Redesigning the Remote Critique Process

By Rochelle Dai, Sienna Gonzalez, Morgan Creek, and Gennifer Hom

Problem Statement

For the 2020–2021 school year, UC Davis Design is only offering remote courses. We wanted to create a comfortable and beneficial critique environment for design students to receive feedback on their projects in a remote setting.

Final Product

Video by Rochelle Dai

Our Team

Timeline

Here’s what our design process looked like. We spent the majority of the 5 week sprint conducting research and prototyping.

User Research

We knew the design critique process involved two groups of users: professors and students. To get rapid student feedback, we created a survey to gather data about their critique experience. For professors, we conducted a total of 4 one-on-one interviews with design professors to get more information about their experience hosting critiques. Our goal was to find the strengths and weaknesses for both in-person and online environments so we could cross analyze the two.

Brainstorming

From our research, we used affinity mapping to identify common themes within our data and organized them into distinct pain points.

Affinity mapping exercise done through Figma

User Research: Synthesis

We recognized that the remote critique experience is a multi-step process, which we called the critique journey: what happens Before critique, During critique, and After critique. We wanted our solution to account for each step of the experience

Dissecting the Data

From our surveys and interviews, we received many contrasting responses about the experience during critique.

Ideation: Sketches

After categorizing our user research, we moved onto the ideation phase.

Examples of a few sketches we did to solve some of the problems from our data and brainstorming

Before Critique

Low Fidelity Prototype

We first wanted to increase personal connections and ease anxiety for the before section critique to address the feedback from our survey and interviews.

User Testing

We then conducted user testing and learned that our lobby screens lacked hierarchy—users did not know where to look or what actions to take.

High Fidelity Prototype

We simplified the Before critique process by separating it into 2 distinct steps:

  1. Answering the ice breaker question
High fidelity prototype of the user flow for entering a critique session

During Critique

Low Fidelity Prototype

We wanted to minimize the feeling of awkward silence during critique. A memorable quote from a user stated:

First iteration of the emotes interaction during our low fidelity prototype phase

User Testing Round 1

From user testing we learned that public emotes would actually make students more subconscious about their work.

Mid-Fidelity Prototype

Second iteration of our emotes feature after attempting to address user feedback

User Testing Round 2

After another round of user testing, we discovered our emotes were still not functioning quite the way we wanted them to. Users mentioned that the sticker function was redundant and not intuitive because it was basically another form of annotation

High Fidelity Prototype

Final iteration of the emotes feature

After Critique

Low Fidelity Prototype

We wanted to make referencing the feedback after critique easier for students.

Low fidelity prototype of what the final documentation of feedback could look like

User Testing

User testing brought up an edge case where there might be multiple annotations in the same area.

High Fidelity Prototype

Final Product

After seeing a breakdown of each step of the process, this is how it all comes together to form a user-centered remote critique session.

Reflection

Future Changes

We would like to explore and accommodate for various learning styles, improve the professors’ experience with conducting in-class critique, and further refine the emotes and test with a large audience

What We Learned

  • How to conduct a face-to-face interview in a remote setting for research
  • Designing with the user flow in mind
  • How to incorporate diverse user feedback into a design solution

Conclusion

Through user surveys and interviews we learned that users feel various complex emotions surrounding the user experience before, during, and after a remote design critique session. These emotions may not necessarily agree with each other, which is part of the challenge associated with creating products to fit a diverse audience.

We’re a student-run design consultancy @ UC Davis!

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