Abstract:

Cards for Modern Decision-Making

Final Deliverables:

52-card deck, mobile app concept, print material

Time Frame:

1 Month

Team Size+Role:

3 / Visual, Illustration, UI/UX Designer+Researcher

Programs Used:

Figma, Adobe Illustrator/Photoshop/Indesign

Tools for Contemplation

Whether it is a personal journey or a group effort, extracting one's inner thoughts and communicating those ideas to others is a difficult activity everyone faces, regardless of whether you are a designer or not. Putting complex ideas and emotions into words eats up much of your cognitive energy; energy that is better spent on responding to and discussing those ideas. 

"Abstract" is a deck of 52 cards that uses imagery and words to bring form to symbolic ideas; words from various global cultures that describe phenomena and logic that English has no word for. Prompting the player with open-ended cards and combos, this deck can be used to unclog the mind and allow someone to aggregate their abstract thoughts into solid sentiments that others can respond to. Abstract is also a test of creating narratives - storytelling is a powerful skill anyone can possess and with regular use, these cards can prevent that skill from

ever atrophying. 
 

The challenge we began with was this: How might we underpin communication and decision-making with mnemonic tools to facilitate better thought generation?

Making of the Cards

Full transparency: this project actually started off really low to the ground. Initially, all Abstract amounted to was an exercise in visualization and storytelling. Various blogs and articles online were scoured for foreign words that define concepts that are intangible, such as Saudade (Portuguese for the love that remains after someone is gone), Mokita (a term from Papau New Guinea for a truth everyone knows but refuses to talk about), and Kaukokaipuu (Finnish for homesickness for a place you have never been to). Images that try to put form to these terms were made into cards, and these cards were then tested with users. 

Testing + Research

With a sample size of roughly ten, our team performed A/B testing to get a sense of how people use Abstract; do they get more out of it with a hands-off experience, or one that is more structured? From there, we had many rich dialogues with people about their lives, goals, and fears. Additionally, we got insights into the kind of guided experience users responded to the most positively. The data manifested themselves into a lot of changes and additions, including splitting the deck into art and word cards, developing a journal/worksheet for guided use, and a digital mobile product to further support the deck.

Mobile App Functions

The app itself possesses three separate functionalities to support the physical card deck: a way to document and record physical card sessions, a digital version of the deck that allows one to draw a card each day through their phone, and a card catalogue that allows users to view every card in the deck and learn about which words inspired which cards and our own reasonings for the imagery. These three provide greater context on cards and expand the usability of the cards both within and beyond the physical artifacts. 

Future Plans

Abstract doesn't end here! Our team is planning on posting this project on Kickstarter and see if it can gather some momentum. On top of that, other future plans include building out a more complete prototype of the app, iterating on packaging, and making future expansions for the deck to increase its size. Updates will be posted here in the future and on my instagram @sketch_politely - keep an eye out for it!