Author Archives: Thomas Quigley

Whether personally or professionally, I always attempt to approach new projects with the spirit of a thinker, maker and do’er.

Mojojojo Wins the ProtoHack Hackathon!

Team: Power Puff

Members: Carolyn Jao, Alison Jeng, Erika Scott, & Marga Javier

I spent this past weekend at the ProtoHackNYC Hackathon, and had the most incredible time. Not only was it my first condensed 12-hour hackathon (I participated in a 3-week one at General Assembly last year), but… our team won first place!

Why spend your free days at a hackathon, you may ask? Well he are five awesome reasons to sign up:

  1. Its so damn fun.
  2. You learn tons and meet a lot of great new people
  3. The tight timeline forces you to learn prioritizing skills
  4. You flex your design muscles
  5. Did I mention it’s really freaking fun?

The day started out with a 7AM meeting at the Starbucks around the corner from ImpactHub, where the event was held. My teammates and I didn’t come in with a concrete idea of what we wanted to make, so we had to immediately kick the brainstorming into high gear. Ultimately, after lots of debate, we all agreed to create an app that pertained to female reproductive health.

The next few hours were a haze of researching the technology on wearables (we’d like to integrate with fitbit, Apple Watch, etc.) and some competitive analysis on the other apps and platforms currently on the market. Once we got started, we quickly came to the realization that every part of female reproductive health involves the menstrual cycle, and decided to dig deeper. We each broke off and spoke to as many people as we could (in person or over the phone) in order to gain as much data as possible. At first I thought it would awkward to ask other ladies about their menstrual cycle, but within minutes I couldn’t have cares less about the potential embarrassment- this was fun!

 

carolyn-jao-hackathon

 

Once we had gathered a good amount of information, our team began identifying patterns in our interviewees’ behaviors and habits, including what form of birth control they use, what their goals are, and how they currently track their menstrual cycles. So with just five hours left in the hackathon, we created personas, and began honing in on what out product should actually be. I’ve always believed in using 95% of the time at hand to define the problem, and 5% of the time to define the solution, but as we were at a PROTOhack, and all itching to start prototyping and validating our designs, we got right to work.

We got as far as the name (MOJOJOJO: aka the evil money in PowerPuff Girls). There were just  too many things we wanted to do- There has to be a calendar! There has to be more integration! There has to be the right reminders! Obviously it has to be impossibly easy to use.

 

mojojojo

 

Thankfully right as we were about to start designing a whole API (more on that some other time) our product mentor, Lindsey Tabas, reminded us that we are making an MVP (minimum viable product), so instead we chose ONE problem, for ONE persona, and ran with it. Thanks to Lindsey we were able to focus our intentions, and get cracking on the actual product.

We decided to focus in on Taylor- our modern lazy girl. Taylor needs to track her period consistently, but always seems to forget, leading her to enter the information retroactively. She’s not looking to have children right now. but is open to the possibility down the line. She needs Mojojojo to provide gentle reminders that run seamlessly in the background of her life, making her menstrual cycle less of a headache.

Fast forward past a few rounds of design studio with my teammates, after which we break off and start prototyping as fast as physically possible. At this point we had less than 2 hours to get our final prototypes made, throw our presentation for the 90 second pitch judges pitch together, and practice, practice, practice.

 

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 3.20.36 PM

 

The top 5 selections from the initial presentations got called up again for a 5 minute Q&A with the judges, and we were thrilled to hear our name announced! Trust me- the competition was steep. We elaborated on the product road map ideas, business goals and other design decisions we made, and then returned to our seats to sweat it out while we waited for the judges’ final decision.

Drum roll please… Mojojojo won first place! ProtoHack was generously enough to provide our team with some awesome prizes, including development services, legal/patent law services, and so much more. We were happy just to participate, and truly over the moon to actually win.

Check out our presentation deck, and be sure to keep your eyes out for future news from Mojojojo!

 

Interaction Design + Rapid Prototyping

One of my favorite aspects of being a UX Designer is prototyping. I love the ability to quickly iterate on designs and test them out on users, so when it came time to deliver my first Learning + Leadership seminar, I knew I wanted to present on some of my favorite prototyping tools.

But first: What is interaction design?

Interaction Design, or IxD, is defined on Wikipedia as “shaping digital things for people’s use” or alternately as “the practice of designing interactive digital products, environments, systems, and services.”

I personally like to think of IxD through the lease of Sir Isaac Newton’s famous words:

“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

Let’s simplify everything down to the anatomy of the click of a mouse. You click on a button, and receive visual feedback that confirms your action. This breaks down into:

Affordances – A quality that makes a potential action possible. For example, a door knob is shaped so that it is possible for you to turn the door knob.

Signifier – An indicator, some signal in the physical or social world that can be interpreted meaningfully.

Interaction design is focused on designing for the humans behind the screens. The term itself comes from HCI (Human-computer interaction) and Ergonomics.

Let’s take a step back and talk about Skeumorphs (I promise I have a point).

Skeuomorphs are deliberately employed to make the new look of a product feel comfortably old and familiar, catering to our simply habits that are too deeply ingrained to wash away. Remember that apple mouse with the little ball in the middle for scrolling? During the prototyping phase they realized that people weren’t used to the quiet scrolling, so they put in a tiny speaker to mimic the old scrolling wheel. The noise serves no purpose other than to put into the cultural experience, context, and comfort of the intended user— exactly what Skeuomorphic design calls for.
Products like the Apple scrolling mouse show us why prototypes are so important in the design process for yourself, as well as for your users. You must test a product in order to get the feedback necessary to produce an ideal item.

Now comes the “how.” My favorite tools for prototyping are: Axure, HYPE, and just good ol’ pen and paper. I’ve also used ‘Hotspot’ based prototyping tools such as Invision, POP, and Marvel, but tend to prefer to use them for mobile-mock ups instead.

Pure Prototypes are great for making the immediate jump from wireframes to clickable screens. I find them especially useful to use with ecommerce or SaaS websites for testing IA structure. Some wonderful tools for these sites are: Axure, Keynote, HYPE 3

At the end of the day, my main prototype advice is to work quickly, and get the best product you can out there. Remember there is no right way to make a prototype! Use what fits into your workflow and be sure to create something.

 

Click here to see my full Learning + Leadership seminar on Prototyping
Special thanks to my GA teachers Luke Miller, Nevan Scott, and Rashida White!