Nostone was a project designed from a brief that tasked our group with designing a social network to cater for a niche group of designers where they could share, teach and learn about issues relating to their field.

When —

  • September 2012 – November 2012

Contributors —

  • Alan Layt, Front-End Developer
  • Amy McCrae, Interaction Designer
  • Stephen Macvean, Interaction Designer

Overview

The social network allows a previously uncatered for group of ecological crafters who use up-cycled and naturally sourced materials to create their work, to form a network based on this subject matter that is extremely important to them. It allows them to make connections with like minded designers who produce similar work and/or use similar materials. Extensive user research into this group of eco-designers allowed us to design and develop a social network that effectively caters to the group's needs and provides a realistic and much more focused alternative to existing social networks.

Nostone's interface heavily focuses upon photography and mapping, enabling its users to share locations where they have sourced their materials previously, to showcase their work as well as browsing photography and maps of the locations of materials posted by fellow users and hopefully to even be inspired to be more creative.

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The Challenge

Our team collected and collated a lot of valuable information relating to the online behaviours of eco-jewellers. We found that despite there being many platforms for eco-crafters to sell their work, post updates etc., there was an untapped market for a niche social network platform tailored to their specific needs, facilitating the creation of connections with fellow crafters in the areas that are most important to their work - their materials and final products.

Our challenge from our research was to design and develop a high-fidelity prototyped social network intended for this niche group of eco-crafters to enable them to form connections and source materials for their craft, rather than focussing on the commercial side of their work.

The Approach

On the back of the user research conducted at the beginning on the project we were able to begin addressing the need for the social network by focussing on what the requirements of our users were.

Wireframing of the interface for Nostone was undertaken bearing in mind the key themes of material sourcing and sharing, mapping and photography throughout the process.

Our social network, Nostone, provides its users with the ability to:

  • The ability to share materials and the locations they were sourced from through maps and photos.
  • A platform to show the complete design process of their work right from the beginning if they wish.
  • Nostone gives like minded eco-designers a place to come together to share and help each other with sourcing materials.
  • Users can comment on and like materials posted by other users.
  • If a designer requires a certain material for a project, they can search the network to locate any in their vicinity
  • Display the work that they used the materials to produce.
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The Outcome

The resulting social network was researched, designed and prototyped in response to the brief and if developed further could prove to be of exceptional value with its user group. Nostone effectively caters for our niche audience of eco-crafters by giving them a platform to connect around materials, a topic integral to the production of their work, as well as allowing the crafters to display their final products created as a result of sourcing materials from the network.

The social feature of Nostone allows the crafters, as well as the general public, to help each other with material sourcing and provides users with the opportunity to both gain and give value, an aspect that many social networks currently do not facilitate beyond liking and sharing of their content.

The project resulted in many questions being raised about many of the large social networks and their appropriateness for particular users groups. Although the strength of many social networks lies in the sheer number of their users, it is clear that there are gaps for niche social networks like Nostone that can provide specialist and particular value to users not found in existing platforms.

Unfortunately with the project being worked on in 2012, the final prototype of the network is no longer accessible online.

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