Today’s Issues, and a Step Towards the Solution

Values & Industry Research

Source: RAND.org

Areas of Interest

Many of my current interests were born as a result of the recent pandemic that took over the world. We’ve been more conscious than ever about what other people are doing. Are they wearing masks? How far away are they standing? What are they doing outside?! All these concerns we have about other people have created more divides between us. These divides cause outrage and disagreements that further separate us during a time when we need to come together. I’ve been fortunate to be in a position where I could witness some of these divides, and question why they exist and what can be done to remove them.

One such divide I’ve seen has been a result of misinformation being spread via social networks. In today’s modern world we are bombarded with news feeds, pictures, and advertisements wherever we go. Unfortunately, most of these communications are never filtered or monitored for correctness, resulting in people blindly accepting false truths.

Another issue that has been amplified recently is miscommunication, or rather misinterpretation, leading to unintended arguments and increased stress levels. Text communication is incredibly convenient, but it comes with a lack of human mannerisms and nuances. Something that someone might be trying to convey might appear completely different to the recipient.

My final area of interest that has been especially costly revolves around social health and wellbeing. Airborne illnesses are especially tricky as they are invisible and undetectable to unequipped humans. The only real precautions we can take are to wear a protective covering over our face and to keep physical distance between others. While it’s easy to spot an unprotected face, it’s not as simple to maintain space especially in stores and restaurants.

The domain I decided to stick with is the first one I mentioned revolving around politics and opinions. I picked this topic because I feel that it has the most impact, especially now with a major election looming in America’s horizon.

PEST Domain/Industry Analysis

Using PEST analysis I’ve found that the timing for development in this domain has never been more perfect. America is potentially going to experience a major political shift in the government. Spendings and earnings continue to rise in technology fields, as exemplified by the values of company shares. Separations caused by income distributions, demographics, and lifestyle choices create pockets of individuals with similar beliefs and opinions. And finally, with the incredible advancements in mobile technology, people are more available than ever to be able to experience a new development in the field.

Competitive Landscape

The most prominent industries in this domain are social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit. These platforms allow people to connect with others that have similar interests and perspectives. A major downside to these platforms is that users tend to become more separated in their own ideas and beliefs, and are less likely to realize any new ideas, or accept new perspectives. My solution to this is to create a platform where people can answer questions that map out their opinions and understanding of controversial issues, and provide them with more information to those topics. The goal of this platform is to combat the false truths and misconceptions people have by providing them with factual information to help them question their knowledge in the most non-combative and non-confrontational way possible.

Competitive Matrix Featuring Top Social Media Platforms

User Research

User Interviews

When designing a product, it is extremely important to ensure that there is actually a market for it. Putting in a lot of work and maybe even getting a built product before conducting the proper research can be catastrophic. User interviews are a great way to really see if your product actually fills a need that people have, and whether it fills it in the way that people will use it. The PEST analysis I talked about earlier can only go so far as it doesn’t really take the end user into account. Just because there might be an unfilled gap in the product space doesn’t necessarily mean that people actually want that need to be filled. User interviews are extremely important, but the questions that are asked are even more important. I’ve realized that initially many of my questions were simple yes or no questions. This is ok when trying to filter people for the right demographic, but it’s not very useful when it comes to figuring out the design or layout of a product. Questions with open ended answers allow you to gain more insight that can be used to create a better end result.

User Questions

  • Do you use social media?
  • Would you like to learn more about important topics that are relevant in our current political and scientific climates?
  • If so, what sources do you currently use to get information and news?
  • Do you like those sources?
  • If not, why?
  • Would you be interested in a platform where you can get factual information about topics that interest you?
  • In this platform, would you be interested in sharing information with peers, or would you prefer to not have a friends feature?

These are some of the questions I asked to fellow students and friends. I believe these questions are unbiased as I am not leading them to think one way or another, but rather I just want to get their own thoughts about how they acquire information on these hot topics. From the information I’ve gathered, it seems that most people would like to learn more about controversial topics. Those people seem to either get their information from other social media platforms like reddit or twitter, and very few take the effort to fact check their knowledge. Most people seemed interested in a platform that gives them factual and filtered information, and those people also preferred having profiles and friends on that platform to allow them to share said information. These answers really reinforced my idea, however the results are not quite complete. The main issue I am trying to solve is misinformation, or in essence, ignorance. The people I interviewed are mostly of a younger generation. For my questions to really be effective I would need to ask many more people from a much larger spread of demographics.

Mind Map

Moving forward with my idea, I wanted to create a mind map of general features I would want to include in the final product. Some of these ideas were added as a result of the interviews.

Mind map of features I want to include in my product

Product Design Documents

Product Idea

In conclusion, my product idea is to create an app where I help people learn more about controversial topics that interest them through a social media platform that provides them with factual and verifiable information. I believe this is a unique approach that no major company is doing right now. As discussed earlier, my idea fits into a space where other social media networks do not reside in. The key is that all the information on my platform will be fact checked either by real people or eventually by artificial intelligence. This way, people are able to communicate and share ideas with others in a way that prevents the spread of misinformation, and ultimately ignorance.

User Journey

A typical user of my platform would be someone who wants to learn or be more involved with modern controversial topics, and desires a place to talk to others about those topics where only truthful information resides. Ideally, the user would be any age and of any background. This is important because I want to create a general purpose platform that appeals to various types of users, as misinformation can exist anywhere. If a user prefers to not have friends and wants only a truthful, non-clickbait news application, I want to allow that to be an option. At the same time, I want to make sure that those who do want to talk to and share information with others are able to do so in a seamless fashion. Information can be shared through posts from users, or through the app’s personalized news feed. The user submitted content will be fact checked before posts become public, and information that is not factual would be declined, giving the user another opportunity to either review the information on their own, or subscribe to that topic and learn more about through the app’s content curation.

Wireframes

In order to really flesh out what I want my product to look like, I created a wireframe that includes the general layout and feature set of my app. Wireframes are useful as they allow us to get a feel for what it is we want to create. They allow us to more easily convey to others what we’re thinking of in our minds. In my wireframe, I included three main pages that would be seen on the app.

Home Page Wireframe

The first image has the home page which would show the user’s curated content that is generated from their interests as well as anything their friends may have posted. On the top would be the logo for the app, the user’s profile image, and a way to sort or filter the information on the feed. On the bottom I’ve included a basic navigation bar that the user can use to move around to the different parts of the app. The main navigation elements I included are the home page, a search feature, the user’s friend list, and a notification feed.

User Profile Wireframe

In the second image I’ve detailed what the user would see if they clicked on their profile picture from the home page. It includes basic settings and adjustments the user can make to their profile. It also lets them see all the interests they’ve selected as well as any posts they may have created or shared.

Article Layout Wireframe

Lastly, I’ve created a frame for what the user might see when they click on an article that they find interesting. The page would have the title of the article on top, followed by the contents of the article in more detail than what was on the feed. At the bottom of the article the user would find the name or tool used to fact check the content, as well as some related sources that provide more detail on the things discussed within the article. On the right side is a floating button that the user can use to share the article with their friends.

Final Thoughts

Throughout this journey I’ve been able to identify current problems, brainstorm solutions, and create an idea to help solve an issue. Through the use of PEST analysis, competitive landscaping, user interviews, mind mapping, user journeys, and wireframes I have been able to test my product and determine whether it is actually worth investing in. There’s still much more than can be done in order to improve this product and increase it’s likelihood of success. In the future I hope to conduct more interviews with a wider audience in an effort to bring more features that could suit certain demographics in a better way.

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