The Problem & Research
Last week I’ve started a research for Buienradar, a Dutch weather app. If you live in the Netherlands someone will probably advice you to use it. It's really popular and accurate in the country.
When I began, I started with the hypothesis that it would be nice and attractive for the user to have more features to personalise for everyday tasks, so he or she could know if it would be raining for a specific activity. The research proved that I was wrong. Through a lot of analysis, quantitative and qualitative research, I’ve found that the user wants the app to be more practical and with more clear information on the first screen. The users recognise that native weather apps have a more appealing design compared to the current design of Buienradar. When I questioned why they feel like that, I’ve been told it’s because when you have the representation of the weather with pictures and animations that look more real, it feels “modern” for them.
One of the main competitors of Buienradar are the native apps on phones just for the simple fact that it’s already there. Having a better local accuracy (most of them work with international resources) is an advantage, but comparing visuals, the approach is widely different.
Also, one big point for most of the users was the language barrier: the app is completely in Dutch. But during research, it was found that all the information for the app is produced in Dutch, and the company has no plans to produce an English version of it. Because of that, I didn’t move forward with the idea of an English app and focused and small changes that could help non-Dutch speakers.
We have different users for Buienradar and, during research, I’ve mapped the three main personas for the app:
So for my case, I’ll work to improve how the information is presented on the app and make a first step on the design approach, making it more appealing to our users, up to the competition and remove the impression that the app looks too technical.
For this project, I’ve worked for two weeks following the Design Thinking process. On the picture below you can see what were the methods and tools that I used in the process. I also want to make a note that I am not related to the RTL Group (company who owns Buienradar).
Let’s start with solutions …
The approach for the first design studies will be based on the three user stories below:
“ When I check for weather information I want to be the most accurate possible so I don’t get wet “
“When I check my notifications in the morning I want to have a more detailed information about the weather so I can plan my outfits for that day “
“When I check my Buienradar and I don’t speak dutch, I want to be in english then I can understand at least messages in easy Dutch.“
Based on that I came with a first concept for the main screen of the app. The constraints that I kept in mind were: I can’t change fonts and colours, as well as the style of the maps. I tried to work at what would be the first step, having an improvement of the current design rather than having a complete redesign.
I tested this mockup with three users and I knew that I wasn’t there yet. Their comments were:
“Looks better, but it feels the same”
“Why all the big buttons? Also why you use the circles for the information…”
“I don’t have to scroll now so much to see information, but the map is not important to me.”
Based on that, I worked again on the design to improve what I had. One thing that I kept in mind was that most of the comments were that the app had a really technical look. On the main screen, there’s a lot of text and I was still keeping a little bit of that. So, working with the common region law, I organised the information in cards, so the user can look directly for the types of information: what is happening now, what are the levels of rain, the map and etc.
With a new mockup, I started doing some testing with users to see what was the best approach in colours, positions of the cards and text. To optimise the search I added more colloquial terms on some features like “Neerslag” (Precipitation) to “Gaat het regenen? “(Is going to rain?). I must confess, it was quite a challenge, I speak a little bit of Dutch only (Ik spreek klein beetje Nederlands). I did the changes that I believed was worth testing to understand how our user wants the information to be presented. For this, I used the typeform.com tool to have a bigger range of data.
First experiment was the crucial one: if the user likes the new design more than the old one.
With a positive feedback for the new design, I followed with some changes on the layout. Like a different colour on the map, map on top … so I could have more data for a new proposal.
Surprisingly the users preferred the first design that I worked, with no changes. With that, I set the final design with this screen. I changed the tones of the map to a darker colour to not be so bright and the rejection was high.
Some conclusions …
The process for this study came in waves: during the research, the more I was proved wrong, the more enthusiastic I was with the possibilities and different outcomes that I could have with the problem definition. Due to the time constraints, I was a little disappointed and thinking that I couldn’t do a good job if I didn’t come out with a really incredible product. But I was remembered that doing simple changes and starting with small steps you can conquer all, and that can also be really hard to accomplish. I also would like to understand more the reasons why some design decision were made for this app and that would help me make my design decisions as well.
Thank you for reading! If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to leave a comment or contact me at email@example.com .
Also, I am not affiliated to the RTL Group, just a UX Designer that wants to learn more:).