The following represents the outcome of a graduate Interaction Design class (IACT 720, Interactive Product Design) that was working in conjunction with an undergraduate Industrial Design class (IDUS 421, Commercial Practices in Industrial Design) on a client-based project for Freescale Semiconductor. Freescale charged our classes with developing innovative interactive, netbook-esque products for three primary target age groups: 7-11 years of age • 12-15 years of age • 16-18 (+) years of age.
The Industrial Design class focused on the form factor for the device while we, in the Interaction Design class, developed the User Interface (UI). Both classes followed a user-centered design approach that utilized contextual-inquiry-based research methodologies. What is present below focuses on my contributions to the project and follows the progression from research to research synthesis to ideation to refinement to finished product.
The ten-week class proved to be one the most demanding and rewarding experiences I've ever had in college. As a graphic designer, I was thrust in a discipline that I was unfamiliar with and learned quickly how to work in an interdisciplinary environment. Furthermore, the design research techniques I learned have left a lasting impression and play a major role in my thesis work. Interactive Product Design, Spring 2009
For a look at the entire process book:
For an in-depth case study of the class from my professor, check out this Core77 article:
Our contextual research was conducted with two primary groups: middle school students from Coastal Middle School and high school students for Savannah arts Academy. The primary techniques we utilized are summarized below.
Photo Journals are a form of contextual-research tool kit that we utilized for the research phase of the project. The kits consisted of a journal and a disposable camera which were given to middle school students to take home and keep for a week. The journals were used to document communication behavior of students during their daily life as well as any comments and suggestions they had. The camera was used take photos of these specific moments to visually understand the methods of communication and lifestyle.
As part of our contextual research of the middle school students, we wanted to find out what these students carried on a daily basis. We asked the students to empty the contents of their bags, and sort the contents by different characteristics. We looked for similarities between the contents of their bags and the responses they gave us. We found that students were limited to the type and style of backpack they could carry, so most of their personalization was found on their IDs for the school. Students would add buttons, pins and different lanyards to their IDs. They would also sometimes keep notes, house keys, tickets and other keepsakes in their ID holders.
We also conducted a small research session with high school students who had been given the photo journals as well. We had them explain their journals, then give us feedback on form-factor models and UI concepts.