Interaction Design – Submission 1 Overview of Posts

Introduction to the Problem

Competing Works Analysis

UI Design Trends Analysis

Introduction do my Design Solution

The Problem: Climate Change and Food

I became aware of the link between climate change and food in 2007 and actually became vegan when I realised there was effectively nothing else I could do.

I’ll point to some recent research by the UNEP (UN Environmental Program) which talks about this specifically. This link is to a guardian article which explains the issue in specifics.

It has been known to environmentalists and policy makers but rarely talked about in those terms – it’s always thought of as something impossible to change. Talking about it is difficult as people feel their lifestyles are under attack. And vegans annoy everyone because they are super talented at making people feel like second class humans.

Therein lies the problem to be solved – informing people in such a way that they are empowered rather than disheartened or worse, annoyed – which could easily have the opposite effect as intended.

Folks need to be aware of the vast middle ground where small steps are helpful. This needs to happen in a non-jedgemental way. The best way to inform people I think is to let them play with the variables, and see the differences themselves.

This is what I intend to achieve and I’ll firstly look at competing works to see if and how they’re doing it.

Competing Work Analysis #2 – WWF Footprint Caclulator

This is a basic lifestyle-footprint calcultor that includes food. By the facebook comments, it gives importance to this variable.

However it feels a bit inefficnent with regards to bandwidth. Clicking on the interactive elements is also unpredictably difficult.

Although it’s simple and clear, the visual style is plain and fugly.

Cons

  • Novelty of choosing personal characteristics seems out of place. Doesn’t seem geared to kids.
  • Feedback on lifestyle choices withheld to after input on variables. Changing variables gives a non-immediate response which is poorly explained and not conducive to understanding.
  • Old technology Made in flash. Extremely slow loading.
  • Poor (absent) visual style

Pros

  • Fairly simple, intuitive questions. Seems well thought out.
  • Clearly tells how many earth’s we’d need if everyone lived like me.
  • Give hints at lifestyle changes.

Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 5.08.20 pm

Competing Work Analysis #1 – Guardian

This interactive work is hosted at The Guardian in an article called Holiday feasts of the future: how climate change could transform our food – interactive.

It’s actually a reverse of the problem I want to address. Instead of how food affects climate, this looks at how climate change will affect food.

Pros:

  • Very simple, easy to understand interface.
  • Good representation of interactive elements.

Cons

  • Not really interactive in the sense you don’t get to manipulate data.
  • I should be looking for more of a lifestyle calculator.

Why I’m changing the problem to from Blackboard to Climate

Misunderstanding the brief a little…

I was looking for a design problem, hence I chose blackboard as an obviously huge issue.

I’ve just realised that we are asked to present a design solution for any problem.

To research a solution for blackboard I’d need to do primary research – adding another layer of difficulty to the assignment. It’d be much simpler to choose a problem that is already well researched, and drawing on that.

New problem to tackle

At risk of being cliche – the climate problem is a large one, has a rich data surrounding it, and there is huge potential for human agency in solving it. So I believe this will be a better basis for the project.

However as the climate issue has many angels, it’d be interesting to narrow in one the least publicised area of agency – food. I was surprised to hear from a friend a few years ago how different foods can affect the atmosphere and it’d be interesting to present a unique solution to this.

There are many existing web based tools for examining aspects of lifestyle and how this affects the climate – however I’d like to do something more specific – and look at how specific changes can affect changes to people in the most climate vulnerable areas.

Initial Proposal – The Problem / Solution

The largest – most inconvenient problem in interactivity I experience today is the QUT student backend. It may be an obvious choice but I believe there are multiple options to improve the experience for students and staff.

Study can be frustrating by itself. Many issues with Blackboard make it hell. I’m looking forward to researching further, but some come to mind immediately.

How would I describe these issues?

Fragmentation

Finding things is difficult. There is some logic in the organisation, but it’s not consistent across subjects. The result is that students really need to use their heads just to access their study materials.

Each proprietary system the university employs, such as for accessing lecture recordings, subject info. Switching between system isolates the information in impractical ways. For example you can’t access lecture recordings for all subjects at once.

I understand the university is probably heavily invested – but at some point you’ve gotta cut your losses.

Lack of Standards

Lecture notes, course information are in a variety of formats that interrupts student’s workflows.

Assessment submitting is different for various subjects is different.

Proposed Solution

One single Content Management System for the entire student backend. 

Stick strictly to uncomplicated HTML with minimal styling for device compatibility. Media downloads in device agnostic PDF and MP4.

Simple chronological homepage layout with taxonomies for subjects (DXB301) and information types (Lecture Notes) (Week 3). Taxonomies can be live-selected and possibly inline-loaded.

Each bite of information posted commentable. @username Communication system that everyone’s familiar with for tutor-class communication. Based on or using something like Slack, integrated with the CMS.

Integrated Student Blogs

System integrated for tutor access, and student collaboration.