In order for project:IDWIL's concept to really be validated, I had to do something that felt "risky." The results were better/more than I could have ever asked for.
It seems obvious now, but the actual current version of IDWIL needed to be put in front of the types of people who would actually be using it. The thing that holds a person like me back from doing this earlier is that it can be hard to stop - no matter where you are in development - and have people critique. In the back of your head, there is always "something else that needs to be done...and then it'll be ready."
Thanks to book's like "The Lean Startup" and "The Art of the Start," I was inspired to suck it up and get some eyes on this thing. But enough about me and my problems - this post is about an amazing support system that has developed - the faculty and students in the marketing and the multimedia departments of Parkway South High School - specifically, educators Xanthe Meyer and Greg Schuermeyer.
These faculty and students welcomed me, and I couldn't have felt more at home. They were attentive and cordial as I quickly explained that I needed a website to be reviewed for about 15-20 minutes, and then a survey would ask them some questions about their experience.
Once they were done, I explained the purpose of IDWIL, how some of the marketing concepts that they were learning applied in this 'real-world' example, and then a little Q&A. To help pull out some honest feedback, the instructor elicited feedback while I was out of the room. Some of the responses are below.
One would think that "boring" would be a hit to my pride, but I understood what they were talking about. This focus group was intent on finding out how high school students would relate to the content and concept, so visual design of the site wasn't really anything that I was too worried about.
The best feedback came from a discussion on value and pricing - of course high school students had no interest in paying for access to IDWIL, but when asked whether they thought that it was something that the school should buy and make available to them, there was a resounding "YES!" Knowing that they 'got' my idea and that they had a desire to use it was a pretty amazing feeling.