Interaction Design

What We Did:

During this studio, we were given four different categories to choose to complete our interaction design sprint: water quality in the Puget Sound area, availability of fruits and vegetables for urban foragers, noise levels in educational or public environments, and animal census in the urban community. After choosing one — I chose animal census — we were then given the task of creating an app through which people could contribute to citizen science. In this app, we were required to support sharing one type of numeric/sensor data, incorporate a geotagging service, support the sharing of textual information with scientists, show how to navigate through the app, show how we motivate users to keep using the app, use POP to create a prototype of our product, and create a demo video for the app.

Explaining potential users and activities they were capable of in citizen science
Planning app ideas

Importance of the Sprint

This project really challenged us to think about many things that we often take for granted. Many of us had never really considered making an app, much less what factors go into an app to make it successful. We had to figure out would make users want to download and continue using the product. This meant we had to consider what motivated consumers, and what kinds of features to implement into the app in order to catch and hold their interest.

I really enjoyed using the app, POP, during this project. I think that POP itself is a highly innovative idea that allows regular citizens to prototype their ideas without expert knowledge. This allows for more creativity and the ability to explore ideas for the general population. In addition to the app, I also enjoyed the structure of the project instructions. We were given enough structure — such as categories and required elements — so that we weren’t at a loss for what to do, but there was also a lot of room for free choice and variety.

Applications of the Sprint

Prototyping in this situation, using an application such as POP, is important because it brings expert level concepts and techniques down to normal citizen level. Some studies have shown that a lack of creativity is often shown in those with higher education. They argue that this is because over the years we have been taught to make the “right,” or “practical” choices in order to receive good grades and have successful careers. Therefore, a lot of creativity and some brilliant ideas that are seen in younger people is lost as they go through the different education levels. This particular way of prototyping and interaction design is highly valuable because it can be done from a citizen’s or even a child’s (children are known to be highly creative) point of view. Furthermore, citizens and children are the consumer population, which makes them the most important group of people to developers. Showing prototypes to users is also a great way to improve design and function of products or apps. On-site innovation labs such as the ones conducted by Nordstrom are an excellent example of how valuable it is to interact with users directly in order to gain first-hand feedback of how the app works for them. The great thing about innovation labs is that the scientists and inventors are then immediately able to make changes to match the consumers’ needs.