Thursday, April 24, 2008

Reflections nm4210: What's on my mind?

"Designing comes with a purpose." This is something that guides me all along the course. And thats also the reason for reseaches that we have done throughout the course - to solve problems and satisfy users' needs. It's a module on User Experience is it not? Yea and of course we'll need to solve problems to provide a better experience eh? Haha...

I've learnt, after this course, that a design wil not be a design without a purpose. Yet we can't cater to ALL the needs of our target audience.There are alot of things that we need to put into consideration while trying to satisfy the needs of the target audience. And first of all, of course we'll need to do some researches. The various methods taught during the course proved useful and efficient during our pharse of researching and i believed that even after graduation, these techniques will still prove useful to everyone of us.

I think that this course is planned very well in a sense that frist we'll look at bad designs that other people had created and comment on them so as to understand how users will feel and think if you were to create a bad design(Bad design assignment). This also brings us through a various examples of bad designs and why they are bad so that we can avoid making the same mistakes.

Secondly, we were to design a solution by ourselves to cater to a considerably small group of people(I do not consider NUS student groups using a lecture hall big as compared to the population of the whole of singapore or even human-kind). This pathed a bridge for us before we get down to work on our final project.

Fianlly, we will use all the knowledge that we picked up in class for our final project. Comments and interviews and researches allow us to fine tune and improve our product. I learnt from this pharse that i'll prefer to hear more negatives feedbacks rather than good ones so that i can improve my stuffs. This applies to everything, i believe, not just nm4210.

Basically I think i love the exercise on creating the persona the most. I wasn't quite sure of what we are supposed to do at first but i just do it 'cos it seems so much fun to *bling* come up with an imaginary person. In the later stages of the final design project, i realised the importance of this persona. The user of our product. The "purpose" of our product. And i definitely believe that this method will be useful even in doing designing outside nm4210.

A great course that i've been through. Good job Mr Reddy!!

Assignment Final: Designing for User Experience

The finale!!

Our group decided on a health product targeted at elderly who are prone to health risks and requires constant monitoring and care, for example, those diagnosed with high blood pressure, those with history of heart attack and fainting as well as those who have gone through surgery recently. Many a times have us neglect the problems of old folks. With our increasing aging population, these probelms will also increase with time. Hence, we need a product that can aid to reduce damage caused by these problems.

User Research
An ethnographic research did by our group revealed that problems faced by elderly when using a health device are as follow:

- Complicated information displayed on the health monitoring device.
- Small textual information on the device.
- Buttons that are multi-function.
- Many measurable entities in one device.
- Wearing devices on their bodies as it is not part of their culture.

Since we are targeting on the elderly, we will have to take into considerations their physical abilities when we are designing our product. Hence we came to a conclusion that the product we are going to produce must be:

- Small Form Factor.
- Lower Power.
- Low Latency/ High Scalability/ High Responsiveness(Kustanowitz 2004).

An expertise Interview with Dr. Victor Loh, NUS University Health, Wellness & Counseling Centre resulted in the following insights to some issues that we did not put into consideration at first:

- Wrist is an accurate measure of heart rate and blood pressure, but not body temperature.
- Body temperature is usually taken in the mouth, underarm, ear or rectum.

With these information, we began our journey to create a product to help mankind!!! (This may sound like some pre-written noble script but i assure you it's not... It's thought up on the spot, not pre-written... Haha...)

Our Product - UX1000
The UX1000 will be an integrated, real time health-monitoring device with a GPS system embedded in it. The GPS system allows the tracking of the location of the elderly during times of emergencies. UX1000 is also able to transmit signals to appropriate parties in times of impending emergencies. This can be done manually or automatically. In cases in which the elderly using this product fainted and is unable to send out a signal, the product will automatically send out an emergency signal based on the readings of the heart rate and blood pressure of the elderlywhich may be irregular at that point of time. Other than heart rate and blood pressure, the UX1000 can also measure temperature and serve as a normal wrist watch when these special functions are not in use.

This is the paper prototype that we came up with for the Low Fidelity Prototype phrase. We printed and tested these prototypes with some elderly.

Figure 1.0: Paper prototype and the different modes

Figure 1.1: Introduction of buttons and functions

We later came up with a High Fidelity Prototype. I must say we owe this prototype to Gerald, who took so much effort in dismantling stop watches and also some mix-and-matching and fixing them back to make this prototype.

One mintue silence for our noble stop watches.................

Oh well back to serious thing. So this is how our physical prototype works:

- When not functions are not in use, it serve as a normal wrist watch.
- When the mode button is pressed, it changes to functions to read heart rate(see Figure 2.1), blood pressure and temperature.
- For reading of temperature, user has to detach the UX1000 from the wrist band and insert the ear-plug-look-alike device(in this case it's an ear phone) into the ear(see Figure 2.2).
- In cases of emergencies, a signal can be sent out manually as well as automatically. To reduce the risk of false alarms, user has to depress both the top ad the bottom emergency buttom simultaneously in order to send the signal(see Figure 2.3).
- In cases in which the user has passed out, a signal will be sent out automatically as mention in the overview of product.
- To configure the UX1000 to send signals to the appropriate parties, user can either ask their children or their doctors for help to log on to (prototype website see Figure 2.4) or log on to the same website themselves( do not look down on elderly, they know alot that are out of your imagination can bring you). Follow the steps in the website to get the UX1000 to send out the signals to the targeted parties.

Our final prototype comes with a nicely designed box(see Figure 2.5) and user manual for detailed instructions. To order the prototype, simply add a comment to this blog and we will get back to you(If we have time to make another prototype) as soon as possible.

Figure 2.0: Introduction of our High Fidelity Prototype.
Figure 2.1: Reading heart rate.

Figure 2.2: Reading temperature by detaching the UX1000 from the wrist band.

Figure 2.3: Position of the emergency buttons. Top and bottom.

Figure 2.4: A brief overview of the website to configure the sending of signals.

Figure 2.5: Nicely design UX1000 product packaging

Experience Strategy
To attract users to use our product, we hope that our product can achieve the following:

- Peace of mind.
- Trust.
- Easily incorporated as part of lifestyle.
- Health-conscious statement to peers.
- Value longevity.

In addition, our product should include these characteristics:

- Intuitive affordances.
- Ease of use.
- Appropriate feedbacks.
- Error reduction.
- Easy to learn.

Business Strategy

Sales model
- Product will be first promoted to hospitals as a recommended device for their patients.
- Can be bought from hospitals or over the counter in pharmacies with doctor’s prescription.
- Can be rent from hospital to cater to a short duration of use, such as after surgery, and will not be using it in the long run.

- Has to be heavily marketed as easy to use and help to enhance health through channels that the aged normally subscribe to
- Viral Marketing.
- Doctors testament to the product’s uses.
- Government subsidy and support.
- Publicity through media such as televisons, world wide web or printed media.

Final Product Evaluation
- Product appearance is pleasing.
- Easy to learn.
- Easy to use ( multifunction button, simple interface).
- Light signals are useful.
- Large LCD aids visibility.
- Trusts & feels safer with the product.
- Face is too big and heavy.
- Difficulty in slipping the face back into strap .
- Difficulty in wearing the product.

One of the most common comment is that it is difficult to attach the product back onto the wrist band. This is due to the strength of the clip that holds the product to the wrist band. In order for the product to stay in place on the wrist band despite constant movements of the hand, we required a clip with considerable strength. However, this post another problem for us to solve. Overall, I think that our product is quite feasible and should be widely appreciated and liked if it is being produced.

Final Experience Evaluation
- The product appearance is generally well liked.
- The concept of the functionality of the product is well received.
- There is a high level in the ease of use of the product.
- Relatively high elderly acceptance.
- There needs to be more improvements on the comfort level.
- Improvements on the ease of slipping the face back onto the strap.
- More attention to the strap to make it easy to wear the product.

Through this assignment, I've learn the importance for researching and understanding the needs of our target audience before we get hands down to design a product. I understand the importance of negative comments against our product. In order to improve our product, we need more negative comments so as to know where our mistakes are. In addition, possitive comments allow us to know what are the good parts that we need to maintain.

Just a random comment, MSN is good and useful... Hahaha...

User Research: Smoke and Mirror Reflections

First thing first, quoting from the readings, “many firms pretend to use scientific user research as the foundation of their design process", and distorting the real meaning for abit sort of implies that user research is just a claim but its not really carried out. To a certain extend i feel that user research could be a fake as well. There are times in which numbers, which the upper level in an organisation is interested in, is being created just for the sake of presentation to the upper levels as well as to look good for consumers. whether or not a real study is carried out is still another mystery.

Back to serious work, I feel that in design, numbers are secondary. Its the content that is important. As far as design is concerned, I believed that design is a very subjective thing. A dot on a big A3 piece of paper can mean mosquito, dirt, center, universe, black hole or even singapore depending on how the audience interpret it. Similar to that, user experience is also based on individuals. Hence to research in quantity without quality does not help at all in the design for UX. And this further strengthen my view that statics are just to convince people from the higher levels in the organisation who MIGHT be total idiots in designing.

Hence quality is very important in the research. A designer must learn the user, understand the user and sometimes even BE the user. A designer should listen, evaluate, and improve. Listening to comments from users can help to find bugs and to find out what is the good or bad points for a design. Then the designer should evaluate to see if the comments make sense and if it should be used to improve the designer's own design. After that, the designer should try to improve on his own design. This kind of reminds me of what we are doing almost everyweek in lecture. Sharing, commenting and improving. Cool~

End of the day i still think that user research is seriouly very important. Conducted researches involve usability testing, card-sorting exercises, stakeholder interviews, user polls and quantitative analysis, direct ethnographic studies and contextual analysis, and/or secondary market research and can greatly help a design to progress in the right direction. To defeat an enemy, one got to first know and understand the enemy!!

This is a very old saying but i totally agree with it.

Assignment 3: Design Probe Reflection

I reference our design project to the previous post.

Just to add on some details, here are some issues with the designs of lecture halls:

- Tight space between the rows make it difficult for movement
- The tables are too small for laptops, leaving no spaces for other things like pens and notes
- They are also not user friendly for left handers
- Lecture halls are too big to make students feel involved
- Even so, the class size is too big and lecture halls sometime don't have enough seats for students
- not enough power points for laptops
- Sometimes screen is not clear
- Noisy doors
- Media controls are not user friendly and make lecturers spend more time figuring out how to use
- Accessibility of some lecture halls
- Early lectures (8 AM)
- Lecture halls are too cold

And here are some cultural problems:

- Since sometimes there are not enough seats, students often have their friends to reserve the seats
- They also refuse the seats in the middle since those seats are not very accessible- Students talk noisily
- Students come late for class, interrupting the lectures and distract other students when they move inside
- Students do not interact with the lesson, don't ask questions and don't answer questions.

- Some lecturers do not make an attempt to engage students
- Lecturers' voices are monotonous
- Some lecturers' voices are clear and difficult to listen to
- When lecture notes are too general and difficult to follow, the students would solely focus on taking notes as much as possible and cannot listen to the lecture thoughtfully
- When the lecture notes are too specific and details, students will skip class since everything the lecturer teach is inside the notes.


I feel that this assignment gave us a chance to understand the process of designing. We are required to get down to it and ask question, do research and all in order to find out what is the users need and what we can do to cater to these needs. We will also have to guage if all needs can be satisfied as we are not customizing the design for THEM alone, we are doing it for a wider range of users.

This assignment, i believed, prepares us for the final project. After this design probe, we can understand more clearly the process of researching and designing and hence make our job for our final design project easier(well did it? It's still quite tedious i think... Hahaha...).
Overall, I'm quite satisfied with the learning process and the outcome for this assignment. Great job groupmates!!

These are the solution for design assignment that are not very clear in the slides:

Figure 1.0: Design of chair

Figure 2.0: Design of Tables

Assignment 3: Design Probe