In recent years, mobile interaction has gone from a way to check email on-the-go to a hub for a variety of services. From social to navigational to personal managing, mobile services continue to reveal new opportunities for engaging people through mobile interaction.
This project is an opportunity to create a mobile application. More specifically, you are challenged to design a mobile component within a service ecology of your choosing. The service should enable a specific group of people to learn a complex process. Some examples of complex processes include first-time home buying, enrolling in college, caring for a newborn, or saving for retirement. Instead of choosing a complex process at random, consider addressing the needs of a specific family member, friend, or even your own needs.
The service should focus on developing skills, rather than managing information—it should perform analogously as training wheels, rather than crutches. Focusing on skill development implies that the person engages with the design conditions in order to learn how, what, and why to do something autonomously (without prolonged reliance on the design). Horce Hephart puts it more poetically:
The less a man carries in his pack, the more he must carry in his head. A camper cannot go by recipe alone. It is best for him to carry sound general principles in his head, and recipes in his pocket. The simpler the outfit, the more skill it takes to manage it, and the more pleasure one gets in his achievements.
—Horce Kephart, 1919
In order to take full advantage of the personal and contextual affordances of mobile interaction, you should target “learning opportunities” out of reach for other media. The mobile app does not need to do all things. For this project, focus specifically on mobile affordances—personal, contextual, always on, etc. In other words, mobile is particularly suited for situations in which people learn through direct experience.
The project will begin by creating a model of the service ecology, which locates the mobile component within a specific system. From the service ecology, you should be able to formulate the initial project constraints in terms of what you will and will not address through the mobile application. Additionally, this is an appropriate time to research the process you choose, including conducting expert interviews.
We will then move on to context-assessment techniques, which will further define relevant moments for the mobile app. Joyce Chou from T-Mobile’s !Creation Center will present user-assessment techniques for understanding your audience. The service ecology and context-assessment should help you formulate a project proposal that describes your vision for the mobile application through the following points:
Audience (Who are your users? What type of behavior can you assume or predict?)
Circumstance (What is happening? What factors/actors are at play?)
Timing (When does the interaction occur? How pressed is the person for time?)
Location (Where does the interaction occur? Public/private? Structured/unstructured?)
Value (Why would someone use the application? What is to be gained by doing so?)
The project proposal provides the foundation for your information architecture. With a holistic sense of the system in which you’re designing, you will be ready to develop scenarios that articulate how you envision people engaging with the mobile app. Jon Mann from the !Creation Center will present strategies for storyboarding scenarios.
The scenarios should enable you to develop wireframes, prototypes, click streams, and interaction priority lists, which Prarthana Panchal from the !Creation Center will discuss in more detail. We will also explore techniques that enable you to quickly test iterations. In developing the information architecture, you may find it necessary to revise the service ecology and project proposal.
The final month of the project is dedicated to production. We will cover various Flash techniques ranging from populating the library with graphic assets to dynamic object behaviors using AS3. Ric Ewing will present the production process used at the !Creation Center, including best practices in terms of preparing design documents for programmers.
The team of experts have also agreed to participate online through the course website. You are responsible for posting your process to the website weekly for comments and critique.
Due to the proprietary restrictions of the iPhone, you will demonstrate the final fully functioning application through a browser window on a desktop computer (within mobile screen dimensions). The 3-4 minute scenario video will demonstrate contextual engagements with the mobile application.
On the last two days of class, students will present final presentations to the T-Mobile team (including all stages of the process and the final scenario). We will do this using Skpe for video conferencing and Adobe Breeze for the visual presentation. For the project wrap-up, you will be responsible for evaluating the value of a peer’s mobile application based on provided assessment criteria.
By the completion of the project, you should be able to describe the affordances of mobile interaction, apply core methodologies and vocabulary relevant to mobile interaction, plan the structure of a mobile application within a service model, construct a fully functioning mobile application using Adobe Flash, produce a video scenario that describes how people would engage with the mobile app, and evaluate the value of a mobile application.
The Mobile Application Project is worth 55% of your final grade.