mengyao

Research

Using Playful Drawing to Build Up Distributed Teams

Self-expression and interpersonal sharing of emotions have been shown to strengthen organizational teams. However, how to accomplish such interpersonal sharing in distributed settings is a challenge. My research explores how to use playful drawing activities to facilitate self-expression and sharing of personal emotions and therefore support the building of trust, team cohesion, and positive emotions in distributed teams. For detailed information, please visit our project website here.


Designers, Design Practices and Design Methods

Besides my Ph.D. research, my previous experience as a designer, and my curiosity around design practices also have guided me to lead and participate in a variety of interesting projects. You can find some highlights below, and some representative publications on the right. Feel free to drop me a line if you are interested in any of the projects.

Crowdsourcing for Design
What tools and mechanism could support crowdsourcing for more creative and complex work, such as interface design and software development? This study explored this question through an experiment and conceptual guideline building.

Qualitative Study on Designers and Design Inspirations
How do designers get design inspirations? What activities and behaviors help them to gain inspirations more easily from daily life? This study explored this question through an empirical study and came up with suggestions for design practitioners.

Cultural Heritage Value, Crafts Quality and Aesthetic Interaction Design
This research explored how cultural heritage value and crafts quality enhance aesthetic experience in interaction design through explorations of traditional crafts making - Chinese porcelain.

Agile UX Design and Traditional Craft Making
Planning and conducting user-centered studies and evaluations is a resource-intensive process, especially for small design and development teams. The comparison between two sets of interviews with Chinese porcelain designers and American UX designers showed interesting overlaps and contrasts between two design practices with practice-led knowledge for agile UX design.

Publications and Press

[C] Zhao, M.; Wang, Y.; Redmiles, D., “Using Collaborative Online Drawing to Build Up Distributed Teams,” in proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Global Software Engineering, 2017.

[W] Zhao, M.; Wang, Y.; Redmiles, D., “Using Playful Drawing to Support A ective Expressions and Sharing in Distributed Teams,” in proceedings of 2017 IEEE/ACM 2nd International Workshop on Emo- tion Awareness in Software Engineering (SEmotion), 2017.

[C] Zhao, M., “Building Teams Over Distance: A Solution Through Digital Art Mediated Practices,” Graduate Consortium at IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing, pp. 287-288, 2015.
doi: 10.1109/VLHCC.2015.7357230
paperposter

[C] Zhao, M.; Wang, Y.; Redmiles, D., “Strengthening Collaborative Groups Through Art-mediated Self-expression,” IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing, pp. 177-181, 2015.
doi: 10.1109/VLHCC.2015.7357214
paperpresentation

[TR] Zhao, M.; Wang, Y.; Redmiles, D., “Digital Art-Mediated Practices for Building Team Trust Over Distance,” UCI-ISR-15-3.
paper

[W] Zhao, M.; van der Hoek, A., “A Brief Perspective on Microtask Crowdsourcing Workflows for Interface Design,” in 2015 IEEE/ACM 2nd International Workshop on CrowdSourcing in Software Engineering (CSI-SE), pp.45-46, 2015.
doi: 10.1109/CSI-SE.2015.16
paper

[C] LaToza, T.D.; Chen, M.; Jiang, L.; Zhao, M.; Van Der Hoek, A., “Borrowing from the Crowd: A Study of Recombination in Software Design Competitions,” in 2015 IEEE/ACM 37th IEEE International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE), vol.1, pp.551-562, 2015.
doi: 10.1109/ICSE.2015.72
paper

[W] Zhao, M.; Wang, D., “A Doodled “Us”: A Design Case Study on Urban Collaborative Art With Arduino,” in 2014 CHI Workshop on Socially Engaged Arts Practice, 2014. CHI 2014 Workshop on Socially Engaged Arts Practice, 2014.
paperpresentation

[C] Zhao, M., “Seek It or Let It Come: How Designers Achieve Inspirations,” In CHI ‘13 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI EA ‘13), pp. 2779-2784.
doi: http://dx.doi. org/10.1145/2468356.2479509
paper poster

Design

Design Research
Interaction Design for Chinese Tea Culture

Research Methods: Survey, Interview, Culture Probes
Deliverable: Research Workbook
Responsibility: Researcher, Prototyper
Collaborator: Hongyuan Jiang

Design Problem
It is always difficult for immigrants to experience their own authetic cultures when they live oversea. This project explored how to design artifacts and experience for oversea Chinese who are tea lovers.

Targeted Users: Current USA residents who were born in China, like Chinese tea, and are familiar with Chinese tea culture.

The Real Problems: What does "Chinese tea culture" mean to the targeted users? What blocks them to have the authetic experience in USA?

Design Exploration
17 survey studies of oversea Chinese: to understand the general population's understanding about tea, Chinese culture and life in USA.

7 semi-structured interviews: contextual inquiry to understand what does "Chinese tea and Chinese tea culture" mean to the targeted users.

1 culture probes observation: in-depth observation of how one participant makes tea, what does she think, need, and desire during the process.

Design Insights
Tea as the social facilitator: tea is more than a drink, it facilitates the interactions among friends.

Tea as the cultural identity: drinking tea reminds people about their families and their own culture.

Practical difficulties to develop the Chinese tea culture oversea: it is practically difficult to enjoy Chinese tea in USA because of: 1) insufficient guides to choose tea and 2) insufficient asscess to equipments for authetic tea experience.

Design Concepts
Please read in the workbook.

Personal Informatics Tools for Memory

Research Methods: Survey, Interview, Observation
Deliverable: Research Workbook
Responsibility: Researcher, Prototyper

Design Problem
This workbook contains design explorations around two design challenges: 1) how to help people with navigation; 2) how to help people keep track of personal affairs, including personal assets and to-dos.

Targeted Users: for design challenge one, the targeted users are people who have difficulties with directions; for design challenge two, the targeted users are people who have bad memories.

The Real Problems: for design challenge one, the real problem is what are the obstacle people meet when they have trouble with finding the way? For design challenge two, the real problem is what are the obstacle people have when they lose track of their personal affairs?

Design Exploration

Design Challenge One
11 survey studies: to understand what methods and tools people currently use for navigation.

2 semi-structured interviews: to understand how people look for a specific location with and without tools.

1 observation: to understand the behaviors with Google Maps.

Close reading of app reviews: to understand the cons and pros of popular navigation tools.

Design Challenge Two
11 survey studies: to understand what methods and tools people currently use for tracking personal affairs.

2 semi-structured interviews: to understand the stories when people lose track of their stuff or to-dos.

Design Insights

Design Challenge One
Reference matters: people tend to rely on references when they try to find a place, e.g., the red building on the left of the destination, or the park nearby.

Authority of technology: 91% participants use Google Maps because they trust the technology.

Mapping to the reality: it is still challenging for people to map the navigation on phone to the real environment.

Design Challenge Two
Clues tell the truth: people use clues to memorize things, e.g., "I was coming from grocery shopping when I last saw my keys."

Simple tools work: people who have bad memories heavily rely on paper and pens to write down reminders.

The trivial bothers most: it is the most trivial stuff in life that bothers users who have bad memories.

Design Concepts
Please read in the workbook.

Design for Activism

Research Methods: Survey, Interview, Observation
Deliverable: Research Workbook
Responsibility: Researcher, Prototyper
Collaborator: Ryan Mochal, Michael Hardy

Design Problem
This project explored how to support activism in IU campus.

Targeted Users: People who are involved in activist events, including activists, observers, and event supporters in IU campus.

The Real Problems: Why do activist events always fail? What causes the procedual breakdowns?

Design Exploration
1 in-depth interview with a researcher in activism: to obtain professional perspectives and analysis of what causes activist failures.

2 ethnographic observations of activist events in Bloomington: to identify the stakeholders and to understand the procedure occured in two events: Slut Walk @ Bloomington and Free Hugs @ Bloomington.

2 case studies: to analyze the obstacle occured in two specific activist events: Occupy @ Bloomington and PLS @ Michigan.

Design Insights
The need to support environmental dynamics: activists need to focus more on the environmental dynamics after the initial stage of activist inspirations.

Information disconnection between different stakeholders: it is critical to help build the information channel to connect activists, observers and event supporters, therefore to support the longevity of an event.

Activism as social currency: the stakeholders are always too focused on the event itself, rather than a broader meaning it may have, which hinders its enduring impact.

Design Concepts
Please read in the workbook.

UX Design
Garlicraft - Group Travel Bills Calculator

Deliverable: Mobile Application (iOS & Android) - Garlicraft
Responsibility: Design Director

I am the design director of Garlicraft, a smart mobile caculator for tracking, recording and splitting event expenses. We promote the concept of "Events", where friends are connected financially around a social occasion. Garlicraft is a product you can download and use for all iOS and Android devices. Please check the official website to get more information: Garlicraft.

Under construction... Meanwhile, please take a look at my previous work here. :)

Music

I have been playing Zheng (Chinese Zither, 古筝) since I was 7. Skills are critical to well play Zheng. I got China national highest-level certification. But aroma, cultural expression, and emotions are more important if we want to move even stun the listeners. I am practicing more modern songs with Zheng to create creative and beautiful melody. You can find my playlist here. Music is an important element in my life, so more to come...

Photography

I bring my camera with me wherever I travel. I not only capture scenes, objects or people. I capture beautiful moments. Photography is a magical way to keep memories concrete and fresh for long enough. You can find my photography work here.

Artwork

I got some training in creative production from my undergraduate studies. I still don't know how to draw professionally. But I enjoy the moment when I create something visual using tools. Pencil and paper, 3D, or Photoshop. Tools are smart, but the mind behind is more important. You can find some representative work here.

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