S T i L L
Taking a picture is worth a thousand words.
Time to focus: User Interviews
I spoke to an amateur photographer who loved using film stock, but was frustrated with the long process of development. This got me thinking about methods to make his life easier. As I interviewed more, some interesting patterns emerged.
I found that users were deeply attached - not only to their work - but the process of it as well. What I had always personally believed to be a cumbersome process was, for them, mediative. There was a deep satisfaction in the mastery of the craft, and a joy in slowing down busy lives to be present in the moment. A peace in the stillness.
I also found that most were frustrated. It was difficult to find good advice about the craft. Information was scattered over the internet, and when it came to getting answers to specific questions, the process was cumbersome.
Lastly, there was a fear of being judged. For many photography was a precious, creative outlet, and while they wanted to show their work, they were squeamish about having their work criticized.
I mean, there's all those little worries and stuff like that of, you know, judgment and everything
…as an artist, when you're taking a still you're trying to tell an entire story in one single image… How is that one photo going to say all the things I needed to say?
I found [troubleshooting] so intimidating. Intimidating
and inaccessible. I couldn't get my head around it.
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The frame was taking shape...
As I sifted though the notes on Miro, Affinity mapping patterns seemed to be bearing out what I was assuming.
"I love the process of shooting pictures."
"My photography is important to me."
"I am inspired by other photographers."
"I am worried people will judge me."
"I have unseen work that I would like to share."
"I do not like the development process..."
"I find that getting advice is cumbersome."
The subject and her story...
The affinity mapping and personas inspired a few different concepts. This wouldn't be just a place to blog, but also record annotated commentary. This would not only allow people to speak on their aesthetic, but really tell the story of their subject in a human way to an interested audience.
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Taking test shots
I started to sketch out an app that included a way to showcase photography, create commentary, find technical advice, and create a network of darkroom owners that could be paid for their services, a la Uber. They could even create documentation of the film being developed, which would then be uploaded to the user. All in service of making the process more friendly, efficient and personal. I tested it in InVision.
Adjusting the frame
This was the beginning of a "kill your darlings" scenario. The Darkroom service was the catalyst for this entire project, but as I went over the the transcripts, this just wasn't the top priority other than the initial interview. Again, users mostly indicated a fear of sharing, a sense of intimidation when it came to the complexities of troubleshooting, and a hesitancy to seek advice. The community portion being on the footer was much more needed than an alternate search field.
Tweaking the color balance
I then spent quite a bit of time figuring out the overall aesthetic of the app. One major challenge was finding a color scheme that had personality, but did not draw attention from the work. In addition, it had to balance with a wide array of colors, shapes and styles. I researched colors typically used in museums.
A new lens
As I was working on this, I became enamored with Clubhouse, an audio only social app. There is a thriving, highly motivated community of creators speaking candidly about art and NFTs, which allow unique digital property to be minted on blockchains.
I cannot express how valuable this app was for research...it essentially gave me free, 24 hour interview pools. I asked questions, listened to frank conversations, and began to realize the enormity of what crypto and smart contracts will eventually become as we transition to a more remote, digital lifestyle.
There was a general animosity towards Instagram for what they had felt was the theft of their work, and a general lack of respect to their contributions. NFTs give the power back to the artists, and these are exactly the kind of users who might benefit from an app like this. So I did some exploration on how NFT auctions were held and implanted it into the app as a key service. (I still have more exploration to do to really build it out.)
I am in the midst of usability testing, so this case study will be updated as I iterate. The scenario involves looking for a specific image in one of the exhibits, writing a description and recording audio commentary. So far user reactions have been quite positive, and have called it potentially useful. The one exception is the NFT section, largely because many aren't aware of that space.
Check out the prototype below.
S T i L L
An app for photographers and photography lovers alike.
Prototype scenario: You would like to add a text description and audio commentary to an image on your most recently posted exhibit. You've given the image the name "No Exit."
Note: best experienced on laptop or desktop.
Thus far, based on initial user tests some patterns are emerging, but I'll hold off on any decisions until I get an appropriate sample size. Early indications are pointing to:
Eliminating the Darkroom Network
Explain in detail what NFTs are in relation to cryptocurrency
Create a dedicated community troubleshooting function...comment threads aren't enough.
Change "My Exhibits/NFTs/Stills" menu to dropdown or scroller.