UXDI Project 1: My Assistant’s Helper

How I created a mobile app prototype providing organizational support to office production assistants in the film industry

Role: UX Designer

What I Did: User Research, Low-fidelty Sketching, Rapid Prototyping

Constraints: 3 Days, Mobile App Solution

Challenge

I was tasked with identiying a fellow classmate’s pain point with a topic that personally affected them in order to develop a mobile app solution. I partnered up with Anna, who had issues managing her responsibilities as an office production assistant on a big budget film in Hollywood.

User Research

My first task was to create a set of interview questions to elicit meaningful responses about the challenge from Anna. However, once I started, I realized that I didn’t have the best understanding of what she needed me to solve, let alone how the film industry worked. I conducted a few internet searches to learn the basics of film making and the people that contribute to that process. From there, I was able to better understand the role of a production assistant, which informed my interview questions.

At the beginning of my initial 30 minute interview with Anna, I asked broad questions to better understand how big budget films are made and where she fit into that picture. In order to design solutions for Anna, I needed to first comprehend the context in which she experienced these pain points.

In your own terms, can you briefly describe the phases of movie development? Which phases of development did you work in? What were the most challenging experiences during your role on those phases? Tell me about the physical and emotional environment you worked in.

Anna guided this part of the interview because I had little background knowledge on the industry. I mainly listened and only asked questions when I needed further clarification. This way, I could really grasp how she observed, perceived, and interacted with her environment.

She became very flustered when speaking about her day-to-day activities during production, which prompted me to ask more specific questions regarding her position.

Who did you report to? How were your tasks delegated? How did you keep track of your tasks? How did you receive feedback?

It was from these questions that I got to the heart of the issues that she had described when we first spoke about her challenge. The most difficult part of her job was completing grocery shopping for the editing department.

Key Takeaway: You do not need to be an expert in a topic to narrow down a pain point for a user if you constantly listen and reactively ask questions as the interview progresses.

Interview Analysis

In order to pull further insights from her responses, I extracted the most memorable quotes and wrote them on sticky notes. Some examples can be seen below:

Main responsibility is stocking food and drink for crew
Crew can work up to 15 hour days
Food cannot run out
Affinity Mapping Diagrams

As I kept rearranging these quotes, I started to see themes emerge. She needed the ability to track grocery requests, expenses, and food supply in an efficient manner.

But what did I truly learn at the heart of it?

  • she needed to rely less on her memory with constant, ever changing requests
  • her job performance was based on efficiency and high level of attention to detail
  • she lacked structure on how she received information, which increased stress

Key Takeaway: It’s very tempting to jump into prototyping, but the time spent analyzing the key points from the interview gave me a solid foundation of the user’s needs and motivations.

Design Process

I started brainstorming solutions keeping the insights I gathered in mind. I wanted to provide Anna with simplistic tool that provided her with information that reduced her time spent grocery shopping.

What about tracking requests by submitter?
What about status bars?
What about priority levels?
What about converting lists to pdf?
What about a map that routes you to all the grocery stores that have your items?

I created low-fidelty sketches to represent these ideas and had many discussions with Anna to receive feedback. This taught me the importance of designing for your user and not yourself.

Key Takeaway: A lot of my ideas seemed useful from my perspective, but were superfluous or overwhelming for Anna. Keep iterating with the user’s input.

Initial Wireframes

It was during one of these conversations that Anna put greater emphasis on the fact that she manages this task with other office production assistants and needed a better way to collaborate with them. They never know who was already at the store or if they were purchasing something that had just been stocked by someone else.

Key Takeaway: This critical piece of information came later in the design process, but was easily incorporated because the foundation of the app had stayed true to the design insights and principles originally gathered. It did not result in a complete re-design.

I settled on these design requirements based on the insights and conversations I had with Anna, which led to the final prototype, “My Assistant’s Helper”.

  • Need ability to determine which grocery store stocks food item on list
  • Need ability to determine if grocery store is open or closed
  • Need ability to narrow down grocery store options
  • Need ability to prioritize food items
  • Need ability to track whether purchase has been completed
  • Need ability to configure notifications
  • Need ability to set reminders
  • Need ability to share lists with other users in app
Final Wireframes

Next Steps

The most enticing and surprising aspect of this app is its potential for widespread use as there are many professionals responsible for managing food requests when grocery shopping. As I was going through the design process, I kept wondering if there was a way to track tasks to be completed that is not in list form. In the future, I would love to perform further research with a larger sample of users to discover what they use to track tasks, what they do and do not think is useful about the current options, and what their successes and difficulties are using these methods.

In addition, I would love to build out functionality for the other insights gathered during this project such as tracking expenses and food supply.

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