Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Day 2 of Open News Sprint- Design for Empathy vs. Pure Utility

Day 2 of the Open News Webmaking Design Sprint kicked off with a storyboarding session- which of course meant a round of the color coding index card game! Basically what we did was come up with three categories of things that we were sketching out the flow for:
  • Main Screens and Modal Windows (pink cards)
  • Content in the Instructional Overlay (orange cards)
  • Badges (green cards)
*Note- I will post the full storyboards later this week

One thing that was an interesting change from yesterday's conversation was that we converted the "sharing" steps into information that can be revealed and explored when the user clicks on the "share" button, thus eliminating that extra step. 

In terms of the badges, for simplicity we came up with one badge per each skill set. So, for example, in the image below- we sketched out 3 steps for learning about how to write the html for embedding an image into a webpage. Step 1- place an image that we give them, Step 2- hack that image with an unique image and Step 3- Remix that Image--- then the user will receive an Image Badge. Completion of all the Modules will give the user the "uber badge". (We need real names for these badges, but this is just a concept).
One thing that we talked about- which is out of scope for this pilot prototype- was having a user pledge for the badge by going through a series of interactive activities or games or questions... to prove their skill. It's a bigger idea that certainly relates back to integrating this badge into a larger spectrum of "Mozilla Badges," but I like this idea because on some level it proves competencies and could essentially allow users to skip other "intro" activities in courses or interactives.

Atul, Brian and I spent a bit of time trying to figure out how we were going to implement the designs into a working prototype, a small- yet crucial step. Good news, we think we can make something by the end of this week.

The group had a great conversation about metrics for the project that I think we will rehash again after we create the MVP (that's a minimum viable product not a most valuable player). This is what we came up with as a first stab:
  • Beyond-the-tool Metrics
    • How many people share their URL outside of the tool (twitter, blogs, etc.)
    • 3-months-later survey of people who graduated
  • Tool usage measurement metrics
    • How frequently the user switches away from the page (to another tab, app, etc) while using the app
    • How many steps people go through
    • How many of those steps are repeated
    • Time taken per step
    • How many people are return users to the website; so they use the tool and stop at a certain step and then come back at a later date to continue
    • and what are those stop points?
    • Also, how many people graduate from the 'course' (tricycle) to the 'tool' (training wheels), ie. how many people turn off the overlay and keep coming back, how many times.
    • How many people do the bare minimum (just the tutorial)
    • What link text people use when writing links and how many links are they putting in
    • How many people come back to pledge for the full badge?
    • How many people go above and beyond with tinkering 
      • i.e multiple images, all the "optional" styles, etc.    

We spent the remainder of our jam packed day focusing on copywriting. We had a conceptual conversation about what direction the tool should take, which of course affected the way that we wrote the copy. Because we couldn't agree on whether this should be a generic webmaking 101 tool, a tool focused on helping people tell their story through the web or a tool geared towards journalists we decided to write as much of the technical bits and pieces as possible and to come back and add on the layer that included narrative, voice and character.

Today I am feeling a bit conflicted about the design direction. In my heart I believe that the project should be a self directed interest based learning tool- which means a tool that helps someone make something and then baking in the learning seamlessly. I am concerned that if we go too generic we will end up with a tool, that people can't relate to and thus won't feel compelled to deep dive into the learning content. So that said, I guess this just is about deciding between the "telling your story" vs. "webmaking for journalists 101". As I said before, I like the telling your story through the web angle for the product because it is something that is easy for many different kinds of users to relate to.  This is about branding- and by branding I don't mean slapping a logo on the project and calling it a day- it is about creating a narrative for the project that is compelling enough to give users and potential users the opportunity to empathize and relate to the project on a deeper level. 

For example- if the lovebomb.me experimental project was a tool it might be called something like e-card maker. I suspect that people would not have responded so strongly to that project. We built in a narrative and a real directive- make a love letter for a friend- and wrapped that into a light narrative heavily supported by cute lovey-dovey graphics.  Well, this conversation is to be continued later.

Tomorrow we will be meeting real live journalists, so I am excited to ask them about what they really are interested in making with the web. Hopefully this will inform the direction of the project.

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