Monday, May 07, 2012

The Nelson Experience + semester reflection

The Concept
For the past month or so we have been working towards creating an interactive way finding experience for the nelson. After a few brainstorming sessions my partner, Keaton Reeder and I decided to fuse the components of hand built and the creativity of art. Each child is provided with a booklet and are prompted to collect at making materials at each sculpture. They are then instructed to head to the art tent for an art making activity. 

Our Aesthetic
Our design elements were inspired by the set theme of hand built and the picnic installation the Nelson is featuring on the south lawn. We chose a square format and incorporated a picnic pattern throughout the booklet. 

User Testing
Throughout this project it was a very important element to understand and utilize the user testing aspect of a project like this. The user testing allows us to understand the needs of the user at a level that secondary research can not provide. Participating in a user testing day at the Nelson with actual children using our actual map we were able to learn about the difficulties in our design. We learned that clipping the strips to the booklet with a paper clip was difficult for children as they kept falling out as the kids ran across the lawn. As a solution to this problem we added a pocket to the booklet where the child can place the strips as well as the map when it is cut out. 

On site user testing is a valuable tool in design because it allows to learn things about our user that the user themselves can not tell us on their own. And as designers we are responsible for decoding the subtle language of the user, pick up behavioral cues that tell us what the user really needs.

This project has been one of my favorites. It gave us the opportunity to break the conventions of any old coloring book activity and experiment with what it means to explore through the eyes of a child. I truly enjoyed the process of user research and user testing and how it was implemented throughout the process of creating this map. I feel that this project has made it a little more evident of the kind of work I see myself engulfed in later in my design career. 

Reflecting on the Semester
This past semester in UX I have learned just how crucial a user can be to the design process. It's important to design for an audience in mind and make sure that the look and feel of an artifact fits your target audience, but it is also important to consider how the user will be using your artifact. The interaction between the user and your artifact determines the success of your design. The experience for your user can tell you a lot. From the kinks and minor issues to the flaws in your overall aesthetic.

This class has truly been my favorite class over the past four semesters. I enjoyed the process of researching and implementing what we gathered and having that information be our guide lines for what we can and can not do. And as I previously mentioned this class has brought me a little closer to figuring out what it is that I'd like to pursue in my design career. 

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