Representing the latest in mobile technology devices, the new Digital Media Studio at Utah Valley University not only appears to be the envy of gadget lovers everywhere, but a trendy new way of allowing programmers to test their own work on multiple devices.
Since planning began for the UX, or User Experience, design station nearly two years ago, the Digital Media Department has worked to produce little less than its own personal Best Buy store for students.
Accompanied by the newest phones and tablets for Apple IOS, Android and Windows platforms, the UX station is the fifth and final station within the new ADMS, or advanced digital media studio, featuring capabilities for mobile app and web development via a single cross-platform Mac and Windows compatible computer.
“The main thing is that students understand the environment that they are working in and that they have the ability to test it, ” said Mike Harper, associate professor of Digital Media.
Due to an increasing variety of devices on the market, developers can no longer assume their work will be used on a standard desktop screen. For example: technologies such as responsive design, which allows your website to shrink to the size of your device, is a significant technology for digital media students and also makes testing programs on various screen dimensions necessary.
“If [students] design a website, code it and can’t test it on those different devices to make sure it works, all of their work is pretty much useless,” Harper said.
Students who normally may not have the means to test on a variety of devices can get a feel for “different hardware, design philosophies and user experience,” Harper said.
However, unlike other open technology device studio labs which have developed around the same time department plans began, the current facilities are not available to just anyone.
“We can’t make it an open lab,” Harper said.
In fact, the studio is only accessible to advanced students in senior projects or other approved activities, or lower-division students with instructor-requested permission.
In order to use the lab, students, only of upper-division level 3000 or more, must first send in a basic proposal, explaining their project objectives, their needs and how long they plan to use the equipment.
Upon approval, the department will then grant access to the room though the student’s UV-ID card though a proximity card system on the door.
Joe Albrethesen, a digital media student with emphasis in animation, is appreciative of the opportunities the studio provides.
“We’d be working out of someone’s apartment if we didn’t have this [studio],” Albrethesen said.
Plans to expand stations on campus are ongoing.
“We are in the process of developing a new device lab for the College of Technology, accessible to all College of Technology students,” Harper said. “Where the single UX station only comprised of one desk space, there will be four, outfitted a complete set of the latest devices.”
Considering that some companies may do little or no prior testing, Harper hopes the studio will create good testing habits among developers before releasing technology to the public.