Tuesday, October 06, 2015

va: midterm review

Visual Advocacy Midterm Self-Evaluation

Strengths & Weaknesses in the class
I feel invested in the problem I'm trying to solve, and am passionate about it. My strength lies in researching, sometimes to a fault. At times, I get too invested in the research and feel overwhelmed with all the things I need to learn about. From the beginning of the class, in trying to find a problem, I may have started too broad. From key problems in Kansas City, to broad problems within each problem, I had a hard time zeroing in on a issue. Still, narrowing down the idea was a valuable learning process. I think I need to improve on incorporating ACT concepts, and taking all the knowledge I've learned up to this point (in regards to designing for social good). Sometimes I feel a little lost during class and do not know the objectives for some of the things that we're doing. I need to ground myself in those objectives and think about how to achieve them. Another weakness I seem to have is keeping my teammates on the same page. Working together for a whole semester is a challenge in of itself, and trusting my teammate is crucial. Other smaller things I need to improve on includes blog-posting and time-management.

Plan moving forward to improve
To improve, I need to work on not over-thinking things and just taking action. At times, my inherent need to dwell on subjects makes paralyzed in one place, disabling me from moving forward. Some practical ways to do this is by jotting down my thoughts and doing quick, rapid sketches. Also, my plan is to always keep my teammate informed of what I'm doing, and trusting my teammate (some practical ways are emailing new finds, using google docs, etc.). I also need to review ACT concepts and think about how to use them to create powerful messages (reviewing the readings, ACT notes, etc.).

So far, Sara and I have been consistently a little behind with the class, but we caught up since last class. We struggled in the beginning with narrowing down our concept, but now we have a clear sense of what we will do. This week (which is when we'll be meeting with key stakeholders) will determine our next steps.

Most valuable learning lessons
Overall, this class gives us a rare opportunity to actually work in the "real-world" but stay within the confines/structure of school. It really is a unique and valuable way to learn how to design for good. One issue Sara and I confronted was experiencing backlash, due to the controversy of AL Expansion. This happened mostly in part because I did not look up the person beforehand, leading to misunderstanding and a small conflict.

Another learning lesson was the narrowing-down process of our idea. Sara and I stumbled quite a bit near the beginning of the semester, while always feeling overwhelmed and lost. This was because we did not ground ourselves in the objective of the class and because of our lack of understanding of the project. This process was a bit painful, but necessary in order to have a sense of clear direction in the end.

One last powerful experience was simply interviewing people who are in the professional realm. Simply talking with people, in our case Michael Zeller and Darron Story, gave us so much information. I palpably felt the huge dichotomy of actually sitting down and having coffee over an idea, versus reading about it online. Our interviews were extremely helpful, and Sara and I hope to continue to just sit down and talk with people.

mx: refining the scenario

Garrett's feedback was really helpful, and made us excited about our idea again. We were getting a tired of the project, so adding the spatial element added a fresh perspective. Here are some things Garrett said during our google hangout-crit:

-Make the app more immersive between the experience and the app visual
-Think about how to bring people into the experience
-Match the tone and attitude of your idea with the app
-Emphasize how someone discovers the app
-The list navigation seems boring and not in-line with the idea - think of a new way to navigate
-Think about the spatial elements in relation to the experience (how movement can effect the sound)
-Think about the 2 Modes of Listening: offsite and onsite and how they're different
-Emphasize the sharing experience
---levels of incentive:
---status: ex. having your name on the side of a plane
---access: accessibility, ex. unlocking parts by where you are
---power: increases your ability
---stuff: lowest level of incentive, giving people objects

Below is our response to Garrett's feedback:

Detail screens:

Sunday, October 04, 2015

va: prototypes

We just want to reiterate what our big idea is, which is below. First and foremost, we want to focus on the students themselves, and bridge the gap between the coordinators of AL Expansion and the students (which involves one of the biggest reasons for the backlash of the partnership between AL and Southwest HS). There seems to be a disconnect between what goes on behind the scenes of expansion and knowing what the students needs/wants are. Through involving the students more in the process and giving the kids ownership of expansion, we want to ease the process of merging the schools.

THE BIG IDEA: A campaign to prioritize the students involved in the failed partnership between AL and Southwest High School and empower them by giving them a platform to voice their opinions/feel heard.

-Improve the perception of AL, getting more people onboard with the partnership
-increase enrollment of minorities at AL
-reach parents, community leaders, those involved in Expansion in a different/more impactful way. Refreshing, rather than hearing it from an adult on the opposing side.
-any big changes made to either school will be made considering the experiences of the students, as well as what they want and need to change
-build a relationship between students at AL and SW
-as well as building awareness for parents of the students needs at the opposing school

-Empower the students
-Give kids a sense of ownership over the issue
-raise awareness of what the students actually want and need /
rather than just doing “what is best” for the students

SUBSETS (things that may be involved in the campaign)
-Utilizing social media and trends to speak to kids
-A translating tool to help kids communicate between schools (French and English)
-Some sort of platform that will allow anyone access to the issue
-Using student's original artwork as design elements for the campaign


mx: scenario 2

Below are some high-content wireframes (not 100% fleshed out) that show the desktop version of -ING. First, the user is in their profile:

The user is going through their sound log:

Afterwards, the user decided to go into the browse tab and explore more sounds:

Selecting mood, the user is about to click "relaxed":

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

va: the big IDEA

Sara and I met today and have finally figured out a direction. After some backtracking on our problem statement (check previous blog post), we decided to focus on the children instead of adults. We realized a couple of important things the other day:
  1. Expanding Academie Lafayette may not be the best direction to go in because it’s a controversial topic that has strong pros and strong cons. We became acutely aware of this when we contacted a person who was a part of one of the groups against the partnership. Unaware of the controversy, we asked to meet after explaining our problem statement of expanding Academie Lafayette, but was met with surprising rejection.
  2. The reason for the backlash with the partnership (which would be crucial in the expansion of Academie Lafayette) was neglecting the current students at Southwest High School. The groups that were against the partnership said that the city should focus on the students themselves as a priority.
Informed by these realizations, we stayed with our revised problem statement (How can we promote the integration of Kansas City through raising awareness and improving the perception of Academie Lafayette?) but redirected our solution from AL expansion to focusing on students.

See some inspiration below:

Based on Darron Story’s group, Parents Promoting Diversity, Sara and I are going to create a sister-group called Kids For Diversity. This will be a campaign that Sara and I will try to advocate for. We are not sure how much we are going to collaborate with the original group, but we know that we want to empower children, instill hope in KC education, and capture the kids voice.

Right now, we know that gathering interviews of kids at AL and KCPS is crucial to our project. How we will publicize/put these out there are still not decided.

Things we need to do:

  • Connect with kids, but HOW?
    • we have contacted supervisors at AL on how to get to the students
    • we hope to first have an arts and craft activity with kids so that they can start to be comfortable with us, we also want to use the kids’ artwork as imagery so this would be beneficial in that way as well.
    • Mary has some connections with a family and teacher that go to AL
    • Like in the videos we’ve shared, we want to use the kids’ voice & their perspective to promote the school in a positive,refreshing, and impactful way.
    • Voice= recording, writing, video
    • For image we have decided that their own creations and artwork could be impactful, rather than using their photograph like we had thought of before.
    • Image= video, print, etc.

We have already contacted some of the faculty at Academie Lafayette. Next steps involve reaching out to some faculty/students at other KCPSchools. We also need to flesh out a lot of details, such us what activities we will do with the kids, discussion topics (to provoke “diversity promoting” quotes), and platforms for sharing. Generally, we think a video combining VOICE + IMAGE (as discussed above) could make an impactful video as a main component. But also using these things in social media and print materials, possible broadcasting.  

ds: working crit

"an extension of your skin"
"back to the elementary"
green: young, immature, raw, fresh
greer: unisex name (the name makes it identifiable, as opposed to just "green" by itself)

main concept
everyone needs to take care of their body - female and male, but certain products speak to one sex, mostly for marketing reasons. women and men will be more likely to buy gendered products because it presents an ideal for males and females. but what if we designed a product that both sexes would feel comfortable buying? my concept focuses on the organic, raw aspect of skincare. it takes on a more academic approach, representing the core values/aspects of what it means to be a human being. still, the design will have a twinge of humor through the unexpected.

key words
crude, elementary, delicate, unexpected, satirical

an androgynous packaging design system and product identity of a small line of toiletries that appeals to both genders

three chosen products
lip balm, hand lotion, face sunscreen


textural, academic, organic

simple not sterile, bold, 

optical, striking, childish

logo evolution

final logo (still working on it)
things to fix:
-I still want to include the illustrations from the first logo iteration (honing in on the concept of "back to the elementary"), and combine the two logos/concepts
-make more androgynous through adding more masculine elements
-finessing the three product elements
-possibilities for language (which expose/satirize how marketing products have loose associations that do not always make sense)
---Hand Lotion: "A is for apple, apple has five letters, your hand has five fingers, and you use hand lotion for your hands."
---Lip Balm: "B is for banana, bananas are yellow, so are chapped lips. Chapped lips need lip balm."
---Face Sunscreen: "C is for cat. Cats scratch your face, your scratched face needs sunscreen."


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

mx: final branding + touchpoints

After I did some iterations on the logo, we came up with the final branding below. We wanted it to be functional and also very simple, to speak to our specific audience. At the same time, we don't want it to feel corporate or too formal, because Gen-Xers tend to be skeptical of authority and prioritize informality.


Below are three touchpoints for mobile. Ashton and I decided to design out what the screen will look like when listening to a sound, exploring/browsing a sound, and recording a sound. We had to think about what would best suit our audience, as well as be more reliant on sound rather than imagery. This is why our wireframes do not include direct imagery, but instead encourage audio.


Monday, September 28, 2015

va: ideas for AL

Since the beginning of the project, Sara and I have continued to feel overwhelmed. Somehow we still have not been able to narrow down our scope, and have not been able to feel excited about our idea. It seems like we always miss the mark, by stepping forward too many steps and then backtracking. This may be in part because of the complexity of the issue, and also the lack of direction. Hopefully our meeting with Michael Zeller on Thursday will provide us with some clarity.

Some ideas (look at previous blog post for more):
  • Social Media
    • highlight kid of the week, collect their story and photograph
    • AL does not currently have an Instagram account, so Sara and I would run this platform in order to advertise/promote the school. We would have to be involved in their events and activities
    • At the end of the project, we could compile all the images into one book/magazine/some sort of publication where we could distribute it to others
  • Spatial PSA
    • small scale scavenger hunt where people could pick up clues around the city and end up at AL --> could be one main event, with flyers/promo material leading up to it
    • it would mostly work as an adventure for kids to go through with their parents while learning about AL and diversity
  • Pen Pals / PostSecret
    • we would connect students from public schools and AL and exchange letters
    • they could also send it anonymously, and share intimate stories with each other

After talking with Kelly, we did some research and found out a couple of things. First, expanding AL to a high school may not be the direction we want to go in. I researched a bit more into the topic, and found out that this is actually a very controversial problem to take on. Using the failed merging of Southwest High School and AL as a case study, we saw how complex the issue can get. There was actually strong backlash to the partnership, specifically because of how the students at Southwest High School would be negatively effected. In order to avoid this controversy, Sara and I refined our problem statement once more:

Problem: Academie Lafayette's minority to majority ratio has flipped over the years.
integrating education in kansas city will benefit the city economically and also socially. the divide along troost, the increasing population of minorities, etc. will all be positively impacted by desegregation. low-income students can tap into the academic benefits of their high-achieving peers and high-quality teachers --> thereby improving childhood care, health, housing, economic security, and learning opportunities.

Things making it worse: 
-limited space availability (only 150 students), with around 500 applicants, 250 get turned down
-sibling priority - perpetuates the existing demographic ratio
-these days are paying less attention to promoting diversity overall
-only accepts children before first grade, not after (because it's a full-French immersion school)
-as a charter school, it necessitates high parent involvement for a student to succeed
within these issues above, you can tell that its the problem of the chicken or the egg: are students only succeeding at AL because they are already set up for success? their parents must be involved and proactive in order to get their kid into AL, and high parent involvement usually means a better home environment. this outputs higher achieving students. 

Things making it better:
-Parents Promoting Diveristy
-Academie Lafayette Expansion
-news coverage
-? Needs more research

Possible Solutions:
  • form a sister group to Parents Promoting Diversity called Kids for Diversity
    • this would mainly focus on the students of AL rather than their parents
    • it would encourage dialogue between not just parents, but their children
  • a platform which exposes the issues, and makes them transparent that provides both sides
    • while researching, articles were very vague about why the partnership failed and what exactly is happening with AL and KCPS
    • a clear messaging system that makes AL transparent would be helpful for the community on both sides
  • a campaign focused on integration
    • an initiation mainly focused on raising awareness about the benefits of integration and the current state of KC's education system
    • would use AL as a starting point/a model (but also point out what's wrong with AL)
  • creating an outreach program to inform minority parents with kids under 5 years old
    • we would sit down with parents and go over the application process
    • make it easy for them to apply, and remind them of deadlines
    • provide them some sort of guide that tells them what they should do
    • if they are not able to enroll their kid(s) then we will provide alternate options for education
  • getting kids from AL to talk to other public schools to tell their own stories
    • the kids themselves are the advocates, rather than adults
    • empowering kids
    • ex. Kid President on youtube

mx: more brand exploration

We narrowed down our color palette to two schemes (yea, we like that blueish green):

Below are some logotypes with color. Our focus is simplicity and functionality. There are some application uses included as well for a couple of the logotypes.

Here are some logo explorations, with geometric shapes.

mx: brand exploration

In order to speak to our audience (Gen-Xers and young adults from 18-40 years old), we wanted to create a logotype that was simple, direct and humanistic. According to our research, people of this age group are most drawn to simple and functional design. Below are a couple of names we were thinking about using, and also some typeface exploration. At the bottom is possible color palettes.

After crit, Ashton and I decided to go with the name –ING. Though I thought of it randomly, we realized later the strong conceptual aspect to it. Some people during crit gave us some good ideas, where we could attach –ING to other words, which would solidify our branding. We did not settle on a color palette, but we narrowed it down to two. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

ds: sommelier

som me lier
a wine steward.

In this two hour design slam, we were tasked with the challenge to create a logo for a unique profession. I picked sommelier, a wine specialist who serves wine and also aids the customer in food and wine combinations. Below are two logos I designed in this short period of time:

The first speaks to the body language of a sommelier. As I was researching about what sommeliers do, one thing that stood out to me was the concept of ritual. A sommelier must serve wine in a certain way, first removing the cork safely, pouring the wine, and then re-filling the glass periodically. Keeping that in mind, I used the two hands to signify this sort of body language enclosing the wine in the middle.

The second personifies a wine bottle, combining a head with wine. It speaks directly to what a sommelier does and what is mostly associated with the profession. 

After going through all the designs, I thought Martin Venezky's comment was very telling of process. We often revert to what we're most comfortable doing; the things that are most easiest and the most available in the forefront of our minds. It revealed what I fallback on, and some holes in the way I design. Using the wine bottle was an obvious direction to go with, and I did not take the risk of going the more abstract route. Some strengths of my logos were the clarity and the immediacy of the idea, but it does not add anything new to what people know of sommeliers.

Overall, it was a fun way to overcome time pressure and deal with imperfection.

Friday, September 25, 2015

ds: logo exploration

For my package design, I wanted to incorporate texture into my brand - to enforce the aspect of skin and the surface. Overall, these sketches gear more towards a reductive and crude nature to convey the sense of rawness and essentials. 

Some more names I was thinking:
(I thought using palindromes would allude to the unisex brand)

Below are some concepts/ideas
Collecting a couple of textures:

Below: using the concept of overturning the expected, this evokes a sort of humor into the work. Having the letters backwards then forwards gives a sense of opposing motion, as well as the odd shapes that signify each product (lip balm, hand lotion, face sunscreen). 

Below: This sketch is the most reductive, using a personified version of greenGreer. With no facial characteristics, people can project their own thoughts/emotions on the side-view of a person

Below: This one is a bit more playful and hinges on language.

Some more logos: