My user test with Lior showed me that I need to be clearer about why I am testing prototypes – what feedback do I need from users to help me progress with the project?
The IDEO Design Kit prototype report card has a useful way of breaking this down
What is it:
A set of cards containing prompts to encourage users to take a closer look at the nature on their doorstep.
Top 3 learning questions this prototype is testing:
- Are the prompts understandable and accessible?
- Are the cards a useful format for this?
- How can these prompts lead users to create work?
Key Metrics For Success:
- Qualitative feedback from users
- Anything created as a result of using
Live testing – send prototype to users and ask them to test
That users have access to outdoor space, capacity to use it, time to use it, and ability/confidence to create something.
What did I learn?
Some of the prompts would have benefitted from more explanation/clearer language
The cards seem to be a useful format
The cards alone are not enough to facilitate users in creating things.
I think this is a good time to start thinking about the journal idea and how to take that forward. The cards are a great starting point, but my aim is to get users to create things, to start building an archive of work. I had initially imagined the journal/notebook idea would allow me to elaborate on specific cards, but after Lior’s feedback I wonder if some of the cards (the ones that ask users to document, perhaps) would be better as journal pages. I think if you ask most people to document something in this way they are likely to take photos on their phone, but there are better, more immediate ways to get people to take notice.
I had begun to explore some of this here. In that post I reference How To Be An Explorer of the World by Keri Smith, which is full of really great ways to take notice of your surroundings.
I’m also thinking about some exercises I’ve done at art workshops – things like
- document all the sounds you can hear
- list 5 smells, sounds, and sensations you are experiencing
- draw yourself in the landscape
I’m going to look further at the New Economics Foundation research to see if they have any relevant suggestions about how to Take Notice.
Although I’m hesitant to use the word ‘mindfulness’ (at this point it just feels like a trendy buzzword) I think there are probably some useful practices to be found there too. I also found this project by Laura Harrington called Don’t just do something, sit there, 2020.
Don’t Just do something, sit there was a series of contemplative meetings with multiple landscapes through the portal of zoom. These meetings involved no speaking or human interaction with your host or others who joined. Instead they were invitations to participate in exercises of attention, body stillness and sensory awareness with multiple biogeographical locations. Hosts, who all have personal and working connections to me, were each invited to share a small element of where they live through the internet. Each 40 minute encounter only existed through the meeting.
What I really like about this (which is possibly contradictory to my aims) is that Harrington has provided participants with a simple set of guidelines but no expectation.
Some suggestions for engagement were:
1. The intention for the meeting draws from a workshop devised by Jean MacGregor called ‘Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There,’ referred to as an exercise in disciplined stillness used as a way of developing students’ capacity for observation and for contemplation in the natural world. I was interested in how this might translate through the portal of Zoom (whether we like it or not a platform that has quickly become one of main social networks and means for connectivity).
2. You are of course welcome to come and go according to your own situation. However, I would encourage you to remain for the entirely of the 40 minutes.
3. you are invited to leave mobile phones to one side.
4. Take a few moments to settle yourself. You could explore noticing your breath for a few minutes or some gentle stretching or both. Gently notice how your body is responding
5. Find a comfortable position where you can explore your own stillness throughout the meeting for 40 minutes. Consider a position that will allow you to feel connected without effort, through your body; including the contact you make with objects and the space around you. Notice any changes happening as time passes through the meeting.
6. During the meeting pay attention to all your senses and what they are taking in. Observe what is coming in.
I think the cards should encourage this kind of stillness and observation (and also playful exploration – maybe these are the two categories the cards can fit into), and the journal should give some structure to start documenting it. This would allow for the user to adapt their walks according to mood – do I want to absorb or do I want to create? And would also allow for different users – the cards can be used by those who don’t want to create anything, without feeling like they haven’t had the full experience.
These are adapted from my original prompts:
These are the prompts that help you get lost in a familiar area.
These are the prompts which encourage a closer/deeper look at your surroundings
These should help the user start to build up research and documentation, and hopefully provide a spark for some creative projects
- Head towards the nearest body of water
- Head towards the nearest green space
- Find a street with a natural name
- Find a landmark you will be able to spot from somewhere else
- Draw a straight line on a map and follow it
- Follow the course of a waterway. Be as creative as you like with your definition of a waterway.
- Walk north for 2 minutes
- Walk in the direction of the sun (or moon) for 2 minutes
- Turn left
- Turn right
- Identify an interesting sound and walk towards it.
- Find something growing in an unexpected place.
- Look for water
- Find a reflection
- Find an empty lot or construction site and document whatever is growing/living there.
- Look for something decaying. Document it and try and find it next time you go for a walk.
- Find something which has been enclosed which shouldn’t be
- Find something that has been trodden on or snapped
- Find a trail or track
- Find something growing up/through a fence
- Document a pattern or trace that isn’t manmade
- Put some film in your camera or buy a disposable one. Take one photo standing by each lamppost in the street you are in.
- Document the nearest tree
- Make a rubbing of
- Capture the texture of
- List 5 things you can smell, feel, hear
- Draw the smells, feelings, sounds – be as abstract as possible with your marks
- Document the 5 main colours you can see
- Draw yourself in the landscape
- Draw your surroundings with your eyes shut
- Do a 1:1 scale drawing of something you can see right now.
I’ve been thinking hard about the creative prompts, and I’m unwilling to make them any more prescriptive because I think that takes the fun and spontaneity out of it. Since my tutorial with Stuart I’ve been talking about asking users to submit things they have created – I’ve kind of been imagining ‘final’ pieces, paintings, etc but actually, these ‘sketches’ or ‘vignettes’ would build up a picture of an area, leave room for self-expression, and without being intimidating.
So next steps are:
- Test out prototype mark 2
- Start creating layouts for journal
- Show/give to some new testers
- Start bringing in some of the visual experimentation I’ve been doing