Designing an ergonomic device station for web developers and designers.
World Headquarters (WHQ) is a digital agency in Chicago focused on building better user experiences through mobile and app development. Their team of designers and developers often interact with mobile and tablet devices, along with their large desktop screens, in their building process. The phones and tablets in their office are often scattered on the desk during the day. This requires the user to not only crane their neck down to look at the device while developing or designing, but also requires one to physically hold it in their hand to interact with the device. These actions lead to inefficiency and discomfort and significantly affects the team's workflow.
I teamed up with another product designer to research, design and build a device station that enables the use of multiple devices during the design and development process that can be seamlessly integrated into the workflow of the agency's teams.
Understanding the challenge
To begin the process, we interviewed the WHQ team to understand their company, roles and workspaces, along with brainstorming any challenges they faced during the work day. From these initial interview, we conducted competitive research on 2 - 3 problems and solutions discussed with the client. We then focused in on the challenge that was both valued by the client and not yet solved in the marketplace: the device station.
After conducting initial competitive and market research, we pitched 3 initial product sketches to the client and gathered user feedback. From this feedback, we catalogued several key design criterion and user needs for the product. Some of these criterion included: a small and sleek design that could fit on the desk, ability to easily store the station if not in use, and ability to easily charge the devices as needed. We designed and modeled several iterations of the product in the form of sketches, foam core models, CAD models and 3D printed and laser cut parts.
After reaching 2 alternative designs for the product, we created functional prototypes to test out our concepts. The first device station design used a simple base and ledge to hold the products, with holes in the ledge for the cords. The second was a ramp design that could be folded away and used a rubber-like material to hold the devices. The prototypes were built with 3D printed parts and laser cut acrylic parts.
User Testing and feedback
After several rounds of internal testing and prototyping, we gathered user testing and feedback from the client. They liked the stability and simplicity of the product with the ledge and base design, but enjoyed the foldability of the ramp design. After extensive user testing, we embarked on a final round of rapid prototyping and testing before building the final product. A series of adjustable knobs were also designed in this stage.
the final build
For our final product, we combined the best parts of both initial design concepts. We took the collapsibility of the ramp design and combined it with the stable ledge from the base design. The final product has the capability to fit two phones and a tablet, or up to four phones, all the while being charged with no hassle or tangle of cords. We were also able to meet the desired user needs of a small and sleek design that could fold and be stored away when not used. We presented the final product to the client and are in the process of discussing manufacturing to market.
For this project, I created technical sketches, made foam core prototypes and built some of the CAD models. Together with my partner, we conducted user research and testing, built the functional prototypes and the final prototyped product. Check out my partner's portfolio here!