Ideation and Drafting User-Friendly Apps

Difficult tasks are done through simplicity

At first, the process of designing an app that motivates users to collect complex data (something that most individuals are not immediately inclined to do) may seem daunting. However, the interaction design stage of this project breaks the major points down to their simplest form.

Keeping the user in mind

The users and scenario I targeted when creating my app, Critters, were residents of neighborhood communities, of all ages, who frequently venture outside, whether they are children playing in the woods, parents walking their pets, or athletes running along neighborhood trails.

Measuring out and implementing the universal navigation bar, for users to return to any major page with ease

I started by measuring and outlining five boxes, 4.2"x2.6", which were the measured dimensions of a typical iPhone screen. I did this to get an accurate gauge of how much usable space (per screen) I had to fill. I tried to keep the interface simple, with a universal five-button navigation bar on the bottom of the screen, so users could return to the major sections of the app with ease. Also, I tried to keep the amount of buttons throughout the interface (per screen) to a minimum, as to not intimidate users, flooding them with options.

Reconsiderations of space usage

My experience using this technique was pretty straight-forward, as it continued from my group-work with my colleagues in Studio. However, a problem I encountered when sketching out my app pages was using too much space, sharing too much information to the point where when I stepped back, I could see potential users losing interest when prompted to fill out data.

I adjusted the information to be split into two screens, and simplifying the inputs to some multiple-choice boxes, and some boxes where the users could input short responses.

Box 2 (top right) and Box 3 (bottom left), now split into their own pages, where they were joined before

Future Considerations

Not just in mobile software apps, this technique could be extremely useful when designing physical, technological hardware. Especially important in medical instruments, the interaction design technique considers the average user’s knowledge and what they will have to learn when using new intuitive technology. This has been evident in Apple’s Health stock app and its compatibility with AliveCor ECG Heart Monitor, which shares information between doctors and patients.

This is appropriate for the initial stages of design, where alternative ideas replace existing suggestions, which ultimately make their way to digital mastering and more practical testing.

My refined interaction design pane for a Nissan 350Z, moved from paper sketches to Photoshop

I’m actually using this technique on a personal project, where I am determining the process in how I will install an Android Nexus 7 tablet to replace a traditional car head unit, in attempt to make it a “smart car”. As the tablet will serve as tool for myself as the driver, rather than a distraction, I have tried the make the primary interaction screen to be as simple as possible.

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