This project spanned two months and consisted of an understanding, concept direction, iteration, and development phase.
To kick off our understanding of the space and the project, we began by interviewing our users, looking at the existing state, and affinitizing our insights.
We began by fleshing out some general goals of what we were trying to understand about the Exploratorium, the process of monitoring data, and giving tours. From there, we came up with a research plan that outlined a few general questions to ask our four interview participants.
From there, we came up with a list of a few key insights that helped provide additional context to our brainstorming:
While there was an existing monitoring dashboard for the Exploratorium, there were a few information architecture-related problems. To better understand the exact issues, we mapped out the sitemap and outlined some general opportunities for improvement.
At this stage, we were able to define the key needs we were looking to solve in our solution. These needs directly informed our brainstorming and concepting process.
Along with the UI of the existing state, we also observed the actual JSON data that the current monitoring dashboard was receiving from the Exploratorium events.
The JSON object for each type of interaction was rather simple, with three main bits of information for every pick-up or put-down event: the device information (type and ID), the interaction information (the RFID tag for that object's interaction, the position row/column, and which story it was), and the timestamp.
In addition to the interaction events, the Exploratorium also sent a "heartbeat" every 30 seconds to ensure that the shelf was online.
This information was profoundly important because it allowed us to imagine the possible data trends we might be able to surface in the new dashboard.
Once we had conducted our interviews and observed the existing state, we began to map our thoughts, ideas, and areas that could improve the experience on a board.
At this point, we began to take more actionable steps towards developing our concept with these insights in mind.
Since we did have access to live interaction data from the Exploratorium throughout the duration of this project, we were able to tinker and experiment in programs like Minitab and Excel with different data comparisons and visualizations to see if any meaningful insights could surface as trends.
This was an extremely enriching part of the project, as it allowed us to correct our assumptions about what data trends might be interesting or make sense.
Once we had a better grasp on the desired functionality, data inputs, and insights from our sponsor users, we began brainstorming how we could re-architect the content of the dashboard.
From our brainstorming, we consolidated our ideas into two basic approaches or versions of our idea. I was responsible for creating wireframes and prototypes from these versions to take into user testing.
To ensure that our users’ voices were heard throughout our iteration process, we ran two rounds of user tests with the same participants we interviewed.
For our first round, the primary goals were to test our different versions and approaches we had created at a low-fidelity.
For our second round, we were looking for more detailed feedback on a slightly more developed version of what had tested well previously, along with some navigational hierarchy feedback at a mid-fidelity.