Mermaid

This is my capstone solo project, and it is aimed to help people with social anxieties on meet-ups.

DEFINE DESIEN SPACE

Many people have been experiencing some social awkwardness. They do not know what to say to strangers, and sometimes, they find it hard to make an acquaintanceship go a step forward into a friendship. Now, here comes the question:


How to help people speak out at meet-ups and make social bonds?

The problem space is so broad that it is almost impossible for us to solve it completely. Thus, we need to further define the design space.

Basically, I see two ways to tackle this problem. The first one is from the perspect of each individual. Social awkwardness could be related to the personality, confidence level and maybe even their childhood experience. However, to conduct this kind of mind-body intervention needs a lot of expertise and the improvements sometimes are not significant enough to measure. Thus, I choose to focus on the other way, which is from the perspective of the activity, and to provide handy tips and guidance for our target users.

Activity-Based

Rather than focusing on the slow change of an individual, focusing on single activity could be more controllable and the result will be more measurable.

Handy Tips

Focusing on activities, we could provide tips based on environmental factors with the help of machine learning.

Mobile Platform

Based on former decisions, mobile phone is the ideal platform for our system, which is commonly used, cheap, and easy to carry around.

RESEARCH & INSIGHTS

I did literature review over 20 academic papers, gathered 200 exemplars and conducted interview on 5 people. Writing down key points, I did an affinity diagram to analyze and synthesize the results. Here are what I found:

Social Bonds

Similarities, joint task and joint reward are key elements for social bonds to form.

Information

Sometimes, meet-up attendees escape from talking with others because they are worrying about having nothing to say.

Follow Up

Some of my interviewees have troubles in following up, which makes them feel it is useless to build relationships during the meet-up.

Local Business

Activities organized by groups always have cooperation with local business, and they may have some vouchers to send out.

Based on those findings, I made two personas to specify user needs:

Daniel Garen

Meet-up Participator

Goals

  • Make connections with attendees
  • Geet information

Frustrations

  • Shy to talk
  • Not knowing what to say
  • Having trouble to maintain relationships afterwards

Anthony Dunn

Meet-up Organizer

Goals

  • Promoting their meet-ups
  • Holding involving meet-ups
  • Having good cooperation with local business

Frustrations

  • Hard to notice who is not involved enough and offer help
  • Promoting meet-ups by sending out flyers and emails are not effective
  • A lot of coupons are not used

CODESIGN

I made two design proposals and asked the participants to draw their design based on my proposals.

Based on my initial idea, they proposed some really inspiring ideas including using dot map to represent attendees, offering coupons for attendees, and they also proposed that rather than assigning a single topic for the attendees, they prefer to offer a bunch of options to be chosen from.

They proposed ideas including dot map, coupons, and using topic list.

However, there are also some thoughts I could not agree. They suggested that the attendees could view information like age, and professions of each other. However, those information are sometimes too private to share and may be off-topic. Also, the attendees will be encouraged to talk more to find out with limited info. One of my participants also suggested that we need to add a function that the attendees could grade each other. I think that is too cruel and should not be added as the goal of this app is not to help people to find the most social or most popular guys to talk with, but to encourage users to talk to more people.

Design Proposal
Codesign Results

FIRST DRAFT

Considering users are using Mermaid in crowded place and our App could not fully occupy users' attention, we need to make the interface clear and allow users to take less steps to navigate.

sketch of ideas

FIRST ROUND ITERATION

To get quick feedback, I produced the paper prototype to test my informants and one single digital page to show the informants how it will look like in the end.

The major things I identified are as following:

Choice of Words

I used “activity” to describe “meet-up”, however, which is confusing as I also use activities to describe the suggested things they could do together.

Misleading Icon

When showed the paper prototype, I found out some of my users could not understand what does the "coupon" icon in the "activity" section mean.

INTRODUCING MERMAID

sketch of ideas

Interests

Users need to choose their interested fields. Those selections will be used in the future topic & activity generating.

Relavant Subjects

After relavant subjects are chosen, those subjects will be granted greater weights in finding similarities.

Scan Coupons

Organizers can scan coupons and bind coupons with subjects. Later, those coupons will shows up with relavant activities.

Topic

Checking topics that have been talked will help our system to improve and also help user to review in the "recent people" section.

Activity

After checking activities with coupon icon, appliable coupons will show up so that they could show them to the local business owners.

Recent People

Users could check whom they have talked to by browsing, or search with name / topic / activity. Then they can directly visit their social media home page.

REFLECTION

Project Management:

As capstone is such a big project, I want to practice my project management skill. I tried to separate works evenly on each week and then on each days. It worked in the beginning of the semester. However, when it went to the end, it did not work that well.

The thing I learnt is that I need to make schedule for myself and most importantly, I need to follow it no matter what happens.

Design Decisions:

While doing individual project, there are so many decisions to make. I usually make cautious decisions and tend to consider a lot, but in this capstone project, as there are so many things I need to decide, I began to worry less and just enjoy the freedom of decision making process.