Highlight of prototype evaluation
Very surprisingly, the format that the final booklet took was quite accurate to our prototype that we made out of standard A3 sheets for the Hello World technical demo back in January. When we were first wanting to create a completely different style format for a booklet, with pages flipping down, hidden illustrations behind pages and pages folding out of each other, we weren’t 100% sure that we could pull it off considering it was every member in the group’s first fully fledged print project. Our prototype was a rough estimation of how we wanted the interactions throughout the print booklet to work and once we had that prototype made, it made the process for creating content for the format of the booklet much easier. Take for example the timeline pages in The Public Web section, which is three A5 pages that fold out of each other vertically. We wanted this to be a visual representation of all of the monotonous information which people consume on the public web every day. We wanted it to act as a visual metaphor for something similar to opening up a closet which is full of junk; once you open that door everything packed inside of it falls out on top of you. This was very hard to convey in our first prototype because we were using standard print paper from the printers here in college so they had no weight nor substance to them. But once we had the documents finalised much more and it was time to start getting test prints done by print shops in the locality, we were able to choose between different weights and styles of paper, allowing us to re-create that feeling of opening a door and everything falling out on top of you.
We had many people look over our standard paper prototype and asked them if they would understand the format if it was in fact printed on proper paper with the content printed on it. We felt that it was very important to get people external from the group itself to test the prototype so as we would not go ahead and create a booklet that simply did not make sense to the people who were going to be using it. We knew exactly what each page had to do in order for the message to be conveyed only because we were designing every page from scratch ourselves. It would be ignorant to think that anyone would be able to pick it up and understand exactly what we meant. The user testing for the paper prototype went really well. Everyone that picked it up really liked the idea that the book was like an adventure or ‘puzzle’ as a couple of people called it. They liked that they had to unfold the terms and conditions page to uncover the illustrations about the stairs and the elevator. It is a format that people are not used to when it comes to printed booklets and because of that, we feel that the user is almost forced to think critically about the work on the page as they have to do work just to uncover said work. Considering our original aim of this project was to make people think critically about their decisions online, we thought this was a great success.
Many changes were made to the first prototype that was shown in the “Hello World” technical demo on the 13th January. The first prototype was based on using the Interactive PDF format. It comprised of three static images that were not animated and featured the dark web animation prototype that was a slideshow of digital storyboards. There was also interactive buttons that would let the user access additional content.
The main changes that took place from the first prototype to the finished version is that the format has changed from Interactive PDF to Adobe DPS. This change in format changed the overall product dramatically as some functions that was present in the first prototype would not transition over the new format such as buttons. The benefit of changing to the new format also allowed us to avail of new functions within the new format such as Scrollable Frames, Multistate objects and adding video content.
Another change that was shown ahead of the prototype was the use of animations. In the interactive PDF, all of the images were static as they has no interactivity in them. The reasoning behind the digital publication is that it would expand on the print edition and expand where the print edition physically could not. There was also technical hurdles when showing video content on the prototype version of the digital publication. The main problem was the Interactive PDF format does not display videos depending on what PDF viewer the user has on their device. By changing to the DPS software for the final version of the digital publication, the video can be imported into the software in the mp4 format and can add various functions to the video(looping, auto play, user controls for the video, ability to stop on the last frame).
The user testing element increased once we got our first fully fledged test print from Murphy Print in Killarney. It was our first chance to have the booklet printed out by a high quality printer and on the right weight of paper so it gave us a much clearer indication of what the final booklet would look and feel like. The weight of the paper also allowed for our interactions within the pages to become much more apparent. This time with the user testing, anyone who had previously tested out our paper prototype were extremely excited with the progress as the pages had content on them now and it was printed much closer to what we planned for the final piece. This is when we got some much more accurate user testing done as people had a better idea of what the booklet would actually feel like. Straight away we realised that on some of the sections of the booklet which the user could pull down and interact with, we needed to place some form of a prompt or content on that page to let the user know that it was in fact possible to interact with that page. We decided against the prompt as we wanted to be a little more intuitive about it, so take the terms and conditions for example, we placed the fine print on the underside of the document, which the user can fold down and discover the stairs and elevator. So we placed the fine print upside down and smaller on the underside of the T&C’s document so that the user would be prompted to fold the page down and line it up in the correct format with the text on the other page. This was one of the only concerns we had after user testing on the printed prototype.
We did think that we were going to have problems with Section 3 – The Dark Web. We were worried the users wouldn’t know to open the page and maybe not see the section, but since The Dark Web is an A3 page, folded into the size of an A5, it’s quite a bulky page so once the user finishes section 2 and gets to The Dark Web that they will know there’s more under the page.
The main complaint I received when user testing the digital publication was that there was no prompt for the user in how to go to the next page or how to interact with the content that was in the digital publication. There was also a fear that the user may miss out on some of the content featured within the publication because there was little to no navigation prompts.
Taking aboard all of the feedback I received, I decided to create an icon that would be displayed at the bottom right of each page to indicate to the user the direction to navigate through the digital publication. There would be two different states of this icon, a static version and an animated version. The reason why there is two different states is because due to the hierarchy of formats that is within the Adobe DPS suite, it would be impossible to key-frame an animation to trigger off at a certain point within a static section such as the data visualisation section . These sections will just contain a static icon. For animations, the animated version of the icon will be placed at the end of each animation to signify that the animation has ended and the user can proceed to the next section.
The icon that I designed is three triangles that are in close proximity to each other. This design is based on the “fast forward” symbol used in consumer electronics dating back as early as the VCR and cassette tape player. Since the user is synonymous with this symbol I figured that they would relate to the icon that I created that it would tell the user that it was time to move onto the next section.
The main problem with using this icon when it came to user testing was that the user would press on the button with the assumption that by pressing it they would advance to the next page. This was a problem as the user had to swipe in order to progress. In order to create an icon that the user would understand not only to know when to progress to the next page but also know which direction to swipe to the next page, I created a hand and a double edged arrow graphics. I then imported these graphics into After Effects and created a composition where the hand would swipe in the direction of the arrow that the user had to swipe to in order to progress through the publication.
After inserting this icon into each section, I proceeded to user test the updated digital publication. It was much more positive as the user group knew how and when to progress through the digital publication.