GOALS & CONSTRAINTS
In order to create a united group dynamic, I made it a priority to settle down as a group to set goals, consider the strengths and constraints of our team, and share where this project lies as a priority in relation to school, work and extracurriculars. This discussion set a strong precedent for building a sense of rapport, allowing us to set a strong foundation for communication and collaboration throughout the project. Some of the notable constraints we discussed:
- Our group was design heavy, with basic knowledge in coding for websites (e.g. HTML & CSS at most).
- More than half the group was new to UI/UX design, aside from Kathy and Fairy, whom I worked with in design-related projects.
- Everyone wanted to take part in all aspects of the process, including user research, UI/UX design and front-end development.
- We had less than 10 weeks to create, design and code a functioning website.
NEEDFINDING: DEFINING THE PROBLEM SPACE
In the initial two weeks, we performed needfinding and examined the pain points that UC San Diego students face when finding or expressing their creativity. We used ethnographic research methods to gather user data and emphasized the importance of finding use cases and user scenarios in order to build empathy with our users. Afterwards, Fairy, Kathy and I led the team through group discussions to consolidate user data in the form of affinity diagrams, wall walks, personas, and storyboards. Through the crowdsourced data, we were able to define the following problem space for our users:
- UCSD students have a difficult time coming up with new ideas for creative projects, e.g. writing, art, design etc.
- They prefer an open, non-judgmental environment to nurture creativity.
- They need and prefer some structure (e.g. deadlines and concrete guidelines) during the creative process to prevent procrastination and ambiguity.
- Creative works are often a culmination of ideas drawn from different sources, e.g. peer feedback, Google, social media, etc.
COMING UP WITH IDEA8
With the user research and documentation in hand, we used this data to fuel our ideation sessions. We started with a broad perspective, and sketched out all our possible ideas. Afterwards, we narrowed down the ideas based on the ones that address our user's needs and pain points the most. We approached users for feedback when we had a few ideas left to narrow it down to one. Given that more than half the group were new to design thinking and methodology, I emphasized the importance of remembering that we're designing for the users, not ourselves. I emphasized exploring the ideas from the perspective of the personas as a way to help build empathy and maintain user-centered design.
Eventually, we settled on idea8, a digital platform modeled after Google Venture's design sprint technique, Crazy 8s. The ideation method is similar to Crazy 8s, where you sketch out 8 different ideas in a short time frame and share your ideas to get more inspiration.
USER TESTING AND ITERATION
In order to get as much user testing as possible within a few weeks, we adopted a rapid prototyping approach and was constantly iterating our design. Before we began prototyping, I led the group through some preliminary exercises to build the foundations for a cohesive site architecture. We built a feature list, drew out the user flow and sketched out some ideas on how to format and display some of the features.
Once we had a clear idea on what direction we wanted to take the site architecture, we started paper prototyping the website in order start user testing at an early stage of the web design. As we gathered more feedback, we constantly made edits to our paper prototype and used it as a model for our high fidelity prototypes. Alex and I used illustrator and Marvel to build interactive high-fidelity versions of the website for user testing. Once it was time to code, I assigned two team leads within the group, one in charge of leading the visual designs and another in charge of coding. I aided the design team lead in building a cohesive brand for our website, from color to typography and checked in with our coding team lead on setting up a implementation plan.
FINAL CONCEPT AND DELIVERABLE
The resulting website, idea8, enables you to remotely ideate as a group or individually. Due to the time constraint of 10 weeks and our conflicting schedules, we were only able to create a wizard of oz version via html and css. The website's flow is to ideate individually, share your ideas, get feedback and ideate again with the feedback and others' ideas in mind. For the group, the project lead has the power to lead the idea8 session, while the individual ideates on their own and can invite peers for feedback later. We believe idea8 has a lot of potential for harnessing creativity. Our model focuses on the initial stages of creativity, where quantity of ideas can actually be more powerful than having one quality idea. With each design problem, there are tons of ways to address it; however, some approaches are better than others. By working with a small pool of ideas at the beginning, you may miss the ideal solution to your problem space.