Role: Research, Visuals, Interaction
Term: 3 Months, Spring 2019
Purpose: Interaction Design I, KSU
Americans produce an average of around 4 lbs. of waste on a daily basis. There are approximately 330 million different people in the United States. If all 330 million of those people produce 4 lbs. of waste a day, this quickly arises an issue. With the amount of waste we are producing as a country, not including the rest of the world, it is not sustainable.
My group and I wanted to design an app that encourages users to engage in a community-driven waste-free lifestyle.
1. Help design ways to eliminate tedious tasks from the get-go.
2. Create a tracking system for agnostic levels of engagement.
3. Provide users with a way of engaging with others.
4. Create an environment that encourages users to learn & grow.
In the beginning...
We used a Goal-Directed Design approach that proved to be quite effective in our design efforts. We found qualitative research methods to be the most useful, consisting of a kickoff meeting, literature review, competitive analysis, user interviews, and our persona construction. Before we gathered that information, we started by asking ourselves some initial key questions that hopefully will help us flesh out some kinks fairly early on:
1. Where do our potential Users currently get their sustainability information?
2. What kind of users are going to be in need of an app like ours?
3. What are the most prominent issues when it comes to sustainability?
Taking a look at competitors and both what they do well, and what they don't, is an immensely beneficial step in the research phase of the Goal-Directed Design process. Without doing so we wouldn't have known if what we wanted to do has already been done, and if it has, how we could improve and innovate upon.
- 500,000,000 plastic straws are used every day.
- The average American throws about 185 pounds of plastic away every year.
- Over 11 million tons of recyclable clothing, shoes, and textiles make their way into landfills each year.
- Over 100,000 marine animals die every year from plastic entanglement and ingestion.
Reasons to reduce waste:
- Save money, Reduce landfills, Conserve resources.
After some deep looking, we came to the conclusion that there are very few apps on the market. The two most prominent ones are JouleBug, which focuses more on the competitive side of things, and OroEco, which does similar things without the competitive edge. Although there weren't many competitors out there, we took this as a sign that there was an opening for an app to address this topic thoroughly.
After we finished the nitty-gritty portion of our Literature and Competitive Reviews, consuming and digesting as much pertinent information as possible, we moved into the User Research phase. From here we knew enough information to compose a set of questions that would focus on things like who the user is? What are their thoughts? Most importantly, what are their goals? Ethically, we were required to receive approval by the IRB (Institutional Review Board) of Kennesaw State University. We interviewed 5 total people, 2 of which crossed the line between normal user interview and an S.M.E. interview.
Some Actual Questions:
- Can you share your thoughts on recycling?
- Do you feel a civic responsibility towards preservation?
- What are some challenges you face when reducing?
- Do you take any kind of active steps towards reducing how much waste you produce?
- Do you use your phone to track any of your daily activities?
We found data from our S.M.E. interviews to be the most helpful in understanding the kind of information our app might revolve around such as composting, or the different types of recycling. We then used an affinity diagram to separate the data into groups of tasks. This helps us "map" the different ideas that we tossed around from our review notes. We decided to get a bit more granular and categorize the trends based on functionality, rather than repetition. This allowed us to see what functionality was most wanted in an app, while also grouping similar ideas and notes into their own categories. Recognizing those patterns allowed us to focus on shaping user goals and in-turn adding purpose to our app.
After affinity mapping, we had a general idea of who our users were, and what their goals might be. So we began rough mockups and ideation of our personas. We have a primary and a secondary persona. The primary persona is what we based our Key-Path Scenario off of. We decided to do two separate personas as the interviewees were split fairly evenly between more experienced and less experienced. Once we finished the ideation steps of persona creation, we knew for sure who our users were and what their goals were. From there we created our context scenarios to prove our apps worth to the user, and then finalized our personas.
High Fidelity Prototype
After attaining a semi-functional, but testable, hi-fi prototype, we decided to get users to test our app. In our first round of Usability Testing, we were paying close attention to how the users navigated and perceived the app. We wanted to ensure that the correct affordances were apparent and functional. Without clogging the user's screen with bloat or large text, we wanted to provide more screen space for in-app functionality.
Goal Tracking Issues:
Added a line to the graph to show the average "good day" for your average days. This tells the user that they are above or below their target waste weight for the day. Before there was nothing to portray that information.
Lack of Feed Visuals:
The feed became hard to comprehend as there was no context from the inside out. Our solution, put an image in there expaining what the article may be about. Also added a "read time" for each article
Selecting a club:
Before we had gotten our user feedback, to get into a given clubs screen you had to click the "View" button. we have fixed that.
I am a Game Developer with a very strong interest in Interaction Design. So, as you may imagine, the 3 months over Spring 2019, I had to learn a lot. While I have taken similar classes, said classes were more software oriented. This class was a full dive into the entire design stack. Goal-Directed Design is a great base to work off of as I see it as an all-encompassing framework to move forward with design work. Most of all, working on Source has taught me how to manage my time better, and how to work in a smaller group, which can become hectic because everyone usually has a strong say in whether or not we do certain things or don't. Overall, I believe that sustainability is a topic that, while it isn't unheard of, it for sure is not practiced enough in most peoples everyday lives. Most marketing for the Earth is done through other mediums, and I believe that we jumped on an opportunity that can be more than just a prototype. I think Source fills a very large gap that, honestly, should be filled by someone already by now. I learned an immense amount, and while I still have more to go if I pursue the field of Interaction Design any further, I think I have enough knowledge about to incorporate its theories and practice into my current skill set!
Zared Redding © 2019