A six-week project to create an ergonomic and portable device station for World Headquarters, a digital agency, to use during the design and development process.
This project was part of independent product design work a fellow Northwestern student and I completed in Summer 2017. We worked with World Headquarters (WHQ), a digital design agency in Chicago, IL that creates positive brand experiences through websites and applications. Their development work requires constant interaction with mobile phones and tablets to test the look and feel of an app or website.
Currently, devices are scattered on desks and require the developer to crane their neck or stop and pick up phones or tablets to see changes in a webpage or app, which is uncomfortable and interrupts the team's workflow.
The goal for this project was to create a home for phones and tablets on a developer's desk, which would allow for easy interaction during testing and have a minimal physical footprint in a user's work space.
INTERVIEWS AND RESEARCH
We met with developers at WHQ to gain context about their daily tasks, office organization, and to identify a potential area of improvement in their workflow.
Through interviews, my partner and I found a need for a product that could mount several devices used in design validation. We came up with design criterion which included the following:
- Ability to hold multiple devices with flexibility to plug in and charge each device
- Portable design that did not take up too much desk space and aesthetically fit in with its environment
- Ability to stow away when not in use or transport to other desks
BRAINSTORMING AND PROTOTYPING
We found no existing product that met all of WHQ's needs and potentially the needs of other developers validating their digital designs on multiple devices. In a few weeks we brainstormed, design, and tested rapidly manufactured prototypes.
Our initial concepts were manufactured from 3D printed and laser cut parts. We experimented with high grip materials and different folding configurations.
Testing led us to a final design to be 3D printed out of one material in order to have a uniform feel and simple two-piece design.
Before the final print we tested the joint on a half-size print built on a desktop FDM machine. We also experimented with different knob designs.
The final build was a 3D printed rendering of our device station design with some metal fastening hardware for the joints. The idea was to have the product as close as possible to a small-scale production ready design. The manufactured device station easily fits two phones and a tablet, or up to four phones and facilitates us of charging cables.
We have discussed continuing this design with our client, with some design changes to slim down the hardware used in the joints and using more scalable manufacturing methods. View my partner's portfolio here.