Retrospective Document for MyWeatherAlert App

MyWeatherApp

A journey through the insights of my first rapid prototyping.

It is easy to decide that this project will be a mobile app and it will have something to do with the weather. What’s not easy is deciding what functions we want to add to this app and what makes our app different from the rest of the hundreds of weather app in the app store.

There is no straightforward answer to those questions. A few ideas were conceived in my head based on the inadequacy of what’s available in the market and it was then I realized I have just done my first interview, albeit with myself.

Research

The power of numbers. The more issues we uncover with user’s experience, the more we can solve and result in an app that is highly functional where users will enjoy using.

Uncover the problems by interviewing users using the 4-lists method.

  1. What are the pains of dealing with the weather?
  2. What are your pleasures of knowing the weather?
  3. Where and when do you think of the weather
  4. What are the behavoirs or actions you will associate with the weather?

The four most memorable points of the interviews are:

  • Weather is so unpredictable.
  • Won’t check the weather daily.
  • Conflicting weather info from different sources.
  • Checks NEA twitter daily but only general forecast is available.

Analysis

Applying affinity mapping to the researching findings.

Sort by Persons and Affinity Mapping

By performing Affinity Mapping, I am able to group the key points by similarity and assign a ‘one-word’ label to describe each group. These labels give a great overview of what are the main concerns of the users.

Why ‘one-word’?

Only through the eyes of the big picture then can we see the important underlying reasons.

Identifying the essence.

I want to be informed of the weather automatically.
I hate not knowing the weather when it turns bad.
I do not trust non-meteorological station weather reports.
I do not want to redo my laundry.

Pulling out the essence from the groupings essentially means extracting the ‘I’-statements from each group. These four essences were selected based on a few factors:

  • Importance based on number of key points in the group.
  • Hierarchy of problems. E.g. root of all problems and emotions.
  • Ease of solving.

Establishing the Problem Statement.

‘I do not like to check the weather but I want to know when the weather will affect my everyday plans.’

The formulation of this problem is by investigating the interviewees’ key points. All the interviewees are unhappy when the weather changes their plans. However, this is not simply due to unreliable weather report sources as all the interviewees apart from one does not check the weather daily.

This is an extremely useful finding that will shape the direction of the app development — they want to be informed of weather changes that will affect or determine their plans without having to check it all the time.

As a result, we will focus on developing a way to allow users to input routine routes or activity.

  • going to work: notify me if it is going to rain during my journey to work.
  • doing laundry: notify me if there will be a 4 hours stretch of sunny weather for me to do my laundry.

Design

First Prototype by Paper Sketching

Screenshots of the first prototype

Usability Test with User Interviews.

The first prototype was created based on the problem the app is going to solve. It is obvious that the app WILL solve the problem but how easy is it for the user to user and solve their problem? Ultimately, this app is created for the users, not for us!

Scenario: I want to know the weather automatically when I am going to work.

Task: To set up weather notification for every weekday.

By using the paper sketches to show the users where they will land after they click somewhere, we have discovered how intuitive the app is for the user to perform the test they are asked to. A few key points of the usability tests are (recommendations are in italic):

  1. Poor user interface. Too many steps to complete a task.

User interface needs to be more responsive.

2. Expects to see more details on the ‘Home’ page.

Use more of today’s common navigation methods, e.g. swipe down for more info.

3. Expects to be able to edit the information by tapping on the ‘Name’ of event.

Create intuitive alternate paths to complete similar task.

4. Problems with understanding that the input field titles mean.

Input field tiles need to be clearer.

5. Uses the ‘Back’ button to go back to the ‘Home’ page and expects a button at the bottom to click to return to the ‘Home’ page.

Having a more straightforward way of going back to the ‘Home’ page.

Second Prototype with Paper Sketching

Screenshots of the second prototype

The second prototype was developed by referring to the recommendations based on the usability tests on the first prototype.

As seen, the user interface is more responsive now. There is a swipe down function to allow more details to be showed on the ‘Home’ page. There is a specific + button for the user to add the alerts they want. Also, alerts can be set up by clicking on the ‘Time’ in the hourly forecast page. Creating a ‘Home’ button is one of the key feature requested for. The current weather details at the top and the weekly forecast on the button are popular features of existing weather apps that are also incorporate to increase the ease of usability through familiarity.

Usability Testing using POP.

Scenario: I am planning to go to the beach this weekend.

Task: To check the weather in advance and save the information.

The result of the POP test is very positive. The user is able to create a single event weather alert and came close to successfully do it again using the alternate path by the hourly forecast. User was able to use the ‘Home’ button to navigate at ease too.

User interface needs to be more responsive (SUCCEEDED)

Use more of today’s common navigation methods, e.g. swipe down for more info (SUCCEEDED)

Create intuitive alternate paths to complete similar task (ALMOST!!)

Input field tiles need to be clearer (FAILED)

Having a more straightforward way of going back to the ‘Home’ page (SUCCEEDED)

Conclusion

To err is human.

The more mistakes we make now, the less we will make in the future. The importance of user interviews and testing cannot be underestimated. A mobile app can only be as popular as its usability. The more we talk to our users, the more information we will uncover that will either set us on the right path or direct us to another ship altogether.

Next Iteration…

One obvious shortcoming of the user experience is definitely the text preceding the input fields. More improvements need to be made and one suggestion is to utilize grey default text to aid user understanding.

Suggestion for third prototype
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