UX Design: Week 2/Capstone Project

Y’all, my brain has officially turned into a siphon and is literally just sucking in information and knowledge from every direction.  I don’t really know what’s happening to me… I was always one of those kids in school that just did the bare minimum, never studied, yet would still get 100’s on the test.  Now, I literally get goosebumps and heart palpitations in anticipation for class… I just want to learn, I want to grow, I want to build! Maybe I should go to the doctor cause this is so not me…

I love it.

Any-who, week 2 of my UX Design course through Tech Talent South is just finishing up, and we are getting into some really awesome stuff.  The most important teaching I have learned so far is that the purpose of UX Design, as a whole, goes SOOOO much deeper than just ‘the way something looks’ or how ‘pretty it is’… that is a small, yet still important, piece of the UX pie.  UX is truly about making an awesome piece of technology usable, functional, and sensible for the intended user.  It’s about bridging the gap between what the user currently understands, and the complex technology that they’ve yet to understand.

In week two we did a little hands-on project where we travelled to an ATM in Downtown Raleigh and basically scrutinized it’s design and usability by actually going through the motions of using it.  My assignment was to use an ATM that is not my bank, and decipher how hard or easy it was as a ‘non-user’ to operate the ATM.  To be honest, it wasn’t a terrible ATM experience except the homeless man next to me yelling at me to “get him some money out dat thang” and the $3.95 non-member fee (that could have been a double fudge Sunday instead!).

When we returned to the classroom our assignment was to redesign the ATM for our user-type after going through the motions of using one.  My first order of business was to design an indoor ATM that you could actually open the door to and lock behind you…Could you tell I was a bit ‘inspired’ by the heckler in my case study?  I also wanted to give the ATM more accessibility for all users so I created a fully functional voice recognition format for users that are either blind or have limited mobility.  Also, since my ‘user’ was a non-member ATM user, I wanted there to be some incentive to make the fee worth their while.  I designed the ATM so that the receipt they get after the transaction can be scanned in a future transaction to waive all fees.

This was a fun little project to get our minds churning and thinking about how ‘not-universal’ so many everyday technologies are… and how hard it is to cater a device to all users!

Now this is UX Design I can get behind
Now for some BIG news…

Throughout the rest of class we are going to be working diligently on a Capstone Project that will take everything we have learned about UX and wrap it up into a real, working prototype with a business outline and pitch to go along with it.  When Tim, our instructor, was explaining the Capstone Project to us, I was actually losing it with excitement. My palms were sweating, heart racing, I could barely stay in my chair.

I know this sounds absurd, but guys, this is EXACTLY what I’ve been wanting to do… I have a really, really BIG idea that I have been chomping at the bit to turn into something real, and this is my chance to begin with top notch instruction and planning along the way.  I’m not necessarily ready to reveal to you guys what this big idea is just yet, but I promise that is something that can be a life-changer for many.  As the project begins to unfold and concepts turn into reality, I will release information bit by bit.

I hope you guys are as excited as I am about all of this (Ok, I kinda understand if your not quite as excited as I am).  As always I encourage you to follow along, keep learning with me, and let me know what you think about this craziness!

Cheers,

Eli

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CODE / WORDS UX Series: Lesson 1

Okie Dokie… I have officially attended my first ever Tech/web development/hipster class, and I just gotta say: I Love it.  This is an entirely new world for me, but I can tell already that it is a world that I belong in, and that itself is an uplifting feeling.

So as I said in the first post, the first 4-week class that I’m attending is called UX Design. Ux, or User Experience, Design (so far) is a little bit less about the actual ‘nitty gritty’ coding and developing side of tech (that will come), and more about the conceptual design of products and how users interact with them. Again let me iterate that:

<UX Design is about understanding how and why a user interacts with a product>

It wasn’t until I started chipping away at tasks during the class that I realized how much I really love this part of the tech world.  I love to conceptualize, draw conclusions, empathize with different types of people, and make changes based on observation… this is a LOT of what is involved with UX Design. It requires you to ‘think outside of the box’ and explore designing things in ways they have never been before, for the benefit of ALL users.

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Now that we all generally understand a little bit more about what UX is, I will [try to] explain a few key concepts to you, mainly so that I can keep them documented in my big, fuzzy noggin’.

Like  I said above, UX is really all about Interaction.

The 3 elements that are key to interaction are:

-Discover

-Understand

-Use

In other words… how easy it for the user to do the above three things.

One must remember this when designing a product: WHO is your user. If your user spans multiple generations or cultures, then you will have to scale your product to be easy enough to discover, understand and use. Conversely, your scale of these three elements would be completely different for a product that is designed for mostly the millennial generation.

Another simple but powerful concept to follow as you design is Form Follows Function.  There is absolutely no purpose in having a final product that looks pretty if it doesn’t perform the function that it was intended to effectively and efficiently.

Ok, to all those following along, thank you! I know this is all kind of a lot, but I hope you enjoy hearing what I am learning as much as I enjoy trying to explain it.  I am actually leaving out quite a bit of more in-depth, technical terms and concepts, but for the interest and purpose of this blog, they aren’t really necessary to express here.

Now our instructor, Tim, gave us a homework (haven’t heard that in a while) to complete and present in class today…

The task assigned was to design a touch screen thermostat that would be used in Sheraton Hotels worldwide.  Keeping all of the concepts we’ve learned in mind, we were supposed to design the product to be more effective, efficient and easy to use than the thermostats most hotels today use.  I’ll let you take a peek at my very, very, rough storyboard (<– important word) below:

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This is V1… simple, scaled down. disregard the, ahem, shape of the thermometer.

So in version one, I had all of the touch pad options already printed on the screen and you would simply select the function you wanted at the time.  The thermometer is a ‘slider’ that you would actually use your finger to set the temperature.  Also, if you look closely in your upper right hand corner, the thermometer has the ability to toggle from Fahrenheit to Celsius… remember I am designing this for Sheraton Hotels Worldwide!

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This was V2 after thinking through a few limitations of V1.

Version 2 took what V1 had and tweaked it a bit… thats what versions are all about btw!  I consolidated things a bit by making the function and fan buttons a ‘drop down’ menu that appears when you tap the button, eliminating some of the clutter from before. I kept the thermometer but sized it down a bit to fit more data on the screen.  I kept the Fahrenheit-Celsius toggle, but made it a drop down as well.  I added the ability to choose different languages for the text (worldwide usability).

I put a small window in the bottom left that shows all of your selected settings in a more ‘readable’ form for those who don’t get the ‘spread out’ version.  The box to its right tells you the real temperature data of the room, and outside (which I think would be great to know!).

I added a ‘preset bar’ along the bottom left border, that allows the guest to save their desired settings for later use.  The user simply holds the number until they hear a beep, just like setting presets on the radio! Finally, I added an alert button for when the system is acting up, and this would send direct alerts to the hotel and the maintenance staff that assistance is needed. No more annoying calls to the front desk!

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This is Sheraton Air, the corresponding app the guest would use.

This simple phone app would be available for the user, but of course is not required.  If the user decided to use the app, they would simply enter in their last name and room # and the app would automatically sync up with their room’s thermostat.  Any presets would be available in real time to the user, or they could change the temperature of the room remotely through tapping and swiping.  This would be so great for people who turn up the air to save energy while they are out, but want their room to be comfortable for them when they return… They could simply save their temperature preferences as a preset, then load it prior to returning to their room!  I personally want this to be a thing… like now haha.

 

Alright y’all, that’s all I have for you in Lesson 1 but I truly hope you have enjoyed me rambling about this cool thing called UX! There will be SO much more to come and I look forward to sharing it… As always, let me know what you think in the comment section below!

Cheers,

Eli

Here we go, again…

Yeah, yeah, yeah I know…

I am notoriously known for starting blogs, getting super excited about them for a while, and then letting them simmer on the back burner for wayyyy too long.  But trust me, I know what I’m doing!  Why don’t you try working 7 days a week, planning a wedding, starting a marriage, traveling the world, taking classes and then making time to write some well thought out words into a blog… ok wait, all that stuff is awesome.

All jokes aside… I have a new, NEW adventure cooking up in the pot and I am just a little bit over-the-moon about it.  To be honest, this new venture may not come off as very “exciting” to a lot of you initially.  I mean when you compare it to other things I have done like being a singing pirate or juggling flaming balls of fire it might come off as quite tame, in fact.  But I promise you… this is going to be big.

Ok, I’ll just go ahead and explain it now.

Starting literally today, I will be attending a Coding and Web Development school called Tech Talent South.  This school has a location in Raleigh, but also has sites all over the Southeast!  They offer a wide variety of classes that teach you anything and everything you could want to know about coding, web development, mobile app development, business startups, and you name it!  I caught wind of this concept through my good buddy Brandon Matthews (you might remember him from the Roll With Us Blog, which we need to continue…ayiyi). Thanks B!

So basically this blog will serve to document the progress that I will make as I begin learning, building and developing on my own. It is called “Code / Words” because that’s what I’m doing… I’m learning code, and translating what I’ve learned into words for us all to understand! I encourage any of you guys out there to follow the blog and strive to understand where I am heading with all of this! Like I said, I promise this is going to be something big with patience, time and effort.

The 4-week course beginning today is called UX which translates to “User Experience” which nngroup.com summarizes like so: “‘User experience’ encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.”

I truly look forward to keeping up with this blog and showing you where my ideas and thoughts translate into the world of technology… to the Future!

Cheers,

Eli