This week marks the end of my Interaction Design Specialisation on Coursera, which included 7 courses on various aspect of Interaction design followed by a Capstone project. The Capstone itself was of 10 weeks and each course before it was between 4–6 weeks each, so needless to say it took a lot of discipline and determination to hold on for almost 8 months to successfully complete all courses in the Specialisation. I would highly recommend this course to any one who is even remotely involved in Software development — either as a Developer, Tester, Designer, Product Manager or UX Manager. I personally benefitted a lot. My personal thanks to Scott Klemmer (course instructor), University of California — San Diego (course sponsor) and Coursera, for making this wonderful course.
One of the requisites of the last module of the Capstone is to summarise all that we did in a Medium post. The Capstone itself was a summary of the last 7 modules, but in a more DIY way, and this post is meant to showcase the work we did in the capstone project. I would like to mention here that my intention for doing this project was to learn the process of User Experience Design and not to create an actual practical solution that can be launched for commercial purpose. Hence I would recommend the reader to evaluate it accordingly. I have learnt a lot from this and I hope others too get something of value by reading this post.
Glance — Design brief selected by me
We are surrounded by information. Some might even call it overload. How might technology show us the essential pieces at a glance, so we can quickly navigate through the noise to get to what we really want? We compulsively check email, Twitter, Facebook, and the news — — just in case there’s something there. Right now we are doing the filtering and finding ourselves, why not let our devices do it for us? How can a screen summarise information and present just the most relevant parts (especially if it is tiny)? How can these devices use social and physical context to more effectively have the key information ready at a glance? Today the home screen of many devices is a grid of icons, or a static picture. That’s not very creative. You can do way better!
Discovrly — Design concept built by me
Stage 1 — Needfinding, Ideation and Protoype
I started by first looking at the phone screens of my close friends and asking them how they use their phone. My goal was to understand the activities people perform on their mobile or the end goals the users want to achieve on a day-to-day level, on a week-to-week level and on a month-to-month level. I wanted to track if these things were different for different time of day, or for weekend v/s weekdays, or when someone is in public v/s at home, or when someone is sitting in a car v/s sitting at home, etc.
After selecting 15 pain points that users had, I formalised by point of view about the problem statement by making 2 storyboards.
Storyboard 1 — Recommending apps based on current location, time, past activity and other phone sensors
Storyboard 2 — Recommending apps based on current emotions
Based on Storyboard 1, which dealt with recommending apps based on current location, time, past activity and other phone sensors, I created Paper Prototype 1. This ‘widget’ was an improved notification panel. I left the homescreen of smartphone as it is today, filled with all apps.
And based on Storyboard 2, which dealt with recommending apps based on current emotions, I created Paper Prototype 2. In this I added a new widget on homescreen that shows relevant apps on top based on current mood and hides all else. The widget also recommends relevant apps user can download from Android Playstore.
Stage 2 — Heuristic Evaluation, Wireframes and Interactive Prototype
After finalising 2 point of views to solve the problem hinted in design brief via 2 separate ways, I chose to take the second prototype forward.
Although Prototype #1 was the more ‘realistic’ of the two and there are many people who might feel finding apps based on emotions is not practical, I went ahead with prototype 2 because of 2 main reasons -
1. Google Now and Apple suggestion, along with many other recommendation tools, are trying to use device sensors and user data to show more relevant information to people. Hence my solution wouldn’t have looked very original. In this game, success hinges more on the accuracy of recommendation and hence it was not that big of a design challenge as much as it is a data challenge.
2. Prototype 2 was refreshing, unique and almost a bit childish. Probably not very practical but it gave me a lot of room to think of new solution and hence more fun and probably a bigger design challenge.
Based on heuristic evaluation from a friend who is an experienced designer, I improved my paper prototype into these Wireframe -
Here is an excellent article by Jacob Nielsen that gave structure to the whole concept of Heuristic evaluation in the world of User Interface Design. Check out the 10 principles mentioned there.
After getting feedback on Wireframes, I started to build an Interactive Prototype using InvisionApp. I don’t have the first version with me now as I edited the same link after each feedback. Present version link will be given under Stage 3.
Stage 3 — In-person user interview and A/B tests via Remote User testing
After showing interactive prototype to other users in person and watching them use it, I made some basic changes in it. One of the major issues was that some users were not able to understand the entry point on home screen. So I made 2 versions of the first screen with different entry points and tested both with random users throughout the world using Usertesting.com. Coursera was kind enough to provide us with some free credits to do the same and it was a pretty good experience seeing recorded screen captures of random people trying the prototype and giving feedback.
Here are the 2 versions I tested for entry point. Version 1 looked like a widget and Version 2 looked like a normal app.
As Scott Klemmer mentions time and again, prototypes are not about design beauty so please ignore aesthetics. Version 1 performed better and I stuck with it. Here is the public link for the interactive prototype. It is childish and immature but it helped me go through the entire design process once and understand how to take up an abstract problem statement and transform into an actual product design.
Stage 4 — Point of view, Packaging and Presentation
This Medium post is part of Stage 4. Along with the Interactive Prototype link I gave above, this stage also includes a Youtube video that can help explain to a stranger what this app/widget is about.
Point of view — I have tried to create a way to reduce cognitive overload for users when they are using their smartphone. Not every need can be described in words and sometimes people don’t even know what they want. I have seen lot of people (including me) fidgeting with their phone not knowing what to do next because there is no specific app that they want to open but are just browsing from one app to another. This is an attempt to rethink and redesign the interfaces for all these use cases. Also, discovering new apps on Playstore is a boring and difficult task because we sometimes don’t even know what we want. This widget helps in discovering new apps by recommending the relevant ones based on your current emotions.
For smartphone users who are not sure at all times what app they are looking for, Discovrly provides a smart search by emotion option that not only shows them relevant apps on their phone that they can use but also recommends new apps from Playstore that will suit their current mood.
Not every need can be expressed in words. With Discovrly, you won’t have to.
This is the longest online course I have done till now and it has introduced me to the wonderful world of high-quality online courses. After sacrificing almost all of my weekends for the past 8 months, a part of me wants to make this the last ‘big’ course I take up so that I can finally enjoy my weekends without the guilt of missing Sunday deadlines. But another part says that this is just the beginning of a beautiful hobby. I guess I am going to listen to the second opinion. Bye bye weekends! Hello interesting new world of online education!
This article was written by Pranay Bhardwaj. Connect on Twitter https://twitter.com/Pranay_Bhardwaj
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