Find + Explore is a space and service redesign for Wavefront Centre’s Showroom to help their senior clients discover and learn about hearing devices with ease.
4-month Client Project for a Senior Level Interaction Design Course
Corrina Tang, Eliza Lim, & Michell Lee
Copywriting, illustrating, interaction design, ethnography, and research
A space redesign of Wavefront Centre’s hearing devices showroom to help clients discover and learn about products easily. Using simple color coding, visual guides, and multi-sensory demos, clients of all accessibility levels can navigate the space independently and find what they need.
This was a semester-long project for a senior level design course at Simon Fraser University where we were tasked to find an organization to collaborate with and aid in solving a challenge they were facing. Our client, Wavefront Centre for Communication Accessibility (WCCA), was very enthusiastic about our work and are currently working to implement many of our recommendations.
our design space
Our service redesign worked to make the space a multi-sensory and exploratory experience where WCCA’s mostly senior clients could easily find what they need and learn how to use the devices on display. The redesign included multiple components: showroom cards, color-coded signage with braille, instructional stickers, iPad Displays, and a catalogue.
Slideshow of the Components
the long and confusing process
As this project was a whole term, we had a lot of time to do research. With the amount we collected, it often became difficult to differentiate the data from the valuable insights.
A main part of my role within the team was this critical thinking work. I strategized on how we could move forward with both precision and quality. A large component of this was copywriting so we could better understand and communicate our ideas.
starting with ethnography work
The first few weeks of this project started with us in the WACC building doing ethnography work. We spent 10+ hours watching everyday practices and did 5 client interviews to get better understanding of their services. From this we created a large affinity map with all our data and tried to break it up into problem areas.
From our initial ethnography work, I pinpointed two major challenge areas for WACC: clients getting lost on their way to their hearing appointments and the underutilized showroom. To learn more about both services, we did a journey mapping exercise with the staff. We had a multitude of staff come and participate – from those who were hearing, Hard-of-Hearing, Deaf, and Deafblind.
From the feedback we created two journey maps: clients going for hearing testing and visiting the showroom. Though ultimately, we ruled out their hearing testing services as we felt that as it was a medical issue it will be difficult to intervene and there was already concerted effort by WCCA to improving this service.
scoping in on the devices showroom
Feeling like we had a richer area to design in, we went with the devices showroom as the challenges felt more tangible. This is when I noticed that the showroom is less of a sales floor – but more of a learning space for seniors and their family to understand hearing loss better.
creating tangible personas
With our research we created personas! Much of the personas were based off the data we collected – but a lot of their emotionality was pulled directly off my own experience with my grandmother’s hearing loss.
Watching my grandmother lose her hearing and how communication with her changed made me adamant that we needed to ensure that clients feel educated at every step of the service and that they can make their own decisions about the technology.
initial idea ideation
At this point, we were tasked with coming up with some initial ideas on how we might create a better experience for clients of the showroom. We held a design sprint where we came up with over 100+ ideas, then began to narrow down to 3 that could be presented to the client.
not there yet
After presenting our ideas, we took some time to reflect on how we were doing the work and how to further improve. We went back through our process and looked at the critical takeaways from each stage of our research and broke down our initial ideas down to key insights and needs.
designing a participatory workshop
To get us back on track, we then held participatory workshops with 10 WCCA’s staff* to better understand how they saw the space and how it could be redesigned. Before creating the workshop, we identified 5 questions we wanted answers for and built exercises around each one.
*originally we wanted to do it with clients, but unfortunately COVID19 prevented that
The 5 questions were:
1. What value lies within the showroom?
2. What is one piece of information you want clients to take away from their visit?
3. What is your ideal learning environment?
4. What connotations do you associate with hearing loss and hearing devices?
5. What would you tell someone that is experiencing hearing loss?
We were very intentional with how participants were guided through our exercises as we wanted to create a space where they could share their thoughts. Activities were presented in a specific order to prime them to think about the showroom, learning spaces they feel comfortable in, and how they might give advice to someone losing their hearing. Everything was delivered through an online workbook, as we had to facilitate the workshop over zoom because of COVID19.
what we learned!
our final design focus
Though we iterated our design focus throughout the semester, we finally felt we had enough information to narrow down and create a specific lens for this project. To guide our ideation process we came up with the following design focus:
Create a welcoming, interactive space for the Hard of Hearing and Deaf community within the Showroom that encourages explorative and independent learning.
devising two strategies & two concepts
To streamline the final stages of ideation, it was suggested that we should create 2 distinct design strategies and follow both to two final services. This allowed us to incorporate all the adverbs WCCA’s staff had used when describing how they envisioned the space.
From the the strategy statements we created two distinct services:
refining and combining
After getting feedback from WCCA, we decided to take some elements of each concept and combine them into one experience. We combined our two original strategy statements into one final statement to guide the final details of our design.
Create an experience that engages multiple senses and helps new Wavefront Centre clients to flow through the room to find and learn about products in an easy and understandable way.
our intervention and its future at WCCA
Find & Explore was our final iteration of the redesign. Though a lot of components were in the final design, each were necessary to ensure that clients of all accessibility levels can access the room. Each element was inspired by current inclusive design solutions and were vetted by staff at WCCA.
WCCA was very happy with the work and research we did and were implementing our recommendations at each step of the process. Before COVID19, the firm had plans to bring our team on board to do the implementation of the project but that has since been put on hold.
This project was career changing for me and it made me want to pursue further education in design – specifically service design. The process to get to where we landed was tough and not linear (and very difficult to write about), but it showed me my ability to see the critical pain points in a system and how we can create change.
As much as I loved this project, I have some questions on how this project may have been different if someone on our team had a lived experience with hearing loss. It gave me pause about how we co-design and who should be the ones designing – all areas I want to continue to investigate further in my studies.