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Digital Media Infrastructure

Duration: September - December 2021

Role: UX Specialist

Project Overview

This project focuses on understanding the digital media infrastructure and user agency on social media platforms, such as Instagram. The key stakeholders for this project were three different types of Instagram users: the lurker, the individual content creator, and the economically driven content creator. 

People find themselves inert to the point of apathy, or deliberating control and power on platforms that allegedly center their experience. So how can we design a social network platform that provides users more control over their digital actions?

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Identifying the Stakeholders

These stakeholders reference users across various platforms but we wanted to narrow down to one social media platform to focus on. The team landed on Instagram users. We spent a long-time deliberating who our key stakeholders are because everyone has nuanced definitions of various Instagram users. It was helpful to use detailed definitions to describe each user and their behaviors.

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Research Method Planning

Narrowing down research questions was another difficult task since there is a lot to explore in regards to the digital media infrastructure. So, we further grouped the topic into sub sections (CONTENT, INFRASTRUCTURE, UX, and PRIVACY) and individually listed potential questions we wanted to explore. Then, the team regrouped, voted and discussed research questions to see what important to everyone. Here is a glimpse of the document: 

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Planning & Primary Research

The team picked four main questions to conduct our research around understanding users behaviors and awareness. With these questions in mind the group felt it was best to conduct research utilizing three different methods based on what made the most sense for each question.

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We then split into groups of two to conduct the primary research. My partner and I decided to tackle the issue of privacy concerns and how users identify with privacy and security on Instagram. For this question, we thought it would make sense to conduct interviews using the five whys methodology. A great method to be persistent and get to the “grass root” of an issue. Finding a lurker, an individual content creator, and an economically driven content creator we conducted three interviews. Each participant's thoughts and feelings during the interview varied on the topic of privacy concerns. However, we collected and organized into an affinity map a lot of similar takeaways from interviewees who were categorically under different user identities. The overall take away was that users feel as though privacy online is not an option there for they expressed apathy when thinking about privacy and security on social media.

Prototyping

Identifying key moments of the user journey:

1. Users want awareness around the insight into their behaviors

2. Users want access to tools to have more control over their experience

3. Users are able to be a part of the product feedback process

Using Figma, I worked to design the prototype UI to include new built in features:

The shuffle button allows for users to explore new content outside their algorithms, specifically focused on news and politics, in order to provide a wider view of perspectives.

Following that our bite sized behavior update feature; a beautifully packaged display of a platform collecting user data, allows users to see interaction data with other accounts and adjust those behaviors if desired. The final feature is the open source community forum. This would encourage and affirm users that they have a voice and a place to share those voices. 

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Our design intended to address lack of agency users experience while on social media platforms. The prototype created specifically touches upon the Instagram platform and is designed to provide users with a digital infrastructure refresh. The refresh is meant to provide a sense of understanding, education, and enable individual ownership of algorithmic based feeds.​​

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