The process of Designers of Color bloomed from when I was contemplating how could representation intersect with Design in response to the Designing Interactive System (DIS) 2018 prompt. And I wondered if my answer could be shown to the world visually speaking?
Before I found my answer to the DIS prompt, I gathered more information on a similar topic others might have already done. I conducted comparative research with the website: People of Color in Tech. The website had interviews of POC in Tech and their struggles. I found this aspect engaging and I wanted my users to feel the same too.
At first I wanted to create a platform where designers and clients can connect via the designers' geographic location and emphasis. Eventually the idea transformed to a map showcasing designers of colors and their design emphasis. Along with their profile, their stories and challenges are included too.
After getting a better idea of what type of platform I wanted to create, I needed to refine my idea. At first I wanted to involve designers from around the world, but with the limited data I could source, I kept within the U.S. region.
Rapid prototyping let me know which part of my website needed to be more user-friendly and if more or less wording was needed to help guide.
I created a paper prototype with how I wanted the interface to look like and went through speed rounds of user testing on paper. The results from the rapid prototyping and user testing helped me learn what elements worked and what didn't. As well as if I needed more or less wording in some areas in order to better guide the users.
Use of Mapbox
As I wanted to use a map, I researched which platform to best create what I envisioned and I decided on Mapbox.
Learning how to use Mapbox was a challenge, but the app helped me store and collect the user data and output it visually by placing the users onto a map. It also allowed me to customize the users' information, such as placing a symbol on their location.
After the early stages of my project was done, my professor recommend I collaborate with a classmate, Fiona Zhou, who had a similar concept in mind as me to work together. So it became a duo project where we split the work and helped one another. I worked on the code while Fiona worked on the Designers of Color's landing page and looks of it.
Finally after the product's code was mainly finalized, the interface had to be tested with real users. We observed and asked them questions to help better our product.
As my project needed to save users' information, I used Google's Firebase as a database storage.
After figuring out Mapbox, I needed to access another library called Firebase in order to save users' information. After a few YouTube tutorials and trial and error, I figured out how to make the data save for each profile created as seen below.
Users can create profiles and there are set questions for them to answer that allow them to talk about their design emphasis and their story. Although I was not able to connect the two libraries together in one flow, I integrated that gap into Designers of Color where I am the middle-person filtering results if need be.
This was a really challenging, yet fun project for me to take on. Although coding is not my forte, I was able to challenge myself by not only utilizing what languages I already knew, but self-taught myself how to understand two new libraries: Mapbox and Firebase. That was not an easy feat especially since coding is still a new language for me and there are many aspects of coding I don't understand. The main takeaway from this though was my love for user testing and visual layout. From this project I discovered I do want to transition into a visual designer role in the future.
Our professor Glenda Drew wanted to submit our project to Makerfaire 2018! I was able to attend the fair to present it to attendees! Pretty awesome seeing other, especially non-designers being interested in our project.
You can find my project here: https://vivmokona.github.io/des157/designers_of_color/index.html