SI 582: Intro. Interaction Design
September 2017 - December 2017
Many college students enjoy exercising by participating in an organized sport but current solutions create a sense rigidness and longterm commitment that does not fit within a student’s irregular schedule. In addition to this, intermural games do not consider the skill level of all players which makes it difficult for students to enjoy playing and exercising when the skill level of the players and the competing team is widely different.
Original Problem Statement
Prior to the above problem statement, I had gone through my process of a different but similar problem statement. My original problem statement was about college students that don't exercise. I focused on exercise because cardiovascular disease takes 1 of 3 lives in the US. Furthermore, I had learned that 40%-50% of college students in the US don't exercise which made me sad. So the goal was to promote exercise. My literature research and surveys showed that students have a difficult time exercising because of time and motivation. One target of that population were students who have a hard time exercising because finding a game to play is hard.
Quick-Up was designed with one primary thing in mind–help the user find and play a game faster. The main functionality of the application is the ability to either join a pick-up game that someone else created or create one that is specific to their needs. When searching to join a game, it considers the distance of the game, when it was created and how many players needed.
Based on the original problem statement, I sketched out different solutions that would help students exercise easier. Using these sketches, I interviewed potential users and got their feedback on each story.
Pivot and Iterate
This is where I converged my problem statement because after discussing my problem statement with peers, I had discovered that my focus was too broad for a single solution. I learned that I had to refocus and be more specific. After doing so, I went back to my users with a new problem statement and several different sketches to that new problem statement. Brainstorming and talking with my users about the sketches lead me to a paper prototype which can be seen below.
The result of the previous paper sketches and interaction with my users. I used this paper prototype to test it with users.
High Fidelity Prototype
I learned a lot from testing the paper prototype with my users. Which can be seen in the reflection section. But to summarize, I learned that users needed more variety to how many users they wish to play with such as minimum vs maximums. I also learned about user's need for a social profile about the person they're playing with.
The biggest change I made was incorporating a more informative social profile into my solution. I had learned this after conducting user tests with my paper prototype. In the beginning of my process, I had brushed that idea off because I thought that adding a social profile was unnecessary because I was creating an application for people to play sports, not to date. This was a finding about my process and my previous bias that I had to over come in future iterations.
Another major finding was the idea of implementing skill levels. Luckily, I learned this early on in the process. When discussing and brainstorming with potential users, they mentioned that they refrain from playing sports because they don’t know who they can play with because of their skill level. In hindsight, this was trivial but during my process, I was blown away by this insight.
Another area that had major changes was my concept and idea of incorporating monetary incentives for people to exercise. Which I ultimately dropped. As I mentioned earlier, because my problem statement wasn’t narrow enough, I tried to solve multiple problems with a single solution. The initial designs revolved around incorporating money as a way for students to exercise. I had gone through several different designs that incorporated money as motivation. Although a sound idea, my literature search and active brainstorming with users gave me opposite findings. Instead, incorporating optional rewards if people continue to play.
Overall, the biggest problem I faced was early on in my process. My problem statement targeted too large of a population with various backgrounds that I couldn’t account for in a single interaction design application. In addition, this would have been a multi-disciplinary approach that simply was out of scope for the course. Therefore, I had to take a step back and reanalyze my research and focus on a more converged problem statement in order to move my project forward.
My Role as a Designer
My role as a designer throughout this project was to truly understand the problem at hand and solve it with an iterative design process. The three areas of my design philosophy that I kept up with in my design process were, focus on needs, find user’s motivations, avoid user’s frustrations and try to eliminate my own biases. My goal was to promote an active lifestyle for my users. This, in turn, would help solve my overarching problem.
First, I focused on my user’s needs by attacking the problem at multiple ends with a literature review, survey design, user interviews and ultimately testing prototypes. After each of those steps, I edited my hypothesis slightly and retested it with users. The one key ideology that stayed true, was that I had to understand my users before I could design for them. The users wanted to connect with others socially, find alternates to running on a treadmill, and appreciate victories small or large which is what I focused on.
Had to Avoid
Some things that had to be avoided were, creating situations where users would be socially judged, exercising/playing alone, and getting bored with repetitive tasks. These were important to keep in mind when designing because these would all deter continued play but also not help people to exercise which goes against my problem statement.
I also had to try to avoid any bias because that could interfere with the results of the project. In which I had failed in my process. So I had to iterate and learn. As I previously mentioned, I had believed monetary rewards would have been my primary solution but after going through my process, I’ve learned otherwise. I had to retract my process and test other solutions such as optional rewards. Additionally, I had to keep in mind that I am not my users and I cannot design for myself. I overcame this by keeping users at the forefront of all my design decisions.
My goal was to create a solution that got students to exercise more which in turn would lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. I realized that after testing my final prototype, that there is an additional impact. That exercise could be fun and easy. When playing sports with others you forget that it is considered as exercise. This specifically makes me excited to continue this project in the future because of the lasting impact. With further development of this project, I would focus on the testing the current features with more users and think about including the unimplemented features as well. Perhaps with this application, it could save lives from cardiovascular disease.