Empowering makers to engage with their makerspace community and its resources

Partico is a mobile app for makers to access equipment and helpful resources in their makerspace.

Partico was designed for the makers and makerspaces at the University of Washington.

In a team of 4 students, I was a UX designer. I conducted user research with makers to better understand how potential users would best utilize our app. I was also responsible for wireframing and the finalized visual design of the overall app.

UX Designer


User Research
Visual & UI Design
Mobile Design

Jan–Mar 2017 (8 weeks)


The Makerspace

A makerspace is an open community space that provides access to a wide variety of software, tools, and materials for building projects.

People who use makerspaces are called "makers."


User Research

To better understand makers, we specifically sought out to learn about their experiences falling under these three categories.

Maker Identity
Makerspace Experience
Community Experience


Pain Points

We interviewed 4 different makers to gather more info on specific troubles encountered while in the makerspace.

Long waiting periods

Makers often wait for long periods of time to use certain equipment or materials, due to limited space and resources.

Steep learning curve
New makers don’t know where to start when trying to learn new equipment, tools, or techniques. It takes a while to pick up speed.

Low awareness of events and social opportunities
On the community side, makers are unaware of social or educational events occurring in the space. But at the same time, makers want to meet other makers in the space.

How might we facilitate makerspace interactions that encourage maker success?


Design Goals

Reduce waiting periods for makerspace equipment.


Concentrate resources, info, and help in one place for increased ease access.

Encourage makers to engage with their community through shared knowledge.



In our user research phase, we discovered that there are usually two types of makers:
The STEM career-oriented maker and the creative, hobby-oriented maker.

As a whole, makers lean towards the STEM/career-oriented mindset. Creative hobbyist makers are less common. We strived to create a resource to serve both parties that represent the makerspace in its entirety.

Oliver, the STEM career-oriented maker.
Eleanor, the creative hobbyist maker.


The Solution

We narrowed in on designing a mobile app to address makers' needs and points of friction in the makerspace.

After sketching and ideating, my group established three cornerstone design decisions for Partico. Then, we drew storyboards of those main use cases.

Design Decisions

Tool Library
A place for makers to browse all tools available in the makerspace.
+ Waitlist system: Sign up in advance to use in-demand equipment.

Maker Help
A platform for makers to reach out to staff and other makers for help.

A personal resource section for learning at one's own convenience.




Moving forward from scenarios and design decisions, we fleshed out the information architecture of Partico. Using the IA, we then made wireframes and tested a low-fidelity prototype with three makers to gather feedback and iterate on Partico's design.


Home Screen

Tool Library

Maker Help


Tool Queue (Waitlist)

Staff Help



Introducing Partico, the app made for makers at the University of Washington.
Through Partico, makers can access makerspace equipment and educational resources such as one-on-one help from makerspace staff and other makers.

High Fidelity Designs


A personalized dashboard for makers

Tool Library

Easily access tools & equipment info
Browse tools by categories
View tool info + Sign up to use tool

Maker Help

Encourage learning in a social + collaborative setting
Reach out to other makers
Seek help by skill type
Message staff remotely


Further engage with the surrounding community
Message fellow makers
Browse tutorials and tips
Explore makerspace events



Some takeaways from designing Partico.

Design is a process
The most important learning experience I took away from Partico was the opportunity to work through a structured design process for the first time. It was an extremely valuable experience to envision an idea and carry out the design process from beginning to end.

Consider the real world
We had the chance to present Partico to the University of Washington's makerspace coordinators and College of Engineering to push it for development in the future. We got a small look into the world of working real world stakeholders with business and legal considerations. If Partico ever comes to fruition someday, our team would definitely push for more competitive analysis and user research.

Thanks & Acknowledgements

To my group members, Mackenna Lees, Kelly Xu, and Mike Eacker.
To Tyler Fox, my professor-turned-life-mentor and friend.

Next Project