Design Sprint Review

I enjoyed the first design sprint.  It was revealing and I definitely took something away from the experience.  The concept my team came up with seemed pretty good but there were a few gaps in its implementation.  Looking back, I think if we had taken a few extra steps, it would have been a more successful design sprint.

Our idea to generate conversation in a bus stop seemed to be a pretty good focus.  It is an interesting space where strangers see each other everyday but don’t typically hold conversation.  Working with bus stops also allowed us to employ the concept in many different locations and to compare reaction at different locations.  Our first misstep was during our primary research when we were observing the bus stops.

I only observed bus stops in center city that were in close proximity of school.  Meghan observed people while she rode the bus during her personal commute.  This would have been adequate research if we had used these specific locations while implementing our “conversation generator.”  Unfortunately, the areas we observed were not areas we felt comfortable spraying stencils.  We decided we needed to venture further out of center city so it would be less likely for us to get in trouble.  Since we did not employ our concept where we did our research, we got results we did not anticipate.

The spots we ended up employing our concept were places where bus-travelers did not end up spending much time in the actual stops.  In fact, while we observed the morning commuters, we found the train and bus times were timed to where once commuters got off the train, the bus was right there waiting for them to board.  This meant most of our audience did not even see our images.  Also, if commuters were waiting for the bus, they rarely stood inside of the bus stop.

I think we should have used a slightly different approach that would have allowed us to adjust for this.  If we would have decided earlier that we would use these particular stops in South Philly, we could have observed them before employing our concept.  We could have seen how people use these particular stops and adjusted our concept to take advantage of the spaces that are used outside of the bus stop.  We also could have taken advantage of the paths people take when going directly from a train to a bus.  This would have allowed us to really discover whether people would engage in conversation with these types of visuals in there space.

I also would have liked more pictures for documentation.  We made sure to take a lot of pictures while we developed the prototypes, however when we were actually watching people react to the prototype, we fell short in our documentation.  I think this is because we were focused on observing for ourselves and we forgot to make sure to take as many pictures as possible for later.  We needed to keep in mind how important the pictures are for our presentation and PDF.  These are pivotal in helping reinforce what we say about our work.

It is important to be able to observe things in real-time but recording things to be observed later allow for further observation.  It wasn’t until I went back and looked at the video that I discovered how many people got onto the bus without setting foot into the bus stop.  This helped me realize that we could have recorded the bus stops before hand to study how people engage with them.  Pictures and video recording also allow you to share observations with other people who might recognize something you did not notice before.  This conversation could be helpful while refining the concept.

Other issues for our group were materials.  Spray chalk was the best way to get our stenciled images on the ground.  Unfortunately, spray chalk is really hard to find and in most cases you have to order it online.  We spent a lot of time experimenting with paints to figure out what would be the best alternative to spray the stencils.  We tried to make our own paint using a few different methods including mixing washable paint and water to be used in a spray bottle.  We also tried making paint from food coloring, cornstarch, and water.  Nothing ended up being good enough to get a clear image on the ground so we relied on the only can of white spray chalk we could find.

The worst part about this is that we knew we needed spray chalk on Friday.  We did not get to spray our stencils until Tuesday.  If we had just ordered the spray online on Friday, we would have had it by Tuesday evening for our implementation.  This not only would have allowed us to make colorful, impactful images but we would have had more time to implement our concept in more places.  We also could have used the time spent on making paints for observing other bus stops.

Even though it seems like our project was a failure I did learn a lot from it.  What was really interesting is that it felt like we were taking all of the right steps.  We spent time brainstorming concepts, we did research to refine our idea, we generated a prototype, and we implemented and observed for further iterating.  What this process has revealed to me is that it takes more than just touching all of the bases.  We have to refine our methods when we employ this process so each step we take is more thorough and thoughtful.  I am not sure that I would have been able to fully understand that in the classroom.  I am curious to see how this experience not only affects my work in the future, but also how future projects further inform future work.

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