Concept Presentation

Reaching the concept presentation milestone was surreal and great leap forward for all working on their major projects. Nothing like a deadline to get you to put your thoughts down on paper without the luxury of time to procrastinate or put off making decisions.

We had the added pressure of having an opportunity to present our concepts to industry. A timely step in the project to see if we can articulate our thinking and also hear outsider opinions on our thoughts.

I presented each concept on a concept board created in Illustrator. Following in the style I chose for my research report it would display the problem statement, a storyboard of it in practice and a list of features.

Concept #1.0 Book me in

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When i’m on the move or it is late in the evening I want to be able to book a hair appointment so I can save time while still ensuring I get that same personal service as if I was to call the business.

In this concept I was keen to show how extending or augmenting the existing messenger apps will allow businesses and consumers connect on a more personal manner. The messaging model would be extended and supported with a chat bot for the business which could handle reservations and payments at any time of the day.

For both parties engaged on the platform there is an ongoing customer journey trail. This can benefit both as previous experiences can easily be referenced, images and videos can boost the experience and the customer may feel more inclined to leave more honest feedback. All in the hope that the business and customer relationship evolves over time.

Concept #2.0 Group-ease

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When I’m in a large social group or managing a team sport I want to be able to keep the decisions being made in our chat our apps so I can keep everyone informed and reduce my time spent in external apps or services

The insight and driving force behind this concept was several conversations with different people on how they use multiple social messaging apps and channels to arrange or organise social events or sports teams.

In this concept I was looking at how I could augment existing messaging apps with tools or services that could take the hassle out of group booking. Taking inspiration from forums, group messaging platforms and existing team platforms there were a few tools which were obvious to have. Group polling, payments and bookings to sample just a few.

Where I felt there was opportunity for innovation was how multiple chat conversations tend to be around one topic. For instance in a tag rugby example there can be one chat group for admin, one chat group for an upcoming event and one chat group for the weekly matches. Conversations and decisions get fragmented very quickly. Each chat group serving it’s purpose but in the grand scheme of things information was getting lost or distributed inefficiently. I was hoping to tackle this by using channels and sub chat groups. A splinter conversation could take place within a main channel but it could be collapsed or ignored if you weren’t interested.

Concept #3.0 Chatizen

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When I’m managing an organisation that deals with the public daily I want to be able to offer a solution that is most comfortable and accessible to them so I can reduce costs and increase the efficiency of my team

In the final concept I presented I wanted to look at opportunity from the business perspective first as opposed to the consumer. In this concept I was inspired by some insights during my research phase about how complex forms, public organisations and slow responses when dealing with these organisations could all potentially be solved if you could just text them.

I really want to look further in to this – how could you tackle registration forms, notifications and queue management through chat messaging. I devised a few high level solutions which I believe were tackling these. Of the ones that I drafted I am most eager to explore the ‘egg timer’ idea further. This is drawn from the experience through chat that you are never sure if the other person is respond or not. From a business perspective this is really important as you don’t want to waste or lose valuable resources trying to help people who aren’t actually there. This idea is wrapped up in an egg timer whereby when a response is sent you have a limited amount of time after you have last typed or interacted with the app before it puts you back in the queue. This can help both parties as I believe there is a desire for an asynchronous interaction as consumers are busy multitasking and the business may not quite have the answer right away.

Next Steps

I am really happy and confident in how I have developed these initial concepts. Each one is driven by a clear insight. Each one aims to tackle and solve the problem at hand.

With the feedback received during the presentation it is clear I won’t be taking just one concept forward. I am likely going to cherry pick a few of the key features from each. The challenge here is not to dilute the solution or muddy the waters but to really push to ensure the solution answers a real need and solves a real problem.

To solve this there is really only one method – testing and validation. For my next steps I will take these out in to the wild and see where it goes from there.

Beginning to frame my Design Principles

As we move from the research phase to concept development I am keen to take the opportunity to work through a few processes. I started by framing my design challenge as I have always felt it helps focus my thoughts. With a design challenge/problem in place the next logical step for me is to define some design principles. Using the IDEO design kit approach and inspiration from an early comment by Chris Messina, I was drawn to the following statement,

“How high we deliver convenience, personalisation and decision support while our customers are on the go with a limited attention span”

Like the image I have chosen to accompany this blog post I like how with the clouds you can start to see clarity and can begin to focus on the destination. The statement above encapsulates the following key points which are the beginning thoughts of my design principles;

Convenience

The solution must work for the user.

Personalisation

The solution must feel familiar and be customisable.

Decision Support

It should help with solving problems, not create them.

On the Go

It must be mobile.

Limited attention span

It should be asynchronous in nature and not require the full attention of the user.

I suspect I will write and rewrite these many times over the course of the project but at this moment I hold strongly to the structure and ambition as it stands.

100 things every designer needs to know about people

I love this book. I recommend every designer read this. Not only is it a well researched and documented book, it is put together in such an easy to digest format. It doesn’t baffle you with hard facts and science – you can pick it up and learn something new every time.

I started my major project with a point of ensuring I would use this book as a tool in my research and concept development. I took time today to go through a few sections that I felt would benefit my design thinking. I studied the section, brainstormed out some ideas inspired by it and set myself a few guidelines to move forward with.

Sketch book
I have pulled out here a few of those which I believe will be the biggest influence on how I move forward.

People scan screens based on past experience and expectations

I must ensure to adhere to existing chat paradigms. How and where I place UI items must be grounded in existing UI patterns. This has already been seen as an issue during the quick prototypes I carried out. The structured responses in Facebook’s messenger are problematic – they are a new form of interaction and for me they do break the chat medium in an unnatural manner.

People care about time more than money

People value time and if the product or service I design can ‘sell time’ then I believe I am on to a winner. There was also a point raised in the book about the benefits of progressive disclosure. If you can hold back necessary information until required then it can help with on boarding the user.

People create mental models

Once I am in a position to design the product or service with a particular demographic in mind I need to ensure I understand all their shared mental models. What kind of mental models do people have around SMS, messaging or even speaking to bots or computers? How can use this to support my design decisions.

100 things every designer should know about people covers much mush more than I described above. My focus has been on understanding peoples mental models, their motivations and how they make decisions.

As I said, i’d encourage every designer to read this. So what are you waiting for? You can get it here on Amazon… Go go go!

https://www.amazon.com/Things-Designer-People-Voices-Matter/dp/0321767535