We picked The Source, a consumer electronics retailer in Canada, as a business client, citing their need for innovation against bigger retailers such as Best Buy or even online retailers like Amazon.com.
Our Design Solution
We would shift The Source into the maker market, realizing the growth and potential of the Maker Movement, not only as a market, but as a core group of users. This led us to the Maker Source, a digital platform that provides a holistic experience for prospective and experienced makers by facilitating open knowledge sharing and acquisition of supplies.
Exercise in Experience Design
(the extremely abbreviated version)
Designing for Makers
It was very important for our team to understand the makers as we developed this idea, because it is widely known that Maker Movement is largely a grassroots movement, with strong emphasis on open-source and open-sharing. We were cautious of not turning this product of The Source into something that would come off as nothing more than a campaign to gain more customers, pandering to a seemingly 'ripe' market.
Through research, we decided to focus our efforts on the Zero-to-Makers and the Maker-to-Makers, seeing the already existing infrastructures for the Maker-to-Market group. This allowed us to focus on more specific needs, and helped us create a more true maker experience.
Looking deeper into our makers, we defined what and how we wanted to create the open-source experience for the makers, both new and experienced. These overarching ideas of designing for universal access and distribution gave us key areas of interactions to focus on: the learning and the sharing experiences of the platform. The learning experiences would cater more towards the zero-to-makers, allowing them a less frictional entry into the movement, and the sharing experiences would be for the experienced makers who want to connect with like-minded makers, share their work with a bigger community, and pass on their knowledge
We then looked into creating personas, and more extreme personas (old & young users)for the different makers we thought would be using our platform. Alex Davis became a soft guiding principle for how we wanted to craft the learning experience for a new maker, or a zero-to-maker. It had to be frictionless, easy to consume, and somehow spur more curiousity with each project the zero completes.
Magnetized Browsing UI
We wanted to approach project browsing via interests and skills, so we implemented the 'magnetize' effect. Activating the 'similar' button, it would attract what the platform deems as relevant based on the user's history. Below is what it looked like implemented in the final form, and above is the rough animation I made to help the team realize the form and logistics of the interaction. (GIFS. yes).
With the research and a persona in mind, we set out to create a video-driven learning platform that offered interactions that encouraged doing, as opposed to static watching. The screens show markers along the video progress bar, indicating the steps of each project, coincided with detailed instructions on the right for a more detailed and comprehensive understanding of each step. Once they complete a project, they are rewarded skill points based on the project, and the project is added to their record of projects the maker has completed in their profile.
The profile page was an important part for our team to carefully design because we felt a new maker can be inspired simply just by looking at how an experienced maker got to where they are today
We felt that with this way, the projects on a profile would be able tell a simple narrative; the chronological order of the projects would give the new makers some ideas or projects on how to start off small like the experienced makers did.
Makerlabs in Vancouver
We looked for places around in Vancouver to try and get a better understanding of the local maker culture scene. Sitting down with a volunteer, we discussed the benefits of being able to share and cooperate on projects in real life in the MakerLab, mapping to many of the values we strived to hit in our digital platform.
Azat Bayandin, Charlie Chao, Daria Ershova, & Edwy Woo