Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Ode to User Experience

After taking the time to think about how User Experience has affected me now and how it will effect me in the future, I have come up with two things. One, is that without user testing us designers are effectively blind when it comes to creating anything tailored for any audience. When the message isn't tailored we can't communicate efficiently. When we can't do that we aren't solving any problems, and thats what we do as designers. Two, it is because of this that both semesters of senior year should go much more smoothly than previous years. I can see already that without user testing, the idea/s that I have in mind for my senior degree project will not be at all possible. Involving a field I know little about I will have to rely on the methods we learned for the extraction of information, in order to know if my concept is being delivered appropriately and efficiently.

ADAA Submission

A collaborative project between Ivan Alonso and Myself. This is an interactive timeline piece, to be utilized at a touch screen kiosk at Union Station in Kansas City. Our focus was on the 1960's history of Union Station and the surrounding Kansas City Area. The look and functionality of the interface is prototyped to be experienced on the Z axis. While we focused on specifically the 1960's we include the indication of similar functionality on the other decades as well.
Our objectives for this project were to create a believable and well delivered interactive timeline for Kansas City's Union Station's 100 year celebration. Our focus was the events of the 1960's and how they pertained to the station. Each aspect of the timeline was supposed to both function on linear and non-linear narratives. The non-linear being the path the viewer can take through the timeline, and how they interact with it. The linear being the content that the viewer can access through using the timeline. This would require extensive research into the subject matter as well as a combination of both wire framing and storyboarding. 
We worked in Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and After Effects. The components for the interface were designed in Illustrator and vectors as well as rasters we edited in photoshop to apply the necessary affects to style our imagery. Once our components were compiled we would use After Effects to animate the timeline in use. We used a combination of both the camera tool as well as 3D object transformation options to make our z axis timeline come to life.

The Hand Built Project

I have to start this off by saying children are wonderful yet fickle creatures, and its for that reason that this project along with user research and testing, has been one of the most valuable experiences here in the design program.

Eli Brumbaugh and myself, took on the concept of having a small handheld booklet that would prompt the kids to explore the park while instilling the need in them to visit each of the featured sculptures. We did this by calling the booklet our Sculpture Explorer Passport, and the objective was to complete a set of badges that they would collect at each sculpture. The pinacle of this task being a more important badge that is received upon visiting each sculpture and collecting all six of the sculpture badges. We also included badges for each of the events planned throughout the day, and in the pages describing those events we created imagery that corresponds to that activity. The map includes two views. One is a dynamic view of the park while the other is a standard top down view.

And this is where user testing comes in and ruins/fixes everything. While observing the kids at the park trying to navigate the map, we could tell that they really enjoyed the process of hunting down and collecting each badge. The major wall that stood between them and that goal was the way finding. The map at that point was almost too dynamic at that point. We took this experience and analyzed where people were getting caught up reading the map, and chose to include a simplified top-down map view. This would clear up where they were as well as provide suggested pathways for a better flow during there time there at the Nelson.