Posted by: Emma C | April 25, 2009

Creative brainstorming and visual elements design

It was an exciting project! A multi-touch screen brings a whole new interactive experience. When we were assigned  RCI as our fake client, it brought up the question of how to bring this technology to the mass market. Social network and visual concierge system were two ideas we came up with, and we ended up combining both ideas into one.

Surface as a multitouch product, could easily bring up the concept of high-end and modern technology. Meanwhile Surface itself emphasizes on the feature of being intuitive, simple and clean, so we can hardly have complex graphic on the screen. Most of the surface application has neat and clean outlay design with cold color that temps to give the feeling of high tech. On the other hand, RCI as a cruise line, they use bright and warm color, with natural-oriented pictures that convey the idea of casual lifestyle, joyfulness and relaxing moment. At this point, it’s kind of a challenge to maintain features for these two different concepts. Finally we made our design decision to maintain the simplicity of user interface but the richness of color range.

Screensaver-

The idea is to attract users to touch the screen! Coral reef with colorful fishes can really catch people’s attention. When user touches the screen with fingers, it mimics the ripple of water. Such interactive features differentiate the feature of Surface from regular website.

Index page-

Instead of the regular navigation bar, ship wheel not only arouse people’s curiosity but also harmonious with the impressions of cruise. It is also intuitive to play with.

Ship info page-

Referred to the Nation of Why Not of Royal Caribbean International, I choose the color tone and graphic style to maintain our design consistent with their brand image.

Issues of dealing with huge amount of information-

As users need to hold on both sides of the images to open the window and get information, every windows need to have a focusing area designed to convey clear ideas and give users visual impression.

It was a very good experience working on this developing the mock-up for a management system. I learnt a lot about information architecture, user-centered interface design and the process of creative thinking.

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Posted by: salpy | April 24, 2009

Client Proposal Virtual Concierge

Royal Caribbean International (RCI) Virtual Concierge
Objective
To create a virtual concierge that would be similar to the services a purser’s desk provides on cruise ships, with the additional services of a ship directory and custom itinerary creation.
Overview
The virtual concierge system would focus around booking shipboard activities and shore excursions, giving RCI guests directions around the ship, and building custom itineraries that could then be printed out.

Reservations
Guests would be able to search for shipboard services/activities (e.g. spa reservation) or upcoming land excursions and book them right on Microsoft Surface.

Features:

  • General browsing through shipboard activities or services.
  • Ability to book activities, as well as modify bookings.
  • All reservation attempts would provide information regarding spaces available or times (if appropriate) that spaces are available for.
  • Use the surface as a point of sale to pay for activities that need to be purchased.
  • Use the RCI card* on the surface to generate an age appropriate list of activities (e.g. youth oriented activities for teens).
  • Look ahead to book upcoming shore excursions or shipboard activities.

*Currently RCI guests receive a cruise card they can use for onboard purchases. Adding an RFID tag would enable usage with Microsoft Surface.

Directions
Guests would be able to search for ship activities or locations and be given directions on how to get there.

Features:

  • The system would provide a “you are here” icon with a path showing you how to get to your destination.
  • Akin to a “mapquest” for the ship with the option of printing directions or sending them to a mobile device.
  • Virtual walkthroughs of key locations on the ship such as the Royal Promenade.
  • Video feeds of main activity areas so that guests can gauge how busy an area is before they travel all the way there (e.g. how crowded is the pool right now?)

Custom Itineraries
Guests would be able to create their own custom itinerary.

Features:

  • Guests can drag and drop events from the general itinerary onto a custom itinerary.
  • Ability to narrow down general itinerary listing using search options.
  • Any purchased or reserved events would appear on the guest’s custom itinerary as well.
  • Ability to organize future itineraries (e.g. build the itinerary for day four on your first day of the cruise).
  • Ability to print custom itineraries.


Rationale

Reservation System: Cruise guests have the option of purchasing excursions online ahead of time, or to purchase them onboard the ship at the Purser’s Desk. With guest capacities of 3500-4000 for their larger and most popular classes of ships (Voyager and Freedom classes), the Purser’s Desk can experience lineups that most guests would rather not wait in. Allowing guests to browse, reserve and purchase activities/excursions at their own leisure would emphasize the relaxing feel of a cruise. By using their RCI cards directly on Microsoft Surface, guests can receive itinerary recommendations as well as save customized itineraries.

Ship Directions:
At 1112 feet long and 185 feet wide with 15 passenger decks, the largest ships in RCI’s fleet can be quite intimidating to navigate. At the moment, RCI has installed interactive ship maps on one of their largest ships – the Liberty of the Seas – on three of its fifteen decks. These maps will appear on their next larger Oasis class of ships as well.  Giving guests the ability to navigate the ship at ease would not only provide convenience, but also allow guests to fully take advantage of the myriad of activities the ship provides.

Custom Itineraries: Guests receive the daily newsletter “Cruise Compass” which includes a daily planner of activities occurring throughout the day, as well as what hours recreational facilities are open. With the amount of information available on the daily planner, it can quickly become overwhelming for guests to search through and organize. By making the itinerary creation process simpler and more enjoyable, guests can relax and enjoy their cruise.
Marketing
The key feature of the virtual concierge system is to offer convenience for RCI cruise guests, allowing them to enjoy their cruise as the relaxing vacation it is intended to be. As ships become larger and offer more activities, recreational facilities, and programs, guests should feel that taking advantage of all the ship has to offer is simple and not at all frustrating. By providing a virtual concierge system that helps with reservations, ship navigation, and itinerary creation, RCI can assure their guests that their stay will be the smooth, fun and relaxing experience they intended it to be.

Posted by: salpy | April 24, 2009

Client Proposal for RCI Community

Royal Caribbean International (RCI) Community

Objective
To integrate an online RCI Community with a shipboard bulletin board system so that RCI guests can meet, mingle, and continue friendships post-cruise.

Overview
The surface would serve as a bulletin board system (BBS) that would allow guests to create or join event lists and indicate if they would like companionship. For example, families may want to arrange play dates for their children. The BBS would serve as a shipboard extension to the RCI Community online site – a Facebook like application that extends the current “Nation of Why Not” Citizen’s site of RCI.

BBS
A shipboard BBS that allows RCI guests to find activity partners and create group events.

Features:

  • Ability to browse through activities or events on the ship and post messages such as “partner wanted for tennis match”.
  • Ability to create group events (e.g. discussion group to discuss the day’s shows).
  • Ability to place the RCI cruise card* on the surface to bring up saved BBS posting areas or to recommend BBS posts that suit interests that were preloaded onto the card (based on the guests’ RCI Community site profile).

*Currently RCI guests receive a cruise card they can use for onboard purchases. Adding an RFID tag would enable usage with Microsoft Surface.

RCI Community Online Site
A Facebook like online community site for RCI cruise guests or future guests that allows users to post reviews of cruises, set up activity interests, and allow guests to load activity preferences onto their cruise card if they have an upcoming cruise.

Features:

  • RCI cruise guests can create profiles on the site where they could post pictures and reviews of their cruises.
  • Ability to select their favourite activities/events during their cruise.
  • Ability to set up a hobbies/interests area that would generate recommended activities for their cruise.
  • Ability to create and join partnerships or groups for the cruise ahead of cruise time.
  • Ability to choose whether to download activity preferences and group/partnership memberships onto the RCI cruise card for upcoming cruises.

Rationale
BBS: When on a cruise, the people you went with may not be interested in the same activities you are. To take full advantage of the enormous amount of activities and recreational facilities available shipboard, it makes sense to implement a system which helps guests find activity partners. With the varied nature of RCI guests – families, young couples, singles, older individuals – and guest capacities of 3500-4000, meeting people on board who share the same interests can be difficult. By providing a shipboard BBS system that integrates with a guest’s online profile, guests interested in the same activities can easily arrange to meet and even set up group events. By using Microsoft Surface to provide a BBS, guests can interact with postings naturally and intuitively and use their RCI card to narrow down postings to their interests and provide recommendations.

RCI Online Community Site: The online community site would provide for ongoing connections between cruise guests and allow for individuals thinking of taking an RCI cruise to browse reviews and recommendations. The site would be an extension of RCI’s current “Nation of Why Not” Citizen’s site, changing it from a cruise testimonial site to a full featured tool that allows cruise guests to stay in touch, customize their RCI card for shipboard use, and set up meetings with event partners and groups ahead of cruise time.
Marketing
The RCI Community would help promote ongoing brand loyalty and further promote RCI’s feel of the “Nation of Why Not” community. By promoting how easy it is to find activity partners and set up group events, RCI could reassure its guests that there’s always someone with whom to enjoy all that RCI ships have to offer.

Posted by: siewlingc | April 23, 2009

Art Direction & Information Architecture

Nature of Technology

When this project had begun, one needs to assess and observe how the user interacts with the technology. This provides valuable insights to create benchmarks and understanding what the user experiences:

Sit Down and Look Down

Nature of the media is forces the user to look down and touch. Which creates a captive experience with the expectation that they user will stay for more than 2 minutes to be engaged in the presentation. As oppose to interacting with media upright.

Cue, Touch and Go

Experiential cuing means that the user needs instant feedback to instruct them what to do next. Much like a website, except the nature of the application is to cue with special effects, buttons and a host of other tactile experience and touch point language (ie. touch and drag is a response for pulling an object across the screen or scaling an object). The user need to be carefully cued to learn how to proceed in an intuitive manner means breaking down how the application based on function (how the user interacts) in addition to the type of information being delivered. So there is an underlying structure to account for the user’s response.

Forgive And Learn

When developing a system, users are bound to make wrong decisions-but will they be able to back track to proceed and reach the intended area? So the system has to be forgiving in allowing the user to make this kind of mistake as they learn to use this system on the fly. Is there more than one way to get to intended part of the application?

Bells and Whistles

MS Surface has an added bluetooth feature and responds to RFID tag opens a new avenue in interaction with other devices such a GPS and more. The technology is scaleable to work in conjunction with other devices.

This a reference for guiding a creative project like this, developed by IDEO.

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Now that we have a very good idea what the users go through and how the technology affect the user, we can put that technology into context. Helps us sharpen our focus on how we can create a compelling application for the end user that entertains them while making it easy to use.

Usage

MS Surface as you know is a combination of information kiosk with bluetooth capabilities and track RFID tags in a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. What we proposed is a Virtual Concierge that can be used in conjunction with a card with a RFID tag that will allow the user do more like book an appointment or an excursion, make purchases and print individualize itinerary.

Come Back for More

The user’s information can change very frequently. Keeping the users coming back for more entails designing the application with the user’s expectation in mind. In this case, sharing resources is about how users can connect with other user and see if anyone wants to join a group for an excursion, plan a game or arrange a play date for the kids. It allows for users to interact with common purposes and lets them track new posts and updates. When the trip is over, the user can log into the RCI website and continue the shared experience with others who have gone on an RCI cruise.

Gauging the Experiential Requirements

The application allows the user to custom their cruise experience, excursion and service booking, the project serves to enhance the cruising experience. A benchmark for the application experience has to include factors like motion, colour and functionality to keep the end user engaged. Subtle cues provide an instant feedback with pertinent info.

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Three types: youths, 30 – 55, 55+
That means the application has to be user friendly and three types of users entails that we keep things in mind when we’re designing the app. Keep it simple. Each type of user has a different idea of what simple is.

Psychographic

"In the field of marketing, demographics, opinion research, and social research in general, psychographic variables are any attributes relating to personality, values, attitudes, interests, or lifestyles. They are also called IAO variables (for Interests, Activities, and Opinions)."

wikipedia.com
Another method of assessment utilizes cultural anthropology research method.

Youths

  • Participate in the Adventure Ocean program
  • Teens have their own clubs/arcades
  • High technical proficiency
  • Willing to explore as they have grown up with a firm idea of how the technology is meant to work

30 – 55

  • Singles, couples, families
  • Wide variety of activity participation
  • Would purchase land excursions
  • Varied technical proficiency
  • Lower for older individuals
  • Basic computer literacy for most
  • Lacks tolerance if the application doesn’t seem to work in their point view
  • There are a strong contingent population who are strong computer users, but may not tolerate outside of what their regular usage

55+

  • Singles, couples
  • Wide variety of activity participation
  • Would purchase land excursions
  • Low technical proficiency for most
  • Though this generation weren’t born into the technology, there is a strong extreme North Americans in this age range are fairly computer literate if it was part of their daily life
  • Exhibit tolerance and patience for new technology

This comes down to basic human nature…when going on a cruise and seeing this device, one has to invite them to use it with a sense of curiosity. Reward them with a sense of surprise and fun.

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Brand Promise

Liken to a vacation at an elegant luxury resort that provides a safe family-friendly services and events. There are programs for children-teens that are geared to improving their social and creative developments, spa and medi-spa services as well as fitness programs. This is a step above a party cruise ship.

Brand Image

Has a tone of luxury, with a plaza and resort feel, the excursions are adventurous enough that still feels safe.
RCI Brand Reference

Definitive document of what a brand, developed by Interbrand.

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The initial creative exploration started by assessing the corporate colour, blue. Then the art direction is based on the images used on all their promotional materials, the feel, tone, colour range and styling. Then, research into the visual references draws on nautical theme and imagery.

The screen saver is designed to entice the user to touch one of four corners by having the fish swim across to the corner. The coral tank idea builds on the tropical theme and extends the nautical experiential theme.

This is my in-class presentation for my role in this project.

This is the visual progression in the development of the look and feel.

Posted by: salpy | April 20, 2009

Project Manager’s Entry

Hi, I’m Salpy Kelian, project manager for the Infusion client project. Since I’ve already written the About section for this site, I’ll be focusing on what it was like to organize the project.

Kayla of Infusion Development had left the project fairly open ended, so it was up to me to try to narrow down our focus before we started coming up with ideas for the project. Since Kayla had emphasized that a marketing pitch would be required for each proposal, I knew the first place to start was to research where Royal Caribbean International (RCI) stood in the cruise line business. I found that they were 2nd in terms of market share – 22% compared to the 44% of the market held by Carnival Cruises. Obviously in order to attract more customers to RCI just using a Surface application would be difficult, so I tried to not only research the quantitative data, but also the qualitative aspects such as wait times on board for services. One complaint that was common on cruise lines in general was the long wait at the Purser’s desk where excursion purchasing or other financial transactions are carried out.

After putting together a seven page research document along with ten pages of appendices, I relayed my research results to the rest of my team. Eventually we decided on a Virtual Concierge as our primary project proposal, followed by the RCI Community concept as our secondary one. Once the client decided to go with the Virtual Concierge, I then had the task of listening to my team’s ideas in how the project would contain and how it would flow. Even after a few meetings where we spent quite a few hours going through what we thought we wanted, I still found that sitting down to wireframe the project took a long time. The initial “Project Map” where I laid out each movieclip required, elements and code required on each, and how each movieclip would transition to the next, took me four hours.

Event with our project map, I found later on that I had to restructure our wireframes after the designers ran into issues as they proceeded with the project. It’s a bit strange looking back at the project management binder and just how much it contains. It was my first time as a project manager and I found that there was a lot of work to be done initially in order to get things going. There was definitely a sense of pressure to get things organized and planned out so that the project had clear guidelines. Many of my personal projects were shifted to lower priority while I researched RCI and planned out project execution.

After it was all said and done, the project came together fairly nicely despite bumps along the way. As for a future in project management, I think I’m going to have to say no thank you and stick to development instead.

For those of you who are interested, I’ve posted both of the original client proposals on this blog so you can see how far we came from our inital start.

Posted by: ingridzhao | April 15, 2009

Developer’s Entry

In this term’s IMM program, Infusion Development is my group’s client. We were required to come up a business solution for Microsoft Surface. Our mock up client is Royal Caribbean International. After hours of research and discussion, we decided to create a virtual concierge site.

The key feature of the site are:

§ Ship map

§ Ship Info

§ Ports of call

§ BBS(message center)

§ Itinerary

§ Excursion/On Board service and events info and booking

To imitate the key functions in MS Surface the application should be able to

Screensaver to attract the attention of the people passing by

We made an undersea scene with fishes moving around, and mouse triggered water ripples

Accessing from different directions

We created ship wheel to be our main navigation component

Object reorganization

We put dummy RCI card to simulate the real card putting on the surface

Moving things around, scaling and rotating

Each feature above will show in different popup windows

I am the programmer of this project. I made totally sixteen classed. The most important one is a custom window class since all the popup windows will extend from it.

Common Assets

TopBar MovieClip

Moving windows around

Transform Button

Scaling and rotating

Close Button

Common Functions

Flying in from different directions

Mouse over glowing effect

Click to bring to the top

The other key class is the window factory class. The window factory class is a static class, it check whether the window is already on the stage, if yes, bring it to the front, otherwise creates the right one.

During the production, I have two changelings, xml and flash datagrid component. Xml don’t have the sorting function, so I have to put the node of XML into an Array first, sort it, then put it back to XML. And it’s kind of tricky to sent the xml to PHP from flash, then save it to local disk. What’s more, I have to manually assign the modify permission to the internet guest account, there are not much information on the internet so it took me a really long time to do it. For the flash datagrid component, I spend lots of time to customized it, but finally gave up because:

Very difficult to styling

Row shares the same height(with multiline)

Not easy to put buttons in the cell

No mouse over tooltips

So I have to make my own datagrid component. Structure as follows:

MultilineCell

Base cell for the datagrid

Row

Composite by MultilineCells, images, buttons etc

InteractiveRow

Extends Row, has mouse over to show descriptions

Header

Composite by MultilineCells

Grid

Composite by Row or InteractiveRow

Overall, I really enjoy the project, I learned a lot from it. Although it’s only a demo project, I think it would be a good piece of work in my portfolio.

Here, I also want to thank Salpy for all the research and documents and help me to do the bbs and message center. And Siewling and Emma for all the graphics. Good work, team!

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