Primary User Profile: The Yuppie
I imagine my primary user to be a young urban professional or ‘creative’ living in and jaded by New York City. This profile allows for a full understanding of the project from the conceptual ‘in’ jokes of Times Square being a living hell, to the comfort and willingness to experiment with the portable projector in such a hectic place. I think the experience of City Projectour could be appreciated and performed by many outside this profile, and I plan to keep an inclusive mindset while developing it, but for now, this is the average profile I’m envisioning, probably because I fall in this category and this project is very much propelled by my own experience.
NYC yuppie scrolls through instagram, where they follow city-related publications for cultural happenings (i.e. Time Out NY, Atlas Obscura, The New Yorker, NY Mag). They see a video posted from one of these publications promoting/reviewing City Projectour.
A couple of yuppies go to Herald Square, pick up projectors from the pop-up kiosk. They’re given short instructional guidance from the person manning the kiosk:
Meant to be experienced with one earbud in and one out.
Encouraged to be as wildly experimental as you want.
The focus ring can be found on the right side of the projector.
Basics of projection: the farther away the projector is from the surface, the bigger the projected image. Generally, white is the best surface color for projection, black is the worst, as it’s the least reflective. Think about these poles and the spectrum between as you seek surfaces.
The projector is loaded with a tracklist of audio/visual multimedia. Like museum audio tours, the experience primarily consists of pressing play and pause, adjusting volume, rewinding/fast forwarding, as needed.
Audio prompts will indicate where to go. You also have a printed postcard guide. It’s up to the user to decide the exact surface of the projections for each track.
Postcard front & back:
Yuppie User Testing
The above videos show testing for the yuppie user. These prototypes were created to
Investigate the effectiveness of the layered experience
See how someone outside my own head interpreted and played with the mixed media and realtime action.
Watch how the user handled the projector, interpreted prompts, explored the environment.
Gain general feedback on the types of visuals.
I found the testing helped confirm the experience works as planned. Trying to explain the experience in words seems to overcomplicate it, so it was good to just put the projector into someone else’s hands and see that it took very little instruction for her to start playing as intended.
The user reported a layered experience that was already interesting in its projected visuals and soundtrack, but made more so with the unpredictable serendipity of the in situ Times Square backdrop. It turned a typically hectic experience into one of meditation, experimentation, and play.
Before testing in Times Square, these prototypes were initially presented at the pop-up show. Because the project is site-specific, I wasn’t really testing for user experience at the pop-up show. There’s no way I could extensively achieve that in the kitchen of D12. So I went into the pop-up show with the intention of practicing how I talk about the project, how effectively I can communicate the idea in as few words as possible. I was also debuting the Dante concept, so it was good to get feedback on that angle as people digested the content without the real experience.
This resulted in confirming the Dante angle is amusing and relatable to people. I also tested these prototypes in my Maps as Media class and everyone agreed the inferno metaphor is delightful and makes them want to actually try my tour in Times Square.
I could see developing City Projectour as a format that offers different kinds of tour experiences. So you could select from the hallucinatory inferno experience or the non-narrative, purely playful experience. The latter would involve visuals more like my initial project development: character-driven, fun, non-sensical but cool to play with, more like animated stickers on the city (i.e. the alpaca, the mario, the fire, the Trump, etc).
The user profile for this experience is the wild child because it’s more appealing to kids, or to our inner-child playfulness. I tested these visuals with my 6 year old nephew, who needed no instruction and immediately fell in love with the experience.
Wild Child 1 Flowers and waterfalls
Wild Child 2 Light bulb guy
Wild Child 3 Mario, “But I love this.”
Wild Child 4 Mario, “I want to see this everyday in my room. Send me this video!”
These were useful tests just to see how intuitively playful the medium is. While this designed experience likely won’t lead City Projectour, I do think there remains a place for this style of play in the project.
Additional Content Tests
In addition to the Dante experience, I tested this playful Times Square in-situ history approach. I directed the user to go to 1 Times Square where the world’s first news ticker, “The Zipper,” used to be mounted until it disappeared in 2017. See video here.
Autumn ablaze. Thinking about projections on canopies of changing leaves: how light would play with the color and opacity. Made me imagine the canopy as night sky, whose constellations of light tell the mythic, elemental stories of its creation.
Testing the feel of moving the projector to animate a walking loop or something like this Mario clip.