ABOUT ME

My passions are Human-Computer Interaction and non-dairy milks. And, yes, they do go together.

 

I love applying HCI and social-consciousness to unconventional mediums: 

Audiovisual interfaces. Food tech. The Gen-Z magazine I led.

Currently, I'm rockin' out at Stanford University where I'm studying Symbolic Systems (the coolest major... even if I'm a little biased).

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just like you, i love using emojis in my copy

hey look, this is about you

ABOUT US

What Khan Academy is doing is really cool — so cool I've been using the website for years (you guys got me THROUGH AP Calculus BC).

 

After reading about your design process, I'm so inspired by all the hours of work that go into making Khan Academy so accessible and enjoyable — and I would be thrilled to be a part of the Khanversation to help continue reaching those design goals.

I have copywriting, design, branding, and management skills

(—oh, and I'm super driven to learn something new). I believe at my core that designing in novel mediums helps me design in more tested ones. My design portfolio includes audiovisual music interfaces, product mockups, and video storytelling. All three help me to design better and learn how to apply user-experience design principles to any medium I come across.

(p.s. you guys taking the LSAT is the coolest story I've heard about user research)

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(and learning something new)

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hey khan academy,

i'm tommy.

i like design, product, writing,

and tech.

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Dramatic Shadow
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Profile Photo
 

my design portfolio

 
 

CASE STUDY #1

PS4WheelDrive + SiriBeats

Design Problem:

How can computer music interfaces be designed to be accessed and enjoyed by all?

User Research:

The first music interface I made for my "Interaction - Intermedia - Immersion" class was a customized MIDI keyboard for my laptop that strung together short clips of my favorite songs. However, when I showed it to my friends and peers, there had less excitement about the interface than I did.

 

I quickly realized that users were unmotivated to use my keyboard on my laptop to play my favorite songs... they did not feel like the fit in the equation. (In class, we later discussed this feeling of not belonging in someone else's space in regard to this academic paper and music installation.)

To remedy these issues I thought about the objects users would feel more comfortable with and about the objects that would spark a sense of belonging. I eventually decided on a PS4 controller and a phone flashlight for my physical components and on audio clips that incorporate Siri. I believe the user's familiarity with these objects/sounds allow them to feel most comfortable with, and most valued by, the interfaces.

My Audience:

Those who have an interest in technology music production, but may feel like they do not have the skills or the passion to try it out.

Design Process:

When designing PS4WheelDrive, I wanted to ensure it had incredible affordance. A challenge I faced is that most users have never "driven" through a virtual sound map and I did not want that inhibiting their creativity. To remedy this, I designed the interface to teach users it is analogous to real-world driving. The functionality aligns with what users expect: They are merely turning joysticks instead of a wheel and pressing buttons on a controller instead of on a dashboard.

While designing SiriBeats, I wanted to make it super-accessible. The goal was for users to be able to pick up their phone flashlight — or really any source of light — and just start creating. A challenge I faced with accessibility is the fact that the interface would still be run on my personal laptop. However, I discovered in my own use of the interface and in asking for feedback that the fact users are holding the source of light in their own hands makes them feel like the interface is their space to create in.

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PS4WheelDrive

PS4WheelDrive is an interface I designed that uses a PS4 controller to drive through a custom sound map I created. With Siri's driving directions, talk show radio clips, and the occasional radio song, the audio components are as compelling as the abstract "driving circle" visuals. For the audio, I used DS4OSC and MAX/MSP and for the visuals, I used Processing.

A SCREEN-RECORDED PERFORMANCE

headphones highly recommended — you'll see why.

(if using headphones, play on "half-volume." adjust if needed.)

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SiriBeats

SiriBeats is a music interface I designed using supervised learning (with the help of Wekinator) and MAX/MSP. Using my laptop's webcam, it tracks a phone flashlight and accordingly adjusts the pitch, volume, and speed of a custom track I created — which includes Siri audio clips.

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PillowTalk

CASE STUDY #2

Design Problem:

How can college students enjoy waking up — without bothering their roommate?

User Research:

The first users I thought about were actually me and my roommate. We have a running joke that collectively we set off over a dozen alarms each morning in our attempts to wake up — each at different volumes and each playing different sounds.

We want our alarms to be loud and super fun (who doesn't want to wake up to their favorite song at the moment?), but we always feel bad temporarily waking up each other.

 

I then sought other would-be users in my dorm — and almost immediately I encountered overwhelmingly positive feedback: "Yes I need that" and "Love it. Sign me up for one" were common phrases I heard when I asked over 30 of my college-aged peers.

My Audience:

College students — but specifically to buy for their roommate: a call to action that is novel and successful.

Design Process:

While designing PillowTalk and its branding, I had two goals: 1) make it a brand college students can relate to, and 2) be able to educate the user in seconds.

Designing a relatable, informative style is exactly the way to impress busy college students. To ensure I was keeping users' attention with my design and that they were understanding the product, I did additional user research (including re-asking some of the 30+ college students from before). I asked them to provide feedback on the writing tone of the pitch and social media posts, on the visual appeal of the illustrations, and on whether or not they understood, in general, what PillowTalk does and how it works. I #iterated until I was getting great feedback in all three categories.

The following is the mock pitch, product illustrations, and mock social media campaign I designed for PillowTalk.

Product Pitch

Whether you love your roommate or not,

you don’t love their alarm.

 

And we don’t blame you.

No one wants to wake up to someone else’s playlist.

 

Want peaceful mornings?

A chance to actually get REM sleep?

 

Buy your roommate PillowTalk:

the smart Bluetooth pillowcase so comfy they’ll still be thanking you at your 5-year reunion.

 

With highly-localized sound, PillowTalk’s embedded speakers wake your roommate to their playlist and let you continue beauty sleeping.

 

PillowTalk. Wake up to only your alarm.

Product Illustrations

I designed a product mockup to convey both the comfiness and fluffiness of the PillowTalk as well as its innovativeness with its embedded speakers.

Final Draft
Final Draft

Iteration 1
Iteration 1

Feedback: - a little stiff - good shading - "def a pillow"

Iteration 3
Iteration 3

Feedback: - some say they see speakers - others want more details/larger image

Final Draft
Final Draft

I designed an ad with the whimsical branding style of PillowTalk, showing the user the design process and the ideas that didn't quite the cut.

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Social Media Campaign:

#GetWokenUpBy

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Design Process:

When designing, I wanted to achieve both of my design goals. 

 

  1. The #relatable sleeping images, emoji-laden text, and tongue-in-cheek copy all add to the overall sense that PillowTalk is a brand that gets it. (It was easy for PillowTalk to "get the struggle" when I am a would-be user myself.)

  2. Telling users they can get #GetWokenUpBy something other than their roommate's alarm (helping them to look as happy as the first image and sleep as well as the second image) is an incredibly effective way at getting across the idea behind PillowTalk in seconds.

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Video Storytelling

CASE STUDY #3

Design Problem:

How can I design different videos of the same story to appeal to different audiences/users?

User Research:

While at Affinity Magazine, I personally covered music festivals and concerts for our Instagram (which currently has about 14k followers). As Senior Culture Editor, I designed the management system and branding for coverage of all press events across our site and social media.

My user research came from the experience I had leading Affinity for over a year. Designing content for Gen-Z users every day and analyzing our site and social media data helped me grow extensive knowledge in exactly how to appeal to, and resonate with, the Gen-Z audience.

My Audience(s):

Teenagers who want news coverage and teenagers who want vlog-style content.

Design Process:

Like designing the LSAT test prep for the "Preparers," I wanted to tailor my content to my audience.

 

Teenagers browsing Instagram stories for festival news coverage want to actively engage in their content. They want to be able to swipe, vote, and be a part of the experience. Because my Instagram stories were published at separate times throughout the festival weekend, I designed a story that made sense for users coming and going sporadically — just like how users leave and then return to Khan Academy and expect the design to pick up in an intuitive way. 

 

Teenagers watching vlogs, however, tend to watch the full video at once and are more comfortable sitting back and letting the video tell the story on its own. This gave me the creativity to have continuous music — and therefore, make a statement when I cut the music for different audio — and it allowed me to have editing effects that lasted over multiple clips, helping me better tell my vlog story. A favorite design decision I made was making use of the vlog medium and not repeating the interview question (like I did in the Instagram stories) because users would be watching both artists respond back-to-back to the same question. 

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Boston Calling

I designed engaging Instagram stories throughout the festival weekend for my news-watching audience.

Editing together all of my footage, I designed an "Experience Montage" in the style of a YouTube festival vlog.

BONUS DESIGN SKILLS:

i can edit photos to make 'em pop, can create a fire pitch deck + i code (java, mostly) 

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want to check out my writing portfolio? click here

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—— oh, and here's my résumé

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Khan Academy, I'd love to hear from you:

  • linkedin

©2019 by Tommy Bruzzese. Emoji artwork provided by EmojiOne.