ID8

"WITHOUT THE SHARING OF IDEAS, THERE WOULD BE NO INNOVATION"

ID8 was created from a class assignment in which each class member challenged to create an app around a unique subject. I was given the topic of “Industrial Design” as I have experience in this field, thanks to time spent on garage tinkerings and re-purposing of everyday materials to create “DIY” prototypes of things I couldn’t afford to purchase. With this in mind, the beginning of this assignment posed the most challenging problem of all: Finding a problem to solve.

ROLE:

UX / UI Designer

SKILLS:

Adobe Illustrator, XD

DATE:

Jan - Feb 2019

The Challenge

During the user research stage of the project, I was lucky enough to speak with some Industrial designers, all of whom stated that the greatest challenge they face is coming up with ideas for products. All of them agreed that they felt limited to a “creative ceiling” in that most of their ideas came from solving problems based on their own experiences. So how could we break that ceiling by creating a problem generator?

The Solution

I realized there’s no need to re-invent the wheel. Internet forums are absolutely packed with real-world problems that real-world people need to have solved. So why not create a community forum for Industrial Designers to ideate, design, and share?

So what sets ID8 apart from a normal forum? The main difference would be separating the forum into eight stages with each stage focussing on a different part of product creation. Once a member believes that one stage has been fulfilled they can escalate it to the next stage for further development. The benefit of splitting the design into stages is that when a member uses the app, they can jump directly to the stage they feel their skill set can be of most use to the community.

The Stages

1. Problems: Members can post problems or challenges they need help overcoming.

2. Ideas: Members can either directly post an idea they need help developing, OR they can escalate a problem they think they have an idea for.

3. Features: Once an idea has been sufficiently talked through, members may begin adding features to the idea.

4. Designs: Now that all the features have been decided, members can submit their designs for community feedback.

5. Prototypes: If a member likes a design or a few designs, they can take them and develop them into a full prototype. They can then upload all the necessary files for any member to create one.

6. Tests: Any member who has built a prototype is encouraged to perform user tests to see if the design is functional. In this stage, they can upload the results of the tests.

7. Refinement: If the user tests are unsatisfactory, members can repeat the steps necessary to create a more functional design.

8. Share: The last stage is to share the product as much as possible to help inspire others.

Like most forums, an “Upvote” feature lets members collectively decide the usefulness and feasibility of the products. This can save a designer valuable time and money if there seems to be little to no interest in their idea.

DESIGN PROCESS

Paper Prototypes

Now that the idea was solidified, I started to build up some paper prototypes to test a few key feature ideas. The most important one was the navigation. As I felt eight options would clutter a hamburger style menu, I decided to try a horizontal scrolling menu instead. All the volunteers who tried the prototype interacted with the navigation perfectly, but I was curious to know if they would have the same reaction with a digital prototype and not being able to see the other menu items displayed all at once.

Wireframes

Once the wireframes were designed and prototyped, I had another round of volunteers complete a few functions for testing. Luckily, almost every volunteer understood how to interact with the sliding navigation menu. Likewise, most volunteers had little to no difficulty completing any of the other functions when prompted. However, some volunteers felt the pages were cluttered and too similar to each other to differentiate between.

Layout

Taking what I learned from the wireframing stage, I decided to simplify some of the features to create a cleaner layout. Also, since many of the pages have similar functions, I decided to give each stage a unique colour to make it easier for users to navigate to their desired stage.