Using Low-fidelity Prototyping for Interaction Design

WHAT:

This week’s studio session was focused on the process of interaction design. The project we were given was to design an app for Citizen Science, in which non-scientist citizens would be able to easily collect data on certain animals. We started with three rounds of brainstorming on sticky notes. We tried to come up with as many ideas as we could for what animals and environments would work for mobile users to collect data, what mobile users might collect the data, and what motivations they would have to do it. This was to ensure that when we picked a type of user and animal for our project, and that it would be a relevant problem that needed solving and it would be plausible for the users to do. For my project, I chose to make an app for citizens to be able to collect data on snakes. My targeted user was a citizen who was a jogger, and wanted to be able to avoid snakes on their route. My goal was to be able to help them stay safe when they go out for a jog.The next step was to design the app that they would use. I diagrammed the layout of my app and how I wanted it to navigate, and then drew the screens on note cards. Using the Marvel app I took pictures of my screen drawings and linked them together, making a working prototype. I designed the app so that the user could take a picture of a snake when they saw one, record information on it, and using GPS it would post where that snake was spotted at. Then using the maps feature of the app, a jogger could plan their route to go around known areas with snakes. This second part was created as motivation for the users, so that they would want to use the app to collect the data.

The result of group brainstorming for ideas of potential users.
Laying out our ideas for our apps on paper.
My original brainstormed idea, as well as my user interaction layout and screen drawings.

SO WHAT:

I really liked the process of low fidelity prototyping with Marvel. In making the app, it really let me focus on the interaction design. Most of my time was spent planning and creating all of the details of how the user would actually interact with the app, rather than making the app look good. This process also makes it so that I would be able to do user interaction testing before spending time and money developing the actual app, which is a great way to test the idea before going forward with it.

NOW WHAT:

I think I could use this technique of low fidelity prototyping a lot in the future, especially with apps and websites. I make different kinds of websites for race car drivers like myself, and for the next website that I make I am definitely going to use this process to get the user interaction how I want it before I make the actual website. Another very helpful use for this process would be with a racing social network app that I am going to be developing with my dad. Right now what we have is just a website, but for turning it into an app it would be great to use the Marvel app specifically to lay everything out and get a feel of how we want it to function. Lots of projects like this could benefit from this low-fidelity interaction design process, except for maybe simple websites that are one or two pages and don’t have much user interaction other than just reading.