I’m a UX, Interaction and Transition Designer, holding a First Class Honours in (MA) UX and Interaction Design from TU Dublin.

I am determined to have a positive impact on people and planet by designing solutions to address the global challenges we face, and to ultimately achieve a more accessible, inclusive, resilient and sustainable future. Check out my CV here and drop me an email if you would like more information.

In other news, I recently launched my debut album and research project ‘The Housekeepers’ with musician Doireann Glackin. Have a listen here. 



ADDRESSING THE GENDER IMBALANCE IN THE TRADITIONAL MUSIC ARCHIVE








The Result:

The Housekeepers - An archival crowdsourcing platform designed to record, preserve and celebrate Irish female musicians from the early- to mid-20th Century. (website coming in 2021)

Sector: 
Arts & Culture 

My Role:
UX Designer, Interaction Designer, UI Designer 

When:
2020





Background:

One day myself and a good friend Doireann Glackin asked ourselves: where were all the women in Irish Traditional Music during the last century? Then began a two-year road trip as we attempted to find the answers.

Our enquiries yielded the goods. We uncovered many outstanding women musicians throughout the country. We spoke with their family members and friends as well as figures in the Irish music community and learned that they were well regarded amongst their contemporaries.

However, our conversations revealed that as a result of family commitments and the social norms of the day, their music-making was largely confined to the home. Only a small number had the opportunity to record commercially, and this goes some way towards explaining why many never got the recognition they deserved.

The project culminated in the recording of our debut duet album with repertoire drawn from 5 selected women. (check out the album here!) While during our research many other women were spoken about (and we know that this was just the tip of the iceberg), we simply did not have the means to carry out in-depth research on everyone. A couple of months later, I decided to design a solution to this problem.




May 2020 - 2 min read

Identifying the problem, hypotheses and user groups provided focus and guidance towards an appropriate design solution.


Identifying The Problem

“Female Irish traditional musicians of the early- to mid-20th century have been largely overlooked and tend to be remembered as peripheral figures. How might we design a service to document, preserve and celebrate this under-represented group urgently before their music may be lost forever?”

Identifying The Hypotheses

“Traditionally it is the role of the archivist to assess, collect, preserve and provide access to archival material. However, material documenting female traditional musicians from the early- to mid-20th century must be collected urgently before it is lost forever. This work is beyond the means of a sole archivist/small group of archivists. We believe that developing a crowdsourcing model will allow archival material to be collected and preserved more quickly and at a reduced cost.”

“Traditionally, it is the role of the archivist to assess, collect, preserve and provide access to archival material. We believe that extending this role to citizens will make the official history more diverse and inclusive.”


Identifying The Users

1. Family/friends of female musicians from the early- to mid-20th Century. Many of whom are likely to be over the age of 50).

2. Irish Traditional Musicians over the age of 18 with a keen interest in archival material.


3. Archivists


User Research:


A survey using both qualitative and quantitative data was conducted with 20 Irish Traditional Musicians and/or family members of the women.

Key insights:
72% had used ITMA online archive before.

90% said they would contribute to a crowdsourcing archive by uploading material online / or help others upload material.

Reasons why participants would not upload material would be a lack of internet connection (in rural areas), not feeling confident using technology and copyright issues. 

Features that participants would like to use include advanced search, discover, playlists, share content, save content

44% said that they would not agree to upload material if it could be freely downloaded be others.





Personas were developed in order to empathise with different users, prioritise features and inform the UI Design.










Minimum Viable Product

Features were prioritised according to identified user needs. They were tested first and as early as possible, minimising project waste.


Search & Advanced Search, Discover Page, Musician’s Profile Page, Upload Widget





         Paper prototypes



I quickly sketched out paper prototypes and experimented with various forms. I decided to design for mobile first and then scale up to different devices.

Having settled upon one option, I translated the design into Figma and carried out user testing with 3 participants.








Wireframe in Figma

I acquired important insights through early user testing that informed medium and high-fidelity prototypes.



User testing confirmed:

1. There was too many entry points on the home screen which was confusing and overwhelming.

2. The search feature was confusing and could be simplified.

3. It is not clear where to find the advanced search
on certain pages.

4. Spacing was too close together in some instances
(especially the alphabet).

5. Participants enjoyed swiping on the discover page.


6. Participants were interested in the concept. 



Medium-fidelity prototype in Figma.

User testing confirmed:
1. The search feature was simple and easy to navigate.

2. The advanced search button was clearly visible on all pages.

3. System status was visible on all pages and the platform was easy to navigate.

4. Spacing issues were resolved.

5. Participants would prefer icons on the bottom navigation bar. 


6. Participants were interested in the concept.







Defining Brand Attributes & Values


I defined brand attributes and core values. This
exercise allowed me to quickly discover and refine the look, feel and tone of the archive.


Look:
Traditional yet contemporary
Neutral
Clean


Feel:
Inviting
Engaging
Familiarity
Respect
Inspiring


Tone:
Formal
Serious


Values:
Co-produce
Educate  
Respect
Accessible

Efficient

An image from a brainstorming session exploring brand attributes and values.






Having determined the full functionality of the platform, I then focused on developing the UI further and designed a high-fidelity prototype. After numerous rounds of usability testing I scaled to fit various devices.


The Result:The result is an intuitive, attractive and refreshing high-fidelity prototype that after deployment will compliment the official archive by collecting and preserving the lives and music of female musicians that have been largely overlooked. As family members and friends are getting older it is critical that this material is collected promptly. Usability testing confirmed that the prototype is enjoyable and accessible and meets the needs of the three target users stated above. There will still, however, be a problem acquiring material from those who are without reliable internet connection.


Solution going forward:

One solution to this would be to hold archiving sessions at popular music festivals in rural areas where family members/friends are likely to attend. They could be asked to bring their material and volunteers could help them upload the content there and then.