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A web platform aimed to help designers discover, learn, and bridge their understanding of HCI topics through storytelling, feedback, and shared resources.

 
 

In sponsorship with:

 
 
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Challenge: How might we improve knowledge sharing between HCI academics and UX designers?

 
 

Brief

A graduate capstone project with 10-weeks of outlining the opportunities through primary research methods, and. Plus 10-weeks of ideation, wire framing and prototyping to develop a UI specification.

Timeline

6 months

 

Roles

User Research Plan, User Interviews, Competitive Analysis, Empathy Maps, Insight Generation, UI Design, Visual Design, Product Specification, Usability testing

Team

Eclair Junchaya, Hy Nguyen

 

Introducing bridge.

 
 
 

Timeline

19 weeks

Tools

Illustrator ,Sketch, Principle

Team

Hy Nguyen, Eclair Junchaya

 

Bridge’s key features

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Discover

To make it easier to find trending research papers and leading academics in popular UX topics, bridge uses illustrative informational cards that show the trending topics in HCI. Bridge showcases these important topics up front for designers to engage with and use them for design inspiration.

Learn

Showcasing the stories about the research and not abstracts allow reader to be enlightened, as abstracts may often dissuade the audience. Using the power of story telling allows for a new way to learn from academics.

Bridge

To demonstrate the connection that exists between both communities, bridge uses a feedback and response framework to promote dialogue where both sides can directly share their experiences with one another. 


 


Discover trending sources and leading academics

Readers can serendipitously discover popular topics in HCI and UX. Bridge promotes new ideas by allowing the user to read and source trending academic papers and view the leading academics.

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Empathize with the stories behind the research

Abstracts are sometimes to technical and foreign for most. We have implemented an “Expert’s Summary” as a way to for the reader to better translate the information behind the paper through storytelling. Academics can write their reasons on how they hope their work can help others. The most recent feedback of their work will also be highlighted as a way see what others have taken away from the research.

 

Share stories to the authors

Once readers have read their papers or and implemented into on of their projects, they are encouraged to share their experiences to the author. This also allows for the authors to gauge the impact of the work with stories being shared by the reader. Numbers can only do so much, therefore the feedback helps the author and platform curate better sources for others.

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Engage with industry with your ideas

At the end of the day we encourage designers and other readers to recommend their own sources outside the academic realm to highlight the discourse between the communities, and also show the common language that they all share.

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Inspiration and The beginning of bridge.

Not much work is being explored in the field of research translation for tech”
– Andy Ko, Program Chair of Informatics

If both industry and academia were better able to translate and communicate their knowledge to one another, they would be able to combine their expertise incorporate topics such as Gender bias in software and Value Sensitive Design into UX practice.


 

The opportunity in the HCI academia gap

The Gap is the space that exists between academic research and industry implementation. Conversations in tech industry and HCI academia are happening in parallel on important topics like accessibility, cultural diversity and gender inclusivity, but there’s not a lot of discourse happening between the two. 

This academic-industry gap prevents the larger HCI community to share knowledge and solve problems. 

 
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We need to offer the right sort of value proposition to get the the right message ready. But that’s also not the only way. I think it’s a two sided issue. There’s stuff that academic researchers can do and there’s stuff that practitioners can do
— Gary Hsieh, Associate Professor

Given that mutual efforts are needed from both sides, I conducted primary research with UX practitioners to learn more about current practices and attitudes towards academia.

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Semi–Structured Interviews & Cognitive Walkthroughs

Talking to UX Industry and Users

We conducted 60-minute sessions with practitioners in the industry, ranging from UX Designers to Research Designers with 3-25 years of work experience. We chose three methods that we thought would help show existing attitudes towards academia, and how academic sources may currently be used in existing research and design processes.  

 
 
 
 

After my interviews with industry, it became clear that both communities were indeed talking.

 

User Journey Maps & Empathy Maps

Sense Making

To depict the knowledge sharing and discovery process that we discovered from our interviews with practitioners and academic researchers, we created empathy maps and journey maps.

 
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Affinity Diagrams & Data

Opportunities

From these interviews and synthetic artifacts, we used affinity diagramming to synthesize our results into many themes and insights. The focus became 4 insights that depicted the current exchange of knowledge as well the barriers both communities face.

 
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Main Insights

 
 

01. 

The abundance of sources prevents designers from finding, using and implementing academic HCI research

You can find a million sources, but do you have time to read?
— Participant 8

02. 

Industry and academic communities are sources of information that accelerate knowledge discovery and sharing

...we talk through challenges we may be having in research.
— Participant 2

03. 

There’s an appetite from both industry and academia to bridge the gap

I don’t typically read academic papers but this conversation is making me remember the benefits of it ...
— Participant 3

04. 

Existing common ground sources serve as a starting point for shared vocabulary

Read all those [Edward Tufte] classics... it was such a revelation when those books came out.
— Participant 9
 

Guiding The Process

Design Principles

From the insights we got from our secondary and primary research, we were able to crafted some design principles that help guide us moving with ideas to help our concept define how we could aid Designers and HCI academics communicate. 

 

01

Provide guidance and assurance in their search for new knowledges

02

Facilitate knowledge discovery and sharing through engagement

03

Ease insight extraction process to reduce information overload

 

For more details

View Research Report

 

Ideation

Ideating through 100 concepts

We generated over 100 ideas that covered 15 themes in total. These concepts ranged from mobile augmented reality platforms to a conventional mobile app that allowed designers to “pin” academic sources. After evaluating 5 of the strongest concepts with user testing, we pursued the concept that seemed to addressed our problem the most – a website that would generate resources from both industry and academia based on self-defined interest parameters. 

 
 
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UX Testing & Refining

Refining and Developing the UX

Through iterative prototype testing, the feedback demonstrated that we weren’t addressing some of our initial goals and assumptions. The initial concept of the site helped designers better discover and extract some information, but the initial versions of our prototypes left our participants wanting more than another search or repository tool.

After consulting with 6 academic experts to see how we could better develop our platform for both audiences and make it a platform that they would often use.

 

We have no way of knowing how or why it’s being used. It’d benefit all academics to know how someone might be using it for their practice
— Andy J. Ko, Program Chair of Informatics, University of Washington

There was a key component missing from our platform even after further iterations after consulting with the academics. That missing key was building a sense of community and connection through stories. The conversations we had with both academics and designers, it became clear that stories about their experience were much more powerful for designers to use in their efforts to digest academic sources.


 
 

A User Flow That Highlights Both Stories

The team set out to develop a user flow that would capture this connectivity and storytelling. Throughout the platform we knew that we had to highlight the mutual exchange of sources and stories by designers to the academics. Ultimately having this focus consistently helped us develop bridge to show what both sides were working on and thinking.

 

Developing the User Interface and Informational Experience

While testing these flows and numerous rounds of testing with both designers and academics, I began to design the information and visual experience. I had to focus on the conventional format that academics were already familiar with, while also considering that the design community would have to engage with the platform.

I created and used the metaphors of information cards to contain the core information of the paper, while also using metadata to show the source of where the sources were coming from. This was crucial as the academics were very adamant about displaying the source of information to remain ethical and rigorous, while the design community appreciated this style as they could engage with the core of the paper and source to see if it peaked their interest, and learn from similar academics that are highlighted throughout their discovery.

 

For more details

View User Interface Spec

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Reflections

If both sides win, we all win. As research and testing progressed, it became clear that both sides needed a platform that allowed them to share and align values while sharing knowledge. This idea would not only benefit immediate user groups, but future ideas that could affect people and services.

It is highly essential to review all of the problems, old and new to gain a better understanding of the opportunities. In the initial stages of testing, the team and I really hit a dark moment when all seemed lost after hearing the feedback from both our user groups. After many interviews, and traveling from San Fransisco and Seattle to hear feedback from our PM’s and users, that we then saw the guiding light. This light was a reflection of our own conversations with the communities, and that showcasing the common ground and the stories was the key to create a platform that works for both communities.

 

The Future

The future is filled with opportunities.  I envision a platform where we are in full partnership with public academic databases, where these stories are not private data to be used for profit, but for universities to use to their benefit. And last, for designers to be able to upload their own work, where they are able to cite the academic works as part of their final output. Thus creating more engaging and thriving design community.

The testing and feedback never ends.  There are current plans to work with another team at the University of Washington working on the same opportunity space within academia and industry. I hope to conduct more interviews and discussions with the communities. I ultimately eager to see where the discussion of such a platform, and where it might lead the design community.