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Optional project

In order to enrich your learning experience, you have the choice of completing an optional project that requires you to apply the design-thinking proc

In order to enrich your learning experience, you have the choice of completing an optional project that requires you to apply the design-thinking process to the improvement of an existing online product. You should include a mood board showing evidence of the inspiration phase, and a presentation (with audio) showing evidence of the ideation and implementation phases.

This project is not compulsory and therefore does not count towards your final course grade. However, it gives you the opportunity to apply the theory you have learnt to a particular design scenario practically.

Details of this optional project are provided further down on this page. However, first, let’s briefly discuss the design-thinking approach learnt and practised throughout this course and optional project.

Design challenges

When faced with a design challenge and there is no solution in sight, you should start by asking questions, but not just any questions. You need to understand and learn how to ask the right questions. Those are the questions that set up the foundation, starting you on the right track to find the best-suited solutions. We will learn about these during this course series.

To illustrate the process that you will follow throughout this course, imagine you have been asked to help an organisation foster employee engagement using their digital platform built to promote networking and knowledge inside the organisation. The platform is compelling in terms of content but rarely used by employees. Your client aims to increase participation and awareness but does not know how to do this.

As part of your research, you have to interview employees. Let’s pause and think about which of the following questions you may ask. Which of these questions are the ‘right’ questions to ask?

  1. Does this platform interest you in any way?
  2. Why is networking inside the organisation essential for you?
  3. Do you see value in training provided by a digital source?

If you selected Questions 2 and 3, you are on the right path. These questions are focussed on the people you are interviewing and trying to understand. The questions help you because they are designed with the intent of listening to others – about their feelings, thoughts, needs, desires, and frustrations. They are broad enough to explore yet narrow enough to stay on the activity at hand.

If you selected Question 1, you now have the opportunity in this course to learn about the focus areas of design thinking. Question 1 is focussed on the product itself and not on the people. Instead, focussing on the people will help you better understand their perspectives and meet users’ needs successfully.

Considering this, it is easy to conclude that designing the right questions requires preparation and skills. Some of the activities of designing effectively for UX are as follows:

  • Designing a plan or strategy
  • Testing and experimenting
  • Collaborating with others
  • Investing in continuous professional development
  • Questioning your thoughts and assumptions

For this course series’ optional project, you will choose a design challenge to focus on so start thinking about an online product that you would be eager to suggest some UX improvements for! We all use products and services that frustrate us daily – what is the product or service you think can be improved with your suggestions? Details on the requirements for this project are below.

Optional project brief

You are required to show evidence of a walk-through of the three stages of the design-thinking process to improve an existing online product.

You should include the following as part of your optional project:

Evidence of the inspiration phase:

After choosing an online product you are familiar with and use often, you are required to review it by suggesting improvements. In order to showcase the inspiration behind your suggested improvements, you must:

  • create and a mood board, using Canva or another free online visual mapping tool, which shows evidence of your research into the chosen product and intended user.

The great thing about mood boards is that, apart from being purely creative pursuits, they help show where you got your inspiration for the improved look and feel of the product. For this reason, mood boards are generally made up of and demonstrate the following: colour palette, patterns, fonts, images, shapes, graphics.

Tips for success

Here are some mood boards to help jump start your inspiration phase:

View: Smile Bar – Saxon Campbell[1]

View: Close Market Style Guide – Abdus[2]

Evidence of the ideation and implementation phase:

Using the research done for your mood board, you must create an ideation and implementation plan to improve your chosen existing online product, using the same online tool you used to create your mood board. This will include showing evidence of a prototype and testing, as well as iterative development.

To do this you must:

  • convert your online visual mapping tool plans into a presentation (Google slides / PPT with audio), detailing the following:
    • an ideation and implementation plan of your suggested improvements to the chosen online product
    • a description of your planned prototype, testing, and iteration development.

Your plan should:

  • describe the purpose of the product and your reasons for improvements
  • detail your approach to implementing the ideation phase
  • justify relevant UX design improvements including, but not limited to: theme, colour, text / font, content, layout, use of interactive elements, customer engagement
  • describe the prototype with suggested improvements
  • explain the testing of the prototype and results
  • detail iterations based on testing.

Tips for success

Having a look at other designers’ work can inspire you to be creative, and think of innovative ways to show your ideas. Here are some design projects worth taking a look at:

View: Gardener: A social media application – Promojit Koley[3]

View: Stroll: Social Network – Yomagick[4]

Plagiarism considerations

All learners must abide by FutureLearn’s terms of use and Code of Conduct when it comes to academic misconduct, which includes cases of plagiarism.

Project tasks

To help you complete your optional project, you should think about completing your optional project tasks throughout the three parts of this ExpertTrack. The table below provides a summary of the tasks over the three courses:

ExpertTrack Course Task
Course 1 Inspiration: Create mood board using online visual mapping tool
Course 2 Ideation and implementation: Describe a prototype with improvements based on research in inspiration phase and describe iterative development and testing plans
Course 3 Ideation and implementation: Complete ideation and implementation plans and convert plans into a presentation

References

  1. Campbell S. Smile Bar [Mood board]. Behance; 2015 Jun 30. Available from: https://www.behance.net/gallery/27528623/Smile-Bar
  2. Abdus. Style Guide [Mood bord]. Dribble; [date unknown]. Available from: https://dribbble.com/shots/2584809-Style-Tile
  3. Koley P. Gardener, UI-UX for a social media application [Mood board]. Behance; 2017 May 25. Available from: https://www.behance.net/gallery/53049693/Gardener-UI-UX-for-a-social-media-application
  4. Yomagick. Stroll: Social Network [Mood board]. Behance; 2015 Aug 5. Available from: https://www.behance.net/gallery/26355213/Stroll-Social-Network
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UX Design Fundamentals: Business value through User Experience (UX) design

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