My first assignment for UX Academy is to analyze three well designed and two poorly designed web, mobile, or device applications. Off the bat, I could think of three (and more) apps on my phone that I wanted to use as the “well designed” examples. However, I had some trouble thinking of any “poorly designed” apps or websites I had seen lately; probably because I will automatically stop using the app or website if I don’t like the way it is designed. Nevertheless, after some digging, I came up with these examples:
Headspace: The Good
This is actually an app that I used to use, but got lost when I got a new phone. It is an app that helps you meditate. It is very helpful for beginners who may not know how to meditate, or have trouble staying focused.
- One of the features Headspace offers, is the customization of your meditation. While you can follow a basic meditation journey, they also have categories that focus on happiness, work and performance, sport, etc. I love the way they set up their content. It is very organized and easy to find exactly what the user is looking for.
- Aesthetically, Headspace did a great job designing for their audience. The color scheme and rounded animation gives off a very calming effect for someone who is stressed out or looking to wind down. (Honestly, I think anyone could appreciate it’s visuals, though.)
- Upon starting a meditation session, the user is given a lot of information about what they are starting. (1) They are clear on how many sessions you will be completing. (2) They show how long each session is. (3) They easily animate the time you have left in a session. (4) They show how long you have been doing the session for.
I think all of these things can really help a user who is new to meditating and may worry that it will be too much to handle or too long for them to follow through with. It lays out all the information so there is no uncertainty.
- Headspace tracks all your mediation sessions and gives you your stats on your profile. First of all, I enjoy how instead of “profile” being the button to choose to get my profile, it actually uses my name, “Jami”. It seemed more personal, which fits because meditating is a personal thing. I also enjoyed how easily I can see my progress. It lays out the total time I have meditated, how many sessions I’ve completed, and the duration of time I usually meditate. I think this will encourage the user to keep going because it shows their overall progress.*Again, I just downloaded this app after not having it for awhile, so I have no real progress to show on my profile.
Bear: The Good
This is a writing app that allows you to easily take notes, make lists, etc.
- The tool bar is simple and easy to use. With a click, you can change your font to bold or italicize, create a break, start a new header, add a hashtag, sketch a picture, or add an image. It lays it out simply for the user, so that they can choose their desired look without too much fuss of a complicated tool bar.
- It anyone is like me, my notes are usually just to-do lists that I don’t want to write down on paper and lose. I really enjoyed how Bear could tell I was trying to make a list and formatted the check boxes for me. I also like that I can click the task and it will run a line through it, signaling that I have already completed it (or in the example above, put it in my grocery cart). This is a good design feature because gets rid of user accidents — like skipping over mushrooms because you saw the broccoli first and put it in your cart and continued to go down the list.
- When looking at your notes lists, it is easy to see what has been done or needs work on thanks to the progress bar attached to each note. This allows the user to see what may need to take precedence because it has not been worked on, or what needs to be finished up because it is almost done.
I also enjoy how the notes list is laid out. Each note is easily differentiated and even gives a little peek into what else is written in it. This allows the user to find the correct note they are looking for without having to search too long.
- By clicking the “i” button when writing a note, it brings up a side bar of information to look at. This information includes: the date the note was last modified, how many words, how many characters, the read time, how many paragraphs, what device the note was edited in, and the creation date. Like I said before, I only really make lists when writing notes in my phone. However, the information that you can see pertaining to your note can be useful for people who need to know one or more of those parameters. (Example: A student needs to write a 300 word explanation on why he/she likes using Bear over other note applications.)
Another feature Bear offers is the ability to export work into different formats, such as: TXT, MD, PDF, HTML, RTF, DOCX, and JPEG. This is something that can be really useful to a user who needs to change his/her notes to a certain format. (Example: A student goes to turn in his 300 word explanation, but realizes that the drop box only accepts PDFs.)
Weather: The Good
This is the basic weather app installed on all Iphones.
- I love how much information you get all from just opening the app: location, temperature, what day it is, the hourly forecast (easy swipe to see the rest of the day), and the weekly forecast by day with their high and low temperature. Even though you get all this information, it isn’t so crowded that you will be overwhelmed when looking at it — everything is laid out and spaced to be easy on the eyes. This allows the user to find the information she/he needs quickly without be swamped with other, useless data.
- Another feature the Weather app offers is being able to easily see the same weather information for a different area. In the example above, I can swipe to see what the weather forecast is for New York, New York. Requesting this location is easy and is automatically laid out to be available with the next swipe. This allows a user to go back and forth when checking out the weather without too much fuss of typing in the location every time.
- When you scroll down, you are given more information: a summary of the weather forecast for the day, sunrise and sunset times, change of rain and humidity, wind speed and “feels like” temperature, etc. These bits of information are helpful, but not necessary to the majority of users — usually you just want to know if you should bring an umbrella or wear a light jacket. However, to people who may need this information, it is a quick swipe down and laid out in an easy to read format (much like the information above it). It is nice that this information is easy for the user to find- but not forced to see, if not needed.
- When you click the icon in the lower right hand corner, you will see the screen shown in example 4. This screen allows you to look at, add, and delete locations. It given you basic information about each: time, location, temperature, and an accurate background picture on what it looks like right now. This allows users to easily manage and quickly glance at their desired location(s) weather.
The Weather Channel: The Bad
Alternatively, this is the Weather Channel app that gives you “your best option for accurate forecasts”. Pfft.
- The Weather Channel app also lays out information like the Weather app, but not as much and not as well. It lays out the hourly forecast, but also crams in the chance of rain percentage right underneath, which seems heavy on the eyes. Also, there is all this wasted space at the bottom — why not include the weekly forecast? And then there is an alert that a lightening strike occurred 26.1 miles away: 1) That is too far for me to care 2) I’m not a meteorologist and have no idea what to do with that information. It just seems like unnecessary data that is taking up space where general data should be.
- When you scroll down, you get the similar information you get from the Weather app: data on humidity, “feels like” temperature, wind speed, etc. You also have this massive picture of tropical storm. Again, something that the user is probably not interested in but is grabbing their attention. At this point, they see the tropical storm that is possibly no where near them, but still has yet to see the weekly forecast.
- You scroll down and there’s an advertisement. And then, what do you know… the hourly forecast. Again. By now, the user has seen the hourly forecast twice and an advertisement. This could be really frustrating for someone who just wants to know whether or not they should plan to go to the water park the next day or not.
- Finally, after endless scrolling, you can find the weekly forecast in all its cluttered glory. Right below follows an advertisement and a video that doesn’t look like it pertains to the weather at all. If all the user wanted to know was what the weather would be like this weekend, they will really need to work for it.
One last note, if you go back to my screen shots of the Weather app, on the fourth picture you can see a “The Weather Channel” icon. Apparently, they get all their information from The Weather Channel. It’s the same information. But the Weather app manages to organize it more efficiently for the user to look and find what they need.
Messenger: The Bad
This is the Facebook Messenger app that is separate from the Facebook app. Which is really, really annoying. Honestly, don’t get me started on why they had to create a completely separate app to be able to look at your messages…
- The whole reason someone goes into the messenger app is to message someone. The “Shared Days” feature has nothing to do with messaging someone. It reminds me of the newly added “stories” feature on the Facebook app. I don’t see the purpose of it and it is taking up space where my messages should be…which is the whole reason the user is in the app.
I can see the argument for the “Active Now” feature — you want to see who is active so that you can message them. However, I feel like the user does not open Messenger to instant message or chat; the main reason someone sends a Facebook message is because they already wanted to message them and not because they are “active”. I could be wrong, but again, it seems like it is taking up space from the messages.
- Every time you add a friend on Facebook, you get an automated message from that friend saying “You are now connected on Messenger”. So I have added a friend and now have to open a separate app to see that I can now message them on Messenger. First of all, I would hope that I could Facebook message someone that I added on Facebook. (Duh.) Second of all, stop making me go to the separate app to open a message that is really not a message at all. I see the notification and I have to open it, even though I know what it is going to say. This is an annoying process for the user to go through each and every time they friend somebody on Facebook.
- When you do decide to message someone, you tap on the icon in the upper right corner and brings you a screen where you can type the name of the person you want to message. That is fine. It also lists a bunch of your friends underneath as suggestions. However, I am confused as to what determines this list of people: Did I just add them as a friend? Did I recently talk to them? Do I usually message them? Are they active?
Nope. After looking for awhile, I have no idea why these people are being suggested to me. They vary from people I have never messaged, have been friends with for years, and are not active at the moment.
I feel like it would be more beneficial for the user if the suggested people were not selected at random, and instead had a reasoning (recently added, messaged before, etc.).