Ideation, a stage of Design Thinking, can best be described as the creative process of generating ideological solutions to given problems. The Interaction Design Foundation explains that the process includes "combining your conscious and unconscious mind", and combining "your rational thoughts with your imagination" via a multitude of techniques. When it comes to ideation, it's not so much about one technique trumping all others, it's about choosing the right technique that will fit—and best benefit—the ideas you are attempting to generate. A few of my go-to ideation techniques (which you can see I've implemented below on for this module) are mind mapping, prototyping, braindumps, and sketching—which all revolve around the idea of visuailizing your ideas both graphically and physically.
Below you will find the first part of this module's assignments, which was creating a mindmap to use for reference "throughout this semester and in your career". A mindmap can best described as a visual relationship guide. The idea behind this technique is to begin with a key phrase or problem statement and branch out solutions/ideas that relate to the issue at hand and connecting them via "curves or lines". The Interaction Design Foundation's definition is as follows: "a graphical technique in which participants build a web of relationships. [...] the participants write a problem statement or key phrase in the middle of the page. Then, they write solutions and ideas that comes to their mind on the very same page. After that, participants connect their solutions and ideas by curves or lines to its minor or major (previous or following) fact or idea."
If there was one app that you would love to have, what would it be? What would it do?
Ironically, I just started thinking about this app the other day—so much so that I started designing it as a personal project and have fondly dubbed it “Weebi”. Weebi is appropriately named, as it is essentially a third-party app for "weebs" alike—or (in plain English), those who love all things anime and manga—that essentially replaces Siri with your favorite animated character. Given how large of an industry and market anime is, I think it’s smarter to keep anime separate from animated cartoons, but that might just be niche thinking. It essentially serves the same purpose as GPS apps that allow you to choose a different voice than what’s standard—it gives you the option of customizing your Apple personal assistant.
In a nutshell, Weebi completely replaces Siri with whatever anime character you choose. The functionality stays the same, but the voice (and therefore, the responses) will reflect the personality/demeanor of the character you choose. (This is reflected in the screenshots of the app’s design.)
What purpose does it serve in your life? What needs would it meet?
A lot of the things I become fond of are usually very niche, so this app would serve a very niche industry. However, this niche industry is relatively large—so it works. The purpose is truly nothing other than being able to further customize my digital experience and to be able to express my individuality by having a characterized personal assistant. Every hero has their loveable sidekick, and I derive a lot of inspiration from Tony Stark—JARVIS is my favorite hypothetical concept. I can’t code, script, or build my own personal JARVIS, so the next best thing was downloading ringtones that have JARVIS tell me when I’m getting a call, when I’ve received "yet another email", or when someone’s texted me.
My installation of JARVIS ringtones is just a long-winded way of me explaining that, like most people, I wanted to customize my phone in a way that would be unique to me and would express my individuality. A lot of GPS apps or devices usually give you the option to choose from a myriad of different voices for the same reason—so why does Siri have to be standardized? I would love nothing more than for Alan to act as my digital assistant, giving me updates on the weather and letting me know what events I have planned for the day.
Just as an aside, I’m still bitter about the fact that my favorite anime (the one Alan comes from) was canceled halfway through its completion. This isn’t exactly a problem since it was only canceled in America (so I can still watch the sub in true weeb fashion), but I (unfortunately for some people) very much enjoy the English dubs of most animes. However, I’m not the only one who loses in this situation—when an anime gets canceled, much like any other show, the [voice] actors essentially get laid off. Weebi wouldn’t exactly solve this problem, but it would provide extra income for voice actors in addition to whatever shows they’re working on. So, I get to have my favorite character writing down notes for later while the voice actor gets paid for providing the voice lines. That’s what I call a win-win!
In the interest of this app already coming to fruition via design and prototyping, I've also imagined another "do-all" app: Omnipotent. Omnipotent is the "ultimate music app", which allows you to keep a mass archive of all the music you enjoy. Ideally, it would be able to pull music (via licensing and agreements) from streaming services like Pandora, Spotify, Soundcloud, Google Play, Apple Music, etc., and give you the ability to "upload" or pull in your own music from your iPhone's Music library.
What apps do you love and use frequently?
The apps I use the most (visualized below) have no particular theme or motif among them
other than they’re essential to how I live my life. Using the Battery screen in the iPhone’s
Settings, I actually was able to visualize how much time I spend using my favorite apps; I
was also able to see how much of the battery each app used.
(Percentages are based on "Battery Usage"; Time is based on "Activity" [combination of
"On Screen" and "Background" times]; both are calculated from/over the "Last 10 Days".)
What apps do you not use/have deleted for one reason or another?
The apps I use the least, according to my iPhone’s Battery in Settings, are (in descending
order of usage and an activity range of 8 minutes to 1 minute) Instagram, Weather,
Camera, SoundHound, Calculator, App Store, Clock, Contacts, Wallet, and Safari. Safari
only gets opened if my iPhone decides to open a link without me selecting which app/
browser I’d like to open it with, and I’ve never opened Wallet in my life. Some of these
apps don’t really need that much attention (such as the calculator or the weather app, and
the occasional SoundHound usage), but otherwise I just find the other apps necessary.
The apps I wish I could delete, but won’t because I have social FOMO, are Instagram,
Snapchat, and from time to time tumblr. (I don’t even use tumblr, I just have it "in case".)
I’m waiting for the Spotify app to be as fluid and easy to use as the web app, but that’ll
never happen... yet, I still have it on my phone (I tend to be an app hoarder and refuse to
get rid of a few of them because it’ll mess up the structure and placement of everything
else). Google Hangouts and Facebook Messenger are two more social FOMO apps I continue to keep, but they’re my only line of communication for certain people and groups of friends — so I feel the need to keep them [god forbid].
There are plenty of apps I’ve uninstalled, but I did so such a long time ago that I don’t
remember what they are. Essentially, if they’re not to the left, assume I barely use it — if I even have it installed. ...Oh yeah. I HATE Facebook. Get it off your phone. Now.
Prototyping (or rapid prototyping, as both apply here) is the process of creating a physical, interactive object that can be tested and used for feedback purposes. In regards to the physical plane, a "physical" prototype can be held, touched, seen, etc., and therefore interacted with in a physical sense by the stakeholder(s) in order for them to provide feedback. Rapid prototyping is the process of developing such prototypes at a "rapid" pace coupled with Iteration, which allows for each new version to be better than the previous.
Although a bit out of order, I'm starting with the prototyping (or, more appropriately, rapid-prototyping) phase of this design because that's how I ended up creating this idea in the first place. If I'm not drawing, I'm one of the "shoot first, ask questions later" people—I need to see something before I can grasp it fully. That's why, when I'm designing apps like Weebi or my Vinyl Music App, I have to start designing before I can start thinking. (This is actually explained by the Interaction Design Foundation's explanation of prototypes, which is "You build to think".) I.e., the idea of Weebi came to me as "weeb Siri; a third-party app that can override the iPhone Siri and replace it with your favorite character". Based on that idea alone, I went straight into designing—sketching doesn't do a lot for me with ideas like this because I need to see the whole thing fleshed out as I go.
Holding down the home button for Siri
"Hey Siri, it's me"
Character Select Screens
Main Character Select screen followed by a search query ("Naruto") and its two respective screens. (This screen is a work in progress since I need to add "Boruto: Naruto Next Generations" to the search results.) When searching for a broad term (like "Naruto"), all applicable results will be pulled. That's why Naruto as a character comes up, followed by both Naruto (and eventually all three, as mentioned above) series. However, in an attempt to respect categorization and not have overlap, characters who only appear in Shippuden are listed under Shippuden, appropriately ("Shippuden-Only Characters").
Character Select Screen — Search Queries
When searching in Weebi, you can search for the following items: characters, anime titles, and voice actors. When searching for a broad term (as explained above), all applicable results will appear. Searching for an anime title will pull results specific to that title. Specific character search queries will yield either only that character or any other character with that name (if the name or search query is broad enough), and voice actor queries will pull results for all characters voiced by that individual.
Character Select Screens — Character Bios
To add a layer of immersion, the character select screen allows you to view information about and preview a voice line of your ideal character via the "i" icon.
Selecting a New Image
Weebi allows for further customization of your personal assistant with the ability to upload your own image for the AI identifier.
Other Basic Functions
Weebi takes on all the capabilities of Siri, such as sending messages and telling you about the weather.
A "Braindump", according to the Interaction Design Foundation, is "very similar to a Brainstorm; however, it’s done individually. The participants write down their ideas on post-it notes and share their ideas later with the group." For context, the Interaction Design Foundation defines a Brainstorm as a collective, collaborative effort between a group of people who build upon one another’s ideas in order to create "one good idea". Considering this ideation session was to be done individually for this assignment, I chose to utilize the "Braindump" technique since it’s done individually. I tend to not do anything "traditionally"—I branded myself a "digital designer" for a reason—so I decided to use digital stickies on a virtual bulletin/cork board in an attempt to keep up with my branding and aesthetic. Since I had jumped straight into the prototyping phase when I began creating Weebi, I ended up working backwards and thinking harder about what I wanted Weebi’s features to be when I did my Braindump.
I also did a Braindump for another fictitious app called "Omnipotent," which is dubbed the "ultimate music app" because it allows you to do everything, as indicated on the post-its. This would be my other idea app, since I have to utilize every platform under the sun (Pandora, Spotify, and Youtube) for all my music needs.
A "sketchstorm" is essentially just a massive sketching session that helps you think more freely and creatively about your ideas. The saying "a picture is worth a thousand words" stands for a reason,
and sketching as an ideation technique allows you to express an idea more fully than perhaps trying to explain it with mere words. Sketching is also a great way to provoke thought or discussions,
since oftentimes visuals can be interpreted in various ways.
Considering I had already created a rapid prototype for Weebi, I only sketched the screen layouts and "play screen" designs for the Omnipotent music app, since I’m not fully set on what I want the
look and feel to be (and because music apps allow for a bit more creative freedom than something like Weebi). As an artist, I always end up writing my ideas down first (if I can't sketch them; aka a "braindump"), but then I'll end up sketching them out. Sketching/sketchstorms are a very familiar technique for me, and I find sketching more or less helpful than prototyping — depending upon the subject matter.