CU DM Final Project - Weekly Reflections (Research Phase)

CU DM Final Project – Weekly Reflections (Research Phase)

Week 1 – 26 Jul 2021

On the first day of our semester, we were briefed on the subject’s objectives and assignments which made me clear on which tasks we need to do and how to do proper research & development for my final major project. First lecture presented the idea of how to begin, how to form & structure my thoughts regarding choosing a matter/problem for my final project and also how to provide an academic reflective writing.

As I already had a matter as for my final project’s topic, it was very important for me to learn how to form my thoughts and go through the issues and problems that my final project matter would offer a solution for. I have done a brainstorming session and came up a mind map for my project after the first class of the week as follows:

Mind Map

Next, we were lectured on module planning. I have improved my understanding of research and development from this lecture as I learned that I need to understand, observe, define the point of view, ideate, prototype, do tests and reflect on the process. Then, we were also lectured on the perspectives and the scope of research. This stage was very important for me as I had to analyse my topic and choose an appropriate perspective for it.

On the second day of the week, we were focused on Finding the Problems. To understand the problem, I learned that after picking a matter, I need to analyse it with 5W1H and 5xWHY methods and then conduct research. To pick a topic and find problems (matters) for it, we did it as a group work where we were asked to come up with 3 problems, share them on the chat, and everyone was required to ask a minimum of one question for each problem.

Below is the list 3 problems from my side:

  • GAMING – Consoles & games too expensive, hardware not upgradeable
  • STUDYING – Time consuming & too costly, is there a way to study faster?
  • HEALTH – Exercise not easy to do at home, healthy food not delicious & cooking takes time
Here are the questions I received from my classmates:

GAMING
– Why playing on expensive consoles
– Playing on cheaper platforms? Like mobile?
– Can console be rented/shared

STUDYING
– Can you sacrifice one (work/study)?
– Why do you need to study?

HEALTH
– Why cannot go out and jog?
– Have you tried a fitness video-game?

As a student, I found this question/mind sharing session very useful and it functioned as a good teamwork for me, as everyone had their own point of view and questions with different ideas which helped to make a better analysis for my final project topic.

To begin the project in the first week, I have started deconstructing the problem using open ended questions and finding the root cause using 5xWHYs method.




Week 2 – 2 Aug 2021

We started the first session of the second week with a Research Methods lecturer. We went through research methods, tools, data, sampling, data collection and the other fundamental elements in a research process.

The sampling part of research methods was quite useful for me. I have learned how to group my target audience for my research especially when I’m planning my quationeraie and online surveys. It also helped me to understand better how to identify the primary and secondary data. The methods of data collection were also important for me, especially for my interview part. In general, throughout this lecture, I have developed my knowledge and ability to come up with more in-depth questions regarding my project’s matter and for interviews.

Additionally, I went through a tutorial session with my lecturer and had a chance to review my research with her regarding deconstructing the problem using open-ended questions (5W1H & 5xWHYS methods). This helped me to receive constructive comments on my work and amend some changes which made me more clear on what I need to cover about my project’s topic. The comment was about focusing on my project’s problem and changing it from “being too expensive” to “Being not educational”.

On the second day, we were lectured on the tools, guides and tips for interviews and surveys. This helped me to have better ideas for forming questions for my research. Having learned this lecture, I now have a better skill to write questions for interviews and surveys. In the end, I had a one to one session with my lecturer to review my questions I prepared before for my questionnaire and I have received some useful comments to improve my questions and prepare questionnaires and questions to be sent out in the next week.




Week 3 – 9 Aug 2021

The lecture featured in our third week covered an important topic regarding my research and development matter which was critical thinking in a research and development process. This lecture talked about reasoning in design and basic design cycle.

As for Reasoning in Design, we have gone through the mindset, which is a cognitive activity that denotes a systematic and analytical manner of thinking and aids in comprehending the process of design, and the 3 styles of reasoning in design containing inductive research, deductive research and abductive research methods, where inductive reasoning is a type of reasoning in which the premises are thought to provide some evidence, but not complete certainty, of the conclusion’s veracity (mostly based on observation), deductive as a process of deducing a logical conclusion from one or more propositions (mostly based on facts), and abductive where starts with observations and analyses the facts and evidence to come up with a conclusion.

I also have learned the thinking model in reasoning in design which helped me to understand better regarding the thought process about this subject. Following the Basic Design Cycle, which is a model that depicts the basic reasoning phases in the design process, I have learned about the steps that involve analysis, synthesising, simulation and evaluation to come up with the decision process.

This lecturer was very significant for me as it gave me a clearer idea to analyse and define specific needs and support certain values when it comes to designing and finding solutions. The 3 styles of reasoning in design was very useful for me in the research process of my final project as it helps me to describe my design activity. The knowledge from the basic design cycle also was very essential for me as it helped me to understand how to apply the thinking model when structuring my thoughts, communicating with others, generating questions and forming insights from my research. Finally, the 5 reasoning steps have developed my understanding of spotting a problem, analysing and decision making




Week 4 – 16 Aug 2021

The lectures in Week 4 focused on user synthesis and analysis in order to create user personas, the JTBD framework, user stories, HMW, and ideation for the project. User personas are archetypal depictions of user groups that explain and portray their behaviour, values, and requirements based on information about their life (Fris, 2020).

A solution designer can use user personas to answer one of their most essential questions: “Who are we developing for?” It is feasible to develop a product that will satisfy users’ demands and be successful by first knowing their expectations, concerns, and motivations. This knowledge extracted from this lecture has helped me to understand the importance of analysing the users before starting a project and building empathy with users which is a core value when I want to make something that is good for the people who are going to use it (Faller, 2019).

Having learnt Key Insights, I now understand how it helps in the summarization and communication of key findings. To express what a product aids a consumer in accomplishing, learning JTBD taught me how to shift my focus away from the current answer and toward a different future solution. The knowledge learned from User Stories and HMW (How Might We ..) have also developed my skills and ability to see my solution based on users requirements and to reframe the problem through the eyes of various users and come up with questions that could lead to brainstorming sessions.

In addition, we went through the scenarios, user flows & user journeys tutorials which were very essential and important for me as I improved my ability and knowledge to analyze the user interactions and scenarios that users would go through to use my product/solution to fulfill their needs.

Overall, the lectures this week were quite beneficial to me since they taught me how to manage an iterative design process in which I could focus on the users and their demands at each stage of the design process.




Week 5 – 23 Aug 2021

The topic for week 05’s lecture was about the presentation deck for a research proposal and taught us about the structure of a project proposal from its cover to its last page.

I have learned through this lecture that a project proposal should include a Cover, Project Title, Project Overview, Background introduction, Problem Statement, Research Questions, Research method, Stakeholders, User Stories (Personas, User Flows, Information Architecture), Product Core features, Prototyping Planning, Moodboard, Design Proposal, Competitors, Budget and List of References/Sources.

For me, one of the challenging parts for preparing this proposal was the project title. I have had some titles in mind and it was not very easy to choose one, I have researched and studied regarding this matter. As a project title should be clear and unambiguous (Learnerassociates, 2020), and it needs to be distinctive and relate to its goals and objectives (French 2021). Extracting the core features of my product was also an interesting part of my proposal preparation. With the help of my lecturer I have learned how to make them more clear and how to prioritise them based on my problem statement and product’s goals.

I have developed a better knowledge and more skills for preparing and designing proposals after this class. I now feel that I am able to provide better project proposals and now looking forward to next week’s rehearsal so I can receive feedback and comment about my proposal.




Week 6 – 30 Aug 2021

This week’s subject was focused on pitching and proposal presentation.

First, I was wondering why a proposal presentation is called “pitching” so I searched to find out its root. According to my findings, The term “pitching” has roots in sports in current business jargon. It refers to a toss by the opposing team in baseball. The pitcher’s job is to toss the ball in such a way that the opposing team misses it and a teammate easily collects it. Because the players are not able to communicate with each other, each pitch becomes a communication problem. The effectiveness of the ad “throw” is also determined by the seller’s communication skills, as well as the buyer’s willingness to meet him halfway. As a result, in the 1940s, this baseball metaphor began to be used to represent trade presentations (TAGSoft.co, 2021).

To begin with, we started with essential questions of, What, Why, Who, How, Where, When.

  • “What” should explain the product/service. Is it an app, a website, an online service?
  • “Why” describes the goal of the project, as well as the problem that it tries to tackle.
  • “Who” basically defines the user (target audience) – Who will make use of the service/product?
  • “How” should determine how it functions? How are you going to approach? How will it be made?
  • “Where” is used to describe the distribution and dissemination of the product? Which platform and format?
  • “When” describes the timeline of the project.

We have also gone through the steps that pitching should follow. 1. Commencing with a strong introduction. 2. Emphasising the problems and offering solutions. 3. Identifying the market opportunities. 4. Showcasing the product/service. 5. Differentiating from competition 6. Explaining the financials & budget. We have learned that the points in a pitching should be clear and it should describe clearly the goals and purpose of the pitching.

rehearsal

Additionally, we had a rehearsal for our proposal presentation which is planned to be on Week 7. My presentation took about 30 minutes and I had the chance to get some comments from my lecturer and apply some improvements to my pitching before my actual presentation.

Personally, I found this week’s lecturer very productive as I learned the essentials for pitching a presentation, especially where it was talking about the questions that should be answered to the client/pitching audience beforehand and the structure of pitching as well as describing clearly its goals to the audience.




Week 7 – 7 Sept 2021

Week 7 was focused on our project proposal presentation which was done on Tuesday after noon, 7th of September 2021. I have done my presentation as the first presenter and received feedback, comments and questions from two guest lecturers who were invited to our presentation for observation and making comments so we can improve our proposal and our product especially for the development phase.

For me this presentation was very beneficial & meaningful, and gave me the chance to improve my presentation skills and take some useful notes for my project research & development. One of the challenging parts that I expected to face in my presentation and it happened during it, was that my audience in my presentation were not mostly football fans and did not know much about football. This in fact would give me the chance to make my product suitable also for people who are not a football fan and make them attracted to play my game, enjoy the gameplay and learn about football – which was also mentioned by Ms Dora (guest lecturer) as a comment on my proposal. The complete entry and video of my proposal presentation is available at my progress blog entry.

Having analysed the questions and comments for my proposal presentation, I now can polish and modify user flow and also consider matters such as including the secondary target market to my project where everyone would be able to play my game and can potentially become a permanent user of my product – these are especially required to be utilized when doing the Prototype 2.




Week 8 – 15 Sept 2021

The topic of week 08 was about planning and usability. This week has taught me the importance of planning and using a visualization tool like Gantt chart. For me, this has been very useful as I improved my knowledge on how to work out which resources I need to have for each task, how long each task & assignment will take, and what problems I may encounter during the course of completing each task (Gantt Charts: Planning and Scheduling Team Projects, 2021). By creating a Gantt chart using Google Spreadsheet, I also developed skills and ability to pre plan and manage my tasks within the timeline we have – My project planning & Gantt chart.

The next topic we covered was Usability Testing and Planning. The definition of usability where it says “the extent to which a system, product, or service can be utilised by specific users to achieve specific goals with efficiency, effectiveness, and satisfaction in a specific context of use” was very meaningful for me in terms of context of use which is usually defined by the needs of users. Additionally, the “Peter Morville Quality of User Experience” technique was significant for me as it highlighted the most important parts of UX which are Think, Feel and Use. This made me consider reviewing and analyzing my product’s information architecture and after going through my user personas once again, I decided to modify and revise my Information Architecture in order to make it more useful, valuable, findable and usable. – Check out my Info Architecture update.

The skills and knowledge learned from this week’s topics were essential and important for me especially for the planning part as well as for the initial part of implementation which is currently sketching and wireframing the first prototype. I learned that putting users in the center of my product’s usualibilty and goal will help me modify my research and development to make a product that could cover up users’ needs.




Week 9 – 21 Sept 2021

In order to start designing the interface for my game and to build a drawn stucture for each design iteration, I started researching and sketching low-fidelity wireframes. By reading and studying on low-fidelity wireframes I have learned that this type of wireframing can save time especially in the execution phase and avoid rework later on, as it makes you decide on the core components and functionality before investing time and energy in a sophisticated high-fidelity wireframe (Costa, 2020).

The most significant distinction part of doing low-fidelity wireframing is thinking and analysing the overall user experience as it can visualise the requirements early in the process (Costa, 2020). The study of low-fidelity wireframing has also helped to understand the importance of outlining visual hierarchy on user interfaces and the planning of transitions and interactions for delivering the product information to the end-user (Lazarova, 2018).

Studying and researching on wireframing have helped me to develop my skills in project planning and early visualization of my product and I now understand why low-fidelity wireframing is an effective tool that can save time and costs in the early stage of planning.




Week 10 – 27 Sept 2021

By learning about usability reports in week 10’s class I am now able to develop my knowledge of analysing the test data collected by the survey I have done for my prototyping phase 1. This topic was important for me as it talks about turning collected data into usability findings, so I would be able to spot and recognise issues and problems in my current prototype and come up with some plans for fixing the issues in order to create a sophisticated user experience.

As I’m currently using the Google Forms for creating and running my survey, I can access the compiled result at Google with numbers, charts and interpreted data which helps me to identify the usability problems better. The user feedback collected by the survey form was sufficient for this phase however I managed to call some of them and have a talk with them which helped me collect additional data for my usability report. These additional comments contain some design and layout matters such as visual hierarchy and etcetera which I will consider for the second prototyping.

Having read and experienced about usability reports and after writing and analyzing my project’s usability report, I take this report as a critical document for assessing my product’s success because it gives me insight into my audience expectations & needs.




Week 11 – 5 Oct 2021

To carry on and continue developing the second prototyping, I need to work on branding by choosing a name for my product. One of the most crucial product selections a creator takes is deciding on a brand name. A brand name conveys the entire image, positioning, and, ideally, benefits of a product.

By studying and reading about the name selection for a product, I learned that I need to define my naming, brainstorm the ideas, screen and knock out problematic names, keep name that relates more to my product’s purpose – based on user experience, check the availability, customer-test my final short-listed names and make the final decision (Reading: Name Selection | Principles of Marketing, 2020).

The name options I had in my mind after brainstorming ideas, knocking out problematic names, and shortlisting, were Footballtainment and Footballizer. These two names describe my product’s purpose and convey the entire image of my game product. To make the final decision, I have asked 6 people from my contacts – all gamers and football fans to vote for one of them and the result is 4 votes for Footballizer and 2 for Footballtainment, so the name “Footballizer” was selected and I can start designing a logo for it.

This part of research was meaningful for me as I upgraded my knowledge about choosing a brand name for a (digital) product such as a video-game, and see the naming as an extension of my brand, so it can reinforce the value I’m planning to provide to my users.




Week 12 – 13 Oct 2021

By studying prototyping I have understood that high-fidelity prototypes are designed to look and work as closely as possible to the final product. This means when there is an idea of something that needs to be constructed and has to be tested by real users and receive final design comments, a hi-fi prototype will do the job to provide such a functionality.

My approach to make this prototype for my project and send it out to my testers, is to:

  • Finalize the visual design and appearance of my product
  • Represent the content (or similar to real content) of my product
  • Simulate the interactions that need to be done by users to utilise my product
  • Receive feedback and comments from users on on above points

Having read, analyzed and experienced making high-fidelity prototypes for my product (game), I now understand and realise how hi-fi prototyping is a good user experience and why it must be an important part of the UX design process and it can minimise the workflow while it is maximizing learning experience since it also makes you connect to your users (testers) and get them involved in production process and consider their opinions before publishing the final product.




Week 13 – 18 Oct 2021

To perform a usability test for my second prototype (hi-fi), I have researched and studied on the usability test in a more advanced way and found out that this part of the test is similar to the beta testing.

Beta testing is basically the final round of testing before publishing or releasing a digital product like my game but to a wider range of audience. The objective of doing such a test is to uncover as many issues and bugs or usability problems as possible in this stage (Beta Test, 2021). However, my product is currently in the prototyping stage at the moment, I need to perform usability performance tests which are related to the design, UX and the flow of the functionality presentation that are done by wider user range and by the ones who can comment on the funcationality flow – similar to a beta test.

Alternatively, this phase of testing would also provide me an opportunity to validate hypotheses about how users will use my product and ensure that it meets my users’ requirements & expectations.

Additionally, having learned about the beta testing and applying the post-improvements to my product, I now understand that this phase of testing will also help me to create a better pitching presentation which is essentially important for me as it allows me to attract investors or co-founders for my game in the future.




Week 14 – 26 Oct 2021

This week’s lecture was focused on Business Modelling which is talking about providing a plan for a successful operation of a business and identifying the potential sources of income that a product/service can have.

Having learned the business model canvas which is a visual representation of the value a business provides to its customers, I understood that this tool breaks down the business modeling into easily-understood segments as Key Partners, Key Activities, Key Resources, Customer Relationships, Value Propositions, User Channels, Customer Segments, Cost Structure & Revenue Streams.

To understand this better, I have done research in the business modelling area and then analyzed my findings. This helped me to figure out what kind of revenue resource my product (web-based game) can potentially have or generate. The result is that since my game is a free to play web-based game, there are two major sources of revenue (Vanhatupa, 2021):

  • Selling Advertisement Space
  • Selling In-game Content (Special Features)

Other methods of having income for my product could be 1) partnership with football associations and academies where they use my game with an paid exclusive access/content as a tool for their students, and 2) merchandising, where I can possibly football related products to my audiences (such as selling football tees with Footballizer brand).




Week 15 – 2 Nov 2021

By having analyzed the result of the Usability Test 2 I learned that this phase of the production is one of the most effective ways to uncover issues that users have on my product. This round of testing helped me to save time and build a better qualitative report as I have a better knowledge and understanding of usability testing after performing the Test 1.

The steps I have been through this round of testing were organizing results and collecting data, prioritizing the issues based on criticality and impact, analyzing the result and eventually generating the final report.

After having the report generated and studying more on usability testing, I have come to an inclusion that I should keep my usability testing report short and the findings actionable, and need to focus on delivering something next that I can act upon in order to create a user centered product that is enjoyable for my audiences when I get to the implementation phase of my project.




Week 16 – 8 Nov 2021

In Week 16’s class, we had a rehearsal round of our final R&D presentation which was very helpful and beneficial for me as I could get some comments and feedback to improve my presentation before doing the actual one.

I found the rehearsal important because I was able to apply my knowledge of public presenting to test out what works for me for this presentation. I also noticed that it allows me to practice different parts before I actually deliver the final presentation to my audience in week 17. By doing this round of rehearsal, I managed to learn how to put the effective parts back together and apply the comments taken from the rehearsal in order to create a total presentation and practice before delivering it in front of the actual audience.

Additionally, I have received helpful feedback and suggestions after my rehearsal presentation from my lecturer which helped me to gauge my presentation skills and my presentation general outcome. Some feedback would be also considered for my final presentation in the next sem.

Generally, the rehearsal and the comments made for it, have given me an opportunity to develop skills and identify areas I need to improve for my upcoming final presentation on Friday.




Week 17 – 12 Nov 2021

The final presentation was done on 12 November with participation of a guest lecturer Mr Faiz for commenting and evaluating our presentation. For me this presentation and feedback received afterwards were very constructive and helpful.

The knowledge gained from the feedback and question session was very essential for me and I’m now able to improve my product by considering the extent to which educational content is covered, adding features to my product such as management and managerial content, having ability for users to get real-time (on-line) instructions and a guide and having innovative educational content ideas to take it to the next level.

Generally, this final presentation has helped me communicate my thoughts and ideas to an audience (lecturers & other students) and receive constructive feedback so I can consider the development phase of my project in order to improve the usability of it and take it to the next level.

References

  • Friis, R., 2020. Stage 2 in the Design Thinking Process: Define the Problem and Interpret the Results. [online] The Interaction Design Foundation. Available at: https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/stage-2-in-the-design-thinking-process-define-the-problem-and-interpret-the-results [Accessed 20 August 2021].

  • Faller, P., 2019. What Are User Personas and Why Are They Important? | Adobe XD Ideas. [online] Ideas. Available at: https://xd.adobe.com/ideas/process/user-research/putting-personas-to-work-in-ux-design [Accessed 20 August 2021].

  • French, K., 2021. How to Choose Your Brand Name in 5 Simple Steps. [online] Column Five. Available at: https://www.columnfivemedia.com/how-to-choose-a-brand-name [Accessed 3 September 2021].

  • Learnerassociates.net. 2020. Writing Hints – PROJECT TITLE. [online] Available at: https://www.learnerassociates.net/proposal/hints1.htm [Accessed 3 September 2021].

  • TAGSoft.co. 2021. A Pitch Meaning in Business: what is and how to use it properly? – TAGSoft.co. [online] Available at: https://tagsoft.co/what-is-a-pitch-meaning-in-business [Accessed 3 September 2021].

  • Mindtools.com. 2021. Gantt Charts: Planning and Scheduling Team Projects. [online] Available at: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newPPM_03.htm [Accessed 17 September 2021].

  • Costa, R., 2020. [online] Justinmind.com. Available at: https://www.justinmind.com/blog/low-fidelity-vs-high-fidelity-wireframing-is-paper-dead/> [Accessed 24 September 2021].

  • Lazarova, T., 2018. [online] Available at: https://mentormate.com/blog/low-fidelity-wireframes-vs-high-fidelity-wireframes [Accessed 24 September 2021].

  • Courses.lumenlearning.com. 2020. Reading: Name Selection | Principles of Marketing. [online] Available at: https://courses.lumenlearning.com/clinton-marketing/chapter/reading-name-selection [Accessed 8 October 2021].

  • Productplan.com. 2021. Beta Test. [online] Available at: https://www.productplan.com/glossary/beta-test/ [Accessed 22 October 2021].

  • Vanhatupa, J., 2021. Business Model of Long-term Browser-based Games. [ebook] Available at: http://www.mirlabs.org/ijcisim/regular_papers_2013/Paper95.pdf [Accessed 28 October 2021].

  • Sow, I., 2020. Usability Test Reporting: Spend Less Time, Have More Impact. [online] CXL. Available at: https://cxl.com/blog/usability-test-reporting [Accessed 5 November 2021].

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