Julia Lindpaintner

MFA Thesis

A blog documenting my journey creating a Master's thesis towards an MFA from the School of Visual Arts' Products of Design program.

Context, Channels, & Factors

Today's workshop was a mapping exercise designed to help us explore the context, channels, and factors for our products with a given persona and need. Context describes the user's life—their surroundings, environment, lifestyle, and values. Channels are the means by which my product could reach them. Factors are the characteristics and principles I should consider in my design in order to ensure greatest impact or adoption for my target audience.

I focused my exploration today on my three-dimensional product, which will address the needs of people who feel inspired to be civically engaged in this new political climate. While these individuals may take part in protests, they are looking for ways to integrate their action into their everyday lives. They may be taking action online by signing petitions or supporting different causes, but they seek a way to signal their support publicly. These people tend to be busy, be aware of their relative privilege in the world, and care about truly making a difference. 

One thing that occurred to me during this mapping exercise is that this audience may be able to speak loudest with their wallet. This group has relatively high purchasing power, yet might also resist products that feel too exclusive. How could a product bridge that gap?

The best channels through which to reach them are direct recommendations from their friends and families or getting something as part of a larger group. Could this be a shared item? Do you go in on it with a group of people so you co-own it? In order to get the word out, I would look for endorsements, online marketing, or product placement in select podcasts or TV shows. Getting a lot of earned media will be crucial in spreading the word; the product should be featured in Medium posts and shared widely on Instagram. 

Therefore, factors that will be important are price point, ease of use, and clarity of purpose. The item should feel inclusive and be demonstrative in some way. It should be customizable, participatory, and feel relevant. In form, it should be flexible, simple, modern, and fashionable. The product should act as a platform for a larger issue and serve to connect individuals to others.

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