Worries about my design project

Hello guys

I am a design student and I have this big project that requires research and user testing. The thing is, I am a bit anxious about this. I will have to do many new things and I am not sure if I can manage. I will need to talk to experts in some fields and I will need to communicate with families and children to test my design a few times once it’s developed and after every iteration.

I have never done user testing before, nor did I contact experts for more than once before (It was suggested that I keep in touch with them throughout the whole process)

I am really anxious. I am worried about not asking right questions or if the whole design and research would go to waste. Like, what if I didn’t know what I was doing? I have many other worries, but they stem from my perfectionism and anxiety. I think the major problem I am having now is communicating with the people. If I didn’t know what to do, or if I got stuck, I will be the one responsible for hindering everything, and there is no one to push me forward since it’s not a group project.

Anyways, away from all that, if you can you give me a glimpse on how these processes usually go or what to expect, or any tips on managing the project, it would hopefully help me.

You did a good job mentioning how anxious you are about this project. However, you didn’t mention what this project is, what kinds of experts you need to talk to, why you need to involve families and children, or what kind of user testing is needed. :slightly_smiling_face:

Anxiety over being pushed out of one’s comfort zone is normal. As a student, if I had been assigned to do what you described, I would have been anxious, too.

Many “experts” in many fields are very willing to help serious students such as yourself. This is partly because every expert was once a beginner who also needed to learn, ask questions, and push through their anxiety.

You’re a design student, so how about telling us more about this design project? There is probably an expert or two here who can give you some advice.

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It’s a project about local wildlife. It aims to educate children about the local wildlife and how to preserve it. I wanted something more sustainable, so I did some research on what make people care about the environment and wildlife all their life and found that experiences related to the environment in childhood have the biggest impact on the child’s identity, and that’s what drive them to care about the environment. The research papers called it an identity of being an “Environmental Citizen” and that’s what I want to facilitate.

So, I have children as my main group (I did choose a range for the age) and I will be either creating an experience or something that can guide them through an experience (either way, they will have to actually test it to see how effective it is). I will have to follow up with them with quizzes and such to make sure that what I am doing is actually working to some extent.

I might need to talk to educators on effective education methods, but mainly I will have to communicate with environmental experts to learn more about the ways the locals deal with the environment and what actions are best suitable to preserve our own local environment. It is a big topic and I am trying to be as specific as I could. I always feel like there is something I am missing, a certain connection between things, and I worry about asking the experts for some thing then coming up with a whole different set of questions later on when things clear up a little.

The project is about responsible design, something that creates a positive impace on society. I personally lean more towards product design and experience design, something that influence people’s behaviors. We’re now in the final ideation stage where we vote the best ideas and choose the final idea from them. I have a few ideas, but I wish to make something more solid and I will be able to do that if I spoke to an expert on the specifics of our environment. I just don’t know what those specifics are or what to ask for exactly, and I am afraid that this is a major fault.

One of our clients at a previous job was a U.S. state wildlife agency. I often worked closely with wildlife biologists on various projects. One of those projects was a wildlife education center adjacent to the Great Salt Lake marshes in Utah.

This education center aimed to educate children (and adults) about the importance of the marshes that served as critical habitats for the millions of migratory birds that relied on them. I worked with wildlife biologists and educators to help promote this education center to the public and also got involved in some of the displays and exhibits there.

In addition to interpretive displays in the buildings, they built walkways through sections of the marshes. We placed interpretive displays at various places along the walkways pointing out important aspects of the wildlife, such as nesting areas, predators, fish, water quality, invasive species, native marshland plants, and maps showing how these marshes were critical waypoints for migratory birds traveling back and forth from Canada to Mexico.

There was a separate building designed for use as a laboratory by school teachers to educate children on field trips from local schools. In this classroom/laboratory, there were microscopes for children to look at microscopic organisms that lived in the water and served as a basis for the food chain. There were also telescopes for students to observe birds in the marshes. In addition, there were taxidermied animals and feathers from various birds and hides from mammals for the students to handle and examine, as well as video presentations and prepared lessons designed for children that staff educators and biologists would present.

I found the biologists and educators very easy to work with. They were eager to share their knowledge to help educate the public about the ecosystem and how all the pieces of that wetland ecosystem fit together to create intertwined habitats that millions of animals depended upon for survival. They were very concerned about these issues and eager to share this information with the public — especially children, since, as you said, an understanding and lifelong appreciation for wildlife and their habitats often begins with exposure during childhood.

Do you have a government wildlife agency where you live? I suspect there are wildlife biologists there who would be eager to give you advice and share information.

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It sounds more like instructional design than graphic design. What’s the end product you hope you’ll end up with?

This very helpful! Thank you for sharing.

We do, and I plan on visiting them soon. I think that I am a little hesitant because I am not sure who to talk to, but I should figure this out.

I was aiming for something more accessible, for children to take with them or expreience every year in camping season. I am now trying to understand children’s behavior and have some good questions to ask the biologists.
Many people exhibit behaviors that had affected the wildlife here to the extent that a few species had already gone extinct. I wish to have something that affects these behaviors in particular. There are laws out there, but many do not follow them and they’re mostly just talk, not many suffer the consquences they should. I have some ideas now, I just need to work on them a bit.

I really need to focus on meeting these people. It’ll still be a little difficult to get over this initial anxiety.

Edit: I just checked the link you attached. It looks amazing. I checked the hunting educationsection. I had a similar idea earlier in the process, but I knew I couldn’t apply it since it highly dependss on the government agency, which is doing some work but I don’t believe that we’ve reached that level yet.

I didn’t choose a final product, but I am between two choices. either installations, or a product that children can and are eager to take when camping that would help guide them in nature. I am leaning to the latter one, and I am having a bit of a clearer idea now, but it still needs some work.

Well, we study Visual Communication Design, it is broader than graphic design, but still utilizes it. I’ll have to focus on the identity by the end of the project.

So yeah, I clearly have to do more research now. I’ll try to update here when I get a clearer idea on that. I have a deadline in two weeks for finalizing the idea afterall.