Jenna Witzleben

MFA Thesis Blog

This blog contains experiments, project and reading reflections, unanswered questions, and more relating to my year-long thesis as part of my Master's design program. From Sept. 2016 to May 2017, I explored rewilding human beings and the environments we inhabit at multiple scales including investigation around individual fears of nature, regional food production systems, and global overpopulation. The final works of this thesis can be found in my portfolio.

Needs, Factors, Contexts, and Channels

The task in class for this week was to map out aspects of engaging with our users in terms of their needs, the context in which we are engaging with them, the channels through which we reach out to them, and the factors influencing their experience (including our own limitations and abilities). 

In class I focused on one of my five user groups: ecologists/ecology professionals. And I focused on my experience design, the guided forest spa/training. Some of the key needs for this user group in this context included meaningfulness and confidence in the process, and validation for participating. From my point of view, there is also a need for them to learn enough through the experience to have a long term public behavior change towards rewilding (the overarching goal of my thesis work). 

In terms of context, these users will have chosen to be there, and participate in a semi-private experience in the forest in mid-march. They may have heard of rewilding or are curious about more ways to aid the ecosystems. An interesting discussion arose between me and my classmates about the cost of this experience. Does there need to be a deposit in order to make people feel invested in attending, regardless of sudden weather changes.

I plan on reaching these users through Eventbrite, Meetup, through emailing to my subject matter experts, through relevant college departments in NYC, Facebook, and through my sustainability professors. Meetup I think will be key for me, as my experience is a bit unusual and could be uncomfortable for people. I feel Meetup often has strange and unique experiences and users of that site tend to expect that. My experience would fit right in.

Primary factors include the temperature and weather conditions, the social and health risks, permits to use park space, and the exit experience to send off my users with actionable items.

After class I also edited this map to incorporate some of the needs, context, channels, and factors from my other projects for this user, including the service design food cart and the barefooting app design. Two key additions included the need for instruction and guidance and the factor of ecologist's bias (perhaps against) non-technical work. I aim to investigate the validity of my assumption that this bias exists through my user testing. It would probably be beneficial to actually have separate maps for each, to really flush out challenges and considerations. This would mean 20 maps - 5 users, 4 design projects. I could do over time, one a day or so. It will also be critical to incorporate the user research I'm going to do into this map. Some of the elements I included so far need to be tested with actual users as they are currently speculations or ideas that I've only read about it books.

Jenna Witzleben