It is an ongoing semester project for my master of Entertainment Technology (ETC) at the Carnegie Mellon University. The project is consisted of four students in total, my role is the UX researcher, and the Producer.

We were to design a location-based experience for a multi-purpose room at the Tepper School of Business, CMU.

What we learned about the Location & Demographic?

We’re working with The Askwith Kenner Global Languages and Cultures Room. It was established as a sharing space where students and visitors can experience the technology, and reflect on the cultures, identities, and languages.

The room is a best-kept secret on the CMU campus.

What we did

We conducted interviews with the client, the student staff working in the room, the welcome center nearby, and CMU students from different departments. And, we stayed around the room in different hours to observe how the people are interacting with the room, and the overall environment.

Findings

1) Awareness: We learned that not many people have been using this space, there is only an average of 1~2 new visitors each day besides the students going to the lectures at the room. Most CMU residents are NOT aware of its existence.

2) Traffic Spots: We identified two main traffic spots in close proximity to the room, where people are passing by to get to these busy spots, which are the gym and the dining area.

3) Promotion Spots: There are several promotion opportunities within the building, next to the traffic spots. Although not many people have been paying attention to it.

4) Behavioral Habits: People usually came into the building with a very clear intention on why they’re here. It is generally not a place where people wander around, exploring for new things. 

5) Restriction and Usage: The room is mainly functioned as a lecture space. And there is an established opening hours for access.

Insight

1) The room is asking us to discover a group of new audience.

2) Footprints to the traffic spots provides great potential audience.

3) Accessibility to our product is best when designed outside the room, considered the established opening hour restrictions.

What does our client want?

The slideshow provides a glimpse on how I approached the needs of our stakeholder/client. I gathered the stakeholder persona through interviews with the client and our research, then created this communication map, mapping the existing resources, and the potential solutions to the goals.

What does the students want?

During our design process, we held four playtests to help discover the interests and behavior of our audience.

We invited some peers to our project room to play with the interactive board. It was a simple You Draw, I Guess game.

What we learned from watching them play were 1) hints or basic instruction makes the experience more enjoyable, 2) People tend to resort to talking rather than drawing more clues to help the guessers guess the answer. We let them follow how they felt was fun, not following the rules. They had fun talking to each other through the guessing, it was easy and natural.

1st Playtest: we created three posters to test people’s reaction to drawing freely of your personal preference on the same topic, their attitudes toward sharing personal experience, and what they would associate the concept of a home with.

2nd Playtest:

The concept we decided on was based on our learning from the previous play-tests, where students enjoyed looking at other guests’ input, and appreciated some guidance or hints on how to interact with what was presented to them. Overall, they enjoyed the activities more when the action was simple and easy, that they were given a broad direction to follow to express themselves. We also found that pets were mentioned many times, that people associated joy and warmness to having pets and playing with pets.

Our first story line created for the polling system was a stimulation game, letting the audience participate in the raising and development of a character. We were targeting students’ interests and empathy for helping taking care of a character.

We quickly made our first prototype on the idea, with stickers, paper, and 2D animation. The purpose of this play-test was to see how the CMU residents reacted to a little mysterious and magical things happening in this room, and had a basic measurement on the traffic flow.

Although afterward we were to pivot the idea of raising a character, shifting the style and atmosphere we were creating away from fantasy and fuzzy cuteness to fit better with the identity of the room. We learned from this play-test that, people started to stop by the room, took some time to check out what’s going on, and started to interact with our design. It proved the potential of the participants we are targeting first, which was the walker-by.

3rd Playtest

We improved our polling system into physical objects. Five transparent containers were stuck on the glass wall outside the Kenner room. We labelled each container with the options in different languages, while keeping the containing visible, so that you can see the accumulation of the participation. We asked the walkerbys to “share you opinion” on the subjects, and displayed the question in animation on the screen.

4th Playtest

We narrowed down to two options for this week because we’re looking to install the sensors later this week. Consider we only have two light sensors at the moment, others aren’t delivered yet, cutting down the options doesn’t compromise the purpose of the play-testing, which is to see how our audience respond to this more complex interaction, and if they’ll interact with the sensor design.

The purpose of these play-tests was to examine if people would really stop and interact with it. The graph showed the growth of how much feedback we collected through the play-tests, each was put up for a week. The play-tests helped prove that our design has been improving, attracting more audience, and more focused on the identity of the room by constant communication with the client.