UI/UX and Web design, Identity design, Video production and Invision
Illustrator, Photoshop, Premiere, After effects, Sketch, Invision, Unity and Vuforia
6 weeks group project with Bori Lee, Willow Hong, Ming Xing and MacKenzie Cherban
Ixd Studio, Carnegie Mellon University, Fall 2016
Instructor: Austin Lee
Discover, Participate, Connect
After getting to know the city and its inhabitants with firsthand research, we found that Pittsburghers typically find out about gatherings through word of mouth, social media, or flyers they see in social gathering places. But all of these methods still keep people in their bubbles because these people don’t have exposure to happenings outside of their immediate social circle or physical location. We tried to bypass these physical constraints of interaction by reinforcing the benefits of physical modes of information dissemination — flyers. GATHR, which takes event data that is found on physical flyers and creates an online directory, supplements traditional ways of becoming part of the community by bridging individuals with the happenings going on in their city.
With GATHR, we aim to help people to open up their bubble with publicly accessible event data that is crowdsourced and easily searchable.
The GATHR System
GATHR is comprised of a web-based application as well as a mobile-based application. Through the both touch points, registered users can discover events and special interest groups around them. By hitting “count me in” to events, they can also manage the events on their personal feed and quickly synchronize the information to external calendar or messaging apps like Google Calendar and iMessage.
Through the mobile application, users of GATHR can discover the events based on their interest’s preferences and store flagged flyers in their feed. To participate, user can contribute back to their community through posting events and flyers around them to the application. Using AR view and text recognition function, user can quickly view if flyers have been posted or add new flyers to the system.
Through the web application, users can search events based on geographic location on a map without register. With advanced filters including date, category and neighborhoods. With an intuitive and easy-to-use GUI, GATHR makes it easy for people to discover the interest groups around them while making it easy to follow through with their commitments.
For everyday users, the benefit of using GATHR is much like that of using other crowdsourced review platforms like Yelp. With enough momentum, GATHR can act as a trusted source of local events for the neighborhoods and as an easily accessible form of advertisement for those businesses and organizations that lack advertising budget. For local businesses, GATHR can supplement their current efforts at advertising by displaying their marketing content on a more widely accessible platform. For local gathering places like cafes and community centers, GATHR can help them keep track of the businesses they are helping to promote through the tagging function of the app. For example, posters of local events uploaded from a business like Zeke’s Coffee (East Liberty) will have Zeke’s geotag on the poster. This way, users of GATHR can discover more posters from Zeke’s through our search function, and therefore bring more awareness to this local gathering place as a result.
We propose several initiatives to get the word out on GATHR. 1) A grassroots marketing initiative involving locally-relevant graphical postcards and free GATHR-branded pins to local businesses to promote the platform. 2) publicity events involving boothing at public events (like Yelp’s events and makerfaires) and social media initiatives to involve the public in our platform. 3) an analytics function for local businesses to help them track the popularity of their events and the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns. For example, we propose to create a resource platform for local businesses and organizations to create their own aesthetically-pleasing marketing materials (with templates, design advice, and a design consulting service) on our platform.
At the beginning of our explorations, we were curious to learn how new residents of as well as longer-term residents of Pittsburgh viewed the city. Since Pittsburgh is becoming a city that newcomers are flocking to, and we were interested in learning about the challenges surrounding these social changes. As relatively new residents of Pittsburgh ourselves, we started to explore the city for ourselves. We designed a 8 hours route to explore the most diverse neighborhoods of the city. Please check out our process bog post to see our adventure in detail.
KEY QUESTIONS: 1) How do Newcomers’ view Pittsburgh? 2) What is the native residents’ perception to today’s Pittsburgh? 3) How did they make connections, and were they interested in making friends with the ‘other’ group?
In order to understand the dynamics of the city and it’s citizens more in depth, we conducted interviews with community leaders and organizations, students, working professionals, and long-time residents. Our interviews consisted of : 16 Newcomers; 1 transient; 3 locals; 1 expert. Through interviews, we found out that they want to know more about the local area, but stated it’s hard to find information. In addition they rarely have the chance to break out of their social and geographic “bubbles.” In our conversations with locals and experts, we found that a “human-in” is one of the most common ways they are connected with new people, breaking them out of their “bubbles.”
After visiting 5 neighborhoods and conducting interviews with 21 individuals, we learned not only about the city of Pittsburgh, but also the people who live here. Through affinity diagramming, we clustered our findings and points of interest and found some common themes that emerged from our research:
Each neighborhood has a strong sense of community and culture, this was evident in both the observational research as well as in the interviews. There were also many mentions of the city’s changing identity, both for the good and bad, we wondered how we might go about addressing this. The expressed interest in being connected to both the city and what it has to offer as well as each other influenced our design directions, helping to guide us in our ideation.
● Enhancing neighborhood identity
In the face of so much change, how can we help preserve and promote that which is good in Pittsburgh?
● Mediating change
How do we make the transitions involved in change more inclusive for the communities?
● Promoting humanness
How can we create impact while keeping the interactions humane and accessible?
From key question, we brainstormed many ideas ranging from physical installation to space projections. Our concepts aimed to bring the people in Pittsburgh out of their bubble and to discover what the city offers while meeting other residents. We learned from making and testing out ideas in low-fidelity formats.
We realized that during our explorations of Pittsburgh's neighborhoods many neighborhood gathering places such as coffee shop or community centers have flyer boards promoting community events. Flyers are hyperlocal, grassroots efforts by local business and residents, often lacking the ability to be viewed by anyone not in the immediate area. They are excellent resources for discovering what a neighborhood, as well as the city, has to offer. We realized that these flyers are only exposed in certain population of viewers due to the space constrains. Even though the community boards are great source to get information, it might further segregate communities because events are only advertised to those who are exposed to the content.
Therefore, we aim to strengthen the relationship between flyer boards and community events by developing a digital complement to the physical medium that is print flyers.
JOURNEY AND SYSTEM MAPPING
To explore how to relate the physicality of local posters to Pittsburgh at a broader scale, we started with competitive analysis of event platform like Facebook, Yelp and Craigslist, and MeetUp. Based on analysis, we developed and iterated a user journey and system map. Through many iterations of sketches, information architecture, and wireframes, we developed the framework of the GATHR system for visual refinement.
By embedding AR layer over physical flyers, users would be able to recognize if a flyer was already tagged and stored in the system or not at a glance. AR mode is compatible with camera mode, which require no extra works for users. Users also can get extra information about the events through 3D objects, audio and video. Using Unity and Vuforia, our team successfully embed 3D objects to audio to give extra information about the events when users scan flyers.
Through cohesive branding strategies and public recognition, we believe that GATHR can expand to other metropolitan areas that also exhibit strong neighborhood identities in the form of print materials.