Handle — Event Management Application
Application Design Project for the
University of Design Schwaebisch Gmuend
Our brief was very broad. In this case, we were free to choose a topic for ourselves. The aim was for us to familiarise ourselves with proven methods used in the various phases of application design. The course’s focus was on the conceptual side of the process, but we weren’t restricted from developing the product or its components into a functioning application, if we so desired.
Choosing the subject
Since the subject was free choice, we had to first find a worthy one. As always, having all that freedom meant we had to invest a couple of weeks on trying to make sure we were doing something that people would appreciate.
We decided to begin by first examining our own environment and brainstorming ideas for themes. This way we could have some base to start interviewing people and trying to determine whether there were some improvements in experience that could be made within the respective themes.
Our first problems to solve ranged from the currently terrible state of garbage disposal in the city of Schwäbisch Gmünd to social media not being social at all.
We almost settled on trying to solve the social media problem, but ultimately decided to try to find at least two more themes to explore in the interviews, to avoid driving ourselves in to a corner with only one.
First interviews and assessing results
We wanted to find out if other people shared the frustrations that we had. The three topics, around which we began interviewing, were:
- Event management in an increasingly fragmented communication platform landscape
- Controlling the barrage of smartphone notifications in our attention economy
- The previously mentioned quasi-social media platform problem.
We conducted our interviews independently, and without a rigid structure. Separating meant that we could perform a greater number of interviews, and the lack of structure was mostly to allow for as much qualitative and experiential insight as possible to surface.
About the notification theme, some felt that they didn’t have enough control over the objects of their own attention. The extent to which both Android allows the user to control what pops up on the top of the screen of their mobile device might be sufficient, but the ease of use isn’t up to the standards that should be expected. iOS, to our knowledge, offers even less control.
The social media subject spawned much discussion about the different habits people have in using them. Facebook, for example, seemed to be declining in popularity among our interviewees. The majority had an account, but some said they did not spend much time there. More focused platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram had gained their attention. Facebook, as one interview revealed, is a good place to find people with which one shares interests, but the culture within the groups in combination with their functionality doesn’t foster the kind of spontaneous social behaviour that the interviewee wanted.
Event management seemed to be the most common source of frustration among the people we interviewed. There were as may styles of handling a get-together with friends as there were people, and most of them were compromises. Facebook is still the de facto tool for inviting people to events, but with the decreasing activity of people on the platform, it is no longer possible to reach all everyone there. Some preferred the tried and true method of calling or sending a text message and managing details on pen and paper, but recognised the relative lack of efficiency of the method.
In the roughly 12 preliminary interviews, we could gather enough validation and information to start developing rough concepts that might solve some of the selected problems regarding the topics.
After discussing the insights of from the interviews, we decided to exclude the social media topic from further development, simply because of the massive amounts of variables at play. We would have had to consider so many different use cases and user groups that fitting the process to such a limited time frame of four months didn’t seem feasible. For notifications and event management, however, we decided to sketch out a simple draft of some features.
We made a paper prototype and a simple wireframe prototype for the event manager and notification manager, respectively. We tested them with users, and the response from them was overwhelmingly in favour of the event manager concept. Right from the beginning we received good feedback and some suggestions for nice-to-have and must-have features.
More about the subject
We all know the situation, when we plan to to something with more then 3 or 4 people. Or sometimes with just 3 people but there are o lot of things to manage before. Most of the time we start a group in our favorite messenger. Yes, a new one of these adorable group chats where you´re friends can share the cutest cat video ever or informations about how drunk Jessica was the other night. Okay, there was a time and maybe a good reason for group chats, but no one needs another new one for “going to the Beach on Saturday” or something like that. But what else can we do? Create a facebook event for 5 People who whant’s to go to the beach, really? We’re noticing that there is a gap somehow between this two tools. Or maybe they are both not the right once for just managing a few questions and share some Informations to a small group.
If we had a free wish for a small-group-event-managing-tool. How would it look like?
First, it couldn’t be a Messaging App. Because the Discussions would go out of Hand. And another reason is I couldn’t be sure, that anyone I’d like to meet uses the same Messanger like I do.
Maybe it shouldn’t be even an App. If I imagine I would send my friends a Message that they should install an App that I can invite them to go to the Beach on the weekend. Thats unthinkable.
But until know thats only our Opinion. Let’s see how People act if there had to organize something with a Messanger. Lets say a Birthday
Instant Apps & Conversational Interfaces
Since the last Year we saw a trend especially at the Google developers Conference, that applications on our Smartphones are changing. Instant Apps can use some Parts of App functionalities on the go, without beeing installed before. Even Messangers becoming more and more like liitle own operating Systems with a lot of integrated Services. Banking, Flight Booking und a lot more is possible without leaving the messenger. The WeChat Messenger in China shows how much more is possible with an Messenger.
After establishing that the event manager concept would be much more interesting to people, we decided to concentrate on finding out specific use-cases and creating user personas. We compiled information that we got from the interviews and made two user personas. We also devised a user journey map based on some example scenarios that were told to us. After making the first journey map and we noticed that most of the touch points and experiences seemed identical for both personas. This did not surprise us, but we wanted to get more specific information so we asked our friend Stephanie to document her event hosting experience for us.
We prepared a simple probe kit for for her. Many valuable insights came from this, even though we didn’t quite get as detailed of a description for all the steps. Our original intent was to make a new user journey map based on this scenario, but because of the gaps in information and the very useful bits of information we had already had, we decided not to spend time on this. Instead we went forward with prototyping and testing.
Our first click-dummies and the interviews we did using them proved, again, very helpful. In total, we did 3 iterations on our wireframes. The basic structure didn’t change during that time, but for example the event creation form — being the most essential feature in the application — was rearranged many times. We tried a more condensed single page flow, as well as an extremely sparse multi-page flow. In the end we ended up with something in between.
Among the features that we added were:
- Multiple venues with separate details for a single event
- Requesting suggestions from guests for venue details such as time and location.
- Defining if guests can forward invitations on a per-venue basis
- Defining a poll as pick or vote
- Pick disables the item after selection, so only one person can select the item. Alternatively, the item can be defined to have a capacity, such as 3x, so it can be selected 3 times before being disabled.
- Vote allows an item to be selected as many times as needed, without being disabled.
Once we felt that the bulk of the features had been established, we moved ahead to the delivery phase. Because we wanted the visual style to be indicative of the way the application functions, we did designed the visuals and the interaction system in parallel.
From a very early stage we had imagined the application to have a card layout to reflect the modular nature and adaptability of the application. We finally settled on preferring gestures for the high level navigation system over buttons. For low level interactions, such as toggles and pickers, we would have to settle for the conventional button system, to prevent conflicts with the high level navigation.
The visual design went through half a dozen revisions. Because we strove to tie in the visuals and the interactions, every time the interaction system changed, the visual design had to be tweaked.
What we settled on for the interactions was a swipe gesture system. A drag and release from the top down would reveal a main navigation menu to access the main functions of the application: settings, archive, and new event. This gesture would be present in every screen inside the app. In “New event”, though, it would reveal a cancel -option, to return to the Dash.
When there is scrolling content, like multiple event cards on the dash, a swipe from the bottom up would be a typical scroll. When entering the event creation space, a swipe up usually adds a card. For example, in the “Venues” screen a swipe up would add a new venue to the event. Similarly, in the “Polls” screen, a swipe would add a poll to the event. Swiping sideways, in contrast to the drag-from-the top, would navigate between the stages within the “New event” -creator.