Tell Me What You Want. What You Really, Really Want: Creating a Career Roadmap in 10 Questions.

What are you doing after college?”

“Literally, no idea.”

Sound familiar? It’s time to get serious, get organized, and figure out what you want to do with your life. As the great theologians, the Spice Girls, once said, “tell me what you want, what you really really want.”

Let’s start out with a simple exercise; create your career roadmap by asking yourself these 10 questions. Grab a pen and paper, and get ready to go deep. Once you finish, you should have determined a career path, places you’d like to live, work/life balance preferences, what you know you don’t want out of your career, your strengths, weaknesses and more.

1. Do you see work as pursuing your passion professionally or something you do to make money to follow your passion in your free time? - Making your passion your day job might be not as stable or lucrative, but you have the upper hand of doing what you love all the time. Working a job outside your passion might not be as fulfilling on a daily basis, but you may have the luxury of more time and financial security to pursue what you love outside of work. What sounds right to you?

2. Is my dream job a position I am eligible for right out of school or I will need to work towards this position over the course of my career? - Having realistic expectations of what you can achieve with limited, if any, professional experience coming out of school is important. It’s great to have your sights on a top position at your dream firm, but understand you might need a few jobs before you get there.

3. In what industry sector do I want to work? - Consider finding a job in an industry you are passionate about. For example, if you are a graphic designer who loves food, working at a restaurant group designing their branding, menus, and packaging could be a very rewarding career.

4. Where would I like to live? - Have you always dreamed of moving to a big city? Want to stay close to home? Location is a major factor in searching for a job. It’s important to understand every city has a different cost of living, availability of space, culture and proximity to what you love.

5. What is my ideal work environment? - Does your ideal workspace involve a standing desk and 4K monitor in a state of the art office or working from the comfort of your home? Consider where you will thrive and what tools you need. It might sound silly, but don’t forget to think about company dress codes. If their policies go against what you feel comfortable wearing to do your best at your work, that might be a red flag or it could mean it’s finally time trade in your leggings and hoodies for real clothes.

6. What are my goals in terms of compensation, benefits, vacation and company culture? -  What kind of salary are you expecting to make? Do you need health benefits? Would you prefer a higher salary or more vacation days? What are your expectations for company holidays, working remote, sick days, and overtime? Remember to evaluate a job on what is offers your life in addition to your career.

7. Do you value routine, sleep and predictability, or moving up the corporate ladder? How long do you see yourself living this lifestyle? - The answer to this question can evolve over time. When you are starting out, you may prioritize your career with the understanding it will likely require more hours, potential travel or relocation, sleeping less, incurring more stress and having less free time. After a couple years in the field, you may look for positions with a more favorable work/life balance to make room for other areas of your life like hobbies, family, and travel.

8. What do I not want to do? - Are you an introvert who does not enjoy talking in front of large groups of people? Do you hate working in a certain design programs or mediums? Consider what elements factor into your worst nightmare job, sometimes knowing what you don’t want is the most effective way to steer you towards what you do want.

9. What are my professional and personal strengths and weaknesses? - What qualities or skills do you possess that you would like to tap into on a daily basis? What qualities or skills have room for improvement? Look for employment opportunities requesting candidates with your strengths and continue to find ways to improve in areas needing extra attention.

10. What do you want to be doing every day in five years in your personal life? In your professional life? - In addition to thinking about your career, it is vital to plan for your personal life aspirations. If you want to travel the world, have a family, prioritize health, or invest your time in causes your are passionate about, you will need a career to support those goals as well.  

Getting through these questions is vital to narrow in on your vision of the future. There is a common misconception that being open to doing anything and being willing to move anywhere will make it easier to find job opportunities. The truth is that route is overwhelming because the net you cast is too broad and shallow. Although it seems counter-intuitive, narrowing your scope actually makes finding a job less daunting because it gives you criteria to filter the millions of jobs out on the market. With a little bit of soul searching and a lotta bit of work, you will finally know what you really, really want and have the roadmap to make it happen.

Have you seen the video?

"Have you heard the new song by...?" "Yes! The music video is awesome!"

Ever since I can remember, music videos have been an important part of my interest in music. The visual personification of the story, the art direction, costuming, and special effects have always peaked my interest. Music videos seem to be these weird little time capsules where directors and designers get to go all out with a creative vision, sometimes it goes right and sometimes it goes really really wrong. 

Here are some of my favorites: 

1. Can't Stop by the Red Hot Chili Peppers – The art direction of this video is amazing. The one minute sculptures coming to life matches the energy and randomness that is the Red Hot Chili Peppers. These guys also look like they are having a blast. 

2. Chained to the Rhythm by Katy Perry – A politically charged song speaking about the climate of our country today, this video creates a dystopian amusement park where the patrons are all hamsters running on the wheel of life. This video follows the lyric video featuring only a hamster, making tiny food, running on it's wheel and watching TV. 

3. That's What I Like by Bruno Mars – Fantastic execution of Motion Graphics! 

4. Dani California by the Red Chili Peppers – This Grammy award winning video is an all-time favorite of mine. Celebrating Rock and Roll history, RHCP personifies the legends who came before them. 

6. Here It Goes Again by OK GO – This video was a viral sensation. Perfect example of a simple, yet genius idea. 

7. Single Ladies by Beyonce – Pretty sure I know every move to this dance. Another prime example of a simple idea with major impact. A while studio and three ladies straight killing it on the dance floor, Beyonce proves time and time again she is queen. 

8. Grown Woman by Beyonce – All hail Queen Bee. This video seamlessly transitions through periods of her life and with the use of CG even has young Beyonce singing along to the song. Too  cool. 

9. Thriller by Michael Jackson – This video is a perfect example of the power of music videos. With millions of views spanning the 30 years, these dance moves live on in all their MJ glory. 

Seven Minutes in Heaven – 2017 New Year's Resolution

Last year was the first year I had ever successfully carried through a New Year's resolution. It started out as a joke, but in the end it was extremely rewarding...I simply pledged to floss my teeth every night. HAHA. In my mind, I set the bar low. A quick daily task to add to my routine, with minimal effort and surprising exponential positive effects! I had the quickest and happiest dental check-up of my life (for the first time ever they did not tell me I needed to floss! LOL WUT), saw improvements in oral health, and my mouth cleaner than ever. YAS QUEEN.

So this year I am looking forward to setting the bar low again. Since I work in the digital space and spend the majority of my day looking at screens, I want to make the commitment to spending a minimum of seven minutes a day engaged in an analog creative/learning action. That could be reading a book, drawing or working on a craft, learning sign language, etc. Why seven minutes? Someone once told me when driving, 7mph is the perfect number to drive over the speed limit. It is going fast enough to get ahead of traffic, but not too fast to get pulled over. I figure the same rule applies for resolutions. Seven minutes is just enough to do a little something, but not too much where I would quit this resolution after a week. 

To hold myself accountable, I will post daily on my Instagram showing my seven minutes. I think I'll call the resolution, Seven Minutes in Heaven. ;) 

These are a Few of My Favorite Things! – A UX Project

For the past 28 weeks and for the next 24, I am taking a record of my favorite things. Growing up, I used to steal my mom's issues of Martha Stewart to read the "Good Things" section. I always loved to see the interesting food, utensils, decorations, places and more my creative idol was into at the moment. It always made me question, "what are my good things?" and think, "I need to keep a list like Martha!" 

Through the years, I did start to keep a my head. Looking for a new UX passion project, I thought it was finally time to share my internal list with the world. I am curious to understand the nature of preferences, if they are acquired organically or if they are dictated by the constraints of the individual's environment, or both. I am curious to see the fluctuation in data throughout the year, does the ratio of different kinds of favorites vary? Do I tend to be more into food in the summer? Do I tend to listen to the Red Hot Chili Peppers at the beginning of the month? Are there connections to be made between favorites or do they operate independently? 

At the end of this year long study, I want to build out an interactive site and some sort of printed piece. My goal for this project is to combine my love of research and thoughtful design into simple, beautiful interactive pieces and gain a better understanding of what I value most in life. The second phase of this project will be to expand this project to a wider scope of people, ask them to follow the same process. How will their results vary from mine and what does that say about them as a person? I am excited to see!

Everything Updates

And I never had a plan B. I never stopped believing. Ever. Don’t give up. Apply constant pressure for as long as it takes. It will break before you do. Go get it.
— Chris Pratt

This past week was a serious step forward in the "get my life together" department. My mom is so right, the first two weeks I do anything, I am always miserable and then week three is when it all starts to turn around. 

I made the commitment last Monday to start getting up at 6AM every morning for the rest of the school year and work out. Doing this for many reasons, but mostly to get active again and make myself get out of bed to start the day earlier. The productivity resulting from this schedule change has been insane! I have more energy throughout the day, I get more work done before class/work and I find I am in a better mood, bonus!  I do the Body Rock HIIT Max workout routine and it is absolutely amazing. The host Lisa is a total beast, true inspiration! Try it out if you dare...

The other catalyst setting my life into an overall overhaul was a wonderful Skype interview I had with a placement recruiter for a temp agency. He gave me a wealth of wonderful feedback on how to make my website, resume and overall brand stronger to better communicate my skills and experience. This guy was a gold mine and I am so happy with the results.

My resume now describes the full breadth of my skills and knowledge, honors, and still looks sexy while displaying more of the hard skills required for each job, listing more of my honors and awards. My new business cards have been rebranded to match the rest of my collateral, black and white, simple type with a strong grid. Got them from Moo during their annual sale, worth it when you are getting the Luxe edition. 

My website is still a work in progress but I now have detailed quick reference descriptions on every side bar detailing the project type, client, and software used. All in effort to make my experience more tangible, these changes serve to me more SEO friendly in hopes that when I apply for jobs, my application will surface first when recruiters are searching key terms. 

Website Overhaul

You get up early in the morning and you work all day. That’s the only secret.
— Phillip Glass

I saw this quote on AIGA's Eye on Design weekly email and it has been my mantra for the week. With finding a job being my main focus for the rest of the school year, I decided it was time to step up my website/life to showcase my graphic design work and organize my site in a way that better shows my versatility without taking focus off my main body of work.

I consider myself to be more of a generalist, I tend to dabble in many mediums and get super invested in whatever is captivating my attention at the moment. So much so, I sometimes think I want to pursue a different career path! But with each meander down a different road, I always find my way back to graphic design. It was not until last week that I fully understood this importance of this concept.

When I participated in Day of Design, our department's annual graphic design showcase, I showed a ton of work I was passionate about but was not necessarily graphic design. While I did receive some super encouraging positive feedback, I also got a fair number of comments from my professors asking, "what of this is actually graphic design?" I was so hellbent on showing what I was particularly jazzed about at the moment that I totally missed the point of the day. I thought showing those projects would show I was versatile. Sure, maybe showing one or two in addition to many other graphic design works. But when there were only two graphic design works and all the rest were "passion projects", it was clear I had brought a motorcycle to a car show. Appreciated, but ultimately, not the same. I was totally defeated. How could they have not picked me for an award? I work so hard! 

After having a lengthy, wallow-y phone call with my mom and a couple days of moping, I realized self-pity was getting me nowhere. I looked at my website and realized I was showing barely any graphic design work. I had outdated business cards that did not match my current branding and had gotten really lazy about staying invested in the graphic design community. Hellbent to make a one-week turnaround, I got to work. I took down any of my work that was not graphic design, I starting pulling out hidden gems of design work I had forgotten about, and even found a way to showcase my passion projects without pulling focus from my design work (shoutout to my good friend Will for the idea!).

So, it is now 6:00am on Friday morning, I am surprisingly not dead yet and my website is pretty much done! Wahoo! Business cards will be designed over break and I even managed to come up with my idea for thank you notes post-interview at 3 in the morning. It's been a humbling and productive couple of days! I don't know if anyone will ever read this stuff or if it will just be me spouting stuff off to an empty room, but I do have to say, what I lack in raw design talent, I surely make up for in dedication. I have to believe that is going to pay off. 

STA 468 Interactive Web Design: Project 1 - Abstract Version 3

Upon discussion with my peers and professor, there were comments made on the intention of the program, as well as the verbiage being incorrect in terms of stating scholarly conclusions. Taking these comments into consideration, I wrote a third draft of the abstract to position the intention of the program on the interaction of the guests and the alcohol education facilitated by SmartGlass, rather than focusing on SmartGlass and its technological features. I also retooled my language in the statement about the proven fact of ineffectiveness of alcohol education programs, as it is nearly impossible to have a fact statistically proven.

Alcohol education programs have not been associated with being effective in the prevention or overall decreased participation in the consumption of alcohol in college age students. The only positive outcome of these programs has been an increase in knowledge of the risks and effects. With the understanding these programs have failed to change behavior, I am proposing to create an alcohol education program held at Impression 5 children’s museum in Lansing, MI — a philanthropy event for groups/clubs/parties to learn about the science of alcohol and raise money for a cause of their choice. The event would be centered around team activities facilitated by SmartGlass, a barcode enabled shatterproof drink glass. SmartGlass will assist in taking a typically one-sided didactic encounter to an engaging evening of education exemplifying Impression 5’s core values – Play. Create. Challenge. Guests would use this glass to interact with exhibits specifically tailored to alcohol education, track their performance throughout the night, serve as a glass to hold their beverages, would be taken home to be used the key to unlocking their score of their overall performance and fundraising totals from the event through a microsite, and finally, function as a regular drink glass for future use. It is my hope this program will give college age students the tools and knowledge to safely enjoy alcohol while raising money for a good cause, and positioning Impression 5 as the premiere destination for alcohol education and philanthropic events for college age students.

STA 468 Interactive Web Design: Project 1 - Scholarly Research, Narrative Summary and Abstract Revision

Last week during critique, it was brought to my attention I was focusing the Narrative Summary in the wrong direction. The first draft was based around the drink interaction story rather than the heart of this project, alcohol education. I received feedback that my abstract was headed in the right direction but it was too sales pitchy and lacked the scholarly aspect in which is necessary for UURAF. I was encouraged to go back to the drawing board, find more scholarly research to use as a guide for my new direction. So here goes nothing: Scholarly findings and round two revisions below.

Scholarly Findings

Immediate results showed a definite curriculum impact for all students in the area of knowledge about alcohol and alcoholism. In addition, self-esteem was favorably affected for those in grades 5, 6, and 7. Decision making skills were improved for students in grades 6-12. Attitudes were least affected, although there was evidence that students in grade 8 and younger students changed somewhat toward favoring moderate drinking as opposed to excessive drinking. The program appeared most effective in intermediate grades, arguing for early intervention. Other influences, particularly parents, peers, and religion appeared to have a greater impact.
To be assured that a planned campus-wide alcohol awareness program did not create drug experimentation, a sample of 83 male and female college students was evaluated following exposure to the program. The education program included a film, values clarification exercises, and discussions. Results show that the program significantly increased the students’ knowledge of alcohol but had no effects on reported drinking behavior. It is concluded that this program can be used, but longitudinal studies of this and similar programs to determine long-range effects are recommended.
A review of studies on drug and alcohol education programs at the elementary school through university levels indicates that while it is relatively easy to increase drug knowledge, it is far more difficult to modify attitudes. While the most rigorous test of educational effectiveness involves subsequent drug usage, most studies have found no effect of drug education on usage.
The curriculum was implemented approximately as intended. The immediate, cumulative and longer-term effects of curriculum exposure on the variables thought to mediate alcohol use were modest or unsystematic. There was no consistent evidence of carryover effects from curriculum exposure on subsequent use of alcohol, cigarettes or other drugs. The curriculum was ineffective in attaining its goals.
The educational program was derived from social-psychological theory and etiological research on adolescent alcohol use. The program focused on the social and environmental influences to drink alcohol and skills to resist those influences. It consisted of five lessons over 2 months. Baseline and posttest data measured alcohol use knowledge, attitudes, skills, and friends’ drinking patterns. Data were collected immediately prior to and 2 months following the educational program. The data converge on the finding that peer-led education appears to be efficacious in reducing alcohol use across a variety of settings and cultures.
Outcome studies of the effectiveness of drug and alcohol education programs are reviewed. Studies were examined that dealt with student populations as well as adult programs. In addition, specific population variables and methods of presentation were evaluated for their impact on the education process. The data indicate that these programs have been ineffective in obtaining the goals of reducing substance abuse or preventing future abuse. Among student populations there is evidence to suggest that these programs may exacerbate the use and sale of drugs and alcohol. The data on programs with adults are more encouraging though far from conclusive.

Narrative Summary (Version 2) : Ellie

-Ellie gets a special package in the mail from her AIGA chapter. Inside the package is an invitation and a SmartGlass, a barcode enabled shatterproof drinking glass to be used at the event
-She has been invited to attend a philanthropy event, The Science of Alcohol, at Impression 5 put on by her AIGA chapter to raise money for their trip to Chicago. 
-On the back of the invitation there are instructions to register her smart glass on a microsite and bring the SmartGlass to the museum for the event. 
-Ellie goes to microsite and fills out her information -- SmartGlass number, name, age, height, weight, name of event, contact information. Site tells her in order to track her performance they need these details to calculate her statistics. 
-Goes to museum, pays admission fee and makes donation to the Chicago Trip fundraiser
-Prompted to SmartGlass check-in kiosk where she is asked to scan the barcode on the back of her SmartGlass. iPad/computer retrieves her information and asks her to check over to make sure everything is correct. If yes, screen will prompt Ellie to scan her driver's license for age verification. If Ellie is over 21, her cup will give her access to alcoholic drink choices at the drink dispensing stations. If Ellie is under 21 or has forgotten her ID, her cup will not allow her to have access to alcoholic drink choices at the dispensing stations. 
-Meets up with AIGA student group and proceeds into museum
-Impression 5 employee greets group and explains how the evening will run. Talks to them about how they will go through exhibits to test their knowledge behind the science of alcohol 
-Impression 5 employee takes group over to the Bartendro drink station. Explains how the machine works with the SmartGlass. Using the barcode scanner to unlock the drink list, each guest can choose their own drink -- much like the Coke Remix drink machines -- and it will be poured right before their eyes. If they run out of their allotted number of drinks -- predetermined number set by group -- they will be able to purchase more 
-Group gets their drinks: some getting alcoholic beverages, some not
-Group proceeds to first station: Body Function Breakdown -this exhibit will show the effects on each system in the body based on the drinks consumed. This is a team activity following the night of a college freshman, Joey. Guests use their SmartGlass to progress the story and see how their drinks affect the different internal systems throughout Joey's evening. With each drink Joey's body chemistry will change and the game will end either when Joey's night is over or if Joey dies. The game will show the affects on Joey's body through images of each internal system as well as his out physical appearance. Because each group of guests playing the game will have a different group of drinks, Joey's night will be different every time. Guests can play multiple times to see if they can get him through the night with a safe alcohol level. 
-Group proceeds to second station: Precise Pour. This activity will take place in the water room and will test if guests really know proper serving sizes. Each guest will be given a drink list, mixers -- empty liquor bottles with liquids of different densities so when the drink is mixed, they will be able to see the ratios -- and shatterproof glasses provided for use by SmartGlass. Guests will go through drink list -- as the list progresses, it becomes more difficult. Adding more mixers or unusual alcohol volumes. After they make each drink the Impression 5 employee will show correct ratio for each drink. The guest who was closest to the correct ratio will scan their SmartGlass and earn points towards their overall score. At the end of the activity, the Impression 5 employee will provide stickers for the SmartGlass to mark common drink volumes -- a shot, two shots, an 8 oz pour, etc. 
-Group proceeds to third station: Throwing Things. Guests will break into two teams, Drinkers and Non-Drinkers. Guests will interact scan their glass to enable the technology of each turn. They will first start out on the speed activity, guests will scan their glass to begin their turn and throw 20 tennis balls at the target as fast as they can. Once the whole group goes through, one team will be determined the winners and the Impression 5 employee will talk to them briefly about the affect alcohol has on speed and reaction times, prompting them to reflect on the difference between the outcomes of those who drank and those did not. The group would then proceed to the tennis ball launch. Guests will scan their glass to begin their turn and have to shoot as many of the targets as possible in one minute. Once the group finishes, the Impression 5 employee would talk about reaction times, accuracy in terms of alcoholic affect. 
-Group proceeds to fourth station: Building Blocks. Guests will break up again into their teams and compete to build a series of structures out of a variety of blocks. They will be scored on accuracy and time. Impression 5 employee will talk about effects of alcohol on brain activity and precision, fine motor skills and emotional effects. The team with the most points will win and their cups will be scanned to add to their overall score. 
-Event ends and group is prompted to check out the microsite to see who will be crowned champion of Science of Alcohol event. 
-Ellie pulls up the microsite on her phone and sees she has been named champion! She has the option to review her performance at each activity and can choose to have an inforgraphic created as a summary of her evening that she can download, print, or post to social media. She is prompted to keep her SmartGlass as a souvenir of her evening and encourage her to use it again and again! (Handwash only) 

Abstract (Version Two)

It is statistically proven Alcohol Education programs are ineffective in the prevention or overall decreased participation in the consumption of alcohol in college age students. The only positive outcome of these programs has been an increase in knowledge of the risks and effects. So with the understanding these programs have failed to change behavior, I have come up with a proposal to capitalize on the increase in knowledge and make an alcohol education program that is interactive, fun and focused on the science of alcohol rather than alcohol prevention. The program would be held at Impression 5 children’s museum in Lansing, MI and would be philanthropy event for groups/clubs/parties to learn about the science of alcohol and raise money for a cause of their choice. The event would be centered around SmartGlass, a barcode enabled shatterproof drink glass. Guests would use this glass to interact with exhibits, track their performance throughout the night, serve as a glass to hold their beverages, then be taken home to serve as the key to unlocking their score of their overall performance and fundraising totals from the event through a microsite, and finally, function as a regular drink glass for future use. It is my hope this program will give college age students the understanding of the chemistry behind their favorite adult beverages, give them the tools to safely enjoy alcohol while raising money for a good cause.

STA 468 Interactive Web Design: Project 1 - First Draft Narrative Summary, Abstract First Attempt, & Beginning Wireframes

For this portion of the assignment, we have been tasked to begin to flush out a narrative summary or storyboard an encounter with our UX tool as it might appear in a commercial or informational video. This helps to figure out what parts of the interface need to be designed to show the functionality of the tool. Also, for entry into UURAF, each student must have an abstract summing up their research project, so there is a couple of my first attempts coming from a couple different angles. Finally, we have been asked to begin wireframing.

Narrative Summary: Ellie 

-Ellie gets invited to attend a philanthropy event at Impression 5 put on by her AIGA chapter to raise money for their trip to Chicago
-Goes to museum, gets glass at admission counter, pays - donates to the cause
-Directed to tablet/computer to sign in
-Scan RFID chip on back/bottom of cup - brings up tracking number - prompts driver's license scan
-Once ID is scanned - if over 21, cup is coded for alcoholic beverage consumption or non - alcoholic beverage consumption if guest chooses not to consume alcohol
-If under 21 or guest does not have ID, cup is coded for non-alcoholic beverages only, drink machines will not allow dispensing of alcohol, and drink list will not show options of those drink options either
-Screen prompts to fill in basic info with brief explanation of why each piece of information is needed - name, age, height, name of event, contact information. Screen pops up telling Ellie to keep her cup after the event to view her performance at the end of the night, reminded to follow microsite on back of cup once event is over to see results.
-Ellie proceeds into museum and meets up with group
-Proceeds to Bartendro to get first drink
-Place drink down, scanner scans RFID chip. Ellie chooses drink from drink list and makes it - cup/data tracking on Bartendro work together to record her drink preference, the time, what number drink she is on, etc.
-Ellie goes to first station - Typing and Reaction times - must scan glass to activate exhibit to engage. Goes through activity, outcome is recorded to the cup and saved
-Goes to other exhibits - Balance, Throwing Things, etc. Cup acts as activator, data tracker
-Ellie gets more drinks - repeats data record process
-Ellie goes back to Bartendro to find out she has run out of drinks. Screen prompts her to buy more drinks a la carte or switch to water. Ellie decides she wants another drink, so she swipes credit card on the Square credit card reader attached to the iPad to pay Bartendro.
-Evening ends and Ellie goes home. Ellie goes to microsite to see her performance. Microsite creates her infographic based on her results and can now print her infographic results or post to social media etc. 
-Screen then prompts a reminder for Ellie to save her cup because it can be used again! Bring back to the museum for more events or keep for personal use. Handwash only.  


Abstract First Attempt

Are you tired of being told drinking is going to kill you? Are you sick of alcohol education programs? You know anything is safe in moderation, but what are those adults really so scared of? Well now is your chance to get some cold, hard facts. Impression 5 wants to offer college age students a unique opportunity to learn about the science of alcohol. Test your skills in a controlled environment, see how drinking really effects your body and what could really happen to you. This project is an exploration of guest interaction with a tool or campaign to engage users before and after they visited the museum. My proposal? SmartGlass. SmartGlass is an RFID-chip enabled, shatterproof, reusable drinkware that goes far beyond holding a brew or other mixed drink. SmartGlass is a multi-purpose tool for data collection on the back end, but serve as the sole engagement tool on the user end. Guests will interact with exhibits and activities through the use of SmartGlass as the key/start point, while also safely enjoying alcoholic beverages in a controlled environment.

Impression 5 identified an critical target market they were having trouble engaging, college students. They also mentioned they struggle to engage with the university because of proximity and funding. Push most of their finances toward their largest population of their guest base — children ages 4-12. This presented the perfect opportunity to come up with an engagement tool working within the constraints of sticking to their motto of “play. create. challenge.”, engage a college/adult guest population, minimize cost and create a sustainable program promoting accessible scientific education.



STA 468 Interactive Web Design: Project 1 - Three Proposals for Design Intervention and Scholarly Research

For this point in the process, we have been charged to come up with three proposals for pre and post-visit UX engagement with our target persona. After critique last week with my peers and discussion with my professor, I came to the decision to focus on my college student persona, Ellie. (See previous post to get more information about Ellie and personas.) 

The goal for this part of the assignment was to come up with three different technologies or tools for engagement, but I took it in another direction. With the approval of my professor, I instead came up with three scenarios for college students to engage with the museum using one specific tool. As I am writing this post, I now realize, for each of these scenarios, I should come up with a persona to target, as "college student" is much too broad. I will do that in the following post! 

Before I launch into each scenario, I first want to explain the tool I have in mind for engagement. I think as a whole, companies can no longer simply resting on having "the app", visiting their social media, or going to the website to create interest and additional interaction. Guests are not impressed by those features anymore, in fact, they expect a company to have them. What I realized, it's not about the app or the website, it's about the higher level of interaction and engagement those pieces of technology were prompting. So taking a step back, I wanted something analog, something tangible, but with the capability to interact with apps and compute data, but it would not be the main feature. Something a guest might receive in the mail with minimal information to peak their interest, bring to the museum and use in some sort of way to interact with the exhibits, then have something to take home to remember the experience.

When I was a freshman, I took an internship at Shake Shack. In the restaurant, they served wine in these branded plastic stemless wine glasses.

I always thought that was a cool way to put out the product and many people liked to take them back home with them -- especially tourists -- to remember their visit to such an iconic food establishment. These glasses came back into my mind when I was coming up with ideas for interaction tool. 

I knew I wanted to alcohol to be a main feature of this experience. From observation (and maybe from personal experience), college kids love to drink and love to go out and have fun with friends. So why not create an environment where they could get a little fancy and play with their favorite people in a safe place? 

With this idea in mind, I decided my interaction tool would be a plastic drink glass with an embedded RFID chip.

This glass would be like the Shake Shack wine glasses where they would be shatter-proof and branded with the Impression 5 logo with any additional information needed so guests would feel comfortable to interact in the museum without fear of breaking the glass. The chip would be used to gather information for internal and customer-facing interaction. Each cup would have a specific tracking number, and when the guest receives the cup, they would be prompted to go to a microsite to fill out some basic information -- name, age, contact information, what event they will be attending -- so when they came to the museum they would be set up to properly engage with the exhibits.

In the actual museum there would be precise pour drink stations featuring alcoholic beverages of the guests choice. Upon research, there are many options to choose from for precise-pour stations, depending on the budget and level of customization. My recommendations for machines to consider would be Bartendro and Beerjet.

Bartendro is a "precision cocktail dispensing robot...making tasty drinks quickly and repeatably without the mess." It can serve up to 200 cocktails in one evening and takes less than 10 seconds per drink. The UX is open source and can be customized per event and offers data tacking. 

Beerjet is an automated beer dispensor from Austria, pouring beers in any size in record time. 

No matter the direction Impression 5 was looking to go, there are technologies in place to facilitate their users drink preferences. I think Bartendro might be a better fit as it has the capabilities to add data tracking features and build on the existing program platform for customized use. 

There would be some sort of scanner, alerting the precise pour machine the guest had put their cup down to be filled. On the customer-facing side the chip would enable the machine to greet the guest by name and create their drink. For internal data tracking, the chip would collect data on how many drinks the guest has had, what they ordered, timing/frequency of drinks, or any other data tracking information the museum would like. With this information, they could get a sense of the typical amount of drinks their guests have in one evening, what the most popular drinks were, how quickly guests consumed the drinks, and what refill patterns were.

Also, the glass would act as a key feature of interaction with each exhibit. It could act as a key to unlock some special activity or it could act as the activation to start a task. The guest would either be prompted to set down their glass on the scanner to interact handsfree or they would scan their glass and continue with the exhibit while still enjoying their beverage. Using the glass in this way, the museum could collect data on traffic flow, how long people stayed at each exhibit, or any other data information museum wanted. 

So with this "smart glass", let's delve into how it would be used in the three scenarios: a birthday party, open museum night, and a philanthropy event. 

Scenario 1: Birthday Party

For the birthday party idea, the guests would receive the glass in the mail as the invitation. They would receive the information for the party as well as instructions on going to the microsite to fill out their contact information and bringing the glass to the museum. For the party, the person planning would set a specific number of drinks allotted per person, so when the guests arrive they would not have to pay up to a certain amount of drinks. The guests for the party would have a specific set of games or exhibits to interact with as a sort of obstacle course and once they had made it all the way through, they would be able to "unlock" the special birthday surprise (a birthday cake!).

Scenario 2: Open Museum Night

For open museum night, guests over 21 would be invited to come enjoy the museum as is while enjoying adult beverages. When they purchase their admission, they would receive the glass and would be prompted to fill out the information on the microsite. There would be a set number of beverages allotted with admission and additional drinks would be available for purchase. In this setting, they would be able to embrace their inner child while still enjoying the best parts about being a big kid. 

Scenario 3: Philanthropy Event

For the philanthropy event, the museum would be able to be reserved for the evening for student groups or clubs, fraternities or sororities for a fun evening of alcohol education with a cause. The group would book the event and be able to add a fund-raising option. (If the group opts for the fundraising option, there would be one dollar added to the admission fee and would be donated to the chosen cause.) Like the open museum hours, the guest would receive the glasses upon admission and would fill out their contact information on-site. Instead of simply interacting with the museum as is, there would be specific activities in place for alcohol education. The activities could challenges or tasks to go through while drinking, to test abilities while intoxicated. The guests would be able to engage in hands-on experiences to see the affects of alcohol on the human body and the science behind it. 

For all of the scenarios, the guests would be encouraged to take their glasses with them for a couple reasons: the glass would act as a free marketing tool/conversation piece, the glass is reusable and could be brought back and used again, and the guests could follow the website printed on the glass to see their statistics/data tracked on their experience. They website would post a summary of their visit in an infographic that they could download, post to social media or send in an email. The infographic would cover their interaction specific to their scenario. For the birthday party, it would post their ranking in the obstacle course, their performance, how many drinks they had, how their performance was affected linked to alcohol consumption. For the open museum hours, the infographic could be more focused on what exhibits they interacted with as well as the drink stats and their performance. Finally, for the philanthropy event, the infographic would feature the funds raisied through the event, their personal performance in the activities, their drink stats, and maybe even a letter grade in the context of their alcohol education.

STA 468 Interactive Web Design: Project 1 - Personas, Experience Map, and Prelimenary Scholarly Research

For this portion of the project we were charged to delve deeper into the UX process with the creation of personas, an experience map, and beginning to research.

After creating about eight personas, I narrowed it down to three. They are Jimmy, Timmy and Ellie. 

Jimmy and Timmy


11 years old - 5th grade - very active - loves all sports - dominant personality - a bit aggressive - very boyish boy, likes to get dirty, work with his hands, be outside, play sports, or accomplishing a competitive goal - utilitarian dresser, whatever mom picks out is fine


9 years old - 3rd grade - very active - likes anything Jimmy likes - more submissive and eager to please - boyish boy by nature, but mainly just wants to be like Jimmy, deep down he has a wider range of interests but he'd rather spend time with Jimmy then be alone doing what he likes - cares more about his appearance, secretly likes to pick out his own clothes but because Jimmy thinks it's lame, Timmy lets his mom pick his clothes now too


22 years old - College Senior - very busy student, engaged in school work and clubs - creative spirit, like to be engaged in any type of art - very mature and professional when it counts, but really a child at heart - loves kids - loves trying new experiences but typically does not invest in full time memberships - frugal, raised to be money conscious and make calculated expenditures - eccentric, from clothing to life experiences, she is adventurous

The next step in the assignment was to create an experience map. After looking into the works of other UX designers, specifically Adaptive Path's work for the Exploratorium in San Francisco, I created my own take on the Experience Map by plotting each touchpoint in the pre-visit, visit, and post-visit stages and creating a table breaking down the personas unique museum experience.

The final portion was beginning our scholarly research. To get a better understanding of the Information Architecture and UX design process, I decided to get the answers right from the source. I went the Impression 5 contact page and was able to find a detailed list of the staff and began to reach out to multiple people requesting a moment of their time to ask some questions. 

I was able to conduct one interview already with Matt Hill, the Exhibits Team Leader. Here are some of his comments from the interview:

We try not to make the IA too text heavy... we want to get it to the point we are trying. We know if there is too much information kids are less likely to read.

Some [exhibits] do require instruction on use. [We make] the judgement call of when to include text instructions or ask questions to get them to think.

Within the last few years [Impression 5] has been working under the motto, “Play. Create. Challenge.” We want people to play, it’s something they enjoy, and they can learn without knowing. In each area, we give [guests] the chance to create, whether its building with blocks or even just making bubbles. Also, in each exhibit, we want them to try something new or challenge their thinking.

[Impression 5] is in the process of a five year programs of replacing or updating all of the exhibits.”Play. Create. Challenge.” has been our starting point for redesigning the exhibits. We have a UX specialist who spends a lot of time studying how people read labels, interact with the space, what they respond best to, he is our jumping off point. Our best method we have found to make changes is through observation. We try to see how well [a feature] works with people, testing, prototyping, bringing out simple versions of the exhibit. Depending on content, we cannot assume a level of knowledge [for each guest], so it’s important to observe, then go back and make changes to improve.

We are trying to get a consistent theme or deliverable method... which is difficult to do with diverse age groups.

The groups [Impression 5] targets is up to age 12, we really try to reach every age in that [age group]. For example, in the MiNature exhibit, there are low tables for small children and high tables for older children. There is also a room specifically for ages 0-four, called the First Impression room. There is a little water table, soft materials, basically a safer area for them to explore.

We have found the most popular exhibits are the ones that are most play oriented. They are more engaging. In some of the older, less popular exhibits, there is not a lot to interact with the user, and it gets boring. We found when we get more elements going or [the exhibit] is more open ended, it’s more successful. For example, the Throwing Things exhibit began as a prototype and has been there for over 10 years now. It is still one of our most popular exhibits, and that is because it is very engaging. Or the Bubble Table, lots of kids can get around it at once and use [the bubble wands.] Or the Bubble Tube, kids like to see how many of them can fit in at once. None of this interaction is instructed, it happens [naturally.]

We [now] do try to make exhibits where parents can engage their kids and work together. It is valuable if a family group can learn together because the parents know how to teach their child best. We want to give them a place where they can engage to foster learning.

In terms of interactions pre and post visit, we do encourage membership upon entrance during the admissions process. Especially when talking to a large family who are regular patrons, it is beneficial for them from a financial standpoint and it is really just great for both parties. We also do have pamphlets and signage around the building, being a member does grant you access to other science museums for free or for a small fee.

STA 468 Interactive Web Design: Project 1 - Experience and Information Architecture

As per the syllabus, our first project in Interactive Web Design is as follows: 

project 01 - asynchronous systems for museum
visitor engagement (pre- and post-visit)
• jump into the deep end of a holistic interaction design
• consider interaction design from a systems perspective
integrating multiple touchpoints
• gain familiarity with various aspects of the interaction
design process, including, but not limited to: content
inventories, personas, user journeys, wireframes, and
design gestures.
• practice designing from a user- (in this case visitor-) centered
• practice presentation skills.
• synthesize existing research and original design work
to develop a contestable, defensible, and substantive
scholarly contribution to be presented at the University
Undergraduate Arts and Research Forum.

The first step in this project was to pick a museum exhibit, within a reasonable distance of Lansing in order to be able to visit, experience and collect data about their information architecture practices. With these rather broad guidelines in mind, I set out to find a museum I felt would facilitate my artistic style and interests.

Growing up, I did not visit many museums and it still is something I must force myself to experience. Looking inward into this particular behavior, I realized what I disliked was the stagnant nature of museums. I felt I was not being engaged and lost interest quickly when I would visit. I lacked the patience to study a piece of work unless I was part of a guided tour where more information was given into the history or artist.

But there was one museum in particular I have always loved, The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. The whole museum is interactive, full of hands on projects for guests and best of all, they had a massive chick incubator shaped like a space ship. I would beg my mom to let me stay just a moment more, watch another chick hatch, smash my face against the warm glass dying to touch their fuzzy little chick bodies.

Remembering this fond memory, I knew I wanted to focus my project around an exhibit at a children's museum. Upon researching all of the museums geared specifically towards children, I settled on Impressions 5 because of its proximity to campus and the rave reviews I had read and heard from friends. 

So on Sunday, I ventured over for an afternoon of play. What I came to discover was a vastly interactive space, with seemingly minimal amounts of information. In each different exhibit, there were instructions or pictures to give the children inspiration for interacting with the items, but I think the choice to have a rather removed information architecture was intentional. Leaving out the instructions gives the little guests the opportunity to let their imagination run wild, to make connections and discoveries into their senses and experience science rather than just reading about the topic. 

I worked my way through the whole museum, embracing my inner child and exploring what caught my eye. I played with blocks and pipes, blew bubbles and even made a butterfly life cycle out of noodles and colored cotton balls! After some serious play, I took a closer look into the museum's approach to the information architecture. I studied how they presented the information, the detail of the information, and what visual aids, touchpoints or prompts were given to engage the viewer. As well, I studied the interactions of the little guests to see how they responded to the information, did they notice it? Was their experience intuitive? Did they dive in, do it wrong and cycle back to the instructions for help?

I found in most cases, the text was not more than a sentence or two accompanied with many pictures and drawings, suggestions for action, or next steps in activity. As I mentioned before, this tactic was successful because it accurately catered to the viewer. Children are likely not yet skilled readers and most times will not last more than a couples sentences. Not to mention, when there are toys around, children typically blow right past the text and just make up what they are going to do as they go. Knowing this, the museum layout was extremely child-friendly. Low tables, big pictures, bright colors, soft fabrics and floors, workstations where many children could interact at one time, etc.

If I was to rate this museum on it's understanding and execution of UI, I would give it a 9/10. The design team very clearly understood their audience and created an environment of engaged learning that feels like it's all play. The reason Impressions 5 lost the final point, boiled down to two problems: 1. Impossible Expectations: In some of the exhibits, they would have diagrams of shapes or structures to build, but in many cases, the necessary pieces were not available. I spent over 40 minutes in a build site in a huge pile of PVC pipes, so embarrassed I could not build a cube. When I came to the discovery they did not have the corner pieces needed to even create a cube! I was relieved as I felt like a failure, but it made me frustrated for the kids who had to have experienced my same frustration and given up. 2. Exhibit Upkeep: This is closely tied to the first problem, if each of the exhibits were better maintained, the first problem could be avoided altogether. Having the correct pieces to complete the tasks should be a given, the fact I even have to bring it up is a big problem. This only made the museum look unprofessional. 

I will have to revisit the museum again to study the information architecture closer once I have settled on a specific exhibit for the focus of my project. At this point, I am very interested in the Bubble Room because I had the most fun playing there, but thinking from a logical standpoint, I want to investigate what new exhibits they have opening and consider focusing my work in that way instead. In a real world experience, a museum would be sending out marketing materials to their members to drum up excitement, so it could be fruitful to simulate that design process.