On Design Workshops & Critique
This week we were introduced to the ‘Design Studio Methodology’:
Design Studio is usually an in-person workshop with a diverse selection of team members, with the goal of generating and critiquing ideas, then converging towards a solution. There are many different flavors of design studio workshops and everyone has their own favorite way of doing them (UIE 2012).
I enjoy the process of idea generation as a team, and having my own work critiqued and challenged, this can be difficult to achieve through remote work and education. However last week I offered up my work for critique in the small group meeting with my peers and tutor, which generated some really useful feedback. Getting my work out in the open and hearing different perspectives helped me to improve on the initial draft persona. This week I showed my edited persona, received some further feedback and now I can say that I’m much more confident with the final result than the original iteration.
“Critique is critical to the success of collaborative activities like studio because it allows participants to actively avoid personal preference and analyze ideas against the personas, scenarios, goals and principles that frame the project” (Connor 2012)
Just to recap, the user need for this project is the following:
” I need easy and quick access to cheap sustainable materials for prototyping and design”
As I started to sketch out several user flows, I started to realise that there were several possibilities for the initial use of the app and I started to ask the following questions:
– Should the user be able to browse without creating an account?
– How useful will the use of an account be for the user who just wants to browse?
– Where do we take the user when they don’t find what they’re looking for, how do we avoid frustration or a disappointing experience?
– How many pages should the sign-up / onboarding be?
I decided that going back to competitor analysis could help me to answer some of these questions, and others would be answered in my first stage of user testing. For the competitor analysis I focused on marketplace apps that sell used items, as these are a familiar genre of app with tried and tested functionality. I conducted an element analysis to explore the use of features and best practice for marketplace apps.
The element analysis brought many insights and ideas. I saved screenshots of all relevant screens as I went along to inspect interface details and compare features. I was reminded of the importance of ‘onboarding’ first-time users, showing them around the app, explaining features which may be hidden. Depop do this simply and well by showing the main categories at the user entry point to the app, and suggesting personalisation but making it super simple to opt out. Some more complex tools use video and tutorials to essentially teach the user how to use the product, on initial use they display windows and pointers around certain features to explain their use. Miro is a good example of this – in fact they have an entire ‘learning centre’ that users can refer to if they get stuck. By continuing onboarding for returning users, you help them uplevel their skillset. Ultimately, the best onboarding retains customers over time by continually showing them how to get the most out of your product (Intercom 2016).
One of my interview participants had mentioned Facebook marketplace; “It’s a mess but I can find really cool things because people from all different generations are posting things there, it’s like thrifting.” I found her insight interesting as she implies that although the platform doesn’t provide a good user experience in terms of interface, the possibility of finding something amongst the ‘mess’ emulates the experience of shopping in a thrift store. The idea that people other than her own generation are using the app also has an appeal, she finds rarities and items that her peers my not have. The idea of Wastevine being initially for students is appealing as it simplifies the user research process, but my collaborator Alex mentioned this week that she intended the app to be “open to makers in the broadest sense”. The products I tested in the element analysis all have a broad audience and a wide range of products. In fact the ease of search and access depends on the wide range of available items and thus the wide range of people posting. I’m considering creating a secondary user profile for a professional maker / artist who could also be a seller, I’ll see if I have time to fit this in next week.
User Flow and Paper Prototypes
In the meantime I finalised a user flow based on my competitor analysis and started sketching out some wireframe paper prototypes. For sketching I like to set myself a time limit so that I keep the ideas loose and don’t get focused on the details. I gave myself 5 minutes for each page initially, which was actually too long. I sketched several pages this week and will continue this process next week.
CONNOR, Adam. 2022. ‘Design Studio: A Method for Concepting, Critique, and Iteration’. [online]. Available at: https://www.slideshare.net/adamconnor/design-studio-a-method-for-concepting-critique-and-iteration [accessed 25 Feb 2022].
INTERCOM. 2016. ‘Onboarding Never Stops – Inside Intercom – Medium’. Inside Intercom [online]. Available at: https://medium.com/intercom-inside/onboarding-never-stops-a9ccfd782ffd [accessed 25 Feb 2022].
‘Design Studio Workshop: Adding Up the Benefits’. 2012. UX Articles by UIE [online]. Available at: https://articles.uie.com/design_studio_workshop/ [accessed 25 Feb 2022].