Cocoon App

By | Design Theory, Inspiration, Interaction Design, Product Design, Research | No Comments

cocoon-1From smart dishwashers to light control apps, CES the past few years has forecasted that home automation will be a huge part of our future. As part of my User Experience studies, I became drawn to the idea of home robotics and apps. I had little experience personally, so I started researching different types of automation hardware and software. It’s fascinating that we can change our home’s features by integrating technology into different aspects of a house. I decided to concept my own home automation app for IOS and the Apple Watch.

There is a lot of great preexisting software that aims to help users improve their home. One great app is called Nest, the “learning thermostat”. Nest App has a clear focus on controlling your home’s temperature. The focus is clear, and the copy and UX is easy. The app uses engaging language and features like add and organize your presets. Another app I researched was Insteon Hub. Insteon Hub had more diversified offerings, like access to sensors, energy monitor systems and lighting presets. Another app that I found interesting was Control4 app. The app is uniquely personalized, you can input how you like your lights, how you prefer to listen to music, watch TV and feelsecure. Control4 gives you a way to control your home, from anywhere. I found this delightful because it feels as though the apps mission is simply to enhance your home. It helped inspire me because home automation ultimately has the power to improve the way you play music, control your pool and spa, cook in your kitchen and find safety in your home.

I started the project by exploring on what excites users about improving their home experience with technology. Is our society feel drawn to invest in home automation’s often expensive technology? Why are some hesitant or uninterested? I studied a few hundred of my friends, coworkers and classmates to gauge if and why people are using home automation technology. I found many people didn’t feel a need, or even think about investing in adding new tech to their home or apartments. While many thought that the idea was good, it wasn’t enough for to make the leap. I also found some people who had invested, but weren’t using the technology habitually.

After researching, I started to develop personas, journey maps and do exercises like card sorting to help me understand what to make of my discoveries. Based on my findings, I ultimately decided to focus on creating an app that humanizes and gamifies the home automation experience. I ended up developing a concept of an app that uses algorithms that learns users’ behaviors and with those algorithms make recommendations to users in an authentic, personal way. For example, it could make recipe recommendations based on refrigerator inventory or develop a playlist based on the music you play while getting ready for you. As well, my second finding the need to humanize the different attributes of the app by having each service and suggestion be guided by a character; the butler for home cleaning, DJ for your speakers and chef for your refrigerator inventory.

I saw that people had a hard time making a habitout of home automation. By personifying the experience, it was a way for users to better connect with the technology personally. I went to a talk recently by UX Designer Megan Fisher. She talked about how the use of a face makes a huge impact on a user and helps them connect with a product long-term.

There has been a trend in artificial intelligence becoming a part of discovery, and that feeling of connecting with a ‘person’ has become a part of our culture. But by developing unique character sets in complicated or uncommon technology, I believe it would ultimately guide the user. It’s comforting to feel as though you have a team behind you, working with you to build a better home and life.

As well, I noted that many users were drawn to the fantasy-like experiences of home automation that they had seen in the movies. I modeled the app with inspiration from movies like ‘smart home’, and the Jetsons. You can get recommendations and plan in advanced the food, music and home settings for pool parties, movie nights or an evening at home cooking. All personalized and calculated by your team of home experts.



Adobe Max 2016

By | Design Theory, Research | No Comments

I got the opportunity to attend Adobe Max creative conference in downtown San Diego earlier this month. The conference blew me away; I learned an incredible amount about design thinking and came out the conference inspired and motivated.

Walking into the first day, it was amazing to see 10,000 designers from all over the world gathered in one place. It’s hard to even begin, given the amount of remarkable keynote speakers – filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, Airbnb head of global marketing Ariem Anthony, fashion designer Zac Posen.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with p5 presetAdobe Max gave a glimpse into the future of trending design like artificial intelligence, virtual reality, facial recognition and rapid prototyping. There were some major app updates, so I wanted to note a few big ones. Adobe launched Adobe XD, a rapid prototyping tool that seems fantastic for web and interaction designers. I’ve been able to experiment with it this week, and while initially it does seem to have limitations in comparison to more robust tools, it’s tagline “Design at the speed of thought” seems to be accurate. It is very intuitive and has features for UX designers like easy previewing, automatic links across art boards and quick collaboration. As well, since Adobe Max, my team has started to use Creative Cloud libraries. I went to a session “Cutting your time in half with Creative Cloud Services”, and it made me wish I had used libraries sooner to share and keep track of projects. It’s easy to set up libraries (you can see here) and it seems like a habit worth developing.


adobe-mediumMe and Irene at Max Gallery


I was giddy to personally meet one of my favorite designers, Timothy Goodman at his talk “ The Difference Between Being Cute & Being Creepy Is One Emoji”. Timothy Goodman is fantastic not only for his incredibly unique campaigns like 40 Days of Dating and 12 Days of Kindness. I am more inspired by his ability to showcase his humanity through the content he produces. I am an avid follower of Timothy, not necessary for the beauty of his work, but for the honest, raw and relatable nature of the campaigns he produces. He talks about his flaws, fears and passions in everything from poetry to performance. We all have doubts and misgiving so it’s refreshing to see designers put it at the forefront. The biggest lesson I got out of his talk was that designers don’t need to always create perfect work. Some of the best work comes from work developed outside of a computer. Mostly, his point was to create passion projects. He also encouraged creators, to develop a variety of mediums, utilize collaboration and get in touch with your inner writer. Read More

Questions for Virtual Survey

By | Research, Thesis | No Comments

I plan on creating a virtual survey that prompts young people to have an organized and personalized guide for making the move abroad.


Here are what my brainstormed questions will surround:

  1. Desired location (narrow postings)
  2. Creative interests (narrow postings)
  3. When use is available to move, for how long (narrow resources)
  4. Barriers: Worried parents, nerves, finances ect (add resources)
  5. If housing/flight is needed (add resources)
  6. Visa (add resources)

Output —> Checklist with:

  1. Job Postings
  2. Checklist with timeline, visa information and resources

Design Toolkit Notes

By | Design Theory, Interaction Design, Product Design, Research, Thesis | No Comments


The Human-Centered Design Toolkit provides assistance in finding people based solutions to any given problem. The kit aims to assist organizations to connect better with the target we are looking to design for by taking data and transferring it into solutions. Since the beginning, much of my research has surrounded the idea of packaging, which in turn is similar to a tool-kit. A kit, or a packaged good or idea takes large ideas and simplifies them to be easily understood. Much like the introduction, and kit itself, I aim to make a thesis that serves as a kit for my audience that makes assist in people seeing their goals come to fruition.



Desirability: what do people desire? My target audience desires a tool that is simple and personalizes to their needs. They desire something that can help them realize their desires to experience global culture, but simple broken down tools to help them take the steps to do so.

Feasibility: what is technically and organizationally feasible? What is feasible is products that can be produced in the next 4 months. With good organization and a mapped out timeline, I believe creating a multi-platform campaign is feasible. I believe it is feasible to create more than one outlet to express my final product, but is not feasible to have a working job posting site along with a digital ad interaction ad, print ads and branding. I think it’s best to simplify and concentrate on the application that best suits the needs of the audience.

Viability: what can be financially viable? For my project, without fundraising I have a $500.00=$1000.00. If needed, some ways to fundraise are kickstarter, reaching out to companies I’ve worked with to friends, family and other investors.



Tell me your name, age, city and job/school

Would you want to work and live in another county? Where?

What interests you about work experience/living abroad?

What would you want from a resource to assist you in making your biggest dream happen?

Which of these interest you: Platform to raise money, job postings, visa information, housing/flight/travel info, iphone ap


MADELINE CUSHMAN, 22 Mountain View, CA. Marketing at  Tech Company

  1. Yes. It’s one of my dreams, I really want to live in another county. I want to live in Italy.
  2. Being exposed to another culture, learning a new way of life, trying new things, adapting. It’s all exciting, change is exciting.
  3. I guess when I think of working abroad it would have to be a company that has offices in the US. So a list that puts together a list of all American companies as well as companies that are hiring. Also, I think it’d be interesting to hear peoples experience as well as people that are established now and lived abroad and how to deal with culture shock and new languages, friends, being professional ect.  How to find the job.
  4. I definitely want the job posting aspect. I feel like that whole raising money thing is already done, don’t waste your time on that when you can be investing it into actual research. Housing is really important and it could be more. The idea of a checklist, each item on the checklist could be a link to whatever it is. Or a way of filing things like dream job.
  5. Took a class on working abroad and you had to focus on the social constructs that you don’t realize. Like in Italy if you wear purple, it’s bad luck, things like that. In Italy you can’t just introduce yourself, an introduction needs to be made.


  1. I would want to work in New York, but find opportunities to work abroad (as I’ve done) for short-periods of time
  2. It’s fascinating to perform in new places and see how they respond to the music we play
  3. A website that would post gigs or venues that are open and wanting people to play
  4. A mobile ap. It’s the most accessible.


Identify Themes: Organizing Systems, Excitement for new culture, Importance of job postings, Checklists

Ideas: Multidisciplinary team for feedback (Marketing, Ad Ops, Design, Sales, UX) The kit suggests 3-8 People

Facilitator: Me, Ashley Wayne

Team of trusted feedback- Marketing: Todd Wayne, Charmagne Jacobs; Business: Lauren Berger, The Intern Queen; Programming: Milko Programmer at Ziff Davis, UX Delaney Harter, roommate)

Finite Timeframes:

Written Research Paper, Visual Research: November 28

  • IOS Research and Tests: December 2
  • Wireframe and Branding Round 1: December 6
  • Branding Reworked from Feedback: December 10
  • Rework Magazine: December 15
  • Brand Direction Chosen, First Digital Test launch, Visual/Research Guide: December 20

Qualitative Research

» People’s Stories (People who have worked abroad, who want to, who have tried to)
» Observations of Constituent’s Reality
» Deeper Understanding of needs, barriers and constraints of finding and doing an abroad job

IDENTIFY A DESIGN CHALLENGE: So many young people want to experience living in another county, but rarely are their dreams realized.

Challenges People are facing:

  • Not knowing where to start
  • Overwhelming research for visas, jobs ect
  • The dream of it seems unattainable
  • Fear of it being unsafe without a support group
  • Companies wouldn’t want to hire for cultural/visa/language reasons
  • Living so far away from a known culture is scary

What would make people say YES

  • Simplifying the process, let us do the work for them
  • Really advertising how the experience has the potential to be magnificent, safe and possible.
  • Show stories of people just like them, who did it
  • Personalize the process, organize their information and keep tabs on their progress


 Step 1: Challenge Definition

“Define the appropriate approach to bring to fruition my people’s interest in living and working in an international destination.”

Step 2: Recognize Existing Knowledge 

» What people need or want: People want something extremely useful and simplifies the process. A resource that gives the insight to convince themselves and their loved ones that it’s the best option and something that will assist in making a better present and future both personally and professionally.
» What technologies can help in this challenge? Iphone IOS design, processing, HTML and CSS and other coding languages, WordPress Templates Modified
» What solutions or ideas are being tried in other areas- Simple posting site with little resource to organize and we’ll do the work for you if you pay us sites
» Any early hypotheses about how to solve the
Design Challenge: Create a system that organizes a persons steps to 1) find a job 2) plan the move 3) adjust to new job, country and culture
Are there any contradictions or tensions that emerge? Contradiction: I’ve never done this myself so it can be difficult to done advice to another. A tension is that there is so many countries and companies, that it’s difficult to organize and attain all that information.
Where is the team’s knowledge the strongest: on the
needs of people, on the technological possibilities, or in
how to implement ideas? I’m the strongest on my resources: my tech company’s assistance on the project and my willingness to learn. I have many friends who are programmers who have volunteered to assist me in making my designs function on a digital platform.

» What constituents do, think, or feel: Do > doing the application, checking to make sure everything is set. Think > the user thinks about if these types of opportunities are worth it for themselves. Feel > The user thinks how they feel about applying (stressed, overwhelmed, unconfident) and moving abroad (scared, excited, prepared ect.)
» how people value offerings: Young people value free, well-designed and resourceful aps. The value when all the information is in one place and the tool assists in making their life easier.
» What constituents’ future needs may be: Future needs include creating a LinkedIn like social media network, event, social media marketing, campus ambassador programs, posting on study abroad, internships
» Challenges to implementation of ideas: Getting the research together (all the contacts, postings, interviews, visa information, flight, housing information) programming the design to work, sticking to deadlines and creating successful design
Where are the biggest needs for research? Again, visa information (rewriting it or copy-and-pasting government visa information) getting contacts of international businesses, creating postings, creating the actual programming to get it to work
how should the recruiting strategy be tailored? I should recruit reliable sources to assist me with the project and offer free freelance design to contacts in programming and marketing who offer their skills to me for my thesis.
Which categories might structure the discussion guide? Categories might include discussions on research categories, team member meetings, who to interview, how to set up the brand strategy

Step 3: Identify People to Speak With

1) Lauren Berger, Head of > Speak with on: How to start a job posting company, how she set up business plan and implemented her idea to an online presence. Overall advice from someone who did it from the ground up.

2) Rory Solomon, Parsons Professor and > Programming a digital interface that a user can interact with. Applicable resources and advice on the actual creation of the design.

3) Kojenwa Moitt, CEO of Zebra PR > Brand Identity, have her read over my brand strategy and advise me on steps to taking the company to become successful. She is great as a refiner when it comes to content, language, planning, events and brand presence from a non-visual POV.

4) Andrew Shea, Parsons Professor and Author Design for Social Change- Assistance on the topics of non-profit design planing, connections to international resources and have him overview my research thus far from a credible designer for social change point of view.

5) Career advisors at New School and American University of Paris on general job hunting and international job hunting

6) Any international non-profit job placement service companies, especially if there is one based in new york. Resources: Nomadic Matt’s website, The US State Department’s website for working abroad and Matador Network.

7) Potential Users (As advised in the toolkit, two-thirds positive about the idea, one-third less interested)

Step 4: Choose Research Methods

For my research methods my top 3 methods are:

  1. Self-Documentation “Self-Documentation is a powerful method for observing processes over a long period of time, or for understanding the nuances of community life when the researcher can’t be there. Records of experiences, such as journal entries, allow the team to see how participants see their life, community, and relationships.
  2. Community Driven Discover “Community members with strong relationships, respected leaders, or people with a reputation for intelligence and fairness are often good people to identify as research partners. By asking people in the community to lead the research, the other participants may be able to express their concerns more openly and honestly. In addition, through their intimate knowledge of the community, these research partners can help interpret the hidden meaning and motivations behind the statements of other participants.
  3. Expert Interviews “Experts can be called upon to provide in-depth and technical information. Reaching out to experts is particularly useful in cases where the team needs to learn a large amount of information in a short period of time, and/or where others have already done a lot of research on a topic.”

Step 5: Develop and Interview Approach

Open Specific: What are your dreams? Tell me about yourself.

Go Broad: Where would you want to live? What do you want to do with your life? What makes you happy?

Probe Deep: What city/country would you want to live in? What motivates you to be interested in going abroad? What’s your normal day like? Do you believe in yourself?

Sacrificial Concepts: What is your biggest fear in following your dream?  How do you feel about risking finance, familiarity  or time. Do you think it’s a return investment? How do you think your future behavior would change?

Scenario: If your safety and success would be guaranteed, would you move quicker to go for a job abroad?

Step 6: Develop Your Mindset

» Create: Theroy

Based on hearing that young people would love the experience to go abroad but the two main barriers are not knowing how to do and fear of the risk, I want to create a product that both encourages and enables them to have the courage and resources to go.

Step 1: Case Study engaging local students and young people, artist, business people and designers.

Method One, Empathetic Design: How I can apply this… I want to create authetic solutions that truley assist people. To do this I want to deeply understand my taget audience. Thus far I understand:

  1. The is a deep desire for adventure and excitement of living in another country
  2. Certain fields are more interested in moving abroad (ex: marketing or non-profit work is more interested, graphic design or performing arts less interested.

Step 2: Share Stories

  1. Share the stories of those have lived abroad (in the past, currently, good and bad scenarios in a wide range of places and types of jobs)

Step 3: Identify Patterns

  1. Key Words: Organization (helpful) Exciting, Challenging, language
  2. Key Insights: It’s much different going for short-term than long-term
  3. Frameworks: Breaking it down into the different needs on time, place and how much assistance is neededObservation: Those interested in creative positions are more drawn to moving to urban cities while those identify as wanting to work in non-profit are more open to go to smaller towns.


    Resources: – example of a step by step work abroad breakdown – list of volunteer and non-profit opportunities abroad