Week 10

Week 10 was the final week of our internship. We all worked countless hours and late nights to meet the deadline and make sure that our product was terrific. In 11 weeks we were given the task of creating an AR app for the Science Museum of Minnesota with the goal of increasing and enhancing the time spent in the Paleo exhibit. I am very proud of my team and I. We went above and beyond the expectations of the museum by providing them with an AR experience as well as an additional mobile experience. Please check out our Week 10 team blog to find out more about how our presentation and week commenced. If you've been following my blog for the last 10 weeks, I want to thank you for tuning in! It's been a pleasure! At the beginning of the summer, I had just begun looking into UX. I now feel that I have real potential to grow and develop a career with what I have practiced this summer. I am happy to be taking a direction that I have chosen myself, one that no one but myself told me to do, all the while everyone I've spoken with has been nothing but supportive and encouraging about my transition into the field of UX. I've met some fantastic and talented people throughout this internship that I never expected I'd have the opportunity to speak with and meet. I can't wait to venture into the new and incredible opportunities that the UX career path has to offer. 

Week 9

This week we made it over to the museum to conduct user testing. The goal was to gather data from enough users to indicate which features needed improvements. We were able to test out a functional version of Dino Finder for our iPad device but did not have enough time to have the iPhone attachment app fully functional. We surveyed a total of 8 families within an approximately 3 hour period. Most people were very excited to see the final product, and we're confident that they would use it again once fully implemented. We received a piece of feedback that some visitors wanted to bring home the AR experience with them after leaving the museum. It may be cool to implement something in the future where people are given a download code after experiencing it at the museum. This way, they can continue the experience at home. 

After user testing, Carson and I made refinements to both Dino Finder iPad (AR) and Dino Finder iPhone (Dino Code Collector) versions. From this point forward I worked with Shreyas to help him implement better on-screen instructions and gestures. Together, we began focusing on how to make the graphical content functional. I started by asking Charlie questions such as "can we make this work?" while Shreyas's questions looked at asking questions such as "does this work?" In this process, I've learned how important it is to develop a healthy relationship and line of communication between the designer and the developer. We both speak two very different languages so at times we can misunderstand each other even if we may be thinking the exact same thing. For someone like Shreyas who has been working under the role of a developer, I have learned to my surprise, that he is not a designer and does not work within the same framework as me. He has his own framework that guides his process as a developer using Swift. With this in mind, I have been trying to consume and listen to his thought process as much as possible before I go forward in asking questions about how to implement my vision. I've also played the role of the clueless user; when Shreyas begins using developer jargon, I always ask him to specify what he is saying to obtain a better understanding. While he may find something blatantly evident on his end, I may not always see it that way because I haven't used swift nor do I know much code yet. After numerous explanations and going back and forth, I began to understand the framework that Shreyas was using to communicate his thoughts with me. After only two or three days, our communication became so good that in many cases he didn't have to explain in depth how Xcode handled a design because I understood his framework.

In the future, I really look forward to pushing the dialogue between the designer and developer forward as I think that it has immense opportunity to flourish. This internship has given me the invaluable opportunity of recognizing the importance of the designer-developer relationship that I am not sure I would have received at any other UX internship (THANK YOU ANNA AND CHARLIE!!!).

Week 8

This week I solely focused on simplifying the buttons and what the user see's. We met with John Golden, a usability expert at Crux Collaborative. From his background in Graphic Design, he was able to give a lot of useful insight and criticism on how we can improve the consistency of our app to make it easier for our users to understand. He made an excellent point that if something is not being used it should look like a disabled button or a button that is not meant to be used until something else happens first. He also made the point that the color of our buttons needs to remain consistent throughout the app and that they should not be inverses of each-other unless they perform a particular task. Below I've included screenshots of this week's updated prototype. 

Going into week 9, we created our outline for our week 10 presentation at SMM. Next Thursday we'll focus on finalizing our performance as well as gathering and processing our user data. We planned to grab data at an earlier date but ran into a bug when trying to do testing at the museum. Hopefully, this Thursday that is not the case! On Friday we will be presenting to Anna and going over potential questions that people might have to prepare us for the real presentation.

Throughout this internship, I have found Anna's advice and mentorship to be very helpful. I do have a few things to say though. In some scenarios, when told that I am making assumptions but not told why I feel that there is a bit of a disconnect and that I am being shut down. It is in the best nature of the designer to try stuff and see what fails and works well. These assumptions that I may be making are part of the role of a designer and should be seen more as qualified/light assumptions and a way of testing. I should not have to provide concrete evidence for why a child might understand images more than text, but if this is necessary, then I'd be happy to do something similar to this in my process for the future. Also, when told I am making assumptions, it is not always explained why I am making the assumptions which at times can make it more difficult for me to learn because I have to assume the reasoning behind what is wrong when I don't know why it is wrong. If told that I am making an assumption but not told why then we can assume that I will continue to create the same premise. I hope to talk to Anna directly one-on-one about this to get more feedback on how I can communicate that what I am testing is always subject to change. I also hope to convey to her that some design decisions need to be assumptions to move the design forward. Of course, the design needs to be supported by research, but with gathered data in mind, assumptions can, should, and will be made to push the design forward. Communicating with someone who isn't a designer can be extremely difficult, and I can't wait to learn more about how I can effectively and efficiently communicate with someone who isn't the same as me. I guess that's all part of being a user experience designer and developing trust.

I look forward to next week and prepping for the presentation. We are so close to being done, and we have all been learning so much!

Week 7

A lot happened on Thursday and Friday of this week, so I will try my best to summarize all of the progress and learning that occurred. On Thursday, three of us had the opportunity of meeting with Anna to discuss personal growth as a UX designer and where we wanted to aim for the future. Anna was extremely attentive to the questions I was asking and also the way I was asking them. She was most helpful in talking through my goal of being accepted into the MHCID program. Based on Anna's questions and my answers to her questions she was able to help me more clearly define how I need to prepare myself for the program. I plan to gather 10-15 portfolios from students that have been accepted to the 2017 and 2018 programs. I also plan to find some other portfolios on Behance that stand out to me. From there, I will contact a few people from the program and ask for around 5 minutes of their time to ask questions about their experience of being accepted into the MHCID program and if they have recommendations for what I should include in my portfolio. Anna also stressed the importance of being direct with the questions that I ask while also considering the context of the question, whom I am speaking to, and being mindful of the time that each person has. 

On Thursday and Friday, our team decided to split the app into two unique, but related app experiences. One app targets families that do not have iPhones and do not have access to newer phones with AR capabilities. The other focuses on having 4-6 stationary iPad devices connected to gimbals that will be used to augment 4-6 dinosaurs within the exhibit. Regarding the iPhone app, the goal for the user is to have them find each custom 2D dinosaur image that corresponds to the 3D dinosaur models on the iPad displays spread throughout the exhibit.

Prefacing week 8, we discussed visual adjustments that could be made to help the user move through the app in a way that keeps them engaged and drawn into how to scan the images, rather than skipping through the instructions. We also worked on simplifying the buttons and what the user see's.

Week 6

After a great fourth of July, most people returned to Minneapolis late into the day on Thursday, July 5th. We ended up having a video call to discuss what needed improvements in our prototype and continued to determine the type of experience that was going to be most fitting for the SMM. Before ending the call, we discussed the roles that each of us would take on going forward into the second half of the internship program. We decided that I would take on the part of Interaction Designer, Carson would be the Visual Designer, Sandy would be the Researcher, Andrea would wear multiple hats focusing on development and Interaction Design, and Shreyas would be the lead developer. 

On Friday, July 6th, I presented my design ideas for the slider feature of InstantAR Pro which will soon release onto the iOS app store. It turns out that my ideas will be tested and possibly have the chance of being implemented into the first public version! As a team, we met with Ali Biro from LymanDoran to discuss career development and tips to make our LinkedIn stand out when being searched. 

Over the weekend, I made more progress on our prototype and prepared questions to ask Anna for our one-on-one meeting the following week.

On Thursday, July 11th we presented our prototype to the Science Museum of Minnesota and discussed our reasoning behind the features that we wanted to offer. Everyone on our team and the SMM team provided useful input which really made our conversation exciting. Afterward, we gathered more photos from the exhibit to determine where and how our app would interact with the existing paleo exhibit.

Week 5

This week landed on the 4th of July which made it a bit more difficult to schedule times to collaborate on our prototype. Everyone on our team now has a role to take on for the successful completion of our app. Andrea, Carson, and I are focusing on the design side of things. Andrea is also wearing multiple hats by learning how to use Swift. Shreyas will be doing the majority of the coding in Swift so he will be the go-to when trying to make our designs into a functional reality. Sandy is helping oversee the design process, using the research we gathered to guide our design concepts in the right direction, while also handling all communications with our client (the Science Museum of Minnesota). 

On Thursday, June 28th, we developed ideas for what direction our prototype could go. I’ve included an image below listing some of our thoughts. Before we could move forward with any of the ideas that we wrote down, we talked with Charlie, one of the developers at Praxik to discuss which approach was most feasible in the time that we have left. We ended up landing on the idea of a Custom QR Code in each zone that links to information or 3D AR models when scanned. 

On Monday, July 2nd, Carson and I met to wireframe our idea. We drew out six screens to display the flow and concept behind our concept. We also thought about how each user would interact with the display and where each QR code would position itself. I have been having quite a bit of fun diving into the design process and have found that I am learning a lot more just by doing. It is amazing how well some of my skills from architecture transfer over to UX. It has been nice working with Carson because he has such a visual eye while my architectural mind tends to think mainly about how one might move through and interact with something. All-in-all a productive week with the addition of a mid-week Independence day.

Week 4

On Sunday, June 24th, we visited the Science Museum of Minnesota to gather data and conduct observations on visitors. Our goal was to stay and observe as many families as possible for around 3 hours. Each person was able to choose a role for data collection. Carson and I took on the part of verbal and non-verbal social interaction, Sandy and Shreyas observed behavior types, and Andrea tracked how much time people spent in each zone.

The criteria for what we measured was the age of participants (kids age 18> and adults age 25<), the number of verbal and non-verbal interactions between each family member, personality type (ant, fish, grasshopper, and butterfly), and any notes that we found helpful, such as recording the typical path that each family took as they moved through the exhibit.

Aside from gathering data, my focus this week was to make my website publicly available online and to set myself up to be able to continue to produce natural refinements throughout the rest of the internship and after that. As a group we each tweaked our resumes and uploaded them to Dropbox so that we could give feedback on each other's resumes. Anna spoke with us about how to improve a CV/Resume which helped us provide feedback to each other. Here are a few of the things that she mentioned:

  • Update resume every six months!

  • Update LinkedIn at the same time!

  • Have a consistent structure and hierarchy

  • Most recent jobs to the top

  • Figure out your categories. What categories need to be filled?

  • Identify skill set categories for UX

  • Try to include a # in each job description, ex. Internship w/ 4 people, 20% acceptance rate (highly selective)

  • Include level of competition

Next Friday we will be getting an introduction to Swift, and I will be presenting our first prototype for our AR app! Anna also gave us the challenge to redesign the slider effect in Praxik’s InstantAR app. I look forward to jumping into Adobe XD and trying this out.

Week 3

What a week! Week three was action packed with refining our research questions, social/behavior tables and organizing a timeline to keep us on track for the remaining weeks. At the end of the week, we ended with a company social. It was nice to meet all of the Praxik employees and get to know them better. 

At the beginning of week three, we started off by sitting down for a phone interview with Jeff Johnson, an expert in UI and HCI. It was beneficial to speak with Jeff and hear his perspective as a UI Researcher. He stressed the importance of user testing as the first part of the design process, using conceptual modeling as a design tool before any prototyping begins.  He also emphasized optimizing user task flow and keeping the “new user’s eyes.” He posed the question, "How would someone who isn’t the designer see it?"

On Monday, June 19th, Sandy and Andrea reevaluated some of the questions that we put together over the weekend for the museum. Creating questions that are open-ended and specific enough to provide information from our users while not being too-specific, to the point where the information provided is not applicable across all users can be quite the challenge. While Sandy and Andrea took on the task of generating observation tables Shreyas, Carson, and I revised our team timeline to determine when we will have our next museum visit, when we will analyze data gathered from our stay, and when we will begin coding and prototyping. The timeline that we have created will guide our progression throughout the rest of our internship experience. 

Jumping forward to Thursday, June 21st, we finalized our social interaction tables which will track adult and child interaction. We also made room for a "notes" section in the behavior table to follow things like visual cues or other observations that we wouldn't have expected to see. We are all set to gather some instrumental data during our Sunday visit to the Science Museum of Minnesota. I look forward to what is in store for week four as we begin to jump more into conceptual modeling,  prototyping, and design challenges.

Week 2

In week 2 we were given a set of four readings focused on learning how to define research questions, design research methodologies, conduct research ethically and responsibly and perform evaluations and tests on products. Additionally, we were given time to learn Adobe XD, one of the industry standard UX prototyping/wireframing tools. 

The readings have been useful in learning fundamentals of asking qualitative and quantitative questions that have a strict focus on the user. It is common sense that asking leading questions is not helpful when trying to learn about the user, although the act of creating exploratory and informational questions that prompt an organic answer is more challenging than it may seem. I'm happy that we have been presented with the opportunity to practice asking user-centered research questions.

Many of the questions that I created after going through the readings were exploratory, qualitative, and bigger picture. I am going to challenge myself to ask more questions that are informational and quantitative as they will provide greater precision in how we design our prototype.

We also spent time this week creating a timeline that we can use to stay on track for gathering research and designing our prototype. It is always hard for me not to jump right into the design process, but I know that by having patience we will be able to collect research that will significantly affect our design.

Week 1 at Praxik

Entering into the Praxik internship a week late pushed me to work right away with less time to get caught up with everyone. I’ve enjoyed doing the AR reading and the Museum readings. The AR reading, written/published by the Harvard Business Review, gave me a baseline sense for how we use AR in three primary ways; visual, instruct and guide, and interact. After going through my two chosen museum readings by Petrelli O Brien and Roberts et al. and completing the reading questions, I was able to narrow down useful questions that the researchers were asking about their audience as well as develop questions of my own for my client, the Science Museum of Minnesota. Here are a few; “What do visitors prefer, aesthetics or functionality? How often are visitors moving around and how are they interacting with each space? Which do you value more, interaction or instruction? Why?

In one of the museum readings, I thought it was interesting that not everyone cared about aesthetics as much as they cared about the experience that they had. As long as the experience felt real and seamless, it was easier for the user to learn about their surroundings. Keeping this in mind for our project may help. Also, our design should help bring the user in with big questions. We need to determine the best way of bringing the user in and then having them stay and interact for more extended periods of time. We should try to use “interest-based curiosity,” which means use as little text as possible and more engaging media while also designing to reference the surrounding objects/artifacts on display.

Today, June 7th, I had the opportunity to meet with my team for the first time. We each seem to have unique personalities, and hidden talents that I think will make this project turn out very well. We all have valuable skills that will help each other push this project forward and ask better questions along the way.