From October of 2015 to November of 2015, I spent my time as a Computer Technology & Occupations teacher in Phuket, Thailand. Throughout the entire experience, there was one particular project I did with my Junior students that stuck with me. There was no curriculum given for the course, so it was up to me to come up with our lessons throughout the year. I decided our final project, the second half of my last semester there, would be an entrepreneurial project. Students were tasked with coming up with their own company, creating a budget, choosing a slogan, and finally, going through an abbreviated version of creating and presenting their company website. It was this final step that reignited my interest and passion for UX. I had so much fun walking students through the problem-solving process and watching them come to realizations as they worked through their designs and decisions. The results of their their hard work are detailed below.
Step 1: Business proposal & Budget
Students were immediately excited about creating their own business. Their first assignment was to write a business proposal – detailing what their business was going to be, where it would be located, how they planned to stand out amongst their competitors, how many employees they would need to start, and what success looked like for the future. Students followed up by creating a budget to cover one time expenses and recurring expenses.
Step 2: Slogan
Students were next asked to come up with a slogan to accompany their new business. The results were entertaining to say the least. The examples given to students included famous slogans such as "Just do it." by Nike, which, as you can see below, was modified to fit a student's smoothie cafe as "Just drink it!". Another student decided on a hotel concept with the accompanying slogan "Rest in peace.", which may not be the message to send potential customers, but I appreciated their creativity!
Step 3: Website Sitemap
Students were introduced to the concept of sitemaps and site hierarchy. They were instructed to create their own sitemap, along with providing some of their favorite websites that they used as inspiration. The sitemap exercise helped students realize what information their potential customers might be searching for and how to display that information in a way that made sense throughout their site.
Step 4: Wireframes
Students used their sitemaps as a basis for the construction of their wireframes. Students folded sheets of paper to create 8 segments, each one containing a wireframe sketch of a page from their sitemap. Students were encouraged to created at least 16 wireframe sketches, if not more. Prior to diving into this portion of our project, students were shown examples of wireframes and broke down websites into wireframe form. They were instructed not to use color, as these were simply for the layout of the page and not representative of the visual design. The challenge here was getting students to think outside the box and come up with potential designs that they didn't know they were capable of!
Step 5: Final Websites
Students were required to have 3 functioning web pages for their final presentation. We used Wix.com to do the actual web design. Students really enjoyed this portion of the project and many of them got quite creative. Students wrapped up the project by presenting their company and website to the class. A few examples can bee seen here:
Students had so much fun with this project. I was impressed with their creativity when it came to what businesses they chose. I learned quite a bit while teaching this project, including the importance of driving home page hierarchy during the sitemap stage. This really eased the transition when it came to sketching the wireframes, and eventually, creating the actual webpages. It was fun to see this project spark interest in web design and the overall user experience in several of the students.