Gene Lu's Portfolio

Prototyping Post Up

Overview
Post Up is an interactive interface that gives New Yorkers a venue to report contextualized civic problems. This display will reside at various bus shelters around NYC where people can report problems within their neighborhood. They can also vote on or subscribe to problems that have already been posted, which are fed into SeeClickFix‘s database. When a problem is resolved, the person that reported the problem along with everyone else that subscribed to it will receive a “problem resolved” text message.

User Journey
Before moving onto a lo-fi prototype, we quickly put together a user journey of how a New Yorker would interact with Post Up.

Dude is sitting at a bus stop surrounded by problems and wants to help fix his neighborhood

Dude is sitting at a bus stop surrounded by problems and wants to help fix his neighborhood

He notices a digital display behind him

He notices a digital display behind him

On the display, he sees that some of the problems have already been reported

On the display, he sees that some of the problems have already been reported

The problems on the display change in size based on the number of votes each problem receives

The problems on the display change in size based on the number of votes each problem receives

Dude decides to vote on a problem by dialing the number above and entering in the problem's ticket number

Dude decides to vote on a problem by dialing the number above and entering in the problem's ticket number

There is also map mode on the display that visualizes problems reported at other bus shelters nearby

There is also map mode on the display that visualizes problems reported at other bus shelters nearby

A few weeks later, Dude comes back to the bus shelter and notices that everything has been fixed

A few weeks later, Dude comes back to the bus shelter and notices that everything has been fixed

Prototyping in the Wild | Day 1
After working out some of the kinks in our initial user journey, the team got together one Sunday afternoon, created a lo-fi version of Post Up, and released it into the city.

Since we were going to prototype at more than one bus stop, we kept our prototype portable and easily removable. To accomplish this, our Post Up prototype consisted of two panels, the main display panel and the instructions panel, both made of foam core.

Post-Its, Foam Core, Duct Tape, Suction Cups

Post-Its, Foam Core, Duct Tape, Suction Cups

Each panel was held up by suction cups, which allowed us to easily move it from one bus shelter and onto the next. Problems were written onto Post-Its and votes were demarcated by smaller Post-Its, which were cut into the shape of ribbons.

Derek rocking the prototyping game face while Evinn touches up the instructions panel

Derek rocking the prototyping game face while Evinn touches up the instructions panel

Voila! Post Up Prototype ready for deployment

Voila! Post Up Prototype ready for deployment

Attempt #1, a bus shelter on 5th ave and 28th st

Attempt #1, a bus shelter on 5th ave and 28th st

After 10 minutes, no response

After 10 minutes, no response

So we decided to add a problem to start the conversation

So we decided to add a problem to start the conversation

And after another 15 minutes, attempt #1 fails

And after another 15 minutes, attempt #1 fails

Attempt #2, a bus shelter at 2nd ave and 9th st

Attempt #2, a bus shelter at 2nd ave and 9th st

Again, we added a problem observed within distance of the bus shelter

Again, we added a problem observed within distance of the bus shelter

After 10 minutes of waiting in the cold while observing people at the bus shelter, we moved into a restaurant across the street to continue our stakeout.

Some people looked at the board, but no one participated

Some people looked at the board, but no one participated

An hour later, still no responses. With our heads hanging low, we called it a day. I brought the prototype back home with me to Astoria (far more neighborhood oriented than all of the previous places) and figured I could try putting the prototype up at a bus shelter in the neighborhood the next day.

Prototyping in the Wild | Day 2
What is Astoria?
Astoria is a a neighborhood in the northwestern corner of the borough of Queens in New York City. I’ve lived there for about 4 months now and from what I could tell, a lot of people know each other. The neighborhood is made up of many different generations of “immigrants from places such as Greece, Brazil, Italy, Ireland, Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East” (Wiki). In comparison to where I used to live, the Upper East Side, Astoria is far more quiet and is well-maintained.

And to the Prototyping!
I managed to put the prototype up at a bus shelter over on Ditmars Blvd and 31st Street. It’s a busy intersection as it sits right by the last stop on the N/Q subway line. This time, instead of posting up one problem to start the conversation, I posted up four along with five votes interspersed among the problems. After 10 minutes of observation and no response, I left the prototype up at the shelter and headed into Manhattan for class.

The bus shelter at Ditmars Blvd and 31st Street

The bus shelter at Ditmars Blvd and 31st Street

Several hours later, my roommate happened to walk by the bus shelter and informed me that people were interacting with Post Up.

Reading while waiting

Reading while waiting

Problems are made transparent to people in the neighborhood

Problems are made transparent to people in the neighborhood

A lady posting up problems in the neighborhood

A lady posting up problems in the neighborhood

After finishing up class around 9pm that night, I arrived at the bus shelter and noticed that people were still skimming through the problems posted up on the board.

Early evening at the bus shelter in Astoria

Early evening at the bus shelter in Astoria

A close up of Post Up

A close up of Post Up

At the end of the day, an additional 11 problems were reported along with over 10 votes by people waiting at the bus shelter.

Lessons Learned

  • If you are looking for people that care about their neighborhood, you have a better chance of finding them outside of Manhattan (an interesting video about Donald Appleyard and his research on what defines a neighborhood)
  • Problems that are not as obvious are made obvious, e.g. not enough buses running up and down Ditmars Blvd
  • Encourage the beginning of a conversation, e.g. putting up several dummy post-it notes with relevant problems on them
  • Suction cups are an interaction designer’s best friend
  • It’s always helpful to have an extra set of eyes when making observations of your prototype (Thanks Dave!)
  • Don’t be scared to lose your prototype
  • Patience is key when making observations

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  • 26 Nov 2010

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