Catching trains of thought; UX guidelines for facilitating knowledge exchange between makers

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
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This thesis establishes directions for the design of the user experience of a service that could facilitate knowledge exchange practices amongst makers. To achieve this the thesis sets out to answer the question “How to design the user experience of a multi-platform application to enable it to facilitate knowledge exchange between makers?”. A process consisting of a research for design and a research through design stage is utilized to generate a suitable answer. The research for design stage includes a literature review and field research. The literature review investigates the motivations for developing as a maker, the physical spaces in which makers are active, communities of practice, and knowledge creation in collaborative processes. The key findings from this review are validated and furthered upon through field research. The field research explores activity in and on maker communities in Helsinki through interviews and collaborative design sessions with local makers. The findings from the research for design stage are then condensed into twelve design directions. The research through design stage describes the design, evaluation and testing of two interactive prototypes of a multi-platform application. The first prototype is used as a presentation aid during evaluations on two events, a large Maker Faire and the Spring Demo Day in Aalto University Media Lab. Based on the evaluations the prototype is iterated and then subjected to usability tests in a Fab Lab. The results of the research through design stage reveal three themes regarding the user experience of a system aimed to facilitate knowledge exchange. To answer the main question the design directions and the themes are combined. The findings urge designers of systems aiming to facilitate knowledge exchange between makers to pay attention to three guidelines. These guidelines are: stories of creativity, the overlap of intuition and education, and the need for structure and support. The findings of this project provide insights necessary to reduce the loss of knowledge in maker communities, and in this way develop their efficacy. Improving the ability of these communities is argued to have a positive influence on existing industrial processes. The author collaborates with Taro Morimoto during the project described in this thesis. Taro Morimoto utilized this project to research the digital ecosystem of makers and the technical aspects of the multi-platform application as part of his thesis for the Master of Arts in New Media.
Hyysalo, Sampsa
Thesis advisor
Nyberg, Timo
makers, design, user experience, knowledge exchange, human-computer interaction, prototyping
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