Commute project

Commute

Problem: Navigating within a new city is unpredictable.

Solution: Customized information about travel times and distances within an unfamiliar city.

Research: Traveling to and from work, school, home, or attractions can be time consuming and confusing. Following an itinerary is important as a visitor exploring a new city. Time needed to travel from one attraction to the next can affect the overall itinerary. Relocating to a new city choosing a home is important. It’s location will affect the regular commute to a job or school.

Research

82% of North Americans live in urban areas and are increasingly concentrating in mid-sized and large cities. In 2010 41 urban areas in the United States housed more than 1 million people, up from 12 areas in 1950 and projected to grow to 53 by 2030.

Commute 1
Karen is 20 years old, She is studying to be a rocket scientist, or studying to be one at Columbia University. She lives in Greenpoint with her boyfriend. Karen was born in Peru and lived in Florida before moving to New York to study. She loves the outdoors and has a cat who hates dogs with a passion. Her Commute from Greenpoint, Brooklyn to Manhattan’s upper west side for classes at Columbia University is a long commute. She then goes to Williamsburg, Brooklyn for work.
Commute 3
Karen is looking for a new place to live. Her challenge is, to find something reasonably priced that’s also convenient due to her commute and late nights at work. She lives and works in Williamsburg Brooklyn and commutes daily to Columbia University in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. She works late at a restaurant and a shorter commute would give her much of her day back for resting, studying or socializing.
User Journey
Commute 2
Karen’s day begins with her getting ready for school and preparations depends on if she’s going to work that night. She leaves home, takes a bus and two trains to the upper west side and her classes. After her classes she may take the subway to Williamsburg or somewhere to have dinner with her friends. Either way most nights she is coming home later in the evening. She has full days
User Flow
Commute 4
Which brings me to my concept. A tool to help quickly display information based on convenience for one’s life. To make it easy to figure out the areas in which areas of daily and frequent visits are faster or easier. Setting locations like home, work, school and other frequented locations will allow the application to show the user areas of easy access through public or personal transportation in one view. Signing up to be able to manage locations is part of the process. Selecting locations or set up an alarm clock for daily commutes is possible, with possible access to traffic and public transportation changes, this could be very useful on a daily basis. There is additional possibilities of layering information like home rental availability, restaurants, social events and shared transportation give the user an overlook of commute times with an alarm to make a specified arrival time.

App Wireframes
Commute 5
We start by creating a list of frequented locations
Commute 6
Lists of locations can quickly be checked or unchecked.
Commute 7
Add points of interests like restaurants, museums to show, including preferences for commute type. Advanced settings can further focus results based on specific criteria.
Commute 8
The result offers a heat map option for an easy overview of travel times over the area between chosen locations, with points of interest pin pointed with details like restaurant name, type and/or rental cost, size, etc.
Commute 9
Travel route planning without the heat map but keeping the points of interest along the route given.
Commute 10
Route details in text
Commute 11
Points of interest details can be listed and saved. Links to businesses and listings available throughout.
Commute 12
Side bar is always in each screen that offers toggles for map overlays and options for existing list of locations, settings, search and log out options.

Conclusion

Providing people new to a city the information needed for their daily travels will affect their decisions in creating an itinerary or permanent residence and employment. With an overview of rental prices or attractions and restaurant information it is quite useful to also use on a daily basis.

Powder

Problem: Excessive weight makes for an uncomfortable day in the backcountry.

Solution: Easily accessible information and total pack weight when preparing for a trip online or off.

Research: From my research I’ve found that backcountry skiers liken a good time to being free to roam the isolation of the backcountry. Being weighed down produces less mobility and possible fatigue making the day harder and possibly ending a day early. Powdery snow days rely on unpredictable weather patterns and are sometimes few and far between. The skier must be ready to go on short notice, packing the gear appropriately for day’s weather is important and being ready quickly to optimize their time is key to having the best experience.

Research

The Pacific and Mountain areas of the US make up 45% of Powder Magazine’s print circulation. Advanced/expert/pro-level skiers make up 95% of the readership. The average amount spent on ski equipment last year was $1850.00.

Powder 1
Powder is a 41 year old magazine, has a website, mobile application and online social presence. “POWDER, The Skier’s Magazine embodies the soul, attitude and the energy of skiing. Powder’s outstanding photography and writing by some of the sport’s leading authorities captures the interest and imagination of the advanced-to-expert skier. Each issue is packed with adventure, travel, new products, ski areas and events.”
Powder 1
Bob likes the outdoors and loves skiing the backcountry where the goal is to find solitude and fresh untouched snow to ski. Bob’s location is convenient to a number of resorts where a base of operation for a trip is easy. Information on weather patterns and avalanche reports are readily available at ski resorts.

User Journey
Powder 2
“Since I ski mostly at the ski area, I am always observing the snowpack, wind & other weather phenoms during the days leading up to a backcountry excursion.“ “I prod patrol & friends for their observations.“
Powder 3
“I make my own conclusions.” “I check my equipment & maybe even conduct a short practice session.” “I try to be mentally prepared to abort or modify the mission.” “I get ready but wearing looser ski pants for the increased range of motion and like 6 sweatshirts because layering is extra important for back country”
Powder 4
Backcountry enthusiasts like light and dependable equipment. “Most of us are gear whores and like getting our gear together.” “Weight plays a huge role, you know, shit gets heavy. No one likes breaking trail with 40lbs on their back.”

User Flow
Powder 8
The skier will be able to build their pack and what would be on their person for a trip. This will produce an overview for an assessment as to weight, fit, catching redundancy and may prevent forgetting something.
Powder 9
The skier will be able to build their pack and what would be on their person for a trip. This will produce an overview for an assessment as to weight, fit, catching redundancy and may prevent forgetting something.
Powder 10
Exploring new gear. With a quick scan of the product bar-code or manual input will make it easy to check out the latest and greatest. Easily compare specifications by leveraging Powder Magazine’s database allowing for more fondling time in the stores.

Desktop Wireframes
Powder 7
There will be a desktop version that will reside on Powder Magazine’s website. It will provide another outlet to research new gear and add to a personalized list once acquired.
Powder 11
A calculator can be used without creating an account to promote exploration of new equipment that are available annually.
Powder 12
The desktop version will live on Powder Magazine’s website.
Powder 13
After signing in or creating an account a page will allow for searches, results and the beginning of creating a lit. First choose a backpack that will be used and added to owned gear.
Powder 14
Fill the pack with gear from list.
Powder 15
Details of the pack or gear can be displayed. This may help in choosing the right pack for the conditions. Also who doesn’t like reading about their gear?
Powder 16
Add equipment to one’s person.
Powder 17
Calculate weight both in the pack and on person, as well as information about total volume so one can have an idea as to the fullness of the pack.

App Wireframes
Powder 6
The skier sets up a list of owned equipment. Using information from Powder Magazine’s database useful specifications would be populated automatically and saved to the device giving access to all information even when offline which is likely at some ski resorts or remote locations. The function would be to help the skier prepare for their trip. Picking and choosing the best equipment based on weather, conditions, expected activity quickly.
Powder 18
The mobile application would offer on and offline use automatically syncing with lists created while online.
Powder 19
Sign up and begin creating a list of current gear.
Powder 20
Choose a backpack and add items from list to the backpack or on person.
Powder 21
Calculate weight both in the pack and on person, as well as information about total volume so one can have an idea as to the fullness of the pack.
Powder 22
Scan the manufacturer’s tags for quick access to specifications based on Powder Magazine’s database and reviews. An easy way to add to their list of equipment previously created.

Conclusion


This tool will offer useful information and overview to a skier who’s on the go and needs to be ready when the conditions are ideal. It leverages Powder Magazine’s comprehensive database of product information that has been collected over the years in it’s ongoing annual gear reviews and access to blogs and articles that provides reviews, bringing more traffic and awareness to Powder’s content.

Interest Rate Swap

Interest Rate Swaps

Problem: Large volumes of daily contracts need to be easily organized and searchable.

Solution: Offer pertinent information in initial visual presentation that can be sorted, searched and conveniently actionable.

Insight: With large amounts of fixed-float interest rate swaps daily, the user needs to easily sort and search trades that need attention. There is limited time to address non-matching trades that may need further negotiation with a counterparty before the end of the day when the trade is cancelled. Quick access to information to trades that need review are important. Following trades that advance to the clearing house where potential issues could require further attention would also need to be available. Easily searching for specific trades or a group of trades is important. Sortable attributes a click away as well as pertinent information immediately visible on the main page. An ability to quickly review and resubmit non-matching attributes. These would be helpful tools to make the process easier and more efficient.

Research

What is a ‘Fixed-For-Floating Swap’
A fixed-for-floating swap is a contractual arrangement between two parties in which one party swaps the interest cash flows of fixed rate loan(s), with those of floating rate loan(s) held by another party. The principal of the underlying loans is not exchanged.

Example of a Fixed for Floating Swap
Suppose Company X carries a $100 million loan at a fixed rate of 6.5%. Company X expects that the general direction of interest rates over the near or intermediate term is down. Company Y, carrying a $100 million loan at LIBOR + 3.50% (floating rate loan), has an opposite view; it believes interest rates are on the rise. Company X and Company Y wish to swap. With the fixed-for-floating swap Company X will pay the floating rate, and thus benefit if in fact interest rates drop, and Company Y will assume payments for the fixed rate loan. Company Y will stand to benefit if interest rates rise. – Investopedia

Interview Notes:

User: Middle/back office personnel at large financial institutions

  • As a user, I receive large volumes of fixed-float interest rate swaps every day. Majority of the trades are confirmed successfully. Small set of the trades may require my review. I want to have the ability to view all my trades in GUI, while having the ability to find specific trades quickly.
  • The counterparty and I verbally agreed to trade IRS swap over the phone. Each party enters their side of trade in GUI. If both sides submit correct trade attributes, the two sides match and trade is considered confirmed. If one or more attributes does not match, both parties must review the trade. During the review process, one or both parties can edit and re-submit the trade for matching. Once a trade is matched, it is sent to clearing house for post trade processing. If the trade is cleared successfully, the two parties officially enter into the swap contract. If the trade fails clearing, they have to work directly with clearing house and sort out issues.
  • If parties don’t action on unmatched trade, the trade will remain unmatched until end of day platform shutdown, trade status become cancelled. In reality, parties likely to call each other intra day to sort out unmatched trades.
  • If there are issues with clearing, we show trade with errors to indicate this
  • Users can find trades using unique trade ID, or they might want to enter a set of terms. E.g. effective date = today and fixed rate = 1.5 and notional = 5 million
User Journey

User Journey

Desktop Wireframes

This single screen allows the user to view the many contracts that are received in a day with an ability to sort by many of its attributes and search for more specific terms. Line highlights for easy identification including contract that need immediate review in red, contracts that have been confirmed and passed to the clearing house but need further action to complete in yellow and cancelled trades where an agreement was not able to be met before the deadline from the day before for reference in black.

Additionally, there is an ability to click the job number of a contract that is in need of a review to reveal a popup window which displays only the fields that do not match the counterparty’s input which is what puts that contract in jeopardy. After coordinating with the counterparty and adjusting those fields in the pop up window the user can resubmit the contract without leaving the screen. Further review is still possible on the full details page if needed at any time.

This allows the user to sort, search, identify, edit and resubmit contracts from one screen. Saving time and quickly identifying trades is essential with the volume of trades received daily that will cancel by the end of the day.

Default Screen
Default page: The main screen will display trades by Trade ID and the order that they were received by default. Red highlighted trades are in need or review. Yellow highlighted trades have errors with the clearing house and black highlights are cancelled trades from the previous day that will be available for viewing for one more day.
Sortable Attributes
Sortable Attributes: Clicking on the header of each column will sort the list prioritizing that column. Toggle the carrot that appears next to the column header to change the ascending to descending order of the column.
Search Results
Search results: Search terms will sort trades based on search results. Here you see “0.5 and notional” being searched, resulting in all trades with the rate of 0.5 and notional to sort to the top of the list.
Unmatched Attribute Popup
Unmatched attribute popup: Roll over line item to reveal a pop up window displaying only the attributes that are not matching counterparty or clearing house. Opportunity to edit and resubmit trade for matching in this window. There is no pup up window for confirmed trades.
Details Screen
Trade details: Clicking on the Trade ID will bring the user to the full page of attributes for that trade. Edit and resubmittal is also possible here for trades that are under review.

Conclusion

Quickly sort, search, edit and resubmit contracts from a single screen allows user to address issues quickly and easily when time is of the essence with hundreds of contracts a day to sort through.

Books

Problem: Finding a book someone would like is mostly left up to chance encounters.

Solution: Leveraging history of read books from other readers to provide new suggestions.

Research: In my research I’ve found people rely on organically discovering books they would like to read, commonly through word of mouth and online research. Online sources are lacking in customized suggestions and reviews lack insight and focus.

Research

Goodreads: According to contributors at Reddit, Goodreads reviews and rating system are not satisfying. One poster wrote “They tend to be very much ‘I loved it’ or ‘I hated it’, with very little in between.” another poster writes, “Yes! thank you very much, i agree with your first point completely, sometimes they just seem so pretentious and fake, and you can see right through them but still they keep on reviewing, its like a yelp for books.” What many of the posters did enjoy about Goodreads is the ability to keep track of books they have already read.

US Reading stats according to the Pew Research Center, 84% of Americans between the age of 18-29 read books in any format. 92% college grads, 75% some college and 66% high school grads.

Interview Notes:

Adam

Preference: Character development, a story that brings him on a journey that provides suspense from one chapter to the next.

Sources: Word of mouth, meeting people he likes talking to with similar interests. Learns a lot about friends through their reading preferences. Asking questions to learn about authors, then goes online to research. NYT best sellers. Library for what is trending, bulletin boards, editors choice, curated lists, award winners. Sometimes the book cover plays a role in exploring. References to other books in past reading,? there are at times references within passages. Digging deeper into reviews when a book is already identified. Book stores are better for purchases rather then discovery. They are too cumbersome to peruse, their focus is mainly on new books, unable to spend much time with any book.

Medium: Audio books when not reading books. Likes that some audio books are read by the author, likes hearing the actual person tell their story. In book stores he gravitates towards picture, design, cook or quirky books that may not be available in the library. Prefers physical books and audio books to his Kindle. Paper, turning a page, bookmarks are part of the experience, easier to get into the story and more gratifying. Audio books for convenience in transit, train, driving or walking. Sometimes switches in the middle of an audio book to a physical book.

Obtaining book: Amazon, library or borrow from someone who referred the book. Audio book downloaded from library, apps, monthly subscriptions.

Agnes

Preference: Intrigue, mystery, action, writing that paints a vivid picture of the subject matter, creates a universe that can come to life in our minds. Fantasy/sci-fi and history. In high school usually chose a sci-fi for book reports. Enjoys sci-fi movies.

Sources: Finds inspiration from pre movie release, word of mouth, readings on websites. Google searches that leads her to search Amazon reviews. Previously Goodreads but it is now hard to find recommendations that she likes. Library app provides a catalog of ebooks to browse and download. Looking for similar books can be hard at times, will read books from same author, searches list of top selling books in a genre from last year. Uses Goodreads as a baseline to see if it is generally liked but not for reviews. Uses synopsis and sleeve notes to understand what the book is about. Agnes finds that there are too many books to cover. She would be interested in recommendations from book “taste makers” (curator) for a specific genre would be interesting if found.

Medium: e-Books, convenience of having it on person anytime. Book stores for photography and art books that are better to have a physical book. Also recipe books. Recipe books, easy to keep open when cooking from trusted chef, published recipe book adds some legitimacy.

Obtaining book: e-Books from Amazon or downloaded from the NY Public Library. Book stores for physical books.

Trevor

Preference: Mysteries, good guy catching bad guys, historical fiction, career/instructional. Trevor studied ancient history and art history in college, and always though England was cool. Enjoyed historical fiction that mixes history and a compelling story. A believable world that brings in mythological characters. Authors who can create a world with compelling characters. Career and instructional books, currently reading about writing.

Sources: Ask friends what they are reading, conversations with people with similar interests, blog postings, podcast interviews. Online reviews are good for ratings and the number of reviews. Books without enough reviews are not considered. Amazon reviews can become too detailed. Weight more on podcasts then the content of online reviews. Some online magazines publish their own books which offers familiarity in style and subject matter.
Amazon Book Store provide access to actual books that are recommended online. Library audio book on CD are good for discovery, smaller selection narrows choices, free to borrow allows for exploration. Bookstores and Library selections can be more curated.

Medium: Physical books are heavy and prefers e-books for it’s convenience, likes the highlighting ability that can be saved and compiled. Audio books on CD and downloaded. Would buy physical books for the ones he really likes.

Obtaining book: Amazon or Audible.com for e-books/audio books.

Jean

Preference: Pleasure and professional. Mystery, books where she is able to figure out the ending. Increased interest when waiting for the ending with amusing characters, deep character development, setting and satire. A good book blends all of that. Developed an interest in this style from reading a lot. May stick to an author and cycle through all his/her books. Depth of character, setting, share amusement can be reasons for rereading a book.

Sources: Jean uses a holistic approach, looks for award winners. Author that may be part of an anthology that branches out to others. Some reviews that leads to similar authors. Word of mouth through friends who share the same sense of humor. Wikipedia to discover award winning titles or authors, newspaper articles, professional reviews, general online reviews not used to find information about the book itself but some reviewers will refer to other authors or books. Author’s website provides insight. Author who may have written a forward in a previously read book. Jean uses book stores to read forward and the first chapter to make assessments. Book stores are more organics compared to online research that tend to be more focused from unknown sources.

Medium: e-Books (Kindle) over paper books, too many books at home waiting to be passed off to a friend.

Obtaining book: Amazon

Sticky notes
Organization of thoughts taken from the interviews with Adam and Agnes.
Sticky notes
Organization of thoughts taken from the interviews with Trevor and Jean.
User Journey
User Journey
Narrowing down choices for the next great book to read can be difficult. Resources that help to make an educated decision that will ideally return an exceptional reading experience more often begin with word of mouth from a familiar source. Having too many choices and reviews from strangers makes it difficult to find that one book without a little bit of a direction and background. Curated lists, popularity and influences from past reads provide some direction for further investigation such as deeper digging into online reviews and reading samples to make a decision. Obtaining the winning choice ranges from buying to borrowing to downloading from the internet. The common goal is to find the cheapest source best if it’s free, this fosters exploration.
User Flow
User Flow
Providing historical information about previously read favorites to create a personalized list of books and authors will allow the app to leverage other users lists of similarly read books to identify differences while also taking into account genre and authors in making suggestions. Further research is possible through a community offering reviews and direct discussions, consolidated list of links to relevant interviews and articles for individual books and authors providing focused research and sources for obtaining the book. This is also a convenient reference for users to keep track of their past reads.

App Wireframes
Sign up Wireframes
The sign up process includes providing an email address and password that will need to be verified from a message sent to the email provided. Upon verification the user will need to provide 3 favorite books previously read and 3 authors of interest. These fields will have predictive searches for accuracy and convenience.
Profile Wireframes
Profiles provide 3 tabs that include a quick view of latest suggestions, favorites that include wishlist, read books and favorite authors previously added by the user, also a list of friends added. These tabs represent a snapshot and full page can be accessed through links. Action icons appear under each book listing to add or remove from read list, wishlist or to share book information.
Suggestions/Details Wireframes
The suggestions page provides a list of unread books based on leveraging other users lists of similarly read books to identify differences while also taking into account genre and authors in making suggestions. The book details page provide a short synopsis, list of external links to relevant interviews and articles, a list of resources to obtain the book and reviews with a link to the reviewer for further discussions. Author details page provide a short biography, external links and a list of notable work. Each profile and book thumbnail has action icons to add or remove it from favorites, wishlist or to share quickly.

Conclusion

Finding a rewarding book to read can be left to chance or taking the time to comb through the overwhelming number of choices that exist can be unpredictable and time consuming. Providing thoughtful suggestions, the convenience of a consolidated list of informative links for deeper insights into a book or author, a community that fosters discussions and a place to keep track favorites, all in one place.

Food freshness prototype

User-centered Design

The Studies

This hands-on course allowed us to use prototyping to practice the mindsets and methods of human-centered design to produce tangible results quickly. We explored methods to prototype products, services, interactions and environments. We developed an understanding of the importance of providing our ideas a place to develop, change and iterate while gaining valuable feedback from getting our ideas in the hands of the people we were designing for on the road to concept refinement.

Better Living brainstorming
Goal: Brainstorming ideas for better living In a community, at work, in school and at home.

Brainstorm stickies

Basis of ideas were developed and sketched on Post-It notes in short time. Concepts such as recycling bins that rewarded using them with a small payment, 24 hour libraries, quiet rooms, in office gym, mandatory financial classes, bully box – report bullying anonymously, ceiling air filters, etc. were all quickly sketched on small Post-It notes.

Prototyping
Goal: Chosen from our wall of ideas, we set out into teams to create a prototype of a container that would give the user a visual indication of the freshness of the food within it.

Food freshness prototype

My team and I decided a device that could be place within a container would be more convenient Multiple sensors would be used to measure categories of food. It would present information with color coded level meters from “fresh” to “spoiled”. Information about the minimal amount of time needed for an accurate reading. We explored sizes and shapes of this device through sketching. Methods of attaching the device to a number of different containers were explored and a removable S hook was agreed upon.

Food freshness class

Feedback: Each team reviewed the other’s prototype and feedback was shared. We found through feedback that the size of the product was important to fit into a range of food containers as well as the way it attaches to the edge of the container. Our solution was the rectangular shape as well as a hole in the product with a number of attachments that will allow it to be hung on the edge of a number of different containers.

Service Design
Goal: To provide an experience where the customer would be open to trying a new food and gain interest in further exploration of other products.

Service design
The setting was an office cafeteria with a variety of food stations where our employee would be presenting free samples to incoming customers. We explored where and when the customer was approached. How we would present our samples in a way to introduce an alternative to what the customer may expect to have for lunch.

Service design prototype

My solution was to provide information to make the items more familiar. A company email would be sent out with weekly menu items along with an ingredients list. At the cafeteria a sample platter of one of the menu items would be presented by an employee of the food stall. The name of the sample and it’s list of ingredients would stand along side the small samples. A sign above with a menu of additional choices would mirror what was on the earlier email.

The goal was to create consistency for the customer to gain familiarity with these items that may be different then the normal lunch items offering the opportunity to try something new and may be a healthier choice. A user was brought in to provide feedback.

Feedback: Improvements could be made to the clarity in the menu of rotating items being careful not to be mistaken for a pop up business that would change completely from week to week.

Home Air Filter
Goal: Another product picked from our wall of concepts was a wall mounted home air filter. We looked to gain feedback from putting the product in the user’s hands.

With a paper prototype built we seek user feedback taking the environment into consideration. Our location was the home of one of the users and initial reaction to this new product they have just acquired.

The filter was built with a hanging plate that provided instructions, a built in leveler and anchors that would be used to fasten the plate to the wall allowing the unit to be slid in and out for maintenance as well as options for a free standing operation if preferred.

continued…

Feedback: One of the misses was the retractable power cord. Users were unaware that the power cord could be extended and retracted into the unit as well as more comprehensive instructions including tools needed, clear option for free standing operation and suggestions for installation locations. Along with small design adjustments such as lips on the mounting plate to avoid contact with the wall when sliding the unit in and out of the installed plate and color options to better blend into wall colors. The user liked the form factor and ability to install out of the way and unseen. Maybe an online video guide could be explored.