Team: Sarah Brown, Logan Cundiff, Emma Drobina

As part of the User Experience Design class at University of Florida, students worked with an industry client to solve a real-world design problem. My group partnered with Immersed Games, a local startup that builds educational games for middle schoolers with a focus on empowering students to learn at their own pace as they interact with their peers and progress through a game. Immersed Games’ flagship product is Tyto Online, an educational massively multiplayer online roleplaying game (MMORPG) where each student takes the role of an refugee from Earth who has recently arrived to the planet of Ovo. The player can explore three modules of content – ecology, growth & genetics, and cells & organisms – and in doing do, help both the scientists of Ovo and their fellow refugees as they learn about the native life that inhabits Ovo and Earth. They asked my team to redesign the user interface with three major goals in mind:

  1. to redesign the user interface (UI) so that the game could be played on mobile devices with touchscreens, such as tablet-convertible Chromebooks and Android tablets,
  2. to simplify the UI so that the design is easier for students and teachers to use,
  3. to create a UI design that could be generalized to desktops and laptops as well as mobile devices.

We completed the design process from beginning to end, starting by conducting a focus group with six homeschool students recruited by Immersed Games. Following this, we created affinity diagrams of the opportunities and breakdowns that their responses showed, and extracted user needs for the rest of the project. We explored personas and storyboards, as an exercise in putting ourselves in the mind of a typical user of Tyto Online and thinking about how they would experience the app.

Sonni Ocampo: Age 13, Grade 7th; Day in the Life: Sonni is a hyper teenager who doesn’t like to sit still for long. He reads and scores well above his grade level, but gets in trouble a lot at school for not being quiet. Sonni is social and enjoys hanging out with friends in person or online. He will often never beat the game as he enjoys just interacting with the characters and the world. He only takes on quests and missions if he wants the reward or if the quest allows him to explore someplace new. ; Motivations: Exploring new environments, Making his character look cool, Competing with his friends; Frustrations: Reading tutorials, Too many rules, Getting stuck on a section of a game; Key User Needs: To understand the game, To know what actions are available, To effectively interact with other users

A persona for Sonni, a typical user.

Using these artifacts as a tool to guide us, we brainstormed ideas and created a series of wireframes.

At several points in the design process, we presented our ideas and wireframes to Immersed Games and to our classmates in different groups. We used this information to create an interactive prototype of our new interface design, and then further refined the prototype via two rounds of user testing.

After our prototype was complete, we presented it to Immersed Games at the final class showcase. Following that, we provided Immersed Games with our prototype and the documentation we created explaining our design process.

This project let me draw upon my past experience working with an industry client that I developed during my Capstone Project (semester one, semester two). Additionally, I was able to refine many of the design skills I learned during the Capstone Project and Ward One –  I created the color scheme we used in our storyboards and in our app, and I was able to improve my skills at drawing wireframes and rapid design iteration. Furthermore, I learned more about design skills I was previously unfamiliar with, including the use of affinity diagrams and personas, as well as software such as Balsamiq, Mockplus, and Axure. I was also the primary author of our design documentation, which proved to be an opportunity to practice explaining the reasons behind our design choices in a concise, clear manner.