UX Writing Mini-Challenge

This is a project I undertook to practice effective UX copywriting and dabble at wireframing. After conversation mining on a gardening subreddit and creating a persona for the typical user of this gardening app, I used my collected data and persona to write an Empty State for the “Happy Plant” app.

Samples of Context-Specific Design

There’s both an art and a science to graphic-making. The graphic itself, on an aesthetic level, has to be pleasing to the eye. There’s also a responsibility of the designer to ensure that the graphic functionally makes sense. A picture is worth a thousand words, and I would even go far as to say that a project graphic is worth even more.

The Importance of User Design in Games for Health

I wrote another article about one of my favorite topics, games for health! Here is a blurb:

Looking to regulate your sleeping habits? Searching for a way to teach sexual health? There’s an app for that. In today’s web-based world, games for health are rocketing in popularity. These “serious” games are specifically designed to encourage behavior changes to treat a health threat. Naturally, we are inclined to ask about the validity of the games: do they work the way they were designed to work? Can serious games be used to improve health outcomes? However, we may not consider the important role of user experience — how easy and pleasant the game is — factoring into the game’s influence. Paying attention to how a game is designed and what human interaction factors considered during its development may hold the key to the future of health-based games.

Read more on the ArtSciLab website

There’s An App For That!

I recently wrote an article about mobile health apps on the ArtSciLab website! Here is a blurb:

“Noom isn’t just your average dieting app. It’s goal-oriented psychotherapy that helps you think critically about the food you’re eating.” I heard this pitch a few weeks ago during a radio ad, and I thought: wow, I like that way of looking at food tracking. I’d totally use this app.

Except I already have.

Here is a comprehensive list of apps I have used, am using, or have downloaded with the idea of future usage in order to regulate and maybe even improve my productivity, diet, and overall physical and emotional health: Noom (food and exercise tracking), Clue (period and ovulation tracker), doc.ai (personalized health data), Calm (mood tracking), Sayana (mood tracking), 30 Day Fitness (exercise tracking), Lifesum (Macro Tracker), Flora (habit tracking), Reflectly (anxiety tracking), Focus Keeper (time management)— I’ll stop here. You get the point; there are a lot.

Reading a book, going for a run, eating a meal, and relaxing are all supposed to be pretty uncomplicated activities for most people. Yet, I — and I suspect an alarming number of others — have overcomplicated it to a point of chaos. The question remains: why did I convince myself that I need a billion apps to regulate my life?

Click here to read more!

 

User Research Activity

Q1: You’ve been given a budget to do some user research to find out more about your users and how they use the application. What types of research might you want to do? Why would you choose these methods? What information would you expect to get out of it? Explain at least two types of research. They can be methods mentioned in the lecture or other methods mentioned in the readings either in class or on your own. (Platform: eLearning on Blackboard).

1. A prototype evaluation will gather data on the usability of Blackboard. It’ll give us an idea of how useful each feature is in the perspective of the user depending on what they want to accomplish. It will help us understand if the design of Blackboard works as it’s intended to, and what the users see when they go to use it.

2. Cultural probes will give us more empathetic data (context on the users’ feelings and thoughts over time using the interface). This will allow us to form a bigger picture regarding the types of users that are primarily utilizing Blackboard.

 

Q2: Name at least 3 possible user groups for eLearning at UT Dallas that you discovered. Tell me if each is a primary, secondary, or tertiary user.

  • Students
  • Professors
  • Teaching Assistants

All three are primary users because they are directly interacting with the interface frequently.

 

Q3: Choosing one of the user groups you indicated in the previous question, create a brief persona of a possible user. Include at a minimum a name, age, role, goals, day in the life.

Name: Matthew “Matt” Patel
Age: 20
Role: Student
Demographic Info: male, middle-class university student

Goals: Get through sophomore year, not miss any assignment deadlines, nab an internship at the end of the year.

Day In The Life: Matt is a seemingly average 20-year-old college student majoring in accounting, but what sets him apart from the others is his passion for hot yoga. He runs a really well-designed blog about his insights and experiences called The Heated Mat(t). Every morning after his session at the local studio, he sits down with eLearning to complete his assignments before submitting them on Blackboard. Then, he goes to his first class of the day, takes notes, and breaks for lunch. Afterward, he goes to his second class. After this, he heads back to his apartment to do some reading before dinner. During this time he might check Blackboard for any posted readings or upcoming quizzes for the week. After dinner, he might work on an entry for his blog, surf online for possible internship opportunities, or watch TV.

 

Q4: Name at least 5 possible tasks for eLearning at UT Dallas that would be performed by your user group.

  • Checking grades
  • Downloading/reading posted assignments
  • Submitting Assignments
  • Taking online assessments
  • Emailing classmates

 

Q5: Choosing one of the tasks you indicated in the previous question, do a brief task analysis for that task. You may do a procedural or a hierarchical task analysis.

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Article On Neuroscience From Underground

Tech is an extension of our daily lives, for some of us more than others. According to a 2017 survey conducted by ReportLinker, a tech analyst company, 46 percent of Americans surveyed say they use their phones before even getting out of bed in the morning. That doesn’t surprise us because it’s not a stretch to imagine waiting a few minutes for our bodies to warm up while scrolling through Twitter, checking our email, or reading the news. Beyond the clockwork-like instinct to start the day with our phones, we use tech for a myriad of things: shopping, entertainment, tracking our sleep and/or exercise habits, or even just looking up the most trivial information while passing the time. The age of technology has even transformed certain workplaces. From adopting cloud-based scheduling systems for efficiency to life-changing robotic arm surgeries, the far reach of tech is inescapable and magnanimous. And it’s impressive! It seems like we are in the dawn of an era of progress and innovation that has the potential to yield great benefits for humanity. Of course, if you’re keeping up with the news or reading/watching any kind of Bradbury-esque science fiction, you know there is a flip side to this. No device user wants to be used by their device. This begs the question: Is tech the champion tool for progress or are we setting ourselves up for a very Matrix-esque future?

Click here to read more

BLOG POST: Ripping into Glossier.com

Earlier for an assignment, I had to critique the layout of a website of my choosing so I decided to kill two birds with one stone. By choosing the web page for Glossier.com, I was getting my assignment done, and also getting to say my piece about companies that co-opt the minimalist aesthetic (BUT DO IT POORLY) to sell products.  Anyway, take a look.

First, we address some problems.

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Then we address… some more problems!hw1_web design critique-2

 

And then I take it upon myself to offer up some humble suggestions and also a crude sketch in my favorite notebook. No, Glossier is not paying me for this incredibly kindergarten-esque drawing (I know, I’m shocked too).hw1_web design critique-3

What are your gripes with common commercial websites? I’m especially fascinated by Glossier’s whole Thing — selling this effortless, homey schtick to sell makeup of all things!

BLOG POST: Some Interface Criticism

I’m one of the 55.5% of listeners who stream podcasts on the Apple Podcasts app because it’s the default app on my phone. I assure you if not for the main feature of “it’s right there,” I would not be using it so often. Although there is a number of things that could be improved upon, here I include my main three proposed interface changes.

1. There’s no defined home page. Instead we get three different seemingly arbitrary compilations that are labeled “Library,” “Shows,” and “Listen Now.” They’re not easily distinguishable enough to intuitively know which one to open to access the desired episode/podcast.

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listennow“Shows” are even embedded inside the “Library” drop list of existing shows, so it doesn’t even serve any purpose.

“Listen Now” is ordered in chronological order by latest episode, but there’s no option to prioritize by other scales.

(You couldn’t push up an episode you really want to listen to toward the top.)

2. There is not a simple way to queue episodes without the user having to click on aquueeueueueue  show, play the episode, open the “Now Playing” window, click on the subtle three dots at the bottom right of the screen, and then finally press “play next”. I should be able to pull up a list of episodes of the show and swipe to queue next. This is a feature most streaming apps (Spotify, iTunes, Amazon Music) have that makes the user experience better.

3. There are two different options to download an episode and “add to library.” Counterintuitively, downloading an episode doesn’t save it to the library. Although you can now stream this episode offline, there’s no direct way to access it. My proposed fix for this problem is to have one “add” button for each episode, and an option to download it after the user has selected to add the episode. It’s a small fix but one that I think eliminates a lot of overall confusion.

These are such painfully simple fixes that I don’t understand why Apple doesn’t develop them for a platform that so many consumers and creators use. Unless Apple wants its users to switch to podcast streaming alternatives like Spotify or Pocket Casts, these changes need to be made.

 

 

BLOG POST: Unconventional Neccessities At Your Work Desk

I’m saying this in second person, but really this is just a list of unconventional things I keep in my workspace. If you work at a desk — whether it’s at home or an office — it’s safe to assume you expect a degree of productivity from it. Here are some things that may help you along your way (it sure has helped me along mine).

  1. A coaster. I’m a caffeine fiend (a caf-fiend if you will) so I always have mugs of tea or coffee or soda or “juice” (when I pour lemonade powder into a tasteless trendy fruit drink I impulse bought at the grocery store to make it more bearable) on my desk. This isn’t exactly a sexy item, but it’s handy to have. Otherwise you have to scrounge for scrap pieces of paper or notebooks and end up with a lot of unintended coffee stain art.
  2. Gorilla Glue. You may be thinking “I would never get into a situation where I would need Gorilla Glue to be immediately handy.” You’re wrong. Listen to me. It’s compact and relatively inexpensive, so just buy a tube of it and leave it by the stapler. Trust me, one day you will thank me and yourself for having the incredible foresight to keep it around.
  3. Dry shampoo. Sometimes you’re going to be burning the candle at both ends. Your hair shouldn’t have to suffer for it. Combat hair grease and that general feeling of disgustingness at the end of an all-nighter by simply keeping a travel-size bottle of dry shampoo on your desk.
  4. Binder clips. Don’t cheap out and buy paperclips. Get some serious binder clips for your serious papers.
  5. Sticky notes — make sure to get separate colors for doodles and productive stuff otherwise you’ll pull out a sticky note with an elaborate space station doodle on it during an important meeting with your boss.
  6. Some kind of knick-knack situation to occasionally remind you that you’re alive. Mine happens to be a conglomeration of clever museum postcards, concert tickets, and aesthetically pleasing business cards arranged neatly on the wall facing my desk.

 

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