Week 9

This week was even more hectic than the last, so I can only imagine how next week will go.

This week, we conducted user testing, and received great feedback about our product and how it should work. We went in with a functional prototype (if you read between the lines, this means it worked *mostly* but the visual design wasn't implemented yet). As a developer, it was great to see how kids interacted with it and were generally excited by the notion of augmented reality. On the other hand, it was quite frustrating to not guide people through the app when they weren't sure what to do.

However, as a UX design intern, that's a pill I have to swallow in order to best understand how to redesign the app to guide users into making the correct decisions, and maneuvering the app correctly. It's great that we have a design team to focus on some of these aspects, and that's the primary thought on my head today.

After this testing phase, Liam and I worked together all of Thursday to make sure everything worked the way that we liked and to make sure the design interface matched the designer vision. It was interesting to see the gaps in communication, and how we worked with each other when trying to execute a certain idea. Sometimes, when we discussed the feasibility of a certain feature, we went to our developer supervisor for help. It was odd to see that Liam's communication with Charlie was actually more fluid, because Liam's questions were centered around "can we make this work?" while my questions were "does this work?" The caveat here is that I would ask my questions while explaining what I knew to do. My limited knowledge, even in the same field, actually hindered my communication with someone working in the same field because I wasn't able to keep my questions "open."

Even with all of these communication conflicts, Liam and I were shocked at how simple it was to start putting the app together once we sat together and talked through our ideas while attempting to execute them. This was a major push in the right direction, and we regretted not having done it earlier. When we talked through ideas before, there was a certain degree of disconnect because we weren't going through our own trial-and-error process together. But once we did, the process became much simpler and easier for both of us - I didn't have to explain how Xcode handled a certain design, he saw it. Conversely, he didn't have to try and design around my explanations / limited knowledge, he was open to design as he saw fit.

Having this epiphany about the developer-designer relationship, and the communication necessary in such a relationship, was something that I wouldn't have experienced in any other development internship. I'm thankful for being shaken out of my "tunnel vision."

Week 8

This week we began thinking about how to conduct user and usability testing. We needed to get into this phase so that we could begin the iterative design process, and work on developing the user interface, not just the user experience.

We met with John Golden, a usability expert at Crux Collaborative. He gave us great criticism on our product prototype to improve the consistency of the interface, and how to create a "recursive" experience so that users intuitively know what to do when using certain features multiple times. He also gave us insight into Crux's methods for user testing, which helped us get a better idea of how to break down the testing process
 - vetting / consent
 - user experimentation
 - open-ended questions
 - post-testing questionsd
 - surveys
Furthermore, he gave us tips on how to take notes during the experimentation process in order to glean the most information from the testing period.

This week with the prototype, we also spent time working more closely with the designers in order to make sure the visual interface was the way they envisioned. After our meetings with various mentors and discussing the product itself, the team made changes to the interface. The development team also focused on ensuring that we understood every nook and cranny of the execution process - if we run into issues, we want to make sure we can fix them on-the-go without the help of our supervisors.

We are in the final stages, and we're both nervous and excited about moving forward with our final testing phase and presentations.

Week 7

Boy, this week went by Swiftly. That's the best pun I could come up with while being extremely saturated by the sheer amount of information I've tried to learn about Xcode, Swift, and iOS 11 this past week.

This week we've spent time focusing on building our prototype in order to perform testing at the Museum next week. We have two apps in mind, one that will be used by visitors and can be downloaded outside the museum, and a second app that is an AR experience integrated as part of the exhibit. Andrea & I are focused on the coding part, while Carson & Liam work on graphics & the QR codes we need for our apps. To be quite honest, we might be in over our heads, but it's been a valuable experience to put my head down and grind away at learning a new language.

At this point, we're able to use Swift well enough to implement some basic functionality & maneuverability, but implementing these ideas together is still a struggle. Hopefully, by the end of today, we'll have a functioning beta to take to the museum and test.

Week 6

This week, we spent time continuing to design the prototype and met with the museum to go over our ideas. After receiving some feedback & finalizing a presentation date, we are moving forward this coming week with creating an executable version by next Saturday.

I personally have spent time learning how to code in order to make sure the App Flow / User Flow works properly, since that is the role I've taken on in this project. Hopefully, with continuing to learn Swift, we can make an app that works with all of our ideas & content by the end of this week. Of course, the most difficult tasks will be learning how to incorporate the Augmented Reality itself, and working with the 3D models. Hopefully, with our delegation of tasks, we can complete our own versions by the weekend. Afterwards, the team will come together on all of the material to make sure that we have developed a cohesive product / app.

This week is the halfway point, and it is all about putting our heads down, and putting our heads together to execute our goal. Seeing as it was the halfway point, we also had personal 1-on-1 meetings with Anna to discuss our personal and professional goals from the beginning of the internship. I feel like I'm in a good place, but there is more work to be done. Hopefully, after tackling the coding assignment I've been given, I can spend time to catch up where I might be a little behind. As a team, we met with Ali Biro - she helped us work on our LinkedIn profiles and gave us tips on how to best make ourselves known to recruiters in the future. We learnt some useful things that could help us expand our professional reach when searching for job opportunities, and I'll definitely be using them in the future.

Week 5

This week I tackled Swift programming & storyboarding in Xcode. To take the tackling metaphor further, I'm a 130lb cross country runner, and to me, programming of any sort is like facing The Rock in person. Thankfully, with some experience with some programming languages before, it went by a bit smoother than I expected (aka only being hit by a Prius).

On the other side of things, the team created a general prototype (in Adobe XD) for what our project is going to look like. During our team meeting, we considered the thought that we had too much content and were trying to bite off more than we could chew. But in the same light, maybe we kept the general idea a little too simple. We also did have some road bumps in considering how to include content, because we are all novices when it comes to augmented reality. Also, there's a point when we have to work with what we're given and recognize our limits.

It's still exciting every week to tackle something that we're learning on the fly, instead of applying topics we might have learnt in school from the previous semester. Now that we're in the design phase, it definitely is more engaging. The best part, however, is that it requires a lot more teamwork - we can delegate all we want, but communication is critical to ensure that we get a prototype finished within every "group" parameter.

Onto Week 6

Week 4

This week we spent time transitioning between user research & the development of our project. We also spent time doing a resume review & portfolio recap, part of the mentorship aspect of this summer internship. 

On Sunday (6/24) we spent time observing users to determine high-traffic locations, the style of interactions between families, and the general pattern of individuals. We recorded data including time spent in exhibits, verbal/nonverbal interactions, and how different people responded to various exhibit styles. Since we couldn't interview the users, this gave us the best information we could use to inform our decision making during conceptual modeling / brainstorming.

I specifically worked on observing visitors to determine their behavior styles:
Ant - observed closely and for a period of time
Butterfly - "hopped" between exhibits, spent little time
Grasshopper - only viewed that of interest
Fish - did not view at all
Of course, people exhibited multiple behavioral patterns, so I also took notes regarding any peculiar behaviors or patterns of interest that varied within this primary categories.

This upcoming week, I will be spending time learning Swift in XCode in order to participate on the coding process for our design ideas. Andrea and I are focusing on the coding aspects of the project, while Carson and Liam work specifically with Adobe XD. Of course, we are all interesting in learning as much as we can, so I will also be trying to work with Adobe XD in order to better understand a standard UX tool.

I'm really looking forward the transition to iterative design, and seeing how we translate our user observations into actionable concepts.

Week 3

Wow! This week has really started to step it up - we are beginning the transition to the design process after learning everything we could about user research.

Over this past week, we learned a lot more about designing interfaces and the process we need to go through - conceptual models, research, storyboarding, etc. With conceptual models, we went over the ideas of simplicity, friction, and objects / operations relationships. After wrapping our heads around these ideas, we considered them in the scope of AR, where we have to consider environment design, interaction design, and emotion design. All of these design "aspects" influence the way we come up with our ideas and the response it receives from our users.

The team also spent some time taking this information and working on developing observation charts & research questions for the purpose to gathering user data at the museum. I, along with Liam and Carson, worked more on the timeline perspective & planning how we would approach the project and tackle it in a timely manner.

This next week, some of us are trying to tackle xCode & coding in Swift (while we also learn Adobe XD), so our technical skills are going to grow at a faster rate from here onwards. Thankfully, the other members of Praxik are incredibly nice. After a work social earlier today, we got to get more comfortable with the other members of the team.

Week 2 - Diving In

This week we learnt a lot more about research methods and how to take the information we learnt from the museum to create the plan for our project. We also spent time learning Adobe XD, a UX application that utilizes wireframing to outline the application. I'm excited to do this, because this will be my first dive into using UX software!

From the readings this week, I was interested to learn just how much of the UX process can actually be regimented. Having some experience in the design process from my engineering background, it was interesting to see how much deeper this single step in the design process was. It was also exciting to see just how vast it was and the different applications of this new field of study. Conversely, I was shocked to learn that you don't need hundreds of users to determine the changes that need to be made in a product. In biomedical engineering, you need at least 50+ subjects before the statistical value of your research can be taken seriously. So this was something I didn't expect, or at least didn't understand at first.

This week the team also spent time creating a timeline and organizing research questions that could help shape our prototype when we go back to asking the museum staff questions. Hopefully, we may even be able to ask questions to some museum visitors!

 

Week 1 - Uncharted Waters

In this first week, Anna introduced us to our team and some readings to help give us a jumpstart on AR and UX and how they could relate to our client: the Science Museum of Minnesota. I enjoy both subjects, and this first week opened my eyes a little more to their necessity in this tech-filled world.

We were provided with some readings for this first week, and earlier on Monday, we actually had our client meeting! Shockingly soon in my eyes, but we prepared well and it went beautifully, and I’m thankful for the time crunch as it ensured I absorbed as much information as I could. As a team, we had individualized readings to help familiarize ourselves with how AR applies to museums, and the theories behind UX research. We all collaborated to ask open-ended questions to the team we met, and had a productive meeting. The idea of AR guiding a user, rather than just being an informative experience, was new to me, and I found it quite exciting to have encountered a paradigm shift so soon in this internship.

Overall, this first week was a headfirst dive into uncharted waters, and Anna and the rest of the team made it a real pleasure. As a team I think we have a good dynamic with diverse backgrounds, and we’re going to come up with ideas that will make the Science Museum excited. Excited for Week 2!