UX INDIANA UNIVERSITY

Undergraduate Interaction Design Practice - 2017

Indiana University offers a semester-long undergraduate course that reflects an interaction design course in their Human-Computer Interaction masters program. Students were required to apply for the course by submitting a portfolio as well as participate in an interview. The course was broken into three design projects, each with a different brief and scope. My work within three different teams is outlined below. 

   Project 1: Political Games   

BRIEF

Ever since the 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections concluded, it has been obvious to many Americans that the country is divided and that one side neither understands nor listens to the issues of the other. Schell games would like you to work with their contact Elaine to create a game that would facilitate conversation and understanding among diverse populations of Americans, creating a more empathic citizenry, using the game PeaceMaker as inspiration. 

GOAL

The goal is to create an interactive design that responds to the specifications provided below. Primary criteria for judging your design will reflect the human-centered, transparency, and computer imagination themes of this course. You will conduct a usability test on your initial design and then revise the design according to the test results. These revisions will reflect the needs of the end-user, not your personal preferences. 

PROCESS

The brief was broken down into two parts; the first was to build upon PeaceMaker itself, redesigning it to be more usable. The second part involved creating our own game reflecting the same subject of political divide, but this time in the problem space of the United States. We were required to follow the “Lenses” protocol developed by Valerie Casey, founder of the Designers Accord. This allowed us to frame our problem and build upon brainstorming.  We built personas and conducted iterative interviews and usability tests throughout the process, until we presented our final low-fidelity wireframes. 

SOLUTION

We designed a game in which the player is confronted with a variety of political perspectives. The player creates an account in the game, and is shown a map of the United States in which certain areas have polarizing political conflicts. The player chooses an issue, and the player is shown a short video discussing the problem selected. The player is then immersed in the space of a city with a problem, in an isometric view, and they must discuss the problems with other characters. As they discuss, the level of inherent bias will be tallied and compared to other players to show the user where they stand. 

This project was done in groups of four students, and we collaborated in our work. My role was to conduct primary research, while supporting our new designs with secondary research. I played the PeaceMaker game in order to gain insight on what parts of the game caused frustration, in order to improve upon them. I created initial sketches and as we developed a prototype, I conducted usability testing with two different users. As we moved into the second part of the brief, we repeated the process in which we each created sketches and low-fidelity prototypes. I conducted A/B tests with two participants in order to gain feedback on our solution. Our solution was then presented as a group to our stakeholders from Schell games, as well as our professor and class. 

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Project 2: Children in Autonomous Cars

For this project, the goal was to focus on one specific aspect of the experience, and design accommodations for a five-year-old riding in an autonomous vehicle. While designing for this scenario, you must consider the wholistic function of the autonomous vehicle, and consider how the family would use the car without the child present. The team was instructed to work using the guidelines of Jake Knapp's Sprint, adapting the methods to our longer project time frame. 

It is 2025 and we live in a world where human-driven cars share the streets with autonomous cars. As UX researchers and designers your task to come up with UX considerations for autonomous cars. These cars cater to varied user groups, so to narrow the scope you will be looking at a scenario in which a five-year-old needs to be taken to and from kindergarten. Keep in mind that this is a family car and taking the child to school is only one of the functions/uses of the car. 

BRIEF

PROCESS

GOAL

SOLUTION

Our process began with secondary research on vehicle experiences for children, and primary research in which we interviewed parents of young children. Based on that information, we created affinity maps and an initial journey map of the experienceWe each made several "What if..." scenarios, and narrowed down our scenarios to the five most important, and created storyboards for those five. Our process was naturally iterative, and we improved our journey map and storyboards as the project progressed. Each meeting centered around a new stage in the Sprint process, using methods like "Divide and Swarm" and "The Four-Step Sketch," until the final wireframes and presentation.

Our team proposed a tablet and stylus system to be implemented into the back of the front seats of the autonomous vehicle. The child will be greeted by an interactive character set by the parent, and this character will guide the child through available activities that the tablet and car offer. The tablet is secured to the back of the seat, but is moveable, and the child can hold a magic wand that will interact with the tablet. For example, if the child wanted to play instruments, the magic wand could prompt the car to emit the instrument's sound when tapped. The car would warn the child when they are close to school, in an attempt to mitigate any frustration by the child. 

Our team of four students was collaborative, and we each contributed to the Sprint process. My role was to initially conduct secondary research, as well as create initial sketches. My early ideas were generated by "The Four-Step Sketch" method, in which I focused around our problem statement. After this exercise, we took steps to narrow our focus, and I created more sketches. I contributed early personas, before we decided collectively on one child. I sketchnoted a journey map of the whole experience, from entry into the car, to exit. This journey map helped define our "What If" scenarios, and brought forward any issues that could be solved before a future user testing session. Our solution was then presented as a group to our professor and class. 

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Project 3: Zombie Apocalypse 

There has been a zombie outbreak in the United States, and people are traveling across the states to get to California, where there is a better chance of surviving. People are still using cell phones; GPS satellite is mostly functional, but there is no internet. People's biggest threats are a zombie attack and poor navigation skills. There is a need for for an app that will allow people to find and safely navigate to other survivors, signal for help, and provide critical survival skills.

BRIEF

PROCESS

GOAL

SOLUTION

The goal of this third project was to further practice our design skills. The output was a design argument, quality sketches, and multiple documented wireframed prototypes. The project was broken into two parts. Our team focused on all six phases of the design explanation and argument: Predispositions, Research, Insights, Concepts, Prototypes, and Strategy (PRInCiPleS). The themes of transparency, learnability, computer imagination, and tradeoffs will be primary lenses for our design.

The team began the design process by conducting secondary research, as well as primary research interviewing people of different ages and technological skill level. After collecting insights and brainstorming, we came up with some initial personas and concepts, then constructed a low-fidelity paper prototype. Halfway through the project, we were given a new constraint. The app could no longer include images, only vector sketches, and the color palette was limited to white, black, red, and green. This prompted us to refine our design, make the necessary changes, and create high-fidelity prototypes. This was followed by another round of usability testing before the final presentation of our solution.

Our solution was to create a navigation app that focused mostly on a collection of navigation and survival strategy guides. The survival guide was designed as a streamlined, bare bones, categorized information collection. There are tips that are introduced through the application, but guides can be updated with crowd-sourced information. This information can be voted upon to ensure it is accurate and updated in this high-stakes zombie apocalypse environment. We also introduced an edible nature filter, to determine if a specific item in nature is edible along anyone's survival journey. The app is designed to exist offline, but if the traveller reaches an internet hotspot, they can update the information.

For this project, I was the team leader, in charge of continuing progress and flow of the project. I conducted secondary and primary research, and led the brainstorming session based on the insights gained. I contributed initial sketches formed from our problem statement, and later created mid- fidelity wireframes, aligning with the bare bones nature of the prompt. Storyboarding was involved in the iterations of the final solution, completed as a team. Changes were made after the prompt changed to constrain the details of the product, and I updated the mid-fidelity wireframes to reflect the changes. The project concluded with a group presentation to the class and professor. 

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