Bring up the word “AI” these days, and many people will immediately start advocating the introduction of ethical standards when it comes to collecting and utilizing data for AI training. No where is this strong response more prominent than in the art community where many artists’ works are being utilized without their explicit consent. But there’s much more at stake here than can be solved by a handful of new regulations. The very definitions of the words ‘creator’ and ‘originality’ are shifting. What was once considered to be an exclusively human endeavour is now orchestrated by software and machines, to a degree that can actually be considered practically useful. So, really, what will it mean to be ‘creative’ in the future? And, will it matter?
Donald Norman proposed that, in order to create truly human-centred experiences, we focus our attention on designing for activities that people perform, rather than the tasks, actions or operations that make up those activities. Building upon that, Alan Cooper suggested that it’s even better if we take a goal-oriented approach to design. But why stop there? It might also be useful to think about the needs and values as the basis of these goals.
An overview of the design process I followed to lead my teams at CIBC/Simplii. Every project (no matter how big or small) included a detailed discovery phase, during which we synthesized all the requirements and identified key insights from research to inform our design strategy.
A user’s experience of a product spans a larger timeline than just the moments of direct interaction. Feelings and perceptions can form before the the product is even touched or used and continue to evolve long afterwards.
After reading Scattered Minds by Gabor Mate, I began researching models explaining the different functions that govern our brain’s response to stimulus. This diagram is my first attempt to piece together some ideas relating to this.
A quick sketch to explore the UI architecture for a tool that helps musicians select song keys and construct original chord progressions. I decided not to push the UI exploration further after this point.
This final architecture was the culmination of several rounds of sketching, prototyping and culling of ideas. Above: a mashup of the ideas that made it to the penultimate round. Below: a prototype for an educational feature for deconstructing chords into constituent notes.
I had started this project by building a concept map to understand the core topics and their relationships, following which I started talking to friends who were experienced music producers. Based on the insights from our conversations, I designed a couple of user archetypes:
Playing around with other VSTs gave me some inspiration and helped me understand a typical feature set, but I had to keep researching to generate ideas for new features.
After studying the theory of harmony (which included the topics of scales, chords, chord progressions), I produced a map to list out all the concepts and explored their relationships.
Studying the task environment and signal-flow was another important piece of my investigation and it helped frame the context of use for this tool.
And of course, a quick survey of some of my friends who had music production experience helped me produce these character archetypes. I used this approach to put myself into the shoes of the users and to use role-playing as a technique to anticipate their expectations and paint-points.