During my undergraduate studies, I was asked to create an intervention using interaction design and UI/UX skills for a partner in my class. We had eight weeks to complete this process and were challenged to avoid apps or digital interfaces as solutions. This page will go through my analysis of my partner, Andrew, and the product I created for him: draftCOACH.
User Experience Design
The first day I met with my partner we were asked to create portraits of our day. It was a starting point to get to know more about one another. Andrew had made a self-portrait that tracks his listening to music throughout the day. I have included an image of it to the right. It allows me to better understand Andrew as a person and guides my process. Not only was it clear that he is passionate about music, but I could also see a glimpse of how things are organized throughout Andrew’s day. Looking at the poster together, we went over different times and why music was more or less prevalent then. This discussion helped broaden our conversations and look at Andrew’s day more holistically. I learned about how he uses music socially and how it also appears when he watches videos and uses social media. I also learned there are times when music is a distraction and needs to be turned off. This portrait served as a starting point to guide our conversations during our interviews in the next step of the process.
Interviewing was the most important part of my process for this project. Since the goal of this project was to create one thing to improve my user’s life, I was determined to know my user really well. In total conducted six interviews with Andrew and took notes during all of them. Some of my key findings include:
- Andrew wants to combine his graphic design career with his love for sports.
- Andrew enjoys designing sports material in his free time but has no set schedule.
- He believes the most time-consuming process when designing is finding images.
- My partner wants to practice designing to further his career so he can work in the sports industry.
- Andrew likes flexibility when designing, especially with regard to time.
- Andrew likes playing card games with his friends.
- He wants to apply for jobs but does not yet feel confident in his skills.
- There is a desire to have increased control over his design work.
- Andrew wants to improve his skills in creating layouts but is open to learning new skills and programs too.
- He strongly prefers a physical interface or experience as opposed to one that is digital.
- Andrew enjoys being seen as creative.
- Andrew has trouble balancing social relationships and schoolwork.
- Andrew bonds with his friends by listening to music.
Creating a mind map with the information gathered through interviewing served as a way to better visualize my information and identify key themes in my data. I did a series of these and will include the ones most important to my process. The lines signify which ideas are connected and represent how interrelated certain topics are to one another.
Being able to zoom out and think about my interviews a bit more holistically and I was able to add some points to my key takeaways:
- Sports and design often intersect with one another and with Andrew’s major life.
- Andrew has some doubts about his future and how his career will look.
- Andrew wants to improve his skills as a designer so he can get a job in the sports industry.
- Music has a strong effect on Andrew’s relationships.
- There are many activities and responsibilities Andrew balances daily that complicate different aspects of his life.
After sorting my information using mind maps, the next thing I did was organize this information by creating a visual map. This process functions like a mind map does while going a bit more in-depth. With the maps I created, I could organize my thoughts while also looking at the bigger picture.
The sports poster features Andrew’s favorite sports along with logos of sports video games he plays. The Photoshop logo ties the sports theme to the design. Photoshop is Andrew’s preferred tool to use for design. His friends are added because they relate to how he bonds through sports, and how he chooses not to share his design work.
The music poster looks at how Andrew listens to music but also ties back to his technology use and how he uses music to bond with his friends. I have also included an album from one of his favorite artists.
The balance illustration was the most difficult for me to create. Balance is a more abstract concept, so I added a scale to represent things more clearly. It touches on sports, a career, music, and school.
From the research I conducted, mind maps I created, and visual maps I drew, I felt I had enough information to proceed and start to define and identify problems I noticed in Andrew’s life. I am attempting to precisely address the issues Andrew is facing and why they are important.
- Andrew is trying to balance work and social life but struggles because of too many options on how to spend time outside of classes which makes him feel stressed.
The first statement focuses on balance and Andrew’s struggles managing events, which he seems to have recurring difficulties with.
- Andrew needs a way to bond creatively with friends because enjoys being connected on a more creative level.
Andrew expresses a desire to bond with friends creatively. Music is the only way he can do this right now. I thought addressing this issue would have been a more open-ended approach than forcibly putting music into a problem statement.
The third statement is the one I decided to work with for the rest of the project. It addresses Andrew’s career goals but also how design and music intersect in Andrew’s life.
“Andrew needs a way to better combine his passion for sports with his design work because that is the career he ideally wants to pursue after graduation.”
To start prototyping, I brainstormed several ideas. I was not concerned with feasibility at this point. Instead, I focused on examining all possible avenues rapidly. From there, I reviewed my ideas and picked out a few that I felt were the strongest and most appropriate given the scale and duration of this project.
After ideation, I began sketching. First, I created a prototype seeking negative reactions from Andrew in order to better understand what not to include in my designs. It was important for me to define what to avoid so I could better figure out what to deliver.
I then proceeded to sketch out some other ideas from what I thought were my strongest ideas given the research I had conducted. Some of the products that didn’t make the cut can be seen below.
I presented them to my partner to get his feedback and was able to narrow things down. He communicated with me what would be the most effective for the problems that he is currently facing. It was between a communication card and a prompt card system. I decided to work with the prompt cards. I believe it would be the most practical and engaging intervention for Andrew’s problem. I have included my original sketch of the system below.
The idea was to create a system that would allow Andrew to design when he is able without forcing him to commit to designing every day. It will incorporate his interests and the teams he likes. I also wanted to include a QR code with links to images and content because Andrew mentioned that it was difficult for him to find source materials for his projects. This will allow him to focus on the arrangement, which he determined was the most important skill he wanted to work on. I also wanted to devise a way to sort the cards so that they were so random. At this stage, I thought it might be good to divide the cards into short and long prompts. However, this idea was changed later on in my process.
After deciding on the prompt cards, I began to work on my mid-fidelity prototype. I explored several layouts and gathered research on Andrew’s preferences concerning visual aesthetics.
My initial idea was to incorporate color, but Andrew mentioned a strong preference for neutrals, so I had to revise my design. I also decided to use a pull-out tab to fit more information on each card. I also explored different shapes but settled on a square as it is most practical if the user wants to shuffle the cards. The edges are rounded to prevent injury when shuffling the cards.
I also decided to design a box to carry these cards at this stage. I later abandoned this idea, but it was a great look into where I would take the next steps of this project. I instead decided to separate the cards into four separate boxes for the time being. This comes from my interviews with Andrew where I learned that he only designs sports-related content during that specific sport’s season. This way Andrew can better organize his prompt cards.
I also created some illustrations to go with the cards. I was inspired by football plays and how they are drawn on chalkboards. This guided my illustration process. I would have liked to add a bit more abstraction, but we only had two weeks to create our products. If given more time I would have liked to elaborate a bit more.
While prototyping I did a brief competitive analysis and looked for products similar to my intervention. I analyzed Sharpen, a website that generates design prompts. I also looked at “301 Things to Draw” which is a book that encourages artists and illustrators to draw something every day. Finally, I examined UI Tenets and Traps which is a card deck to guide UI designers in their practice. After taking notes on these products, I produced the chart to the right. It compares and contrasts the created and helps guide my creation of a final prototype by considering areas where competing products were lacking.
The final prototype is a series of boxes that contain prompt cards. They feature Andrew’s favorite sports and have realistic design prompts to engage Andrew and get him to practice his design skills. There is a basic prompt as well as a challenge prompt so Andrew has increased freedom of choice when it comes to how much time he wants to commit and how far he wants to push his skills. The prompts are open enough to provide Andrew with the creative freedom he desires. A QR code is included with links to resources that pertain to the project. This addresses Andrew’s concerns about his inability to find appropriate imagery when designing alone.
The cards are separated by sport so Andrew can design sports material during any given sport’s season, as is his preference. There are quick guidelines and icons to predetermine aspects of designing that Andrew has more trouble with (size, color choice, etc).
The exterior of the box and the cards are neutral to keep with Andrew’s aesthetic preferences. Still, there is a pop of color on the inside along with an illustration of the corresponding team’s area or field to add a hint of whimsy and suggest Andrew’s passion for sports design is something that is hidden and can be uncovered.
To summarize, this design addresses findings by:
- Addresses both graphic design and sports.
- Allows him to pick his own schedule and practice with flexibility.
- Helps him find images easily.
- Allows the user to practice for a career in sports.
- Engages the user through his interest in card games.
- Improve his main skill set while offering a challenge.
- Is a physical interface as is his preference.
I created a physical mock-up of my work which can be seen at the top of the page. It is constructed from paper and tape.
After presenting my project to my partner, he was very excited. He really liked the concept and how it was so mindful of who he is as a person. He even asked to keep it, which was not a requirement of the course. I happily gifted it to him. This was really great to see that the product I created has a positive impact on someone’s life, so much so that they wanted to keep and use it.
As part of this project, we were also asked to create a process book detailing our experience creating this project as a gift to give to a partner. I have included an interactive flipbook of my work below.