ALO Prototype 2020
For the Final Project in the Design Methods class, during Fall 2020, I decided to prototype a social platform that would allow people, all around the world, not only to socially engage with one another and learn new cultures, but help the families who have lost their jobs with user donations through ALO. Since, pandemic transformed our daily lifestyles very drastically, through my research, I found that a lot of societies suffer from negative emotional changes due to isolation, combined with a financial decline. During a pandemic “In almost every country, cultural life has taken a hit in one way or another, in terms of both social and economic impact.” (1). Further according to “a recent study that estimated the global impact of the Spanish flu pandemic indicated that a considerable difference in mortality rates was observed between high- and low-income countries.” Additionally, ”Such inequalities result from efforts to control avian influenza that disproportionately burden poor countries and benefit wealthy ones, and they are also likely to result from an exacerbation of social injustice within the U.S. and other wealthy countries in the response to a pandemic.” (2).
In many other sources, it is encouraged to study the differences between cultures in order to come up with a solution to help people to make better choices, especially during the pandemic. Unfortunately, there are a lot of factors, such as religion, culture, age, traditions, and etc. that influences people to have opposition to rules, therefore, diversifying each individual to be more cultured and openminded could be a way to help with this problem, even after a pandemic. Another source which agrees with that thought says: “But the current COVID-19 situation also offers us hope for new ways of forming and sustaining solidarity across cultural backgrounds, faith traditions, political systems and geographic borders.” (3). According to an article on “Cultural Challenges: The Most Important Challenge of COVID-19 Control Policies in Iran” by Hamid Jafari and Majid Amiri Gharaghani, “In order to control the epidemic of infectious diseases in developing and less-developed countries, it is necessary to pay attention to cultural differences.” (4)(5).
“Human beings are a social species that relies on cooperation to survive and thrive.” (6). It is a reality that human survival best accomplished by being in social groups, since the beginning of civilization. Visual representation of the science behind this idea is beautiful illustrated by the Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell on YouTube (7). Breaking this natural cycle for all of us brings more challenges to our functionality, as “Hawkley points to evidence linking perceived social isolation with adverse health consequences including depression, poor sleep quality, impaired executive function, accelerated cognitive decline, poor cardiovascular function and impaired immunity at every stage of life.” (8).This type of connection not only would satisfy our basic human needs of having social interactions within a safe space, but also create opportunities for people to expose others to more diversity and get financial help as well. Therefore, it is crucial for a lot of societies across the world to leverage extra help from people who has the resources to help out with.
Pitching the initial Idea
The video above and separated slides below are my initial pitch/ideas for the project that is showcased in few google slides. I presented my early research and first sketched out prototypes in these slides, as well.
slides from the video
I picked the name ALO, which is used by numerous countries to greet someone on a phone, including: Turkish, Russian, Spanish, Hebrew, French, Portuguese, Azerbaijani, as well as some parts of the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Asia and many more. This word is sourced by “halâ” in Old High German, which is another version of “hello” in English. Moreover, ALO is a short and easy word that managed to spread around numerous cultures and would be ideal for a platform with a purpose in such diverse communication.
My logo naturally transformed into a minimalistic record icon, easily recognizable for streaming online. The simplicity and clever placement of the visual representation of the branding could be easily memorable and recognizable in most countries, as well. I wanted to have a neutral color palette that would be also personal to me as well. Therefore, I decided to pick 3 primary colors, blue, red, and green from my national flag of Azerbaijan, to add a personal touch, kind of influenced by our recent great change in history.
FONTS & COLORS
For the final visual branding of the prototype, I decided to reflect a minimalistic calendar aesthetic to help users perceive this platform as a personal event planer to have an easy access to a collection of available or registered events. Therefore, each event is posted in separate containers that allow users to have an instant important information for planning the registrations.
All the events displayed, as an example, are mostly what I have been interested in learning or events that I was a part of to let the audience learn more possibilities that they also can be part of. As an example, I added an event called “Festival of Kobodaishi’s birthday in Japan, where me and my sister spontaneously celebrated while visiting our cousin 3 years ago. This event takes place on June 14-15th and in a village called Koyasan, located on a mountain with very small population (11). The level of surreal scenery during this festival, or any other, is something that could be introduced to people all around the word through using this streaming platform.
Using ALO can also give access to people to learn a new skills that someone from a specific geographical location might share to expose other people to a different version of a lifestyle. Especially, since a lot of people are now adopting plants into their households during the pandemic to make their surroundings more desirable, it also adds an easy responsibility back to their lives. Therefore, I added an example event on this prototype which has a purpose to teach people how to learn the crossbreed technique on fruit plants as I came across to an article during my research (12).
Each event page, while clicking, pops up instead of changing into a whole new page, and showcases more details on an event. Here I demonstrated a cooking lesson to introduce a traditional dessert for other cultures. I chose this specific dessert that is not only extremely delicious, but also contains a lot of nutritious healing components, including having saffron spice with antidepressant properties. “There are clinical trials conducted, evaluating the efficacy of saffron in mild-to-moderate depression. The studies reported that saffron was more effective than placebo and at least equivalent to the therapeutic doses of imipramine and fluoxetine. One of the top five most predominant diseases worldwide is depression.“(13,14,15).
This way there could develop various communities, just like in Facebook Groups, targeting different age groups, with diverse interests, virtually. This way ALO can create a safe environment to exchange knowledge with financial help from the users of the platform. Additionally, this type of dynamic in events is what I envision to have with user activity. The addition of the financial resources sparked by a conversation with Kathryn McClure, a UX writer, who is my sister’s friend from Iron Hack bootcamp.
Throughout 2020, I have seen and heard about numerous deadly earthquakes, forest fires, floods, wars, and etc. all across the world at the same time as a pandemic (16,17,18,19). Therefore, nowadays, a lot of families would need help to replenish what they have lost due to these types of challenges. With ALO I wanted to design a platform that could still be used after a pandemic, since there are always some societies in need of help and not a lot of other countries have any knowledge of what goes on outside their lands.
While creating this prototype, I came across with a website where I purchase some craft products named aliexpress.com, which had a very minimalistic, yet very user interactive navigation bar that I thought was a great integration for decluttering the webpage. Further, I believe that this way of visual clues instead of a lot of texts helps users to use less time to find the target area and encourages them to explore the page with interacting with the buttons, overall.
Another source of my inspiration for this project, was this video below, where I could find certain social components that could be taught by any user to others who would want to occupy their time in a useful manner and actually enjoy the event at the same time (20).
While setting up the main example events, I picked December 3rd 2020 as the current date, and found out about the World Day of the Handicapped, therefore, added an awareness conference on the ALO app, as an example, as well (21). This specific platform could be utilized to bring much more important awarenesses, such as medical, psychological, genetic, and etc disorders or conditions to people from countless spectrums, as well as build communities without the limits of distance.
Technically speaking, I was highly inspired to build components of ALO by virtual social platforms with specific elements, such as:
Handshake - event planning platform for networking,
Zoom - an app to make video communication easy and virtual,
Facebook - creating events and social groups,
Aliexpress - specific animation on the website design,
Instagram Live - helping people to learn new workouts, skills through live events,
Apple’s Calendar App - for a legible layout of a calendar
Twitch - online streaming app,
Omegle - talking to strangers, globally,
HQ Trivia - online trivia that used to pay the winners of the game.
I was hesitant of creating another streaming app, since there are bunch of successful platforms, including Twitch. However, from trying to use that platform myself and having some conversations with few people, it was apparent that this platform is more tailored to a specific audience, majority of which are gamers. Sometimes some of the streamers on Twitch also produce inappropriate content, which might lead to creating conflict between users of different backgrounds. Further, the amount of complexity on this website with abundance of technical features could look highly engineered website, but also would not be so user friendly towards, lets say, middle aged or older generation in a 3rd world country population. That’s why it was important for me to consider more broader audience and users to bring more connectivity between cultures and knowledge making it as simple and easy as possible.
All the credits for the high quality photographs go to https://www.pexels.com
Extra images are from my own personal photographs as well :)
Some of the icons are inspired by https://thenounproject.com/