PeteE: The basis for UX, A retrospective

Ryan Klein / General Assembly / UXDI Crows / Project 1

Holy UX Batman! A big week for this guy: my first endeavor into becoming a UX Designer. Just 9 more to go! Yay for more learning! (Ok, so I’m one of those weird dudes who likes to learn and grow from experiences, so what?)

My first foray into what a UX Designer does was to design a basic level prototype for a tool to help solve a problem — in 3 days. This was an emphasis on basic UX skills as a basis for every design project this immersive class outlines moving forward.

This project focused on productivity at home. While I’ve always been very structured in time management and efficiency of getting stuff done like cleaning, I’d rather be doing something more fun. I’ve always motivated myself by rewards earned though activities performed. The project aims to make a conscious effort of intertwining household chores we feel we need to do with fun activities we would rather be doing.

A pie chart demonstrating the understanding of knowing one could be more productive, but self identifies with the inference that that potential incentives may be in the way of doing so. Could there be a better way?

Project Objective: Based on the data collected & synthesized through user research, develop a device that aids in the goal of being productive at home. (Note: This design does not allow for the manifestation of the creation for awareness to be productive. It’s intended purpose is for those who consciously know they should or like to be productive.)

Tools: Pen, Paper, iPhone, POP, Brain

User Research: I interviewed 3 pretty cool, yet different, people for 10 minutes each by recording them on my iPhone. Meet my research pool, they allowed me to capture them in photo and promise to smile because you’re reading this post.

From Left to Right: Johnny (24, full time student), Pascal (46, full time student), Scott (26, operations associate in technology education field)

Before embarking on independenly interviewing my research participants, I wanted to set a baseline for how I would get all the answers I can by asking the least of amount of detailed and compounding questions. I focused my questions on the goal of achieving how each user conveyed both pain and pleasure points. Each user told a unique story about their feelings associated with being productive in their respective home. A funny thing happened: each participant associated both chores (i.e. dishes & laundry) and fun activities (i.e. playing video games & watching television) as part of being productive at home. Additionally, each participant noted that some type of physical device would help to remind them to be productive. We’ll get to what entity that may entail in a minute. That intial awkward state of asking direct questions led to effortless, enriching conversation. Those wealthy chats lead to some interesting insights.

Data Synthesis: A funny thing happened, each participant indicated they had an acute awareness of what they needed to do versus what they would like to do in accordance to their productivity.

Affinity diagrams utilized to synthesize data and analyze user research points. Utilizing a unique color per research participant, I was able to be consciously aware of their respective statements and thoughts through interpretation of factors like emotions, activity types, and efficiency.

The partipants pointed out a desire they’d rather do activities eliciting fun than mundane activities. Each of them noted incorporating a physical entity like their phone would aid greatly in user’s access and usage. Then, like the Red Sea parting, it was clear what the problem statement was — yes, I got this! “But wait,” thinking to myself, “keep your thoughts and opinions to this topic separate from what the design is to achieve. This design is supposed to be used for a replicable and enriching experience, not just used and tossed away.” The difficult part in interpreting the data was having the design empathy necessary that allowed for potential usage by anyone, not an easy feat to achieve.

Problem Statement: While the user finds household chores important, the emotions elicited are not associated as positive, leaving a void of satisfaction and fun.

Ok, so that’s great and all, but what would that design achieve?

Design Statement: The design should elicit positive emotions regardless of the chore.

The data indicated a preference to easy access via mobile device. The concept of an app was born: use fun activities as a reward to get people to do their chores in a trade-off fashion. 10 minutes/chores would equal 10 minutes/fun. Like my mother imparted on me, clean your room then you can play outside. Great, a problem was established and solution was proposed. Let’s talk about how that idea became a product.

Rapid Prototyping: I always felt I was creative, but not artistic. Pushing my self judgement aside, I crafted an initial iteration of what the productivity app could be. A name change later, what came to be was the idea of PeteE: The Productivity enhancing tool eliciting Excitement.

User mapping iteration based on synthesis of user research.
Initial drawings of screen shots based on user mapping with little artistic license (well ,maybe only in logo).

Sketching: While I wasn’t as content with my initial sketches, adding color really brought this concept to life. It’s not easy having your taste be of complete non-influence in any process when you are trying to appeal to a mass audience. People are all different, and thank goodness for that and the options in life we are lucky to have in a multitude of areas and domains. Using pen and paper, this part of the design process was the most enjoyable because it allowed me to flex my artistic muscle. It’s been asleep, not having been awoken from it’s bear-like hibernation for a long time. A progressive prototype was starting to appear with directional buttons like click here, next, and back.The lack of intensive thinking from intial sketching without color to getting more detailed the closer it was to true user experience, allowed me to focus on finer points later in the design. This allowed me to audit my own process of self-perfection: every finished wooden sculpture started out a plain tree in nature. Curious to see how it functions? Check out PeteE on POP.

Home Page: Hello and Welcome!
Landing Page: Where every cycle of the intended functionality of productivity starts.

Areas for Improvement & What’s next: Wait, it’s not done? Of course not, it may never be done. I would have liked to have conducted more user testing of my iterations. A few of the key points for design enhancement would be the addition of labeling importance per chore and the ability to group multiple chores together in sequence for a block of time in exchange for the same amount of time of activities (i.e. the chore-chore/reward-reward cycle as opposed to the chore-reward/chore-reward cycle). Additionally, the design should allow for more adaptable time per type and amount of chore in correlation to the type and amount of fun per cycle (i.e. cleaning 20 min/watching television 10 minutes-playing video games 10 minutes). An issue of accountability is one that needs to be achieved. Potentially linking the app to another app you enjoy using may incentify usage and instill efficacy of the application. I would have preferred to ask more questions about the prioritization and importance of chores and fun. That feature would allow for the user to tailor their chore list to consider what is of urgency to them.

Although this was an alpha version of the design process, I was really happy with the good, quality work put forth on this project. This project, and process, instill the discipline to stay with and within each step. It’s very easy for your mind to go immediately to the finish line when you have yet to learn the skills necessary to get the trophy. Embracing this process will only help in refining my skills and adding to the tool box of what is good design. What I look forward to most is exploiting the skills I’m building on with enhancing the skills I have yet to acquire. Without rapid prototyping, this idea would only exist in my head. The importance of walking a user through the process and the allowance for questions about alterations make for great constructive criticism and effective user feedback. The data has no ego in the research, only a selfish interpretation of that can negatively affect the design. I think its time to go watch television for 3 hours, it’s my reward for reflecting on my 1st week of learning how to be a great UX Designer…

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