Lone Star Detective

Mobile Application / UI/UX Design / Gamification

* Supervisor: Gregory Scott Cook

Abstract This is Lone Star Detective, a mobile applications that uses a database to inspire and educate undergraduate students of significances and accomplishments of female historical figures in the state of Texas. The concept was developed using an iterative, user centered design process that included contextual inquiry survey, low and high fidelity prototypes, and usability testing. The team consisted of two people, my art director Gregory Scott Cook and me. Based on our initial research findings, we found that users tend to be uninterested in studying history and woman and genders studies subject.

We designed a mobile application that focuses on data exploration to to aspire young individuals. We used a combination of theory, design, and user research to influence users to become more active, engaged, and inspired by history.

Author Keywords Mobile applications, habit-forming technology, user centered design, contextual inquiry, behavior change, digital humanities, gamification, location tracked.

Our goal was to design an application that would deliver information, engage, and form the habit of conducting independent research. We also wanted to build on the narrative that we were given, which was somewhat fragmented. What we needed to provide was the context for the user to be an active part of that narrative. We asked the question if the information could be earned instead of served. That was the base for our detective game.

Our design process included contextual inquiry, survey, low fidelity prototypes, hi fidelity prototypes, and usability testing. We used existing research to better understand effective ways to build mobile application that could change behavior. Lone Star Detective connects historical figures with each other on a geographical map, and organizes their information with compartmentalized “drawers”. The user would explored this vast database by navigating on the map, collecting items, reading, answering questions, and unlocking clues.

Preliminary Research and Survey We began by studying survey data from six college-educated students between the ages of 18 and 22. We targeted individuals who we believed to be taking the general education classes. Our primary goal was to learn about their uses of mobile applications in the classroom and in personal time outside of the classroom. We also wanted to find out if they are open to the idea of personal development. We found out that:

Individuals experience negative stress in the classroom every day.

Some experience more stress than others

Engaging in mobile application used reduces stress

Many do not have educational apps on their mobile phone

Many have games on their mobile phones

Contextual inquiry We interviewed six individuals belong to the same group from the last phrase. Our primary goal was to test whether if the users were interested in the subject matter, which is leadership. We also wanted to know if some of the mechanics of the application, including the trophies system, sounded appealing to them. Our team built an affinity wall diagram to analyze the data from our interviews. The findings that influenced the design of the application included:

The subject matter is mildly interesting

The idea of a fitness app is attractive

The social network system is preferred

Initial Design Based on our research findings we brainstormed ways to reduce negativity in the classroom and/or in taking part in learning activities in general. We learned that the idea of note taking is tedious, while the idea of putting together a puzzle is more appealing. We started to look at ways to break up the database into smaller pieces of information. The next big question was how to arrange them. Because our survey respondents and interviewees expressed lukewarm interest in learning more history, our team narrowed our ideas to one that would use the idea of time a non-linear way. That was how we came up with the idea of a map and an inventory.

Our application features three main functions:

Challenges: Research studies have shown to improve performance and motivation with specific goals and a system established with feedbacks [2]. The application allows the user to acquire trophies and collecting medals with their respective progress.

[2] Lunenbug, Fred C “Goal-Setting Theory of motivation”. International Journal of Business Management, and Administration. 15.1 (2011): 1-6. Print

Inventory System: The application provides users with an extended list of items ranging from notes, letters, photographs, to more personal collectibles such as book or suitcases. These items holds important clues about their owners. Taking these clues out of the written narrative and visualize them on the mobile screen creates the sense that the user is looking at a drawer. The experience beyond the classroom and beyond the mobile device starts here.

Location Tracking: The application has a location tracking feature that will notify user if he or she is physically near a historical landmark. Bonus items will also be unlocked in this situation.

Low fidelity prototype and user testing

We conducted is a testing doing same the effectiveness to:

Assess clarity of design

Assess the supplications effectiveness to perform basic tasks such as selecting a challenge, opening profiles, assigning items to their correct owners, and completing small quizzes

Locate gaps between using expectation and current functions

Six users with various skill level tested the paper prototype by performing a set of tasks. The task consisted of selecting a figure from the profile screen, and then accessing additional connections and go to their respective profiles. We as a participant to Think out loud while interacting with the interfaces. We found out that:

There were too many items on the screen

And Having to tap are the photo in out of to see is The name of the figure tested is The patient of the users.

Without the assignment what's the user did not know why there were additional pictures right next to the main profile.

With that being said, the priority of the main profile picture was quite clear. It was the purpose of the connection images that needed to be resolved and carried out visually.

These findings was the first of many that helped guide us as we refine the interface. We re-analyze the priority of each of the design element, and modified their sizes and prominence. For example, with the overhead drawers, we scale them down to give more space for the priority content, which is the main profile. We also simplified the workflow so exactly users understand what each of design element do. We also proposed additional tutorial screens.

Hi-fidelity prototype and user testing We plan to conduct the second round of user testing to assess the usability of the application. We also want to know its effectiveness in providing knowledge and interest in female historical figures.