Please view the finished project here.
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Challenge:
How can I ease people into self-reflecting by presenting a psychological theory from 1943 alongside contemporary commentary which grounds it in the 21st century?
Solution:
Levels: Re-imagining Maslow's Hierarchy of Human Needs in the 21st century
Goals of project (subject to change):
I. To explain the hierarchy as Maslow created it.
II. To challenge and question the theory through a modern lens.
What does it challenge in a changed society? How does it both do its job and fail at it? What is fluid and what is static? 

III. To give viewers the ability to self-reflect.
Consider how this framework fits their life. If it doesn't, why not? What would have to change so it does?
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Week 11, April 8 | Finals
View the final product here.
Week 10, April 1 | Drafts Becoming Finalized
I took all of the user testing and small scale changes and applied them to the big picture. 
That being said, changes are still being made. For example, I revisited the look of the triangle in order to make it more equilateral and pleasing to the eye. I also changed the cover. I felt like I needed to introduce the gradient earlier, and liked the idea of separate layers melting into one wash.
Most Recent Drafts
*Tabs are now digits...seen in previous post
Left to Right: Spread from Book I, Spread from Book II
Triangle Edits
Left to Right: Old Cover, New Cover
Week 9, march 25 | user testing
This week was spent testing my project to make sure the curated interactions between the books made sense. 
Insight Summary
1. Using roman numerals on Book II's tabs confused readers because of their overuse
Result: Change tabs to simple digits, leave the roman numerals only for the book titles
2. The destination of the call to action bubbles needs to be clearer/more alluded to
Result: Try easy-to-understand symbols like arrows. Use same gradient, color, and type treatment of Book II to leave no question for the intended destination, making the experience more intuitive
3. The folio system draws more attention than necessary
Result: Move the color bar to the side for ease of navigation, blend the page title and number with the background so it doesn't stand out as much, and remove the thick underlines 
Calls to Action
The bubbles that appear in Book I which led the user to the Book II were really tricky to get right. I had to make it extremely clear what I wanted the user to do as much as I needed to make sure that they wanted to do it. At this stage, someone suggested that I add tabs to Book II for heightened accessibility. Book I is meant to be read straight through while Book II consists of free-standing articles that critique Maslow's hierarchy.
With that exciting new idea in mind, I worked to simplify the system as much as possible using color and symbol. I needed the user to 
1. Read the question
2. Know to go to Book II
3. Know to go to the related article
I changed the roman numerals on the tabs to digits so that the roman numeral system was only used for navigating from book to book rather than within it. I also tried to allude to book II using its gradient, color scheme, and type treatment so it would be more intuitive.
Self Reflection Cards
I tested the cards to make sure that the prompts made sense and that the user felt like they had enough room to write/interact.
Folios
For way-finding ease, I tested a number of different ways to treat the folios. I also changed the color markers from being on the top of the book to the side, so that while flipping through a person could see that the book is sectioned.
Calls to Action (left to right: Book I --> Book II, Book I --> Book III)
Iterations of Call to Action Bubbles
New Tabs with Digits
Self Reflection Cards and Folio Tests
Week 8, march 18 | Second Draft
Insight Summary
1. Readers need time to breathe when reading a dry theory
Result: Introductory pages and more full spread call outs to rest the eyes and lead a reader through the experience
2. The purpose of the calls to action (question prompts) was confusing, a reader needs more direction
Result: Call to Action bubbles to package the experience of questioning and being sent to another book. Clearer hierarchy and labeling
3. Readers look at dark parts of the sleeve first
Result: Use black backgrounds strategically to navigate a user from flap to flap as they open and experience the sleeve
Testing the Sleeve
For my second draft, I focused on testing out the sleeve on a number of people. Most of the observations were focused around the flow of the sleeve -- where people look first, how quickly the user is able to understand what they're looking at, whether or not the call to actions are clear. Based on those, I designed with the insight that people react best to clarity, and my sleeve needed some work to become clear enough to be useful. I tested out two styles, and based on user testing, chose one.
From there, I worked on hierarchy, calls to action, and labeling of the books in order for the user's eye to be drawn in the right direction.
I also began testing out ways to keep the books in the sleeve by prototyping with tape and rubber bands. This will obviously need to be more substantial, like elastic or slits in the paper itself, but it was a good place to start.
Layout
Similarly, I tested out the layout of the theory book, since that is where one should start, and how it related or pushed the user to explore the critique book (whose name I changed to "New Perspectives" because I felt like it was more inviting and sets the user up for critical thinking and general consideration) and the self reflection cards. One critique on the reflection cards was that their glossy texture make people afraid to write on them, which is the whole point. After printing them out on matte card stock, they seemed to invite interaction and also felt more substantial.

A big observation made about my layout was that it was still too dense, even after the iterations. This means that the user needs time to breathe when exploring a relatively dry theory. Using that insight, I focused on creating introductory pages to every section, and allowed for more full spread/full page callouts. This seemed to allow the reader to relax a bit as they peruse.
Another big change was the need for clearer calls to action. I didn't fully realize that I needed to TELL people, sometimes, where to go and what to do. I was so focused on making it intuitive that I think I ended up confusing myself as well as the user. For this reason, I created a system of call to action bubbles which leads the user to a specific section or part of the experience, and prompt them with questions.
Official Second Draft
(Below, left to right) Intro page, CTA Bubble for New Perspectives, CTA Bubble for Self-Reflection
Self-Reflection Cards
Test Sleeve 1
Test Sleeve 2
Week 7, February 25 | Poster Design
This week we took a break from our projects themselves and focused on the poster that would represent it during the exhibit in April. The poster is meant to act as an introduction or an advertisement for the experience of our capstone. We had a workshop where we rapidly prototyped a number of ideas, and spent the week iterating on them. I wanted my poster to bring across the idea of layering and mixing up the established pyramid, so I tried out two routes -- one with photographed layered transparencies and the other with geometric rectangles. 
My issue was that the poster wasn't looking enough like the rest of my project, so I tired to layer both ideas so there is a common thread. I'm continuing to iterate as time goes on both on the design as well as the subtitle, experimenting with language and actionable verbs to raise interest ("exploring," "imagining," "considering," etc...)
Week 6, February 18 | iteration, iteration, iteration
I began by reestablishing the experience of how this interactive kit is going to work, and editing the general layout of the theory in order to make the text a lot more airy and digestible, since lots of the critique was around the fact that the text was pretty dense. I also dropped the monospace body text and changed it to a more readable and classic Baskerville. 
I then played around with two different styles of sleeve:
#1 folds out, making the three sections more of a step by step guide and involved, interactive experience
#2 is like a folder which would hold the two books, with a center flap that contains the self-reflection cards
Iterations of Theory Layout
Sketches of Sleeves
Test Sleeve 1
Test Sleeve 2
Week 5, February 11 | First Full Draft
The beginning of this week was just iterating on the semi-system seen earlier. I began to lay out both the theory and the critiques while experimenting with ways to connect one to the other. At the same time, I also played around with the new/old dichotomy to try to find how far I could push it while still keeping the two related.
I also decided to try to find a paper-based way to promote self reflection rather than anything with plexiglass or physical construction, simply for ease and feasibility. I came up with these foldable cards which I was thinking could be used, written on, and pinned up on the wall every time a viewer feels like they have that specific layer fulfilled, and why.
For the ACTUAL first draft, I brainstormed a number of ways to package this kit, and how to create hierarchy within the pages through weight, color, and size of the text  so as to simplify and curate a viewers experience of reading a semi-dense theory written in the '40s. 
The package experiments went from briefcase-like structures to a self contained book which held the rest of them. I went forward with a wrap-around self contained book, and another idea of a bellyband with tearaway cards.
As I move forward, I will be exploring ways to engage all sides/parts of the package. In addition to continuing to develop the layouts and making sure there is a strong connection between all parts of the experience, I know I need to keep working on the interactive part. I'm not completely sold yet and am a little nervous that people won't actually want to interact or self reflect, and this is meant to be the most important and fulfilling part. 
Updated experience map
First draft package
Style guide, imagery tests, alternate layout
Week 4, February 4 | visual exploration
I began the week with semi-arbitrary decisions about the layout of the critique book, just to get going. I was trying to find a way to set up scientific texts in an empirical and trustworthy yet digestible way. Additionally, I was exploring a number of ways to treat the labyrinth visual motif. I also tried a number of different sizes for the three books.
I knew I wasn't really happy with any of those layouts. After some much needed group-brainstorming and critique from classmates, I realized that the only way I would truly enjoy this project is if I kept pushing for it to be interactive. We began to consider ways for the audience to self-reflect in a public and physical way, like dropping marbles into a plexiglass contraption or writing on a piece of paper which would be pinned up on the wall. 
Below are a few drawings of potential experiences that a viewer could have:
At this point, I officially decided to drop the case studies for the self reflective element. Speaking to classmates showed me that although in a way, seeing real world examples does ground the theory in real life, my original purpose is for people to want to self reflect. Bringing the view away from themselves at the end of this experience doesn't really allow for internal dialogue.
Now, my set up looks like this:
- Theory of Motivation with TED Talk excerpts
Provides background while grounding it by relating it to real life
- Maslow in the Modern Age symposium from Society
Challenges and questions Maslow's theory based on modern day points of view
- (Public-facing) self reflection
Pushes the viewer to draw conclusions on the theory, the critique, and where/why they fit in the hierarchy
Something then clicked design-wise. I decided that I'd give every layer its own distinct color. That way, the user could connect the topic of a layer across all 2/3 of the elements. I also began thinking of an old/new contrast when approaching the two main books. The Theory of Motivation, written in 1943, could be presented as older while the modern critique essays could be its more hip sister. For inspiration, I looked up vintage books and based some elements of the older book  (monospace, fat underlines, etc) on those, and played around with how similar to different the two could be.
Week 3, January 28 | content dummy and form
CONTINUING CONTENT DEVELOPMENT
This week I spent really considering the content of my book. I read, reread, contacted the authors of various articles, and began putting pieces together. As of now, my purpose is still threefold: to educate, critique, and allow self reflection. Content-wise, it will look something like this:
- Theory of Motivation with TED Talk excerpts
Provides background while grounding it by relating it to real life
- Maslow in the Modern Age symposium from Society
Challenges and questions Maslow's theory based on modern day points of view
- Case Studies (Refugees, Solitary Confinement)
Personalizes the empirical/scientific theory with real life (extreme) examples of its use
I spent this week cutting and pasting content together in order to find a tone/voice and cut away the unnecessary. It's still definitely a work in progress, a messy work in progress, but as I am putting things into an InDesign document it is making me feel a lot better about what this will turn into. 
It was nice to hear that my attempts at grounding heady intellectual material was functioning, such as through the TED Talks and the case studies. I feel pretty good about the symposium article organization, too, especially after clarifying some of the material by emailing the authors themselves (that was awesome).
Some of the content questions I'm still struggling to answer are:
How much of the Theory of Motivation outside from the explanation of the basic needs should I keep?
Should the excerpts from the symposium articles act as callouts throughout the Theory, or should they act as their own section?
How will the self-reflective part of the project look/act? Should there be prompts? If so, what are they?
We began to start considering form this week. I know that I don't want to default to making a book unless it makes sense to. For now, I'm trying to challenge that. I feel like this is more of an introspective and reflective endeavor which calls for more of an experiential push.
I began toying with some themes, such as labyrinth, box/exploratory container, and disrupted structure. I really enjoy having a labyrinth as a visual motif because of everything that it stands for (introspection, journey, thoughtfulness, etc). I also think it'd be interesting to see this as a set that comes in a box and offers the audience a chance to explore as they with (hence, labyrinth). These are the two that I continued pushing. I also made it a point to return to my main three points (educate, critique, reflect) as I continued brainstorming. Instead of a physical self reflection, perhaps that part can be a video that prompts the viewer with overarching questions about both the Hierarchy and their own life. The next step is still TBD, but the sketches are shown below.
Week 2, January 21 | Content Development and 


exploring inspiration
CONTENT DEVELOPMENT 
This week was, in part, dedicated to continuing content development. I knew I needed to diverge from just focusing on Maslow's Theory of Motivation, so I began searching for opinion pieces about the hierarchy, especially in contemporary times. I happened upon a sociological journal called Society which happens to have had an issue dedicated to exactly that about a year ago. Suddenly, I was equipped with 11 articles discussing anything from levels of optimism within the world's poor to what it means to self-actualize, and how do we define our true selves.  I spent a lot of time reading through these articles, deciding which would provoke thought and deepen understanding of the hierarchy, how it works, and how it doesn't. 
In addition to that, I also came across a TED Radio Hour which does something similar by showcasing five talks. Each one elaborates on or personalizes each layer of the hierarchy through research or storytelling.
My last call for content was a few case studies I found about extremes which employ the thinkings of the hierarchy to explain or better them. Namely, farmers in China, refugees seeking counseling, and prisoners in solitary confinement. I thought this aspect of direct storytelling could bring this issue closer to the audience, explain the role of the hierarchy in a more personal way causing them to reflect on it, question it, believe it, or reject it. My goal is not to take a stance, but rather provide backing and depth to the theory, setting it up for critical consideration.
I also met with Jill Stratton, the "Dean of Joy" at Washington University, who provided me with not only books and names of psychologists, but also a number of different looks on the hierarchy and a bucketload of wisdom. For example, she noted a few studios about gratifying preschoolers in different ways (saying you "worked hard" rather than are "really smart") which combines fear of failure with the hope to better oneself. She also had a number of interesting ideas about an experiential take on Maslow's, considering symbols like labyrinths (which stand for self reflection, inspiration, wisdom, and contemplation) and fluidity (the constant changing of our lives and the pyramid). Additionally, she offered to insert applied strategies or prompts for someone who is attempting to self reflect, which I think is a great idea. I am honored to have had the ability to speak with her about something that she is an expert in, and am excited to continue to stay in touch and keep her in mind as I create. 


DESIGN
At this point I started to consider the themes and feelings I wanted to project to give off. I explored the ideas of breaking the stencil/fluidity, exploration, and thoughtfulness. I also created a feeling scale, from sterile to grassroots, in order to find a comfortable yet specific balance between the two. I want my project to be taken serious as scientific commentary, but not be 
plain or boring like empirical journals are (at this point, I also went to the library and looked at empirical journals...they are, indeed, boring). 
Week 1, January 14 | Presentation and Content


Development
My goal for this blog is to have a running referential compilation of all my thoughts and actions throughout the semester as a develop and create a project around Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs in the modern era. I'll be collecting and reporting weekly work from content development to design and final product.
To begin, I want to clarify that I have no idea what the outcome of this project will be. All I know is that I have an interest in human psychology, specifically positive psychology, and the creation of these relatively general frameworks which are meant to translate the complexity of human emotion into 5 layers of a triangle. 
My interest in psychological theories also stem from my tendency to self reflect, and the belief that through taking a step back and considering what truly matters to you and how you can capitalize on it, a person is better able to construct a positive life for themselves. Perspective is personal and self constructed, making all the difference in how a person views the world.
Just as there are multiple ways to react and project emotion to any one stimuli, there are also several ways to read and translate Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs to match your life.  Through  a number of modern critiques, I hope to put the hierarchy under a microscope, having the audience consider what works, what doesn't, and how it is used in specific situations.
I'm pulling sources, as of now, from a 2017 issue of Society scholarly journal which is full of interesting intellectual pieces from young sociologists about how the hierarchy relates to different genders, socioeconomic statuses, pop culture, and so on.
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