UXD720 Week 7: Prototyping & Usability

Image credit: Sigmund


Learnings from prototype iteration #1.

I’ve now made the jump from analog wireframes to an early digital prototype. I found the biggest surprise of that process to be the number of details my wireframes overlooked. Following one user’s journey through my app has left so many facets of the system untouched and unconsidered, especially at points where two users’ journeys might intersect.

My initial design, for example, didn’t consider what a user would see if they were invited to join a party because my prototype depicts the process for sending invites.

I need to find a balance for features I include in my prototype that is appropriate for this assignment. In a professional environment, my prototyping would probably span the entire product, but here I don’t need to prototype the whole app. A question I haven’t asked frequently enough is: ‘do I need the flow for [this feature]?’.

So now, I’m faced with the onset of scope-creep. Larson and Larson, 2009, acknowledge that scope creep can be self-inflicted by lack of foresight and planning. I believe that is what has happened here, on two counts. I lacked foresight when identifying the components to each of my concept’s features. I lacked planning when deciding whether each of those components should be detailed or just alluded to in my prototype.

I’ve attributed these complications to unacquired tacit knowledge. Tacit knowledge is the non-explicit or incommunicable information that is integral to our standard procedures (Walker, 2017).

We can know more than we can tell.
– Roman Polanyi, 1966 p.4.

My —or any creative practitioner’s— approach to unpicking design intricacies is a fair example of tacit knowing. In time and practice, I’ll learn to avoid that self-inflicted scope-creep, by honing a unique project specification process.


Addressing research concerns.

In my week 2 post, I acknowledged that I wasn’t confident in the excution of my research synthesis. In my week 6 post, I explored how nursing and medical literature could inform my design research processes.

I haven’t been able to shake my concerns around the research I built my prototype on. After consulting with my module tutor and mentor, Kara, we concluded that the best course of action would be to commit more time to user research.

Entering my second round of user research, I wanted more confidence in my interview strategy. Accordingly, when I revisited the literatutre, I went back to basics.

In UX for Dummies, Nichols and Chesnut, 2014 p.42, state that the objective of user research is to identify core similarities in users’ behaviour, desires, and pain points. My new discussion guide explored how my interviewees’ behaviour differed when exercising alone and with friends. I looked for where they found value in social or solitary exercise, and where they experienced drawbacks.

Fig. 1 .

Of all my concept’s functionality, I was least confident in my run party system. With this second wave complete, I can say that I’ve sufficiently addressed my concerns.

My interviewees reported social and motivational value in exercising with others, whilst still seeing value in solitary exercise. My synthesised data passes the ‘gut check’ in that it correlates with my own experience.

Exercise can be utilised to enhance attention, mood, and resistance to stress (Basso and Suzuki, 2017). There’s something remarkably therapeutic and human in exercising with others. Your ‘gym buddy’ becomes auxillary to the catharsis of exercise, and naturally the relationship you build transcends that work-out environment.

To say that taking the time to revisit my user research was worthwhile would be an understatement. I have gone from being hesitant of assumptions around the run party system, to feeling completely assured.

My idea has evolved to accomodate for the idea that social exercise was most valuable when the participants’ focuses and goals aligned. That further validates the decision to do more research.

I’ve refound my enthusiasm to iterate on my prototype, which I’ll be doing over the next few days. Full steam ahead.


List of Figures

Fig: A photograph of my synthesised insights from research round 2.

References

BASSO, J. C. & SUZUKI, W. A. 2017. ‘The Effects of Acute Exercise on Mood, Cognition, Neurophysiology, and Neurochemical Pathways: A Review’.Journal of Brain Plasticity, 2(2) 127–152.

LARSON, R. & LARSON, E. 2009. ‘Top five causes of scope creep … and what to do about them.’ Paper presented at PMI® Global Congress 2009—North America, PA: Project Management Institute. Available at https://www.pmi.org/learning/library/top-five-causes-scope-creep-6675 [accessed 17/05/2021].

NICHOLS, K. P. & CHESNUT, D. 2014. UX for Dummies. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 42.

POLANYI, M. 1966. The Tacit Dimension. New York: Doubleday, 4.

WALKER, M. A. 2017. ‘Tacit Knowledge’. European Journal of Epedemiology, 32(4), 261-267.

Published by Josh 'Skoob' Brough

Experience enthusiast. UX/UI designer. Father to (little) one. Currently studying MA User Experience Design at Falmouth University. Here’s the chronicle.

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