Stephanie Webster, Fernanda Moreno, Mihir Borkar, Derek Gubbens
Summer Internship 2019
Sketch, Photoshop, InDesign
Evaluation and redesign the system structure of the Playbook iPad application, create shortcuts + hotkeys.
Playbook is an intuitive software designed to help astronauts edit certain adjustable activities in space or on other analog missions, without needing to rely on mission control everytime to make changes. This has a useful application in missions where there is a time lag.
I worked as a UX Designer, mostly on system design and on some UI Design. I worked with one other designer, Stephanie, who was more UI focused and three engineers that worked closely with us for implementation.
The system design updates and UI changes I made will be implemented for the next NASA NEEMO analog mission in Summer 2020. The hope is the software can ultimately be used for the Mars 2020 mission!
The current Playbook interface is inspired by legacy systems, making it overly technical, unintuitive for first-time users (which astronauts often are), and difficult to use under time sensitive environments. By improving these features, we can make astronauts less dependent on mission control!
Feature 1 repurposing the activity tray
Feature 2 cutting the preferences.
There are common shortcuts astronauts use on board a mission. Our goal was to reduce the time required go through these actions through buttons and more efficient action flows.
My research began with learning about the use cases of Playbook, the current features, and the way the current interface works. I played around with the tester site for problem discovery.
I interviewed current team members that have used Playbook on previous NEEMO missions to better understand the system and the motivation behind its use.
I noticed this had a lot to do with the design of the Playbook system, specifically having an action tray - a tray that pops out when you need to make edits to the schedule.
I both built out the simplified process for each shortcut along with new UI icons.There were three shortcut flows that I worked on: Copy, Distribute (later renamed Recurrence), and Slice. I also worked on making multiselect easier (changing multiple activities), which you can view in my Internship Final Presentation linked below.
To measure success once deployed, there are a few key numbers we can take a look at:
01 Amount of time being saved by astronauts (in minutes)
02 Number of activities accomplished per day
03 How many astronauts were able to quickly learn the system without formal training
04 Qualitative accounts of how communication has improved with mission control
05 Qualitative account of how reliance on mission control has changed for astronauts
This past summer, I had the incredible opportunity to be a UX Designer for the SPIFe team at the NASA AMES Research Center.I really enjoyed learning about a domain that was completely new to me and also it was exciting to be able to implement my designs beyond the classroom. Two Main Takeaways:
01 Working in an Agile Environment
During the summer, I worked with a team of software engineer interns that were directly implementing the designs I created. I think there was definitely a learning curve to creating language in documentation that made sense to engineers, but overall I learned how to translate my designs into something that could be used by non-designers or anyone with background for that matter. I also learned how to balance multiple projects during the summer - feel free to check out my Internship Deck for more.
02 Backing up Design Decisions
Since the system I was designing was meant for Astronauts, it was really hard for me to wrap my head around user needs and goals. I learned a lot about alternative research methods and ways to extract user information when the target group is not available. I also learned more about how analogous domains could be looked at. For example, I looked at the functions of a Bloomberg Terminal and employed my previous background knowledge from sales and trading to better understand the complex processes astronauts need to go through.