Designing Meaningful Interactions – Draft of Product Prototype

Here is a flow chart & drafted working prototype for my friend’s idea of a Studio Rental app. Looking forward to getting user feedback from people in the next week.

Link to prototype here, and a few screen shots below. I used Sketch to create the prototype, and Invision to create a shareable version online. I’ll work on connecting the hotspots. 

I made the Flow Chart in Illustrator, using the graphics I created for the User Journey last week.

User Flow Chart


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Designing Meaningful Interactions – Proposals for Final Project


For this last assignment we’ll be designing a product for someone we know. The design process will be broken up over several weeks:

  • Week 4: Propose our ideas before selecting just one
  • Week 5: Create an Experience Map (a timeline in the form of a chart) and User Journey (a story in the form of images)
  • Week 6: Develop a working prototype of the product
  • Week 7: Conduct user testing of the prototype with five users & Make final changes to the prototype based on user testing


Here are my four proposals!  We were asked to think of three people and imagine products that might solve a problem in their life. Instead, I chose to ask people directly instead of imagine something.  Within this kind of scope, people know their lives best & what they want!

Idea #1: Recording Studio Open Hours

A Friend’s Need: A friend of mine is a 30-something musician and now successful producer and engineer. He says he’d love an “uber or airbnb for recording studios” – a way to post your private recording studio and its open hours, say midnight to 5am. There are a lot of private studios in apartments with separate entrances or in basements, besides the usual big ones in midtown.

Proposed Product: An app or website. Further research interviews with my friend and other musicians and engineers will lead to specific features. For example, does this group of creatives use business cards? If so, is this service worth including in the site.


  • App/website:
  • Business cards:


Idea #2: Song Saver Dongle

A Family Member’s Need: I have a family member who is a music expert. He’s collects vinyl records for years & knows a lot about certain genres of music. Now he’s in his late 30’s and has two daughters and less time. He wants to have “an app or product that continuously “shazams” or listens to sound coming out of the audio output/headphone jack on computer or mobile phone and produces a list of music played”

My Proposed Product: A small product that you pop into your audio jack and uses wifi or bluetooth to send the audio or song titles and artists to a list or spreadsheet. Note that I’m purposefully not recommending an app or software. This is because I want to stay away from designing things that listen to your whole life and connect that information to the general ecosystem of your online life . Instead, as a creator, I’d want to want to create something “dumb” enough that they are separate from your other accounts and physically communicate that by being a separate piece of hardware.


  • Chromecast stick.
  • USB mini stick for mice.
  • Dongle for iphone ear buds that no longer work with audio jacks.


Idea #3: Getting newborns around the city

A Friend’s Need: A friend in her 30’s was severely homebound for several weeks after giving birth to newborn — even though she wanted to get outside! She couldn’t travel with the baby because she had a C-section, it’s hard to carry a baby and collapse a stroller at the same time, most subway stations don’t have elevators, and cabs require car seats but few have them.

My Proposed Products:

  • Extender for strollers to hook onto handrails in subway stations.
  • Add flat section to stairs that make it easier to roll strollers and bikes up and down subway stairs.
  • Porters at subway stations who carry stroller down stairs.
  • Special buses with sections for strollers, like Portland has for bikes.


Idea #4: Sock Service

Family Members’ Needs: Two people in my family get holes in their socks. For at least one of them, it is a source of real frustration as they buy seemingly perfectly good socks but yet they still fall apart. The product’s failure can make them feel like they have something wrong with them — when it is the sock that has failed in that it’s not made well enough. In turn, the sock’s failure turns into another errand for the owner. Why not turn this frustration into a delight? New socks especially good at preventing holes could be delivered at home.

Proposed Product: An app or website for a monthly sock service for those that get holes in their socks, not necessarily for fashion.

Reference: FYI – there are several services out there already.  Images are available across sites.


Designing Meaningful Interactions – Counter Prototypes

For this assignment, I found both user scenarios (read below) to be different enough from each another that I created two different desk counting prototypes.

Marco’s Desk Counter

Maria’s Desk Counter



Based on my instincts, I felt strongly that the emotional states of limiting one’s diet versus anticipating vacation were different enough to call for unique prototypes.  I also based this decision on having read recent articles and books popularizing psychology and human behavior.

For example, I’ve heard that it is the positive emotion of anticipation that people most enjoy about vacations – not the actual vacation itself. Said another way, fantasizing about a perfect paradise is more fun than actually experiencing the realities of logistical hiccups or misunderstandings with travel mates. And when it comes to creating new habits to cut down on addictions, such as Marco’s coffee intake, I’ve read that the brain has only a certain amount of will power to spend each day …so you plan & better spend it wisely. Plus there might be negative emotions around having to restrict your diet, not positive ones like those associated with vacation.

With all of this in mind, I decided that Maria and Marco’s motivations are responding to really different emotions and possibly even reacting from different regions of the brain. Combining their needs into one prototype felt like I was simplifying their needs into a solution that wouldn’t help either of them. Therefore, I created different prototypes that played up different features to meet each of their emotions and needs.

Prototype #1

Maria’s prototype allows her to savor the anticipation she feels leading up to her vacation. As a break from feeling sad about work, each day she can get a quick high by revealing one small detail of a beautiful photo of her vacation destination. As she eats her lunch at her desk, she can remove one puzzle piece from the board, slowly but surely knowing that she is one step closer to her escape. This design allows her to focus on one small vision of her destination, encouraging her to support savoring and really enjoying her anticipation. As for fabrication, I’m imagining that in a final prototype the puzzle pieces are cut out of flat magnets so that they are easy to peel off from the printed photograph. Behind the photograph is another magnetized board. With this arrangement, she can easily replace the photograph and reuse the magnetized pieces.


Maria begins anticipating her vacation with a full puzzle covering up a photo of her destination. Each piece represents a day between her and her flight to Yosemite National Park. 


At this point, Maria is about two thirds of the way towards her hike through Yosemite. In a couple days she’ll be able to see the peak El Capitan.


Prototype #2

Marco’s desk counter prototype goes so far as to actually help him manage his coffee addiction. This magnetized board provides not only a method to plan his coffee intake but also track his progress. Knowing he wants to stick to 15 cups a week, he can put two, maybe three, coffee mug magnets on each day. As he drinks each cup, he flips them over to show that he’s enjoyed them (encouraging the action of savoring each cup, which might help him need less in the future). If he slips and has a third or fourth, that’s not a problem. He can take one or two mugs from later in the week and move them over. But that means no coffee at brunch on the weekend! Again, the fabrication would make use of flat magnets but that are printed on both sides to show an empty or full cup of coffee.


This design allows Marco to plan out his ideal coffee consumption for the week.  15 cups divided evenly is 2 cups for six days, and 3 cups on the seventh day.


As the week goes by, Marco can flip each coffee mug to reveal the full cup of coffee that he just enjoyed. If he has more than two cups of coffee in a day, that’s OK – he can take one from later in the week, but will clearly see he has to hold back on the weekend.


About Personas

I’ve heard about personas in the past, and have been suspicious of how useful it is to design for them. I myself can see that I spun a few stories above to persuade the reader that these prototypes will meet the needs of personas Maria and Marco.  I’m curious if companies typically invent personas, or base them on research?

Assigned Personas

Maria is a 30 year old PR Account Manger working at Havas. She finds her job boring and lives for her vacation. Some days she feels she cannot make it to 5pm without knowing that there is a vacation on the calendar. Maria is constantly tracking the number of days until her next vacation. She is looking for a fun way to motivate herself by tracking the number of days until her next vacation.

Marco is a Sales Rep for google. His job is stressful and he has developed a bad habit of drinking too much coffee. He is trying to cut back because he can’t sleep at night. This winter he is up to 4-5 cups a day. Jon loves coffee and doesn’t want to quit, he just wants to scale back from almost 30 cups a week  to a limit of 15 cups per week. marco is looking for a way to easily track his coffee consumption by counting the number of cups he drinks each week.

Designing Meaningful Interactions – Writing Assignment

A Complaint Letter about The Top of the New York Times Mobile Homepage

I used to read the New York Times religiously. Then they changed their mobile homepage. And soon after I switched to The Washington Post. For example, the very top of today’s front page.



(Shout out to the new Duck Duck Go mobile browser app.)

All I see are three photos, a lot of white space, and the word “advertisement” where an ad should be loading.

(To save myself a longer rant, I won’t complain about two other things that bother me: the rest of the homepage, and their headlines.)

Just focusing on this top area, I see a few issues:

  • I see no actual news. Why is Trump on the website today? What is that accident? What’s happening to Janet Yellen? I feel like a toddler holding a picture book.
  • I don’t get where I want to go when I click on one of the images. I can click on Janet’s face, but I’m taken to a much longer debrief of the news today. Buried half way down is the story about Janet’s last meeting at the Federal Reserve. But I thought I had clicked on only Janet? Almost everywhere else on the internet, people are trained to see a “thumbnail” image as a unique link… But not here.
  • The news seems to be mostly about me. I see the words “Your” and “you”. But I came to the New York Times to read about the rest of the world, not to keep hearing about myself.
  • Half the news is advertising.  I’m fine seeing an ad at the top of a site. Some advertising as a necessity.  But I pay a subscription to read the news. I haven’t gotten any yet.

I know the Times must have good UX research to back up their decision to leave behind their old webpage architecture for this new one. They still use the traditional layout on the web, which is very dense with links, font sizes, and images.

I’d be curious to hear about how many people leave their new mobile homepage, though. And if those people are having the same experience!

Here’s my solution, which is based on the idea of a carousel of images that a user can flip through.




An Ode to My Radio Alarm Clock

I love my little radio alarm clock. Having one means I get to wake up to music on the radio and spend zero time on my phone before bed. It may look plain and simple, but that’s the point. No glowing screens or pointless trips around the internet, and instead some nice Aimee Mann, Drake, Billy Joel, Beethoven, Caribbean or Irish music on the radio.

An object is beloved by someone for its value. What does it offer?  Is it purely functional or is it a luxury item? Does it say something about you? Does it require attention and care, or does it hum along in the background?



My clock is beloved by me because it enables me to do two major things I need in life: listen to the radio, and wake up on time.

As for the first “feature”, I am a big fan of the radio. I have it on all the time, especially public radio.  I like that can turn on the radio anywhere in the apartment. Public radio, commercial radio, talk radio, commuting hour radio, weekend radio – all good to me. For me, the radio gives the feeling of “live right now”, almost like a performance. Public radio especially can say a lot about a city, town or region.

As for the second “feature”, I wake up better to music than an actual alarm.  I’m less likely to snooze my alarm so that I can hear whatever’s on… therefore I actually wake up instead of go back to sleep! The alarm function also means I don’t need my phone for its alarm function. Before I kicked the phone out,  I noticed I felt pretty unsatisfied after reading the news (AGAIN) before sleeping. Once I swapped the clock for the phone, I found myself reading more books and magazines.


The interface itself is great as long as I use it every day. But if I take a vacation and come back, no matter how hard I try I will set the alarm incorrectly — and then won’t wake up. Based on this, the design could be improved.

I believe the lapse in my memory is due to the fact that while the interface is streamlined (there aren’t too many buttons), this leads buttons with two functionalities depending on whether you press quickly or hold them down. This tension between simplicity and usability is always there when designing.


As a final note, the touch and feel of the radio is very pleasing. Instead of hard plastic on the top, there is a soft rubber layer. This gives it a minute amount of spring to the touch. It also keeps the temperature of the object from getting too cold and unpleasant to touch, which somehow makes it easier in the morning!