At workshop one, participants had listed the main challenges they had with their own methods of personal data management. We then took these and created a card sorting activity for the participants to select their three most important aspects of the data platforms they used. On each of the 42 challenge cards, there was a statement for users to complete, such as ‘I like to keep my data secure by…’. These would then be used as starting points for prototyping in the afternoon.
Card sorting enabled the participants to consider the challenges they had ended the first workshop with, and assess their importance within their own individual systems. It also enabled them to consider what their future designs needed to address. Although they may have found issues with each card in the deck, by only selecting three or four they were able to begin to draft a set of technical specifications for their prototypes.
After lunch it was time for the participants to begin prototyping. We presented the participants with various materials that they could use in their designs. This ranged from the standard cardboard that is used to paper prototype to building blocks, plasticine and even sweets. For all of the group, this was the first time they had paper prototyped so the task appeared quite alien at first. After a few moments explaining why they were being asked to prototype, including the addition that they could not only design products, but also the system that connected devices, interfaces and platforms, the group spent an hour designing.
How do you consider the system when you cannot see it, ‘use it’ in the way which is intended due to lack of interface or physical product and deal with the external barriers that conflict with the user’s needs within it? This is perhaps why users were first unable to view their prototyping process in terms of products, they had to really understand the system and make sure it worked for them prior to integrating devices. Although all the participants created different prototypes, there are several connections that can be made already from the specifications of each product and system that was devised at the workshop. These included a focus on modularity, granularity as well as parsing and ease of analysis.