The Local Culture of Biohacking
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Ethnography in Graphic Design
The Methods of Contextual Research class was tasked to study the local culture of Biohacking in Savannah, GA. The main assignment revolved around Design Ethnography which required groups to gather data for affinitization, analysis and framing solutions of what is Biohacking and what it means in the context of Savannah, GA.
My specific role in this project was creating the visual branding of the project which consisted of the project’s logo, slogan, color palette, culture probe design and final process book. The branding that was set since the beginning of the project was applied all the way to the end of the project which consisted of showcasing the research process alongside proposed solution. I also participated in all research areas of the project as well as ideation and conceptualization of solutions.
The Local Culture of Biohacking team consisted of 7 team members from different disciplines including Graphic Design, Industrial Design, Design Management, and Service Design. As a Graphic Designer my expertise was shown in the visual framing of research results, as well as overall branding, process book design, cultural probe design and data visualizations. These data visualizations represent research findings in a way that conveys extensive information efficiently. I was also able to create visual representations of abstract concepts through rapid prototyping and sketching.
Secondary research consists of gathering content from publications, journals, magazines and news reports in regards to the topic of interest. The secondary research consisted of searching for Buzz reports, Key facts on Biohacking, creating an Offering-Activity-Culture Map, Popular Media Search, Publication research and creating an eras map. The process book for this project shows this information in detail.
Four iterations of the cultural probe were prototyped before the team arrived to the final solution. The team found that the first versions were not providing relevant answers to the topic and that the prototype was difficult to interact with. The difference between the first prototypes and final prototype was the integration of several components that provided a clear journey for answering questions and for the team to gather hundreds of data points from several data sets.
Initial Prototypes of Cultural Probe
Final Prototype of Cultural Probe
Surveys also complemented and added to the data points gathered with the cultural probe and interviews. After gathering hundreds of data points the affinitization of data points served as a bridge to analysis allowing the team to create likeness in the data, converting key findings into insights. Affinitization involves placing every research finding from both secondary and primary resources into a yellow sticky note. These yellow sticky notes become grouped and a blue set of sticky notes collect coherent sets of notes that represent one direction. These blue sticky notes have to be written in the voice of the user. The next level of grouping comes in Pink sticky notes and these collect the blue labels under one common direction. Lastly the final grouping comes in Green sticky notes which may be written in the user’s voice and shows a bigger picture of the user story. The ideation process is based on affinitization.
Framing Solutions from Research
Based on the affinitization each team member had to come up with 30 concepts each. In total the team had 250 concepts. The exercise of concept sorting was used to go over the collections of ideas as a way to organize and categorize them into groups. Morphological synthesis was used to connect the clustered concepts to make system-level solutions. This type of synthesis helps visualize the organized concepts under user-centered categories and combines them to form solutions. Concept evaluation and solution evaluation helped the team create a rating system based on the values of the user and the stakeholders. These graphs are represented in the process book.
For the full process and how the Biohacking group of Methods of Contextual Research class led by Kwela Hermanns for the Savannah College of Art and Design arrived to solutions please request in Contact Page.