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Spore Spray

As part of the ENGR2250 course at Olin, I collaborated with 4 other students on a semester long project to create a design solution for park rangers. We completed a full discovery and engaged with the design process through user research, co-design, and ideating phases in a studio environment guided by our course instructors.

We completed the project with a presentation of our solution, Spore Spray: a design proposal that addressed a key challenge we discovered during our research phase with Park Rangers. This was presented with a visual poster and model at our final event.

Role

UX Researcher

Tools

User research, Co-design methods, Information synthesis and analysis, Communication 

Design Process

The course was divided into 3 phases: Explore, Conceptualize, and Develop. At the end of each phase, my team presented our learning in a design review and received critique from our course instructors.

EXPLORE

Reach out to and engage with park maintenance workers

Debrief conversations and create people portraits

Plot people portraits on attribute/personality spectrums and other frameworks (2x2's, venn diagrams)

Synthesize information into 3 distinct user personas

CONCEPTUALIZE

Ideate 100+ raw ideas including ambitious and unexpected ideas

Identify stakeholder and designer values

Lead 4+ co-design meetings using card sorts and other methods

Create a set of ~9 bold solutions with gallery sketches that have real potential

DEVELOP

Converge on a final direction to develop into a thorough solution

Establish the form, scale, and interfaces of the design through a detailed requirements table with metrics

Diagram the interaction with the design through a broad interaction map

Develop the interfaces of the product through a visual sketch models

Phase 1: Explore

Initial engagements with Stakeholders

In this first phase, we reached out to and interviewed 10 different park maintenance workers and park rangers. We split into teams of 2 and conducted engagements over Zoom, went to parks in-person, and over the phone. After each engagement, we debriefed with the entire team and created a people portrait for each park worker we met with. To protect the privacy of our stakeholders, all names and locations are pseudonymized. 

People Portraits

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Create frameworks

Once we had debriefed all of the workers we had engaged with, we created frameworks to help generalize information for our stakeholder group as a whole. We plotted our stakeholders on an OCEAN attribute spectrum and several 2x2 Matrices to identify similarities in personality traits and motivations. These frameworks were helpful in creating our 3 user personas that represent our stakeholder group: Scholar Sam, Dutiful Dakota, and Pioneer Peyton.

Ocean Attribute Spectrum

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2x2 Matrices and User Personas

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Phase 2: Conceptualize

Ideation

In this phase, we started by identifying areas of opportunity that we could explore for our design solutions. These areas were pulled directly from themes of challenges that Park Rangers face in their daily work that we identified in our findings during the previous phase. My team then challenged ourselves to generate 100 broad ideas that we plotted using the Fanciful Horizon method to easily see what ideas are bold to push our thinking in lateral and impactful ways.

Areas of Opportunity

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100 Ideas Challenge

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Co-design

We conducted 5 different co-design sessions. The goals of these meetings were to receive feedback on preliminary ideas that we ideated as a team and to provide opportunities for our stakeholders to be part of the design process. The methods that we used were Card Sorting and Props to gain a deeper understanding on values that our stakeholders have and to allow them to try out and engage with some of our design ideas. Our co-designs took place in person or over Zoom and on Miro.

We debriefed our co-design sessions as a team and incorporated the feedback to continue refining and generating idea. By the end of the phase, we had 9 bold ideas represented as a gallery sketch that was build upon our personas, values, areas of opportunity, and co-design sessions. These 9 ideas are categorized into 3 broader convergent directions: Documentation and Accessibility of Information, Park User Safety, and Waste Management.

Co-design Debrief and Materials

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Design Review Presentation

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Phase 3: Develop

Choose a Design Idea

The focus of the final phase was to choose a conceptual idea and to further develop it into a detailed design proposal. My team first started by choosing one of the 3 directions we had identified in the previous phase. We chose to develop an idea in the Waste Management direction because one of our designer values was to push our creativity in designing a bold idea and to work on something physical and tangible, as opposed to an app.

Once we narrowed down the direction to pursue, we spent several meetings diverging our ideas once again and holding several discussions to choose the design we wanted to develop. Our final design idea was a waste management device that utilizes mushroom spores that biodegrade trash.

Waste Management Ideation

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Establish Design Details

The next step was to establish the form, scale, and interfaces of our design. We created a Requirements Table that outlined several requirements of all our stakeholders that our product would need to meet with a focus on the Function, Character, and Interaction of the design. The Requirements Table included needs of the 3 main stakeholders affected by this product: Park workers, Park users, and the ecosystem where the product is used.

Requirements Table

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To further assist the development of design details, we created a broad interaction map and journey map, created sketch models of the product interface, and connected back to our user personas.

User Journey Map and Broad Interaction Map

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Product Sketch Model

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Final Poster and Visual Model

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