Introduction and Group Project Proposal

November 19, 2011

INTRODUCTION
One of the areas I was hoping to look into as part of this project was if and how brand narrative development, or a storytelling approach, might be used as part of the User-Centred Design process. I’d seen a little booklet called The story book (How to succeed at competing) by Brand Narrative Consultants C2 LLC from San Francisco.

In it they suggest that organisations should start by asking “three deceptively simple questions”:

  • Who are we?
  • What do we do?
  • Why does it matter?

Their questions made me think that it might be a good idea to give you some background about why I chose this programme and what I hope to get out it.

In summary, I’m a digital consultant who specialises in more connected and user-led approaches to business and marketing. Despite being published I don’t have any academic qualifications and so wanted to take some time out to improve my credentials. At the same time, I thought it would be an opportunity to critically explore more User-Led and User-Centric design approaches, so that I could better understand where and how they might be practically applied.

Hopefully, this gives you some context about what I’ve reflected on as part of this project and why. What I hope to do next is explain how our group (MAIS 4) approached this project, the framework I plan to reflect on it, and our actual project proposal.

DESIGN PROCESS
My first step was to research the prescribed User-Centred Design (UCD) process on this module. I wanted to try and understand more about what we were going to be doing and why. I also wanted to understand the difference between UCD and User Experience Design (UXD), as well as what part the likes of Information Architecture and Usability have to play and where.

I found a whole host of articles and diagrams that discussed both UCD and UXD processes, as well as Information Architecture, Usability etc. What I couldn’t really find was anything that actually compared and contrasted UCD and UXD. After my trawl through various online resources I was left with the impression that UCD was as much a design philosophy as it is a process, or a way of thinking at each stage of the design process. UXD, on the other hand, seemed more like a design discipline, or a way of actually going about the design process:

“I’m still not convinced UCD exists outside the realm of theory,
but I practice user experience design every day.”

Morville, P. (2004). User Experience Design

Thinking about UXD as a way of going about the design process made me wonder whether we’d be able to adopt the kind of more Lean and Agile UX approach I’d read about during my research:

Lean UX

“Lean UX is the practice of bringing the true nature of our work to light faster, with less emphasis on deliverables and greater focus on the actual experience being designed.”

Smashing magazine, (2011): Lean UX: Getting Out Of The Deliverables Business

From what I’d read, this meant adopting a more iterative design process, where we’d be carrying out the ongoing testing and refining of our designs with users in order to improve usability:

“Redesigning user interfaces on the basis of user testing
can substantially improve usability.”

Nielsen, J. (1993). Iterative User Interface Design

Iterative UX Design Process

Cummings, M., (2010). UX Design Defined

The nature of this student project actually dictates a waterfall-type development process. However, there seem to be a couple of opportunities to carry out usability testing. Firstly, we could test our Wireframe designs (if we could find a way of making these interactive), and we could also test our prototype site.

Define → Design → Test → Develop → Test → Deploy

REFLECTION FRAMEWORK
The part I struggled with most on this project was finding a framework for my reflections. I decided to use a very simple one inspired by Leah Buley‘s How to Be a UX Team of One‘ presentation:

UX Design Process

I used the  headings from the picture above to provide me with a simple structure for analysing the various phases of our project and highlighting areas for further research.

GROUP PROJECT PROPOSAL AND PROCESSES
I proposed that our group look at the University of Brighton Food Co-Op Society site for our project. As I’d found out when trying to join their fruit and veg box initiative, their current site isn’t very informative. I thought it would be interesting to see whether we could use the UX Design process to improve it.

At the same time, the oganisers were also on campus, so it looked like the project provided an opportunity for some ethnographic research. This was something I was interested in exploring as part of the User Research stage having read the UX matters‘ article on ‘Ethnography in UX’

Fortunately my colleagues agreed with my suggestion. This offered an opportunity for some limited, informal research in the field which I will describe in subsequent posts.

NEXT STEPS
In my next post I’ll be looking at the initial discovery phase of project. I’ll also be posting about other related activities, research and experiments that I’ve carried out along the way.

Page Analysis: Wordle

REFERENCES

C2LLC. The story book: How to succeed at competing [online] Available at: <http://www.c2llc.com/C2story> [Accessed 11 December 2011]

Kirby, J., Marsden, P. (2006). Connected Marketing: the viral, buzz and word of mouth revolution.

Wikipedia (2011). User-centered design [online] (Updated on 23 November 2011) Available at: <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User-centered_design> [Accessed 11 December 2011]

Wikipedia (2011). User experience design [online] (Updated on 23 November 2011) Available at: <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_experience_design> [Accessed 11 December 2011]

Wikipedia (2011). Information architecture [online] (Updated on 23 November 2011) Available at: <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_architecture> [Accessed 11 December 2011]

Wikipedia (2011). Usability [online] (Updated on 6 December 2011) Available at: <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usability> [Accessed 11 December 2011]

Morville, P., (2004). User Experience Design [online] (Updated 21 June 2004) Available at: <http://semanticstudios.com/publications/semantics/000029.php> [Accessed 11 December 2011]

McCauley, M., (2010). Eskimos Penguins And The User Centred Design [online] (Updated 15 June 2010) Available at: <http://digitaleskimo.tumblr.com/post/702724443/eskimos-penguins-and-the-user-centred-design> [Accessed 11 December 2011]

Smith, G., (2007). Social Software Building Blocks [online] (Updated 4 April 2007) Available at: <http://nform.com/publications/social-software-building-block> [Accessed 11 December 2011]

Armano, D., (2006). The Experience Map [online] (Updated 20 April 2006) Available at: <http://darmano.typepad.com/logic_emotion/2006/04/experience_map.html> [Accessed 11 December 2011]

Beaird, J. (2011). Information Architecture as Part of the Web Design Process [online] (Updated 20 Jan 2011) Available at: <http://designfestival.com/information-architecture-as-part-of-the-web-design-process/> [Accessed 11 December 2011]

Cummings, M. (2010). UX Design Defined [online] (Updated 16 August 201o) Available at: <http://uxdesign.com/ux-defined> [Accessed 11 December 2011]

Kimmy Paluch, K. (2006). What Is User Experience Design [online] (Updated 10 October 2006) Available at: <http://www.montparnas.com/articles/what-is-user-experience-design> [Accessed 11 December 2011]

Saffer, D. (2008). The Disciplines of User Experience (Updated 2009) Available at: <http://www.kickerstudio.com/blog/2008/12/the-disciplines-of-user-experience/> [Accessed 11 December 2011]

Boniface, M. (2010). Definition of a great user experience? No one notices it… [online] (Updated 5 July 2010) Available at: <http://www.bonimedia.com/definition-of-a-great-user-experience-no-one-notices-it/> [Accessed 11 December 2011]

Garrett, J. (2000). The Elements of User Experience

Garrett, J. (2000). The Elements of User Experience Diagram [online] Available at: <http://www.jjg.net/elements/pdf/elements.pdf> [Accessed 11 December 2011]

Armano, D. (2007). Social Media + The Customer Experience [online] (Updated 5 July 2010) Available at: <http://darmano.typepad.com/logic_emotion/2007/06/social_media_th.html> [Accessed 11 December 2011]

Pemberton, L. (2011). IDM22 Interaction & Information Design: Information Design (Slide3: How do the design disciplines work together?)

Gothelf, J. (2011) Lean UX: Getting Out Of The Deliverables Business [online] (Smashing Magazine: Updated 7 March 2011) Available at: <http://uxdesign.smashingmagazine.com/2011/03/07/lean-ux-getting-out-of-the-deliverables-business/> [Accessed 11 December 2011]

Wikipedia (2011). Iterative design [online] (Updated on 31 May 2011) Available at: <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iterative_design> [Accessed 11 December 2011]

Nielsen, J. (1993). Iterative User Interface Design. IEEE Computer Vol. 26, No. 11, pp. 32-41 Available at: <http://www.useit.com/papers/iterative_design> [Accessed 11 December 2011]

Wikipedia (2011). Waterfall Development [online] (Updated on 21 November 2011) Available at: <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waterfall_development> [Accessed 11 December 2011]

Buley, L. (2008). How to Be a UX Team of One [online] Available at: <http://www.slideshare.net/ugleah/how-to-be-a-ux-team-of-one> [Accessed 11 December 2011]

Boehm, N. (2010). Ethnography in UX [online] (UX Matters: Updated on 21 June2010 Available at: <http://uxmatters.com/mt/archives/2010/06/ethnography-in-ux.php> [Accessed 11 December 2011]

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