Graduate Studio-ID 6213
Group Assignment: Jonathan Hatley, Shihui Ruan
February 10th, 2020
Adobe Creative Suite, Solidworks, Keyshot9, & Figma
For this project students had to have to think from the lens of User Experience Designers, 1~2person per team will design a new digital product or interactive physical product(smart product)in near future (1~3 years), my group had decided to go with the later. Based on our study with the target user group we thought that Students and At Home Workers would benefit from this product. The whole process includes these 4 phases: 1) User study to identify the user needs and the real-world problem, 2) The product definition and concept design, and 3) The visual design and prototyping, 4) User testing.
From Undergraduate to Graduate to Ph.D., students are faced with an extensive list of tasks and duties they must fulfill to be considered “successful”. As a current Masters’s student myself I have to juggle multiple hats on a regular basis without losing my cool. The overloading of homework, constant notifications of school social events by email, unending job searches, and steady stream daily chores that one faces can put even the most well-prepared students in a state of fatigue. And now with the advent of social media applications like Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok, and Instagram which adds an additional layer to the already congested mix, it feels like there is no end in sight. This fast-paced and demanding environment does not stop after graduation either but piles on once people join the workforce. While this is an issue everyone faces its impacts on our faculties should not go unnoticed.
Recently there have been a variety of reports that people are becoming more invested in their personal devices through means of games and media causing a casual habit to flourish into a parasitic addiction. Internet or tech addiction is the lack of self-control one might have to not use the internet or smart devices (Fu, 2018). While sounding seemingly harmless this could impact our behavior in a variety of negative ways. This cocktail may include depression, anxiety, lack of sleep, issues with face recognition or facial detection, and negative emotions. While tech addiction can affect one’s health it can affect one’s attention span and work/social environment.
And now, students, as well as workers, are all stuck at home, and though there are a variety of distractions that are now minimized we are now turning to our devices more than ever to us informed along with distracted from what is going outside our domain. While this is a pro, and definitely helps us deal with a drastic solution it does come with considerable cons. Since we rely on our phones and other devices our minds are starting to be inundated with constant notifications and content which can be extremely distracting or overwhelming when in a meeting, working, or just enjoying one's home. Resulting in an increased cognitive load and diminishing concentration inhibiting work in an already stressful time.
While the constant workload that we normally receive is now at home and our only escape is through our devices, there is a direct relationship to how we consume media and use it to escape. Resulting in a rapid decrease in our attention spans along with how we use our time to work or interact with one another. With the access to literature as well as participants on Georgia Tech’s campus, I believe there is an opportunity to develop to tool to impede our reliance on technology and influence an effective work environment.
Research & User Needs
To gain a better understanding of our user group we decided to observe students in their normal study environment along with obtaining specific information regarding how they study and what they might use to study. We did this through Observation/Contextual Inquiry, Surveys & Interviews, and a Market Analysis.
Observation & AEIOU
Site Locations were selected on the number of students who use it as well as convenience, these places were Dorm housing and institutional offices like the Maulding residents' hall, West Village, and the Georgia Tech Library were chosen. These locations had a high student concentration and provided a variety of scenarios that could be observed. Each student's behavior and environment were observed for 1 hour, observations were photographed and dictated by hand. What we had observed is as follows:
The built environment that students use to study is extremely bland lacking sunlight and space to set their materials. Students also appear to be overstimulated, having a large number of electronic devices vying for the worker's attention. Students focus appears to be lost within 30 minutes of studying, there students would either leave the study room, interact with their phones, or converse with one another.
Survey & Interviews
I thought it would be best to focus on users such as students since access to them was easier and that their work-life is full of distractions. The use of the survey does not stop at this phase and will be used later as an interview guide or referral when conducting interviews to collect strong use cases and requirements. The survey was sent at the beginning of the week after the project concept was accepted and stayed open for proximately a week, doing this provided me with 50 quantitative responses and 10 written responses.
Results were that students are most likely to study in either their dorm room or in a study room located at either a library or in the housing provided by the school, 75 percent of students do have a study plan but 50 percent of students don't follow that plan to completion. 50 percent of respondents tend to use social media while studying and 64 percent of respondents use Google, Canvas, and Spotify while they are studying on a consistent basis. Which explains why an overwhelming amount of students who view their phone as a distraction instead of their laptops. Though this was the case almost 50 percent of students do nothing to rid themselves of these distractions. Some written responses were as follows:
“ I always put my phone in my bag or someplace out of sight. The visual aspect is the most distracting for me personally.”
“App called Forest that helps a lot. It plants a tree and if you leave the app during selected it kills it. Very good for studying.”
“I’d say the first 15 minutes of studying are when I’m most vulnerable to distractions. I have to silence notifications and even hide my taskbar on my laptop to make sure I only focus on one thing. Once I get into a flow, I’m unlikely to stop.”
To push towards a variety of features and derive a variety of concepts. This was to be done during the interview section of the research process but there was a lack of time and willing participants. In this section, I looked into reviews and blogs that encompassed the experiences and pain points of study app users as well as other concentration tools that could prove useful. While there is a possibility that there will only be inputs that concern functionality I believe it was still a venture worth paying attention to.
Applications such as Forest and Tomato Timer were analyzed as well as notification blockers for driving. Instead of only observing 1-Star reviews we had looked into 5-Star reviews as well, this was done because both negative and positive insights are useful in designing the app. These were some of the reviews that we found:
Users like using apps such as Forest, since it gamifies, monetized, and decorates proper time spent while showing metrics of how long they study.
Driving applications are well received due to their adaptability and ease of use in situations that require high levels of concentration.
Product Definition & Concept
We developed 4-5 digital /physical concepts that could provide an enhanced learning environment, While we needed to receive feedback on all five peers were interested in the last two on the far right. The pyramid was a concept similar to a Pomodoro timer however this device was able to input 4 subjects so that the user could have a more in-depth study plan, this tool would sit on top of the phone so that users would still have access to their device. However, if it were removed the device would vibrate incessantly until placed back on the phone. The Last tool was akin to a lockbox, where you slide in your phone lock the device and all notifications would be turned off until your study time is up.
Peer Feedback & Exploration
Peers were given a breif description of all 5 products and then asked to provide their thoughts on each prototype, after this was done peers were then asked to select 1-2 prototypes that they could see themselves using or would be a practical solution. What we found was that participants enjoyed the pyramid idea most due to its interesting interaction and that it allowed them to take breaks when needed. However students believed that the shape limmited the function of the product too much. We also noted the the product that was disliked the most, the slide in lock device, peers said that the complete lock down would cause a variety of problems if a student has already set the study time. They also disliked the serious tone of that it displayed.
We went forward with this product after receiving more feedback about the pyramid and had deemed it impractical for on the go studying. Participants also disliked how the pyramid did not completely hinder the lack luster and further developed the sliding lock mechanism to reflect more of a radio or tool that would be able to sit in the back ground of a desk as well as hinder the phones use
Prototyping & User Testing
From our current research findings, we decided to go forward with a device that works in tandem with your cellular device. The concept is derived from a lockbox like style, but instead of not being able to completely hide the phone. The user will basically be able to access the limited functionality that the application provides. To add this product we wanted to make sure that the phone is not easily extracted from the device. One inputs their phone into the device connects the phone via Bluetooth and automatically turns on the do not disturb platform on to your phone. There the user is able to study in peace and not have a heavy reliance on their phone. To make sure that this product is successful in its intended task we decided to put our product through a user test. However, due to the unseen events of Covid-19 developing a physical prototype and testing its design was not easily done and testing for this product had to be completely digital as well as focused more on the digital interface.
Process & Results
For the Physical Mode, participants were shown the concept above and asked to describe what the product is with little background knowledge specifying their thoughts on shape, color, and texture. Participants found that the product was easy to understand having little to no issue with the function of the device. Issues that were found was that the textures and finish do not seem to fit the overall style of the product, another issues was the color choice. Participants voiced concerns that visually impaired student might not be able to differentiate the power button from the wood casing.
For the Digital Product participants were also allowed to give their concerns about the design of the product. For the digital Participants were shown the interface that we developed and asked to complete a set of tasks, these were:
Add and Start a new study plan
Accept or Decline the Call
Play a song
Add another contact
Participants found that accepting an incoming call and going back to the home page was seen as tedious. The task that required participants to add a new contact was was considered the most difficult and was not successfully completeled.
Based on the user testing we decided to change the material along with the color palette to reflect a vintage, sophisticated, and aesthetic style. For the wireframe, we changed some of our iconography as well as interactions so that tasks could be completed with higher levels of efficiency in mind. These changes can be viewed in our video (shown below)and we believe this made the final product a better tool for our user to work with after these changes were made.
Produce Your Optimal Study Environment
Students are able to accept phone calls and play their own music when hooked up to the Juke Speaker.
Work Smarter not Harder
The Juke app provides an opportunity for students to develop a strong work ethic and create a plan of attack when studying multiple subjects.