Visual research methods workshop 2

On February 10, 2011, I had the pleasure of facilitating the second visual research methods workshop the the University of Toronto, with the support the Knowledge Media Design Institute and the Faculty of Information.

The workshop was inspired by David Gauntlett’s ArtLab Lego Serious Play project, during which he had research participants build representations of the identities out of clay.

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In this version of the workshop, the participants – students, researchers and professors – modelled their research ideas out of clay and explained their clay models with each other. This physical representation of an abstract concept allowed the participants to focus their ideas and discuss them with their peers. In turn, the other participants were able to quickly understand the research idea and provide feedback, suggestions and critiques.

The workshop would not have happened without each person’s commitment to the workshop and enthusiasm for this technique. Thank you to all who, through their support and encouragement, made this possible. I hope that we will soon have another!


Motivate Canada social media network

In order to allow participants to share their experiences with Motivate Canada’s programs, inspire other youth to participate and reach donors, the media and other stakeholders, I created a social media network for the organization. This network was supported by a team of communications volunteers, who wrote blog entries, tweeted about themes related to the organization’s work (for example, tweeting about what motivates them on #motivatemonday), and made video blog entries during conferences. This strategy allowed youth participants to feel ownership over Motivate Canada’s communications products and want to be the organization’s champions.

Yahoo Pipes exercise

As a requirement for an information systems design class, I designed a Yahoo Pipes data mashup for use by job-seeking immigrants in Toronto. This prototype was tested by the user group and received positive reviews. While Yahoo Pipes is clearly limited in terms of the functionality and flexibility it offers, this exercise allowed me to learn more about manipulating RSS feeds and combining online data into useful information.

Active Circle website

The Active Circle website was created for Motivate Canada in June 2009. Its aim was to provide sports and project management resources for Aboriginal community leaders working with youth in Canada. I began the production process by consulting with an advisory committee made up of leaders from First Nations, M├ętis and Inuit communities. They explained their aesthetic, content and functionality requirements for the website. This consultation was supplemented by a literature review about symbols and the use of colours in Canadian Aboriginal cultures, as well as about the spread of Internet technologies in Aboriginal communities. From this, a document was created for the graphic design firm, which included background information, narrative user profiles, wireframes, database requirements and navigation flow charts. During the development process, new elements were added, such as a user poll, photo gallery and Google Earth and Twitter widgets.

The website was designed and developed, then tested by the advisory committee before launch.

The link to the live website, which I no longer manager, can be found here.

Motivate Canada website

In 2010, I re-architected and re-branded Motivate Canada’s website. The process was initiated by online surveys with target users, followed-up with several in-depth interviews. Questions examined with the users included pros and cons of current website, requirements of new website, and favorite website designs.

Simple static wireframes were then created on Google Docs and shared with the graphic designer, as can be seen below. These wireframes were included in a proposal that was approved by the Board of Directors before the website was produced with the graphic designer and developer.

From this, a website look and architecture was created.

The live webpage, which I no longer manage, can be found at the following link: