User Testing has been an interesting experience on this project, there have been positives and negatives to the experience. The positives are that I have been fortunate to have obtained strong feedback from a number of sources who have kindly given me long conversations and great detail about what has been good about my app design and where it could be refined and improved further. I have been able to acquire key insights, good quotes and recorded footage of some of these sessions which has been a very positive experience for the creation of my app. The end result is an app which seems to have a large number of positive responses from those I tested it on with only slight variations in their preferences and tastes beyond that, the app does seem to generate positive feedback about a number of it’s key features and the detail in the interactivity.
Figure 1 – Achievement pages like this were created as a result of user testing and their feedback (Lewis, 2017).
The negatives have come from acquiring feedback, quite often I have found that users don’t wish to be recorded or photographed for various reasons so recording the feedback evenly has been a challenge. Seeming as my app is aimed at Key Stage 2 audience I reached out to members of teaching staff of a Primary School level to try and obtain feedback and was met with little to no response in terms of actively participating in user testing. I also reached out to a member of staff at the Science Museum and while they were positive about my app I have had limited insights back from them that are useful to the progression of the app design. Also it took returning to the Science Museum itself to obtain any valuable insights from my target user group directly which wasn’t ideal as more avenues for feedback would have been preferred.
Figure 2 – My Balsamiq Stage 2 Prototype development (Lewis, 2016).
Next time around what I would do differently is develop a final prototype sooner, a prototype first approach, I fully believe if I had created a formal version of the app sooner, starting user testing at a more visual stage would have generated useful insights sooner that would have only benefitted the final outcome of my app though I am happy with the app I created. I would like to have created more of my own content for the app, such as original video content rather than leaning on videos that already exist elsewhere and would require permission if a real version of this app was created.
Figure 3 – My model print out page would resemble something like this but for the Electra 10-A (Pinterest, no date).
With more time I would create a make a model section for my app which is a section available to users without the need to visit the museum, they would go to a page where they could create download and print the model which would be ideally made on card, the design would be A4 in size, it would come with instructions that could also be printed out. You would follow the instructions to construct a card airplane using glue, scissors and tabs, it would be a simple concept but once made would be a nice interaction with the app and something to take away from the experience and keep.
I would also follow that on by creating a video where I would be dressed up a pilot, or an Amelia Earhart lookalike and they would talk you through how to make the model in real time, it would have humour and resemble something like you would see on Art Attack or Smart. There may also be an avenue to share your creations via social media which would generate attention for the Science Museum, the App and the Electra 10-A airplane.
Figure 4 – An Amelia Earhart Impersonator (Carbone Entertainment, 2017).
Also as I mentioned before my app uses borrowed videos that I have sourced online to show additional interactivity with the Electra Airplane, Ideally I would prefer to have used videos that were created by myself entirely to make this app a fully unique experience.
On a more minor note the app would have further refinements to tidy up sections like the menu section which may need more clarity to aid the user interacting with it simply and without question or need for too many instructions or prompts.
Figure 5 – My menu page would have more refinement and iteration given more time (Lewis, 2017).
It has been a great experience and I have learnt a lot in a short amount of time, it has been intensive and commited but I am very pleased with my outcomes for this project now we have reached it’s conclusion.
New Media & Convergence
New Media and Convergence is a theory developed by Henry Jenkins at the University of Southern California, while the theory is based on activity in North America it is relevant to us all.
Convergence Culture is explained as “the flow of content across multiple media platforms, the cooperation between multiple media industries, and the migratory behavior of media audiences who would go almost anywhere in search of the kinds of entertainment experiences they wanted” (Jenkins, 2006)
The theory works on the idea that empowered by mobile, digital media and the internet, the user is now able to participate in media in a number of new ways, in reply to this the existing media companies are adapting how they operate due to this change in their industry.
Figure 6 – Even back in 2002 there were clear examples of media convergence (Outr Net, 2002).
One time new technology like the sony walkman, mp3 players and even ipods have moved into the realm of old media when you have products like the iphone that can perform multiple functions all in the palm of your hand, the latest models of such can be considered new media.
Figure 7 – The multifunctional iphone 7, the current defintion of new media (Apple Inc, 2017).
In the past you would have different objects for different purposes but in the iphone they converge into one device, convergence however is not simply about new media replacing old media and making it obselete or that there is some kind of digital revolution, the example being that you might gather around an object to hear something at a specific time, now objects are more portable and even content can be adapted to hear it or view it at a time when it best suits you. The old media has not gone but it coexists with new media as it finds a new purpose and status within the newer technology. An example of this is that you might watch content on a television in the past, now you can stream it portably on a tablet, phone or laptop, you can watch content online via places like YouTube in the modern age.
Figure 8 – A visual example of convergence and new the new channels that creates (Cotton, 2012).
Users are now offered many more channels at which to recieve content and who that content is received from, users are now also becoming the producers as the technology is more accessible and the costs of production and sharing your content become cheaper and equally more accessible to even more people compared to the past. Social Media channels like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are examples of such channels, the majority of which are free to own and share content across.
Figure 9 – An example of the variety of new channels available to producers and consumers alike (Sendible, 2015).
Mainstream ownership has tightened over the years into superpowers of media, the majority of media was owned by multiple smaller companies thirty years ago but now owned by only six super corporations in the United States for example Disney and Time Warner.
Figure 10 – A simple representation showing the convergence of the big companies in the American media mainstream (Lutz, 2012).
These companies control more content than they ever have before and can distribute across a widening number of avenues and channels. In olde media, these large companies would tell the stories and leave the audience purely as spectators, the change in this area where the user is empowered by the access to increasing platforms is called ‘Participatory Culture’. Jenkins adds “Right now, convergence culture is getting defined top-down by decisions being made in corporate boardrooms and bottom-up by decisions made in teenagers’ bedrooms” (Jenkins, 2006).
The boundaries between producer and consumer are getting increasingly blurred, amateurs can behave like professionals in their output and commercial and non commercial are also blurred as companies now even use these amateur producers to promote their brands and products due to the wide audiences they reach out to and interact with on a daily basis, the example of this is the rise in youtubers such as Pewdiepie. There is an increasingly collaboration culture in media between professionals and amateurs to make the most out of these new opportunities with benefits for both sides.
Figure 11 – Pewdiepie, the most popular Youtuber from Sweden (Kosoff and Jacobs, 2015).
The negatives come from the fact that more extreme voices can be directly spoken on places like the internet and through free speech it raises the question of enough moderation and censorship on these new channels. Also how do these new channels offer any value to the producers if it is being devalued to this extent. Are these amateur producers being exploited in any way as they are surely earning less than perhaps they would in the past however they would not be in such a position if it wasn’t for the new media and the new channels made available to them to generate such interest in them as personalities in the first place and brands in their own right.
New tools are made available like Transmedia Storytelling, where you can break up a story of multiple channels which requires the user to use multiple channels to piece together the full story or get the bigger picture.
Figure 12 – A visual representation of Transmedia (Kurt, 2012).
In the case of my own project to create an app years ago simply would not have existed, this is a relatively new opportunity and one that has grown considerably since it’s inception. The app itself is a vision of new media, the opportunity to become a producer and work under relatively low cost has made producing this project an achieveable reality rather than an ambitious dream.
My own project also employs a number of avenues of old media converging into new media, there is content to listen to, information to digest through reading and watching videos, there is a digital game which falls under a relatively new media in this avenue but in the past through consoles and board games is only another example of modified old media repackaged into this new media. The opportunity to promote and share your achievements across social media in apps is another method to reach larger audiences at low cost and promote in ways that would not have been possible certainately before the likes of facebook and before that even the creation of the world wide web.
Figure 13 – The convergence of technology and rise of the app culture (Sefferman, 2016).
Convergence played it’s part in my project as it opened up many possibilties to what I wanted to create and how best to make it fit in with the bigger picture of all these accessible avenues and channels I could choose to make this app fit in with. I had the choice to use a number of production channels that in the past would not have been available to me to create this app and seemlessly integrate them all to create this informative yet fun product for my user group, to engage and capture their imaginations. Without convergence my app would be static and exist in an entirely different way, but now the opportunties are almost endless and in the time we had it was not possible to fully integrate even a great portion of them into the app but plenty are present and feature in my final created outcome of my app.
Figure 14 – Creative Convergence between the left and right side of the brain (blackwhale, 2012).
The big advantage to all this in conclusion is that such media offers far greater creative opportunities, the chance to express yourself, discuss matters important to you and to share your stories to a great audience can be very empowering and satisfying to those who choose to embrace such opportunities. This can only help to bring more creatives to the surface and push the boundaries of what we are capable of to even greater lengths when you bring these bright minds together to collaborate on pressing modern demands as we move into the future.
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Pinterest (no date) Airplanes. Available at: https://uk.pinterest.com/pin/254594185161112068/ (Accessed: 13 January 2017).
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Sendible (2015) How these top companies are excelling in social media customer service. Available at: http://www.socialmediatoday.com/content/how-these-top-companies-are-excelling-social-media-customer-service (Accessed: 13 January 2017).