Treating the semester as an experiment

My time thus far at IU and Adaptive Path has led me to try an experiment for the coming year. I have realized how much farther I need to push myself. I know and rely on my strengths while not focusing enough on my weaker areas, despite my best efforts. My goal is to try a new approach to design for each project I do to explore these areas and approaches I may not have attempted yet. I’ll be documenting some of my progress and output as I go.

First example

The problem

Four and a half days to design an application to help survivors of the zombie apocalypse reach safety. GPS works, albiet infrequently, and can communicate on a basic level, enough to push an application and send/receive small amounts of data. No phone signal or internet is available. All prototyping and testing had to be done in PowerPoint.

The approach

I pushed my team to fit as much of the entire process as we could into a single week. My goal for the team was to push us to produce a real-world approach at a very limited timeframe of designing something. Much of the work should have been put into concepting, simply based on the time constraints. However, we focused instead on building a solid foundation of research as well as performing a reasonable amount of usability tests that would hopefully inform our design without a huge amount of iteration.

The output

The core of our project became to “Help survivors reach safety safely.” In that goal, we ultimately were successful. While the overall quality of the concept could have used refinement, we had enough time to do what would otherwise be considered a “normal” amount of research and testing for a significantly longer project.

Our team conducted a total of seventeen (17) interviews which were crafted in a very specific way to evaluate how we could lead people to safe havens. These interviews focused on how people fundamentally think of navigation, and how they navigate changes based on danger and unfamiliar situations. Assessment of zombie knowledge was secondary to our approach, but still helped us greatly in informing our personas. From this data, two accurate yet ultimately unfinished peronas–Ana Basey and Robert Begay–were created.

We also had the chance to conduct four (4) usability tests, running through two (2) iterations of our prototype, derived from plenty of sketches. Our process was formed around Valerie Casey’s Lenses approach. Unfortunately we only iterated through the entire Lenses process one time, though we still felt confident in our final solution. We did run into time constraints which left our personas not entirely refined to a point I’d feel comfortable sending to a client, and our presentation had some problems in the presented prototype. Ultimately, however, I feel as if this first experiment was a resounding success.