An interactive exhibit showcasing 120 years of achievements

Project Overview

To celebrate its 120 year anniversary, TAFE NSW – Sydney Institute put together many exhibitions to showcase the Institute’s achievements of its former and current faculty, students, and ambassadors. Sydney Institute chose Digital Eskimo to create an enriching interactive experience for the “Sparkies, Foodies, & Fashionistas” exhibit. This exhibit’s goal was to promote TAFE Sydney Institute as the past, present and progressive leader in vocational studies.

To demonstrate TAFE’s progressive nature, Sydney Institute wanted to incorporate a digital, interactive component in the exhibit that would provide an enjoyable, enriching, and playful user experience for those that would attend: staff, faculty, alumni, current, prospective students, and the general public.

Objectives

  • Demonstrate TAFE’s innovation today.
  • Generate prospective student, staff, and community interest and excitement.
  • Promote current student work and their achievements.
  • Recognize TAFE’s legacy.
  • Promotion of TAFE’s educators and ambassadors.

Role and Responsibilities

Experience Architect, Project Owner

Collaborate with the Institute to develop an exhibit vision and interactive experience that follows the project objectives. Lead and facilitate all client participatory workshops. Lead the UX strategy and experience. Create user journey maps to uncover key engagement touchpoints. Define the experience metaphor and create high level exhibit concepts.  Audit the exhibition content and create a working information architecture and component models. Collaborate with the Art Director who transformed concepts into final visual design. Collaborated with the developer on defining specs to ensure well executed implementation. Manage the delivery and setup of the interactive application within the physical exhibit space.

Digital Eskimo Team: Director, Art Director, Developer, Project Coordinator

Considered Design Project Approach

Immersion. Ideation. Implementation.

At Digital Eskimo, we believe the best ideas and solutions emerge when clients and users co-participate throughout the project’s process.  Visions become shared, process is transparent, and user empathy drives decisions and direction. In the Immersion phase, we bring in clients to participate in engagement workshops to define the project’s vision, objectives, users, and scope. Next, the Ideation phase defines the experience strategy and allows the best concepts to be discussed, refined, and prioritized.  During Implementation, we begin by transforming the concept into testable prototypes, and later into fully finished product and services.

Immersion

Clients are participating in project defining activities during the immersion workshop.

To commence the design process, we invited a range of diverse stakeholders to participate in a half-day co-design workshop. Each stakeholder engaged in participatory, user-centered activities that encouraged collaboration and sharing of their unique perspectives and ideas. These activities gave everyone a shared understanding of the project’s objectives, challenges, target audience, user needs, motivations and attitudes.

One particular activity involved having small groups create personas called “nudies”. This activity helped identify not only demographic information, but also and equally important, the behaviors, desires, activities and motivations of these users. Each group were given packets of materials, including images, popular culture references, and magazines to dress and give life to their persona.

Clients craft persona "nudies" to represent the targeted user group.

Clients craft persona “nudies” to represent the targeted user group.

These personas became a pillar of reference which drove and validated the considered design process throughout the entire project lifecycle. They allowed for the creation of user stories which indicated how users will interact with the system.

In another activity aimed to generate creative ideas, I had the clients put their “nudies” to life in how they could imagine an amazing, limitless exhibition experience. They discussed and voted on which features could become real and feasible.

Dreamer user storyboards allow the client to dream big, without any constraints.

Dreamer user storyboards allow the client to dream big, without any constraints.

Methods

Project scoping, Co-design workshop and activities

Representations

Persona nudies, Touchpoint user journeys, What could be?, What will be?, Prioritized concepts

Ideation

After the completion of the immersion phase, we gathered the outputs from the scoping workshop and began generating design principles, user stories and user flows which illustrated how our primary users would engage with the concept.

From these, we had internal brainstorming sessions producing concept explorations. We then met with Sydney Institute face to face to present our UX strategy and initial concepts for review and feedback.

Conceptualizing the users tasks in a client engagement meeting.

Conceptualizing the users tasks in a client engagement meeting.

We worked closely and often with the Sydney Institute to allow for a transparent process that encouraged iterative analysis and synthesis. The meeting provided valuable feedback to further improve and shape the final design concept of the TAFE iTime Machine.

Design Principles

Make the user experience engaging – Whether through social sharing, game playing, or content manipulation, the experience must encourage user interaction, play and generate an enriching experience.

Wow the users – The design must be playful, fun, and generate buzz. Using appropriate technologies and features (interactive interface, camera, wifi, etc.) will be considered.

Keep a legacy- The experience and, if applicable, the user generated content must be captured beyond the exhibit timeline. Such content can be accessed at a later date, and may be used in future online campaigns or exhibits.

Reach outside of the walls –  The iPad user’s experience should be distributed and communicated throughout the local community to generate and maintain interest.

Less is more – The design will focus on the experience, not the number of features. Fewer features built right are more important than incorporating many features built below par.

Methods

Strategic planning and ideation, Client feedback workshops

Representations

UX strategy and Design principles, Proof of concept delivery

Implementation

Now that the concept had been agreed upon, we kicked off the implementation and design phase with a sprint planning meeting. Together, we prioritized user stories and their related components using the Must, Should, Could, Won’t (MoSCoW) approach.

With the agreed understanding of “less is more”- building a design with fewer functionalities built well, is more important than building many subpar- I focused on designing components which centered around usability and functionality first before we implemented the “wow” factor.

The content architecture is organized from year, course, and content.

The content architecture is organized from year, course, and content.

While development of the TAFE iTime Machine began, I concurrently worked on an appropriate visual design strategy with the Art Director. We wanted to capture TAFE’s history through time, while introducing a progressive, futuristic style. Our art direction became inspired by the 19th Century feel of H.G. Wells and the digital look of TRON.

The concept design was inspired by Sci-Fi writer H.G. Wells and the movie Tron.

When components were built, they were deployed  onto a particular device for user testing to ensure the best possible user experience. Testing early and often provided valuable feedback on the device’s design, UI, and user experience. We were able to make immediate fixes on the spot, reducing the risk of having issues appear after the final deployment.

Representations

system design, UI design, visual design, development, content strategy

Project results

After 2 months, the TAFE iTime Machine app was completed and delivered on schedule. Built completely as an impressive HTML5 application, it was deployed on 19 iPad 2s and set up for exhibition display in the historic Muse Building in Ultimo College. Taking advantage of iPads impressive technology and performance capabilities, the app incorporated gestural navigation throughout its entire interface to allow for a playful and engaging user experience.

TAFE iTime Machine Application Welcome screenTAFE iTime Machine Interactive Application.Course related content, including pictures, informative text, and videos.TAFE iTime Machine Interactive Application.

Users could easily touch and spin the wheel through time, from 1891 to the future. This interaction populated 19 study areas at the year they began within the 120 years of TAFE Sydney Institute. With over 200 pieces of total content across all study areas, users could choose their own area of interest and select a range of content types that included images, facts, and video.

In addition to viewing images, users could read brief informative text about each study area, including historical facts and current statistics.

Dynamic, high resolution video clips were also available for viewing. Users could watch videos about student and ambassador success stories and anecdotes, as well as student showcases.

With the inclusion of analytics, each device became a powerful tool to measure and track how users were spending their time on these study areas. This valuable information provided TAFE a unique opportunity to identify prospective students and their particular study area interest.

The TAFE iTime Machine app was the first iPad app used in an exhibit by the Sydney Institute. Its marveled, and technologically advanced design complimented well with the progressive vision of TAFE NSW- Sydney Institute.

Conclusion

Leading this project was both a professional and personal success. I was fortunate to work with an amazingly talented team and committed client who understood the importance of the considered design approach.  The process provided me a new toolkit in how I work today. Broadening my perspective lenses, and abilities to actively engage with clients and stakeholders to co-create a product vision and strategy.