A smartphone application that allows community members to share stories about the place they live.
TEAM | Jessica Franco, Mike Henderson, Yunting Liu, Neeraj Verma
ROLE | Product Research + Design
TOOLS | Sketch, InVision
METHODS | participatory design, personas and scenarios, competitive analysis, qualitative validation, system design
The Beanstalk Network is a project based out of the Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute that aims to track the trends in tourism and flows of people around the island of Madeira. Here, our challenge was to design a project that uses the existing infrastructure of wifi routers on buses around the island to provide an interaction design concept that serves the needs of local communities.
In this project, my team focused on high school students in the community of Machico. We first conducted a participatory design session to learn about their ideas and needs. We then performed matchmaking with the Beanstalk Network's capabilities and competitive analysis of similar services. Finally, we returned to Machico with a concept video, which we used to solicit feedback from young community members.
Hi|Estória is a service that allows community members to share stories of personal and public history and place those stories in relevant locations in their community. Using the Hi|Estória system, both visitors and community members can experience the history of a place overlaid on the place itself, creating a community walking museum that combines ethnography and major historical events. Using this system, visitors can learn about the unique history of a place, and community members can contribute their own stories and learn more about the place they live.
final concept video
We began this project by talking to community members to learn about their needs and hear their ideas for their community.
Based on our participatory design findings, we created three personas to represent both the users and creators of Hi|Estória
We looked at relevant apps, covering popular sharing apps like Periscope and more experimental services like Murmur and Urban Tapestries.
After settling many of the interaction questions, we thought about how Mariana, Manuel, and Nick and Dora would interact with the system.
Because this is a system with several types of user-participants, we had to think carefully about how it would work for each type of user, considering issues like moderation, incentives, and curation.
After creating our concept video, we returned to Machico and shared the video, both with our original participants and with new community members.
We began our process by conducting a participatory design session with local high school students. While we knew that we needed to design something that was a good match for the Beanstalk Network's capabilities, we didn't want to constrain our participants' ideas with specific capabilities. So, instead, we primed them in our problem space by asking about their experiences on buses and their hopes and ideas for their community.
Participatory design structure
Our participants wanted to learn more about the history of their city. They said they thought their town had a unique story, but that there was no museum or place to learn about it.
Unsurprisingly, they use their smartphones (a lot). Across the board, our participants sketched smartphones and headphones as the items they always bring on the bus.
At the same time, they want to spend more time engaging with others in the community. Many students expressed a design for more events, activities, and places where people could meet around town. Right now, the beach was the only place like that, and people only went there in the summer.
They were concerned about the economic health of their city and saw tourism as a way to help their city flourish. Based on this, we decided to add tourists to our primary stakeholders and created personas based on visitors to Madeira.
After we settled on the idea of a history-sharing service, we still had a lot of question about moderation, incentives, and content type. We set out to research relevant apps, covering popular sharing apps like Periscope and more experimental services like Murmur and Urban Tapestries. The team divided up the apps, and each of us tested one to see how engaging it was and how well it dealt with the tricky issues of content quality and moderating content. From this research, we settled on audio content and non-anonymous posting. We also decided to streamline the app as much as possible, since these for-pleasure services are quickly abandoned if the interface is confusing.
Based on our participatory design findings, we created three personas: Mariana, a local high school student interested in history and journalism; Manuel, a man who grew up in Machico who knows a lot about the history of Machico; and Nick and Dora, a couple visiting Machico for the first time.
After settling many of the interaction questions, we thought about how Mariana, Manuel, and Nick and Dora would interact with the system. We wanted anyone to be able to add content, but we also wanted a group of community members to guide the system. We pictured a high-school club that would add important stories they thought were missing by interviewing people like Manuel.
Content: Audio stories are recorded by users and tagged to relevant locations in the community.
Making it physical: In addition to signs near bus stops and monuments and on buses, the system will also have dedicated recording booths made from repurposed telephone booths. These booths, located near bus stops to be used while people are waiting, both serve to advertise the system and help people who don't use smartphones to add their stories.
Context-aware suggestions: The system allows users to opt in to notifications, which let them know when they are passing near a story. However, the system also allows users to input their destination to receive a route that will take them by stories they haven't heard yet, encouraging exploration and discovery.
Moderation: Because we wanted they system to run without active moderation, we decided to have users link their social media accounts in order to post. While we disliked the friction this causes users, it seemed like the best solution to create a self-moderating community. In addition, any user can flag content that is inappropriate.
After creating our concept video, we returned to Machico and shared the video, both with our original participants and with new community members. They said they were excited about the system, and had lots of ideas about the particular stories they would like to hear.