Sprint 1 — The Flow of the River

For this second Sprint, we each prototype-d an app to allow citizens to participate in water quality research in the Puget Sound area and my app, RAPIDS, was designed to record and qualify streams and running water. My app included the capabilities to record the rate of the stream, take a photo of the sediment, approximate the water clarity and colour, estimate the width of the stream and leave other comments. The app also keeps track of your previous streams and generates statistics and stream-by-stream comparisons. For my demo video, I made a pun of the purpose of my app, having a friend pretending to pee on a wall (“streams”) then going through the motions on the screen to record it as a stream.

This prototyping experience raised issues on the creation of an app; all the different considerations needed to make even a rudimentary app include ‘back’ buttons, clickable links, and clear signifiers to identify when you should press or swipe. This experience raised questions on the use of prototypes like this to create an actual app; could you create a screen-by-screen experience like with the prototypes or is there another method of prototyping that’s closer to the creation of the usable app? Is that actually helpful?

I liked learning how easy it was to utilize a prototyping tool like POP to really visualize and click through an app concept. Additionally, I liked that, after using POP to do this low-fidelity app, I feel like I can use and well-utilize a more high-fidelity prototyping tool, like InVision, for my Informatics class’s project. Although I found POP to be incredibly stubborn and annoying, I feel like it was a good stepping stool to higher-quality programs.

In our society, truly, most anything can be prototyped and much of it should be. Architects create models to show it off to investors before they build it, not because they really like cutting out little paper people but because it allows the user to visualize the designer’s ideas. Prototypes appear in the beginning stages of some experiences, such as programs, speeches, and processes, either mechanical or not. Prototypes are really only referred to as such when they’re physical or visual products, but drafts of actions and ideas and models of processes and conceptions do that same job of acting as a stepping stone onto a later, final product. Prototypes are incredibly important in the design process simply because they allow for people to communicate in ways that don’t waste materials, time, and manpower and brainstorm in more productive and hashed-out ways.

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