Restoring Meaningful Communication
IxD 330 & IxD 360 | Covid-19 Challenge
In the midst of a global pandemic, the US has declared a national state of emergency in an attempt to flatten the curve and to keep its citizens safe. As designers, we were challenged in our Interaction Design Class to create a device meant to alleviate the pains and challenges of specific users around the social distancing and “stay-at-home” lifestyle brought up by the Covid-19.
Project Type: UI/UX | Product Design
Team: Ami Kubota | Bryan Juteau | Will Gamez | Ruby Storey
My Role: Project Management, Research, Art Direction, User Flow, Wireframing, UI Design & Prototyping
The long periods of social distancing and “stay-at-home” orders were causing our users to feel lonely and isolated. This separation from their communities is impacting their mental health and sense of identity.
Introducing Emory, a home scale device that allows users to send and receive printable images to their loved ones. Its unique feature to attach recorded audio clips to the image and accessing them by scanning the print allows users to play and replay those precious moments when they need them the most.
This device encourages a more intentful interaction between the sender and receiver through the limited number of times one can send messages per week. By having access to a more meaningful and quality communication when one can’t reach their loved ones, maybe it can help make the situation feel less isolating and lonely.
This intentful type of communication is inspired by the slow and thoughtful way of sending physical letters and postcards.
Complete Case Study
To get an in-depth view of my process, sketches, prototypes and inspiration, please click the link below:
User Interface Overview
Recognizing that our users will be using Emory during a stressful time, I wanted to create an interface that took off a lot of the burden of learning how to navigate the system so that our users can solely focus on curating their heartfelt messages.
The process of creating the UI was in collaboration with Ami. We chose to build the interface using Figma because of its ability to have multiple people work on the project at the same time which helped speed up our workflow.
Challenge 1: how to consolidate different actions without having to create multiple buttons that would make the interface seem overwhelming.
Solution: incorporating much of the actions in swipe gestures. For example, swipe up to delete the and swipe down to print the image.
Challenge 2: how to teach users how use the application without creating an instructional manual to accompany the device.
Solution: using subtle hint overlays on the screen to help guide users in the beginning and for when they need it.
Sending a Message UI Recording
With this concept, we hope to help our users by filling in the gaps in communication during emotional times with these meaningful tangibles. This is not a replacement for real interactions with friends and family but something that will help support it through meaningful communication curated using our device.
Looking back at the project, it was definitely one that will go in the books as it was both emotionally and mentally draining from multiple events happening all at once with Covid-19 still keeping its tight grip in the US and then the injustice towards George Floyd happened which changed the world for the better. These challenges, though hard, were something that we faced together as a group and I am proud of what we have accomplished despite the circumstances.
In terms of the project, we hoped to have been able to do some form of user testing to receive feedback if the concept itself would prove to help users feel more connected to their friends and family. But because of the lack of access to resources to make a working prototype as well as actual users to do the test with, this is something that we are looking forward to doing in the future.
For now, the work remains speculative. Moving forward, I definitely learned more about myself and my role within a team and how I could support my colleagues during stressful moments. There is much value in simply listening to others and doing it attentively rather than giving a lecture on how to feel better. And although working hard and pushing through a project is important, sometimes it favors the overall goal for you and your team to just take a moment to decompress and regroup.