Mira Kirvesmaki

Design with heart

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Making progress

As promised (see I keep my word) I’ll tell you a bit about the process I went through last week for getting forward in my project. As you might have read previously I was quite stuck with my project. I had several aspects clear but had a hard time deciding on a topic. It seemed intimidating to make such a decision without having considered all the aspects first. What if I chose something but then it turned out to be the wrong decision?

One of the things that helped me was just time. Having the time to do research, look into all the aspects and have a good think about it. But in the end this wasn’t enough to push me to a decision so I decided to compliment this with two small exercises.

The IDEO method card. Source

My first exercise, suggested by a fellow student, was about getting everything down. Writing all the questions I had and really trying to get everything I was holding in my head out. This was similar to an exercise I did earlier in the project but instead of just getting things out this time I was more critical. I started by asking myself why am I really stuck and really tried to drill deep into this by applying one of the IDEO method cards, the Five Whys?. So really trying to cross-examinate myself and understand the situation I’m in. So asked questions like why am i stuck, what is my goal, what am I passionate about, who I want to be as a designer, etc.

This gave me a better understanding of the ground I was standing on and allowed me to use these for another exercise. I identified the most important concepts that popped up during my Q&A session, the ones that could end up being the focus point of my project, and then gave myself only 10 minutes to research each. This exercise came from the insight that I want to base my project on something real, so clearly research was in place. By limiting the research to such a short time period I got a sense of what I felt most passionate about, what I wanted to know more about. Through doing this I identified good deeds as something that really struck a cord with me.

Doing flash research

As I explained in my end of the week post the idea I had was to be inspired by the progress principle but use that in trying to inspire people to do good. So using the idea that one of the major aspects of making people happier and more productive is simply making progress in a meaningful way and giving people the channel to record their good deeds, give what they do a prominence. Hopefully allowing them to feel like they’re doing something meaningful and through that inspire them to keep it up or even do more.

I’ve started doing some research into this and identified some other projects done in this domain. What has become quite clear is that tone of voice will be extremely important to get right. I do not want to to be preachy but I want it to be something to be taken seriously. I don’t want it to be childish but I want to incorporate playfulness and humour to it. Getting the balance right between these will require careful consideration and iteration. Another critical aspect of this project will be understanding the motivation and drive behind doing good.  So hopefully I’ll get to really utilise the behavioural economics theories that I’ve been researching.

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Finished project: MemoryCatcher

This is an overview of a project I did for my Digital Interaction Design module. It’s aim was to design an mobile application for a specific grandperson. I picked my grandmother and interviewed her over the christmas period. Based on that interview I came up with the idea for MemoryCatcher.


The logo

MemoryCatcher is an iPad application designed for my grandmother Seija. It provides a new, richer way of staying in touch with her friends and family by allowing them to send photos directly to the app.  Seija can then curate these photos by choosing which ones she would like to keep, put them in albums and add captions and decorations to them. The final pieces can then be shared with others or left to circle through on the iPad as a slideshow.

The main purpose of the application is to provide Seija with a new pastime activity that incorporates her already existing skills and interests. She is amazing in crafts and loves keepsakes and souvenirs, so the app allows her to digitally scrapbook the photos that are sent to her. Through the application some of her other problems, those of isolation and loneliness, are also addressed as her close circle of friends and family can keep her updated through the photos they send.

screenshot mockup

Screenshot mockup

The application can be used as an active pastime that offers Seija a creative way to store photos but it also offers a more passive function. It can be used as a slideshow that the iPad can run while not in use. The final scrapbooks also work as conversation pieces complimenting the already existing means of communication. Seija currenly keeps in touch with her close circle of friends and family through phone calls. The MemoryCatcher aims, not to replace, but to compliment this.

Many of the features of the application have been designed around the fact that my grandmother has not previously used touch screen devices or any kind of mobile technology. This means that help is provided by the application at all stages, the underlying structure has been made very clear and that great consideration was put into providing visual clues that help her form an appropriate mental model of how the MemoryCatcher works. Examples of these include visual maps of the steps included in a task, remainders of decisions made and metaphors like the corner of a paper turned to present the idea of previous pages.

The project was only taken to ideation stage and has just finished with the final presentation last week.