Using Low-fidelity Prototyping to Construct an Interaction Design for an Animal Census Mobile App

What is it?

Writing down a scenario for preservationists recording data for elephants.

To begin the process of creating a mobile app for collecting animal census, our group brainstormed lots of different animals and their habitats. Additionally, we thought of a multitude of users who would want to record data and information for an animal census. We were able to select any grouping we wanted. I decided to record elephants in the wild and my selected user would be preservationists. I find elephants very fascinating and it is extremely frustrating they are becoming endangered because of poaching. Poachers hunt elephants for their tusks because the ivory is very valuable in the black market. This was my main motivation to create the app and I believe the preservationist users share the same passion.

The next step was to create a flow chart for our app. I thought of mobile apps like social media and games to get an idea of the order in which screens appear after opening the app. My flowchart began by signing into a profile. The user profile is edible to fit the user’s personality and information, and would keep track of records or entries. After beginning a new entry, the next screen had five main features. These five main options would allow the user to implement sensory data, numeric data, textual data, an additional feature and a motivation feature to continue using the app. Each of these five main options would go into another screen for further detail. To visualize this flowchart, I illustrated them onto flashcards because I would later use a mobile app called Marvel which helps creates apps from drawings. Marvel allows for the user to take a picture of a drawing and make a portion of it a button which links to another drawing; ultimately allowing the user to create multiple navigating screens. I used “back” and “save” for backwards navigating. After creating all the drawings and creating the links between the drawings, I was able to test the prototype out and used it as a real app to make sure it was fully functional and organized. I recorded a video of me physically using the app while narrating how to use it and its features for its specific users and motivation.

This is my flowchart illustrated onto flashcards. They are organized left to right. I took pictures of each of these and made my prototype in Marvel.
This is the narrated video of the full prototype run through.

Why Does it Matter?

Using low-fidelity prototyping was a fun way to get abstract ideas on paper. In a society with an increasing use of technology, it can still be beneficial to start from scratch with some pencil and paper. Brainstorming ideas onto sticky notes, creating flow charts to organize thought processes, and drawing pictures are super simple and time efficient ways to create a prototype application in its beginning stages. This strategy doesn’t require great detail and time to perfect your thoughts. It also makes it easy to edit your ideas because it only takes an erasing of a drawing or arrow in a flowchart. One question I have is how do super complex apps or technology like new smart phones made by large companies start their ideas? Do they use low-fidelity prototyping or more complex computer programs to begin their ideas? I didn’t really run into any problems that weren’t expected. I found myself erasing and redrawing new designs on my flashcards which is all part of the process.

Now What?

I could definitely see myself using this technique in my future. I plan on majoring in Human Centered Design and Engineering and would be very interested and happy in designing applications or websites that use multiple screens. Using low-fidelity prototyping to figure out the interaction design is a helpful way of figuring out the beginning, middle, and end features of an app before creating it. It would be frustrating creating an app after many hours of work to find out your many screens aren’t navigational. Using low-fidelity prototyping would help me plan out an application that requires step by step navigating so the user doesn’t get stuck in a vacuum within the app. I am a fan of race cars and race car drivers. An example using this strategy would be creating a race car or race car driver encyclopedia for a fan who wants to learn more about the cars or drivers. The fan needs to be able to select cars or drivers easily from a search and go into further detail about each subject. Then the fan should be able to return to his search and repeat the process efficiently and easily without frustration. A project that might not be appropriate for this strategy would be an extremely basic application that only has one or two screens. An example of this would be the compass app on your phone. It doesn’t require a lot of navigating and multiple screens.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Alex Peck’s story.