We had an amazing semester working with four Boston area worker-owned cooperatives to co-design a wide range of media and tech projects. You can learn more about each project by clicking on the featured images below, or check out an overview of all of them on this new project summaries page. Enjoy!
In the last stretch of the class, we wrap up our media outreach for CERO and attempted to test a few other hypothesis, namely if restaurants will respond to the Massachusetts Waste Ban. The way we went about it to try not to force restaurants and be like “DO THIS OR ELSE”, the approach was more along the lines of “Look, here are the laws regarding composting, check if you are following them!”. We created a website: http://www.compostcompliance.com/ that would in theory allow owners to check if they are complying with the ban. When they sign up, we are able to know that the owners clicked and cares. We gathered about 30 emails through CERO and sent out the first batch yesterday. So far the results are not promising, not many people seem to be opening their emails and or signing up for our listing. It might be that the email count is too low but so far the results are inconclusive.
Another thing we are trying to do is start a petition to pressure a business into composting. The petition can be found here: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/pressure-barcelona-brookline-to-compost. We have yet to mass send out this petition yet, but we will be sending it out this week, and hopefully see if the business respond in any sort of way.
The other important items we worked on was the presentation and the case study. The case study is almost done but requires some more revision which we will finish off this coming weekend.
Draft Case Study:
This last week we’ve come up with a title for our project. We’ve decided to call it “Loconomics x Co-Everything: Modeling an Online Marketplace for Co-ops and Freelancers. And, although there are two sides to our prototype (co-op and freelancer), this one photo best represents both sides of our project (as their respective profile pages are almost identical).
Loconomics is an up and coming service-providing website and app co-founded by our extended client for this class, Joshua Danielson. This platform is similar to TaskRabbit, in which users can search for freelancers through the apps and alternatively freelancers can set up a profile and list their services to be hired.
Though it only exists as a prototype right now, Co-Everything is a single platform or reference list meant to help develop a network of cooperatives, local businesses, and future clientele in the Boston area. We aim to develop this platform to connect co-ops, local businesses, and freelancers with not only each other but with a consumer base as well. With our new excitement for the project at hand, we began focusing on creating a functional business model canvas for it.
Thus, we decided to combine our motivations behind Co-Everything to the current Loconomics platform by attempting to aid Loconomics in their beta stage. This collaboration includes testing the Loconomics prototype and finding ways they can improve based upon user feedback. By testing hypotheses through user testing and interviews and even building our own prototypes that serve similar functions, we hope to advance the effort connecting co-ops and clients through an online marketplace.
Co-ops need help connecting to other co-ops, connecting to clientele, advertising their services, and formalizing their transactions. On the other hand, consumers need help finding providers that match their values. This web platform will fulfill these needs and target towards consumers who are looking for specific services and those who want to support co-ops, local businesses, or freelancers. In addition to growing their consumer base, co-ops can benefit by finding other co-ops and freelancers.
The final version of the prototype ( http://ix8i2j.axshare.com/) has been updated with changes based on user feedback gathered at the DiscoTech. During this testing session we were able to see what may have not been as intuitive as we had thought as well as gather suggestions for how to improve it. A consistent issue we saw amongst almost every user was that they did not know that they had to switch tabs in the “Sign Up” pop-up in order to sign up as a co-op, freelancer, or client. In order to remedy this mix up, Kai edited the prototype by changing and darkening the labeled tab fonts and bolding them upon selection to make these differences more prominent. In addition to this, upon opening the “Sign Up” page, the selected automatically tab was “Client” which was located all the way to the right, but we assumed since people read from left to right, that it may be more intuitive to have the far left tab to be the default selection.
In addition to this, another complaint we had with our prototype is that we should indicate which fields are required and which are optional during the profile creation stage in the setup process. We fixed this by adding the classic red stars next to required fields.
Another issue was with the “add service” field during setup and the “+” button which is intended to add the service and price of service to your listed services on your profile. We fixed this by making the hint text inside the “add service” textbox to “type to add service.” We also made this hint text a lighter font color to show that it is a field to be filled. Lastly, we added tooltips to the “type to add service” textbox, the “$/hr” textbox, and the “+” button. There was also some confusion when it came to the “add-on” option for services on a user’s service list, so there is now a tooltip for that as well.
In addition to these areas of confusion, users also had suggestions for additional features in the prototype. For example, a user said he’d like it if, when clicking on a message in the inbox, a pop-up would appear where the co-op or freelancer could message the client back. Following along this idea, we decided that the freelancer or co-op accept an inquiry and message back the client (but only after accepting the request). After accepting, the co-op or freelancer can see the client’s address and additional notes about the service request so that there is no breach of privacy and a client isn’t sharing their personal information with those they have not hired.
Our last major edit was adding a feature where you can schedule to add a booking by clicking directly on a date on the calendar on the scheduling page. This feature is located on the date “Friday, April 15” on the calendar.
Overall, there were a lot of great suggestions and this user testing proved to be essential to improving our prototype for Loconomics.
Link to our final presentation: http://bit.ly/co-everything-codesign-slides
Link to our Case Study: http://bit.ly/loconomicsXcoeverything-casestudy
As I wasn’t able to attend the DiscoTech on Sunday, I wanted to take the time to share where I was and what it has meant to me. Two years ago, during my second semester at Wellesley, I decided to apply to become a member of the Wellesley College Lecture Society. This long and grueling three week process eventually resulted in my and my class of 8 others being accepted into the society. Every semester we hold different themed lecture series and bring outside speakers to Wellesley’s campus to shed light on things that they are working on or are passionate about. For example, this semester’s lecture series has been all about Hip Hop and Technology and how the genre has changed throughout the years as well as it’s effect on Black culture and how it is perceived. We’ve brought speakers ranging from Kariann Goldschmitt, an ethnomusicologist, who spoke about Brazilian Hip-Hop and the Afro-diasporic imagination, to Prince Charles Alexander, a Berklee College Professor and famous producer, who talked about the evolution of technology in regards to how sounds have changed throughout hip-hop’s history. On Tuesday we even had a lecture by up and coming artist, Mari, who just graduated from Williams, and his manager J Harmony, a recent Columbia grad, about the struggles of being graduates from elite schools who could have gotten high-paying jobs, but instead stayed true to their passions in such a cut-throat industry. These lectures are advertised to everyone on and off campus and have sparked post-lecture talk-backs, where we invite others to gather and discuss what they’ve learned in an open forum.
In this four year society there are annual events such as senior reception and also different executive board member chairs (president, vps, lecture, publicity, web, etc.). This past Sunday was senior reception, a day long gathering where all 45 members of the society come together to celebrate those whose four years are coming to an end. During this time, we discuss the ups and downs of the societal structure and different changes that may help benefit us in the future. Each senior (in this case, 15 of them), have written a 10 minute long speech talking about what this society has meant for them in relation to their Wellesley experience and how it has helped them learn more about themselves and others. This event usually lasts about 5 or so hours and ends with a community dinner and voting for the passing down of new executive board member positions.
I’m sad I had to miss such an awesome event for testing our prototype, but feel confident in the feedback I’ve received from Declan, Micky, and Lucia that we’ve gained enough insight for me to edit our current prototype for the better in preparation for next week’s presentation. Hopefully in the future, some of you will be able to attend some of our society’s lecture’s on Wellesley’s campus too!
Team VV had a great time at the DiscoTech on Sunday! We had a ‘Make your own glass cleaner’ station, told a whole bunch of people about how wonderful Vida Verde is, and did some additional user testing on our instant quote widget! We were especially excited that several people approached the table to inquire about potentially hiring Vida Verde and/or referring them to a friend. All around, we were pleased with how things turned out. At the very least, we had a lot of fun making and filling our mini bottles (photo credit: Sasha):
Our case study draft can be found HERE. It is definitely a work in progress, but we think that we have a solid foundation so far and are looking forward to iterating on it over the next couple of weeks. The working title of our case study is ‘Vida Verde: Streamlining Workflows’, since we felt that this was a succinct way of summing up the various projects and products we assembled for the co-op this semester. Our title image is currently Vida Verde’s logo, but we will likely switch that out for a screenshot of the completed quote widget once all of the updates have been pushed and it has been integrated into the co-op’s upgraded website:
The current version of our abstract can be found below:
During the spring semester of 2016, the MIT Collaborative Design Studio partnered with local worker-owned cooperatives to create civic media projects grounded in real-world community needs. Three MIT students partnered with a staff member from the MIT Media Lab to work with a cooperative of Brazilian housecleaners called Vida Verde. Over the course of several months, we worked together to develop technology products to streamline the organization’s operations and communications.
More specifically, the goal of the project was to alter some of Vida Verde’s systems in order to reduce the coordinator’s workload; to improve communication between the coordinator, cleaners, and clients; and to automate tedious steps of existing processes. While we briefly entertained the idea of creating a standalone product that would solve all of the coordination issues Vida Verde was facing, we ultimately elected to use open-source platforms like Google Calendar and free translation apps. By choosing this route rather than building something out from scratch, Vida Verde is now able to fully manage and maintain their technology without relying on an outside team for all of their business communications.
The collaboration between Vida Verde and the MIT Codesign Studio resulted in two projects: 1. an online price quote calculator for the Vida Verde website, and 2. a new internal calendar system for scheduling cleanings. We also upgraded the cooperative’s website to make it more easily navigable, and did some basic search engine optimization (SEO) to ensure that the website shows up easily in Google searches.
The CERO team attended the disco tech this weekend hosted by Sasha, and we got some great pictures for our composting campaign for twitter. We had some great conversation with other people regarding composting and telling them about CERO as well. With the pictures we took from the Disco Tech, we will be posting them through out this week as part of our composting awareness week campaign.
You can follow some of the twitter posts here, and please use our hashtag #whycompost We also setup a page on the CERO website to see if anyone would be interested in learning more about composting.
Here is a collage of some of the pictures we took at the Disco Tech.
Our goal this week is to see if any of these tweets and emails out to CERO’s network will gain any traction.
Draft Case Study:
This week was a very exciting week because we got to go the DiscoTech on Sunday! The event was a great opportunity meeting other groups and individuals interested in spreading the cooperative movement. The discussion and workshop based structure of the event was a enjoyable way to learn more about other organizations and topics about cooperatives. I
Micky, Declan, and Lucia were able to attend the DiscoTech and set up a workshop for user testing both our team’s prototype as well as Josh’s prototype of Loconomics. Our process included prompting the users with certain tasks to perform for each prototype (for example: we asked them to sign up as a housecleaning freelancer named Kimmy Schmidt) and asking them to fill out a post-test feedback form. The subjects were encouraged to speak their thoughts during the user testing, which we found very informative about their user experiences. The feedback form gather information about their background (if they were involved as a freelancer or a cooperative member) and their general thoughts on the two prototypes. Despite the slow wifi and glitches at times, the users were able to go through the process successfully and inform us about how we can improve the platform in the future.
Although there were many comments about various aspects of the prototypes, here are a few examples of our notes:
For prototype 1 (our team’s)
Not realizing that you had to switch the tab to “freelancer” instead of “client” in the sign-up pop up in order to sign up as a freelancer
After signing up, the website should guide you to share with others through social media, etc.
Not being able to double-click and do things without leaving the page, such as double-clicking messages to respond or double-clicking calendar dates to add appointments
For prototype 2 (Loconomics)
Being forced to add details, such as schedules, before being able to become familiarized with website (what if user wants to see if he/she wants to use the website in the first place?)
After setting up profile and account, the website should direct the user to find clients instead of going back to the front page (many were confused about the front page)
The overall process should be structured more in a step-by-step guide where each page clearly tells the user what to do next
Now that we have user-tested, the next steps until the end of the class include relaying the user feedback back to Josh, deciding which features could potentially change in future iterations of the prototype, and perhaps even proposing these changes to Josh if we decide we have enough evidence that the changes will significantly enhance the user experience of Loconomics. In improving a model like Loconomics, we hope to expand the model to cooperatives instead of freelancers, which Kai has already been working on in our own prototype.
Link to case study: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1YbI31Sj70cX5iEDb9rd6NsqZWkohF6AFD29jsat2y8E/edit#heading=h.e8ejm1rdy84a
This week on Earth Day we launched our transmedia campaign on Twitter and Instagram using #restoringroots. We started posting original photos and began following like-minded organizations and people.
We also started work on a series of scripts for participants in the campaign to use. Here’s a sample script that Andres wrote usign #restoringroots #green and #healingland :
Would you like to help us heal the land and promote sustainable gardening practices? Help us spread the message of environmental consciousness. Tweet or share an image on instagram with the hashtag #restoringroots and _______
Express your love for the earth! Share and tweet:
I will try to live more sustainably by ____________________.
I can help heal the land by ________________.
I can help nourish my community by ____________________.
I want to grow __________________ in my neighborhood.
JP Local First, CitySoil, and Renew Boston are now following us on Twitter. All three would make good partner organizations for Restoring Roots. The biggest influencer following us is CityLife/Vida Urbana.
Our next steps are to continue posting content, and increase the frequency of posts. It was suggested in our small group sessions last week that we repost/retweet pictures from popular media sources, such as the Dept. of Interior’s popular Instagram feed. Another important step is to use analytics and start tracking our media presence and landing page.
This week, Team Vida Verde took what we had learned in our interviews over the past several weeks and used it to actually build-out the instant quote widget. With some hard work from the programmers on the team, the widget went from a clickable mockup to a real coded prototype in just a couple of days! We’re excited to have the foundations of a hard product built for Vida Verde, and we’ll continue to iterate on it in the coming days with the goal of having full functionality in time to gather feedback at the DiscoTech.
On the less technical side, we’ve also been working on our case study over the last week and it’s coming along nicely. It’s interesting to see how far we’ve come and to reflect on the beginning of the process and the many other ideas we considered. The busy schedules at Vida Verde have made it difficult for us to grab time with the cleaners and coordinators to work on the Google calendaring system, but the team at VV has been working hard to set that up. We now have time scheduled and are looking forward to seeing how the interface works for the co-op members in day-to-day practice, as well as learning more about how to improve upon the current iteration.
Additionally, we are waiting to hear back from Vida Verde’s current website developer in Seattle so that we can begin working on upgrading their web presence. We think that this will be a small but critical piece of the puzzle in increasing VV’s visibility, so we’re excited to get the green light on that. Things are moving along and we’re looking forward to showcasing and testing all of these various components at the DiscoTech!
Now that our team has a testable prototype that allows freelancers to sign up, create a profile, communicate to clients, and organize their schedules/appointments/clients, we decided to conduct user testing this week. Micky and Lucia were able to contact 2-3 users to test our prototype as well as the Loconomics prototype and describe their user experiences. For both prototypes, they were specifically prompted to sign up as a freelancer and explore the features of the websites.
The user testings provided a lot of useful information for both prototypes and the users had much feedback about what they liked, disliked, or thought about the websites. For our team’s prototype, users pointed out specific points of the website that were confusing. This included definitions of key terms such as “booking” versus “appointment,” understanding the function of the inbox and clients tabs, and knowing what some of the fields were asking for when creating a profile. For the Loconomics prototype, the most notable observation was that users felt very overwhelmed by all the features and buttons it had. As one of the testers said, “There is a steep learning curve.” It took a while for users to navigate through everything on the site and become familiar with all the features. Despite some confusions, all the users were able to set up profiles and learn how to use functions of the websites. The comments can serve both Josh in improving the Loconomics platform and our team in constructing our prototype.
In addition to user testing, Kai constructed a version of our prototype that serves co-ops instead of freelancers. It allows co-ops to sign up and create a profile for their organization, which has some added fields and uses different language in some areas to accommodate for the change in target users. The website also has an added feature for clients to be able to choose which member of the co-op they want when booking a service.
Moving forward, we wish to modify our prototype using the feedback we got and gather more information from user testing. We could also start thinking about what we will be presenting to Josh about the feedback of this prototype.