down. She talked to us about how research can help you define goals and figure out what your audience needs and what they are missing. She also had us go out and do some field research that involved interviewing and observing public transportation commuters in order to find opportunities to make their experience better.

I thought it was interesting that some of the men felt this exercise was more challenging for them than the women. They believed that women are naturally more approachable, while a man approaching a stranger is more likely to put people on guard. That was a good piece of feedback for me to have because I have been debating how much is too much to use in the design thinking workshops that I’m planning for Project Onyx Valley. I would have shied away from doing field research so early with people new to it simply for logistical reasons and to avoid discouraging people who may be shy. But the activity worked surprisingly well for our class, so I may reconsider trying it in my own workshops.

A prototype floor plan for the Loud Fest outdoor concert series.

Natalie Nixon, the Director of Philadelphia University’s SDMBA program, also hosted a workshop on prototyping. Just like Kate, she wasted no time getting us to jump right in.

My group decided to focus on one member’s idea to launch a festival for Natalie’s prototyping challenge. Although the idea was to have the best outdoor music concert, another idea within it caught on and got a lot of attention. The Tender Tent.

Feedback from classmates on the Tender Tent concept.

The Tender Tent is one of the special areas we designated in the floor plan for single people only. With the rise of dating apps and the difficulty of presenting people in… let’s say their true light, Tender Tent would combine app and face-to-face interaction in a casual way. I was actually interested in pursuing the idea, seeing how lucrative dating apps have become, but alas it seems to be an idea that will remain in that moment, but I will revisit soon.

Although the design thinking was the highlight of the weekend for me, I would be remiss to not mention some of the other great things that happened. The business model canvas exercise generated a lot of energy. A few students stood in front of the class to present their canvases and have the class give feedback. It was a very valuable experience and people talked about organizing another because it was so helpful. Another big up to IHHE students is they’re great at organizing outside of class, something that has helped build camaraderie and bridge the gap between the next month’s class.