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Launching probes

Concrete prototypes elicit a very different kind of feedback than storyboards because the subjects are acting as real users, not giving opinions. For this project, students will learn how to mature their ideas further by creating and testing various kinds of prototypes.  Specifically, teams will create a brand identity and perform web marketing to discover the potential audience for their concept. Teams will also perform a service enactment to evaluate the basic service concept with real users. 

Learning Goals:
  • Creating a brand identity
  • Evaluating customer desire for service
  • Choosing cost-effective prototyping methods for services
  • Launching web marketing strategies
  • Enacting a customer service encounter

What to do:

1. Decide Which Hypotheses to Test

Revisit your business model and hypotheses, possibly introducing more, to guide your continued exploration. Decide which hypotheses are the most important to test right now by considering (1) their ultimate effect on the services success and (2) your uncertainty about how true they are. The general strategy here is to test the assumptions and stakeholders that create the biggest risk to your service concept.

2. Perform branding "probe"

Create alternative brands and run a live marketing campaign without the providing service.
  • Design branding materials for your company idea. This should be an exploration of different ideas for the name, color scheme, iconography, and catch phrases that capture the essence of your service concept. Each team should create a mood board, typography exploration, and a large variety of rough alternative brand ideas, before narrowing this down to two good options to compare during live testing. 
  • Create a landing page describing your service and asking visitors to take some action, e.g. register an email address or otherwise express interest. A tool like can be used to create alternate landing pages, each of which can display a different branding alternative and/or different description of the service. 
  • Evaluate your brands through an authentic A/B test. You have two options; pick the option which will help you test your hypotheses and give you the best educational experience:
    1. Marketing campaign:  Launch a campaign to attract people to the landing page. Advertise your service to a stakeholder class as if it were available., e.g. on Google ads, Craigslist, Reddit etc., and measure responses by directing the ad to your landing page. 
      • List options here and possible $ requirements by each team:
      • Think about the audience you want to reach!
    2. Create surveys: Launch an online survey that asks people to compare and contrast your two brands. At the end of the survey, direct them to your landing page where they might add their email to be notified when the app is ready.  Give your survey link to potential customers you have previously interviewed/surveyed. Post your survey link on Craigslist, Reddit, special interest forums. 

3. Enact service encounters

Evaluate the delivery of the service through a concierge MVP (i.e., a minimal viable service).
  • Recruit three volunteers that can serve as "earlyvangilists" in a live role-play of your service over some extended period of time.  Your team's volunteers can be from different classes of stakeholders in your value flow model, or from the same stakeholder class (e.g, primary users).  
  • Provide a "concierge service" for the potential customers. See the reading on Concierge MVP for example of this type of prototype. The team is essentially "wizarding" the core service and attempting to learn what works and doesn't work.  For some team concepts, it might be necessary to improvise a scenario (e.g., "Imagine you just got in a car accident, and you have this app on your mobile phone.")
  • Create photo/video documentation of each service encounters and interview your volunteer after each encounter. Between each encounter, teams should analyze what happened and the interview and revise the process and the rough user interface. 
Notes: Please avoid recruiting volunteers from other teams or close friends. Stretch your team to recruit actual potential customers.  

There are several options for the "interface" to the service, varying in their fidelity:
  • Face-to-face. Simply work directly with a volunteer with no interface.
  • Paper. Draw screens that volunteers use to enter input and select actions. The screens can include design features or just be wireframes.
  • Electronic screens: Create screens on a laptop or phone that support basic interaction, using tools like Balsamic, Cacoo, and Flinto.
All these prototypes build towards, a minimum viable product that provides a complete, but rudimentary service that can be released to the target market. (Preview of Assignment 5: each team will create an interactive prototype—such as a Flinto app— that you can demonstrate on a mobile device during the final poster session. You can start to work towards this in A4, but it will not be required until later. ) 

Deliverables :
In your team's Google folder place, include folders for the following:
  • Branding probes
    • All materials for brand identity (moodboard, typography exploration, logo designs, color scheme, design language, catch phrases, etc.) 
    • Multiple versions of your unbounce landing page
    • A/B testing materials, either:
      1. Web advertisements, along with your plan for where to advertise 
      2. Survey instrument, along with your plan for where to post/who to email
    • An analysis of the results:  ad or survey data, and landing page data
  • Service enactments
    • A description of each service enactment (who, what, where, why, etc.)
    • Photo/video documentation of each service encounter
    • A document that describes the results and design implications from each service encounter
Sign up for a presentation slot using the link on the important links page.

Grading rubric :
Deliverable Guiding questions Minus  Check Check +
Branding materials (30%) Does the team produce a extensive exploration of branding options? Does the brand capture the essence of the business concept? The team does only a shallow exploration of branding options and does NOT try out variations of color, type, names for their brand.  The team's branding materials explore a wide space of possibilities. The final brand does  good job of depicting the business idea.   The team widely explores the branding space and produces an excellent final brand that's visually appealing and consistent with the business concept.
Marketing campaign
Do the ads and landing pages present the service in an appealing way? Does the team produce a useful comparison of branding alternatives through the marketing campaign (or survey).  Adequate ads/survey and landing pages were created, but very few people engaged with them. The team did not perform a useful analysis.  The ads/survey and landing pages were well done and received good attention. The team did a useful analysis of the branding alternatives. The ad campaign (or survey) revealed very strong interest in the service. The team did a nice analysis of branding alternatives and extracts out some key design insights.
Delivery Prototypes (40%) Does the team perform the service enactment well and reveal useful design guidance? Does the team consider alternatives and iterate on their service throughout the process? The team produced service enactments, but did not perform adequate testing or extract out design insights. The team produced effective service enactments that covered key tasks and helped answer  important design decisions. The team created a series of effective service enactments with realistic tasks. The enactments helped the team rapidly iterate on the concept and answer big open questions about the key risks of their concept.