Alriiiiight, design challenge. Josh and I have been hard at work at pulling together this magazine in a timely manner all while doing interviews, doing 2nd/3rd/8th iterations, and arguing about fonts. It seems almost shameful to write this, but in all the flurry of activity regarding what the design challenge was/has been/up/down, the rest of the cohort(s) have yet to even see what I’m talking about, unless they’ve caught a glance of it on the shelf in the iSpace, but more on that later. I’ve spent the last two days going around the school and interviewing several groups of students; from raising freshmen and new kids to the lead editors of the school Yearbook, it’s been all across the board.

Now, before we get started on the debrief, I should probably give a little, er, prebrief. So strap your listening helmets on and get ready to absorb some data on this prototype we’ve created.

  1. Yes, it’s a magazine. It has pictures and words and fancy fonts and a lot of good things that aren’t completely done yet
  2. No, it is not finished in any way, shape or form, so while you’re welcome to see it, it could end up looking very different.
  3. We decided on focusing into the magazine part of the “swag bag” concept because a portion of our advisory decided to work on a video by themselves, so Josh and I made a decision to re-think our part of the project, as well as re-fit it to the time scale we now had, and so here we are.

Good? Good. Good. 

Going back to the interviews, here’s what happened: I took 4 middle schoolers (one boy, another boy who was brand new this year, and two girls together), and sat them down in front of a camera and asked them to interact with our prototype. Each user approached the magazine different then the next. Some were far more interested in the pictures, and others spent more time reading through almost all the words. After 3 or so minutes, I would ask them to set the mag down and answer some questions. The first thing I noticed was God have mercy on my soul no one looks at the camera.The equally important 2nd thing was that, just as I said before, the first thing out of each person’s mouth was never the same thing. They all felt they knew what the most important part of the magazine was(pictures are cool! A lot of interesting wordy-type read-a-space! “I like the names”!), yet none of the answers matched up. When I first went through the feedback, I sat there rather perplexed. How could I identify the magazine’s strong/weak points when, according to the users, everything is strong, but weak at the same time?

This is where I’m getting my title. When we set out to do this challenge, we identified our user as “prospective middle school students and parents”. The catch is, those six words encapsulate some 180+ people, all with different opinions, ages, experience levels, shirt types, ways they like a steak cooked, etc. Now, if watching Mad Men taught me anything, it’s that 1) [insert redacted joke teetering on the edge of Political Incorrectness here], and that 2) you should always try to advertise to the kind of user that personifies your target audience. I was so freaked out about the spread of opinions that I failed to see my own reasoning as to why I ended up interviewing 4 people in the first place: Because my user base is such a broad one, a single end-all person that would hit all the qualifying points will be extremely hard to find, so instead of trying to hit that one mythical point, why not hit a lot of points that will end up flushing out what we could reasonably expect that mythical “superuser” to say? To me, that makes a lot more sense.

So, in closing, I’d just like to say that I’m excited for whatever the next week holds for us. More pages to create, copy to write, and interviews to tape seem to be in store before October 20th, and to be honest, I’m very interested in seeing where we take this publication. The Communications office seems to love it, and I’d be more than willing to print off a few copies and put them around the school to see how the students interact with them. In the trees? Perhaps. Over the Mountains? I wouldn’t say so, but regardless the future seems bright for our little book.

Thanks for reading!

Jackson Dalton

One comment

  1. Jackson – I love your voice here! It’s real and fun…well done. I do wonder how else you could go about getting to know the needs of your users without saying “here’s my prototype. What do you think?” This limits your users to “I like the font,” and “pictures are cool” like you mentioned. How could you get to the heart of what users need without saying “is this what you need?!”


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