Approaching the end of my project and my time at University, I have been doing my best to try and form my own design process, which is difficult when attempting to create a product at the same time.
This was important to me, as throughout my degree, looking at my design process was not something I gave much thought to and that is why occasionally I have come up short with my solution.
This was an issue for me as a designer, as I spent my entire time worrying about my final product, how it would look and getting it finished within a timeframe.
Starting this year, I realised that the research stage had to feed into every stage of my design solution. Importantly, I started to realise that to gather r good and efficient insights, I would need to do something different during the first part of the semester.
For my research stage I wanted to:
– Talk to people I was designing for, so whether that be an individual or as a group.
– Go along to events, try and observe what people are doing naturally and how their experience could be improved.
– Become integrated within the local community, listen to their experiences.
To begin my design process, I had to see if there was any existing material surrounding mental health and walking. Luckily for me, there was, as there was academic papers and even some material that was covered on TV.
I also began talking to my Mum, who had suffered in the past from a lack of confidence and I wanted to gain initial insights into how she tackled getting back outdoors.
I gathered A2 sheets of paper and started to do different kinds of mind maps, which would pinpoint what was the standout theme that was apparent so far from my early research.
This gave me a good foundation to start my research and also provided me a good idea where I should start looking.
After Guru’s day, it was suggested by that I get out into the local community and find out what groups I could go along to, to try and observe them.
This is exactly what I did, I went along to a walking group who were based not far from where I was staying.
First of all, it was quite daunting, going into an environment where I was having to observe and also interact with users who I was designing for. Being able to observe them in their natural environment, watching how they interact with each other, made me begin to understand how important contextual interviews were.
Even when talking to my mum, it became apparent that I was barely scratching the surface as to how important it was for people to get back out into outdoor spaces.
After speaking to her and to the groups, I could feel the common link starting to take place. That common link was Confidence.
Navigation apps are not new or original and I wanted to make sure that it offered a more personalised experience.
After observing and interviewing people, I realised that there was a small list of criteria that people had when thinking about going on a walk.
This gave me the idea, that I should personalise it for each person, that way they could go on walks which would be tailored to them.
Interestingly, the feedback I received was positive from my users, as they said that during card sorting, having confidence at the top of the list was important.
Also, during an interview with my mum, I had found that she did not know how to edit a lot of settings in her apps, so being asked questions which would set up the platform for her would be important.
Prototyping for me was finding the right tool to do it in.
Initially doing it in Atomic seemed like the way to go, it was free, similar to proto.io and Invision and was able to run on Windows.
That was before Atomic shut down and then I discovered that Invision did not have user input. That was when one of my friends suggested Proto.io as an alternative, plus I could use it on my laptop.
Using Proto.io was good and actually enabled me to do better user testing as they were able to input data. Displaying the app at degree show will be done using an iMac as it will then be shown on Proto.io.
To conclude, I feel as though my project has developed into something that I can be proud of. I have noted that throughout this process, that people have been the strongest aspect of this and will be the most weighted. Of course, my product is nowhere near the finished article, although it has been recieved warmly by the people I have been designing for, especially on social media. I hope to have it published on an external blog in the near future.
Most importantly, I have come to realise that the research stage of a project is the most important in my opinion and that is where I feel I have had the most enjoyment. It also enabled me to create a personal User Experience.