Why evaluate? What kind of evaluation tools are there? How to know what are the correct tools to use in my project?

We did a task in class to quickly come up with a design idea for people at festivals to find one another when lost. I came up with three ideas. I started my quick process by thinking about the criteria, what is relevant and what is not and what are the problems and definitions. The first thing that came to my mind is that it should be something physical and noticeable because from my own experience the internet connection is more often than not very weak at festivals with thousands of people gathered together. I came up with a semi-basic idea of building a big inflatable tower that is easy to place at festivals with a text in big letters: MEET HERE. One of my classmates evaluated this idea and said that the idea is easy to understand and effective. There were a couple of questions arising: How is this idea communicated and where is this idea placed in space? I developed my ideas further and came up with a tool to spot people when looking up to the sky by creating a "pocket lamp" that one can reflect the sky and others can search for the source where this light comes from. Of course, the color/shape/something else of the light has to be recognizable so that one of the group knows it is this person they need to find.

Evaluation is a really essential tool in design, but too early and harsh evaluation can also kill good ideas.

I was thinking about evaluation in my own design practice. How I have used the tools until now and how should I develop. I think I am really good in coming up with very random ideas and not being too scared of "dum" ideas. I am not very critical towards my own ideas and I think that also helps me to come up with ideas that are "out of the box". Often I need someone to be the "voice of wisdom, excpesially when talking about the finance side of the project. We learned a lot of different evaluation methods on our interaction design processes class:

  • Usability studies

  • Surveys

  • Probes

  • Think-aloud testing

  • Playing the design though

  • Focus groups

  • ect.

Also it depends on the state of the process that what are the best methods to use in that time. Evaluation can take place Before, During and After the project. Before the project it is essential to set some objectives, during the project setting criteria and rules and after it is important to reflect the methods used, lessions learned, make some guidelines or toolkits for future projects.

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