This week I tested my paper prototype of my counter application, which I did iterate once based on one person’s feedback. I realized as I tested that I probably should have made empty screens, since the pre-populated ones that showed functionality seemed to confuse people.
I asked three of my coworkers and my parents to help me. I learned that my parents need to wear glasses to interact with their iPhones. Through the conversation I also realized my mom has trouble with the iPhone keyboard, which reminded me of testing button size, which was mentioned in class. It was challenging to not continually converse with everyone, since I know them so well, and they kept on looking to me to give guidance or answer questions.
Everyone was asked the same introductory and task questions. First, I just asked everyone about their routine, to try to get an idea of things they might keep track of. Then, I asked how they like to keep organized, to see what tools came up. A few people joked that they don’t keep organized, but also nearly everyone mentioned a calendar application and to-do lists, either on their phone or on paper. The tasks were:
Create a new item to keep track of the number of times you go to the gym this week. You want to go four times.
Create a new item to count down to your friend’s wedding on April 2nd.
Increment the number of days you want to go on vacation down one.
I created an initial version and tested with my co-worker. I envisioned a home screen that would include everything you are counting and icons that indicated accomplishment as well as status bars. Then you could enter each item to increment in the direction that you chose, reset the counter, or delete the item entirely. On each count, you would press down for an animation and when it was complete you’d return to the item’s page where you’d see a change.
The animation and buttons were inspired by a mobile game I enjoy to play a lot, called Spaceteam. To play, you communicate instructions verbally to 1-3 other players, in order to keep your ship safe on its journey. For a simple counting application, I thought something like the button you press in the waiting room might be effective–it lights up and your player beams a laser into the air. To start the game, all the players must be holding down the button at the same time.
I created progress bar animations to further demonstrate the idea. One goes forward, for incrementing up, and the other goes backwards, for incrementing down (code on github).
This week’s assignment was to create a device that can sit on a desktop and account for single increments of change, counting either up or down. Our clients are people with desk jobs, who want a physical reminder of their progress. Having a full-time desk job, I am fully cognizant of the despair of an office environment, so I also considered what might be fun, pleasant, and satisfying, while also somewhat conservative to suit different office environments.
I looked around my office, went on instagram, I surveyed my coworkers, and googled to gather data on what people’s favorite desk-things are. I found that people love their plants and mugs. I also found that the hashtags #desk, #mydesk, and their variations have a surprisingly large number of posts. And I found out what Marissa Meyer and Mark Zuckerberg keep on their desks. I personally do not have a favorite desk item, although my favorite thing in my vicinity used to be my polar bear calendar (cute, bleak, and functional, like me).
Inspired by the simplicity and cleverness of perpetual calendars and hourglasses, I tried to come up with counting devices that might mimic this kind of interaction while serving a counting function. I also liked the idea that the device could stay analog, requiring no batteries or any other annoying maintenance.
I feel bad because I abuse my backpack. It must be 3-4 years old but don’t think I’ve ever washed it. I used it almost every day. I remember my original motivation was to stop using a bag where heavy things strain just one side of my body. Once my coworker told me it made me look like an eighth grader which made me stop using it for a while but I don’t care anymore because it’s still the best way to carry things around a city.
My backpack is the perfect size for the things I regularly carry. My laptop, notebooks, and books are flat or square and can go securely in the stretchy inside-pocket. Smaller things can go in the small outside pocket. I usually have hair ties, burt’s bees, mascara, a cereal bar, and/or business cards in there. Everything else fits in the larger space: more books, a sweater, a pencil case, a flask, etc. I am a messy person but nothing gets lost. I think I could thrive and remain entertained for 2-3 days on its contents.
I can hold any strap while standing on the subway and it won’t touch the floor. This is great because I probably still wouldn’t wash it. The zippers are awesome. The color block is good for helping people understand I am not indie-goth despite my perpetually black outfits.
I hate these subway turnstiles. They are scary to look at because they seem capable of squishing humans into 20 pieces. When I googled them I found out they are informally called “iron maiden” turnstiles, after the torture device, which makes sense to me.
People take forever entering and leaving them because if you swipe and walk at a normal speed you miss the inevitable indication to swipe again (why aren’t there audibly different sounds for a successful versus failed swipe?). There’s often a line getting on the N/R at NYU because of this. If you have a large bag or a long gait you are screwed. If you push incorrectly, you can easily lose your swipe (which apparently happens very often). At the Parkside Avenue Q station there is an exit with an iron maiden turnstile and an emergency exit. Everyone uses the emergency exit.