Bev and Kev's Amazing DDI Blog

Preparing for interviews


Framing our design challenge

This, for us, is about understanding the needs of our users. After having a discussion together, we decided to break our interview portion down into two sessions. The first to understand how different users approach the idea of sound as a concept, and the other to understand how they interact and feel about existing apps.

Our overall design challenge is: how do users interact with sound on their phones?

Planning our research

The first step is to understand who our users may be. Our mainstream user is someone who is not a musician but has an interest within the scope of experimentation and play of sound (the kind of people who’d play with this on a tube). Our extreme users fall to two sides – on one side those who have experience with music/music technology. The other side of the extreme users scale potentially both technologically and musically naive (possibly a younger audience).

The second step is to select our methods. The first of our two methods is a ‘paper interview’, where we ask questions where the answers can be represented visually through drawing/words. The second method is shadowing and interviewing users while they use existing solutions.

Preparing our tools

In the first session (sound), we will do the following:

  1. Give the interviewee an A4 sheet of paper which is split into three sections.
  2. “Can you draw what a sound looks like to you?” This is ambiguous, but insightful, into how people view sound visually.
  3. Play thirty seconds of ambient music.
  4. “Can you represent the progression of sounds in this piece?” This is similar to the first question, but shows how people view sound in context of a specific piece and in a time series.
  5. “Can you write one sentence in the third pane to show what you think is required to make and manipulate sound?” This gives us tangible broad concepts to summarise this section.

In the second session (apps), we will do the following for each app in the last post:

  1. We will get consent to film the session and start recording.
  2. “Have you ever used an app like this before?”
    1. If yes – “What do other apps like this do that you like, which this may not have?”
    2. If not – “What has stopped you using something like this in the past?”
  3. “What did you think the point of this app was?”
  4. “Do you think this was intuitive?”
  5. “What would you change?”


Researching existing solutions


By the end of this module, we would have conducted a user research process around the theme of Entertainment/Music. We’ve decided to more-specifically look at music creation. To start this off, we’ve conducted some research around other apps that exist in a similar space.

Saucillator (Android)

Immediately on launch, this reminded us of the Korg Kaossilator – a MIDI controller, sampler, and effects processor. Users can toggle settings including effects, synths and timbre.

The app requires at least a basic knowledge of music theory, or lots of experimentation. To create tracks, knowledge of looping and good timing is necessary. All of that said, the set-up time is minimal and you can get started really quickly.

While you can create loops, there is no way of modifying/deleting existing tracks other than to delete the entire compistion – which is something we’d liek to see improved.


Spheretones (Android)

This app is a lot more abstract in how it is used. While it provides a set of instructions on launch, users must be happy to experiment for a while in order to see results.

It provides interesting and unique interactions with the device in order to produce sounds, which was refreshing to see, but also incredibly confusing. Neither Kevin or I could get anything meaningful out of it.

In our opinion, this is more of an experimental app than something which would be used seriously.


Flux (Android)

Flux is a really immersive A/V soundscape experiment. Users start by drawing a 2D line on their screens, and a piece of interactive art is generated. It is a way of filtering and breaking down white noise into different channels. This is the most obscure app in our list, so here is the description from the developers:

Flux is an ever-changing digital sound sculpture. Draw a simple gesture that will define the overall shape and structure of the evolving composition. The gesture is analyzed by the system, and certain parameters define length, movements and mood of the audiovisual composition. Every element is calculated on the fly, based on your initial gesture and some simple algorithms.


In Summary 

When we initially spoke about this project together, we were interested in the idea of managing a library, and creating music, from real world found sounds – from knocking on a table, to running your hand across a railing.

Through this research, we’ve not found any apps which seem to do this, but have been inspired by Mogees (actually a project from Goldsmiths Alumnus) to continue down this path pending the rest of the user research process.

Welcome to our blog!


Hi there!

We’re Bevis and Kevin – two First Year Creative Computing Students studying the Designing Digital Interactions module (IS51019B) at Goldsmiths, University of London.  As part of this module, we’ll be building an application and updating this blog with our progress in the design and development of it.

Our chosen theme is music/entertainment, but we’ll talk more about it in the next post.

Ciao for now!

Bev and Kev.