Service Design for Education Part 3: Iterate, Iterate, Iterate

This post is part of an independent study project. I am working with two professors on an ongoing research project about service design for education. My role involves developing materials for workshops where full-time, part-time and tenured educators can collaborate on curriculum development. Please start by reading Part 1 first.

What I Did

This week was all about making adjustments, iterating and tweaking the card designs for improvements.

Asked people to hold the cards, observed their behavior and made note of questions they had

After having people physically hold the cards filled with content, I learned that the narrow margins led people to cover the edges of text with their thumbs. This finding informed a decision to increase the margins from 0.125" up to 0.3", making the cards more usable and human-friendly.

Increased margins to 0.3" and clarified categories

Another insight was that the abbreviations “SCH”, “FREQ” and “REPEAT”, were only understandable to people who had direct experience using those terms. Because of that, I changed the categories to “Semester Credit Hour”, “Offered” and “Repeatable?” to make the ideas clearer and accessible to all.

After more small edits are made, including changing the card number format and improving typography, I plan to test the cards with more people and gauge success based on feedback.

Outlined document for a how-to guide

I also began crafting a guide for users to download our card template and input their own course information for workshops. The basic outline of the guide is in place and will be finalized once the card template is finished and ready to be shared with users.

What I Learned

For the changes implemented this week, there were several things I had to learn about Excel to achieve my goals. Excel features I learned include:

  • Numbering rows
  • How to use data validation for multiple kinds of tasks, including creating a new column that un-abbreviates the “SCH”, “FREQ” and “REPEAT” data without editing the original data
  • Using Excel’s many functions and formulas to display the information I wanted in the needed format, color and size

I also learned that there is a lot I don’t know about typography.

The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst was recommended to me by my advisors to learn more about hierarchy in typography. I will be reading this book over the next few weeks to gain a deeper understanding of typography styles and improve the typography choices on the card designs.

Maybe the biggest lesson I have learned since embarking on this project is that the process of designing anything always takes longer and has more obstacles than expected.

The Difference between a Design Thinking Process Model and ‘Reality’ (cf. Meinel & Leifer 2011)

With each iteration I learn new things and come closer to finding the answer (or an answer), but uncover more questions and possibilities as well. I’m learning to accept and enjoy the process more instead of just waiting for it to be complete.

New Questions

  • How might I conduct usability testing for the how-to guide once it is complete?
  • How might the many possibilities for co-requisites, pre-requisites and their combinations be organized and displayed on the cards in a simple, understandable way?
  • What changes can I make to improve the typography on the cards?

Continue the Series:

Part 1: Discovering Service Design

Part 2: Learning InDesign

Part 3: The Iterative Process

Designer and lifelong learner | www.sumayahabdulla.com

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