Crawling Before I Can Run

This project is about rapid prototyping. By the end of the week, you’ll be presenting an interactive prototype of a mobile application and explaining to the class how you got there.”

This was the task we had received upon starting the course here at General Assembly. The process was a little daunting and I was intimidated by the vague and general topic I received: The Olympics. We were encouraged to take the lessons we had learned and just start. So I started with my research.

Research:

My Topic Map

The Olympics is such an incredibly elaborate and general topic that I wasn’t sure where to start. So I started an affinity map to help the process get started. To no surprise I ended up coming up with a whole list of options and directions I could take for this project. But I found that people could be more drawn to stories surrounding the games, but I let the users decide that.

Next came my interview process. I was really excited for this but I was also very nervous. I created a list of questions that I felt would gardner the best results from my interviewees.

As I began my interviews, I found myself holding more of a casual conversation that lead to other questions and realizations that I did not anticipate.

During my interviews I made sure to record them as well as type down some notes on the way. I found it a bit difficult to hold the conversation and the take notes at the same time without losing the flow of the conversation or the persons train of thought. This is where recording them (with their permission) came in handy as I was able to listen back on those talks. Unfortunately they were erased on the note app I was using at the time. Lesson learned to use a more reliable recording option on my phone.

My Affinity Map
I don’t really know all of the sports that are going on”
If it’s a celebrity or athlete I know I’ll follow up but otherwise probably not”
“I like to be able to pick and choose what I’m interested in”

After the interviews were over I was able to gather my thoughts and sort the different interviews into an affinity map. I used the tactic we used in class for our first interviews for the MTA machines. I found similar topics that were covered during the conversations including what people thought of the Olympics, how everyone kept up with the Olympics, or what people didn’t like about the games. The interview process and affinity map I created led me to the next part of my journey to my app.

My Results:

“I find it difficult to keep up with the news surrounding the Olympics due to the over saturation of events, countries and athletes. There are only a few events I’m really interested in keeping up with.”

The above is my first problem statement. There seemed to be a strong desire to keep up with the general news that were surrounding the olympics but there was a problem with over saturation of news. I couldn’t blame them either! Over 207 nations, more than 11K athletes competing in 28 events, even I started to feel overwhelmed.

“To provide the user with a simple and personalized news feed that will allow them to keep up to date with the Rio Olympics content of their choosing”

I wanted to provide users with a simple and personalized news app that took away the complication of too many options that surround the Olympics.

I started sketching right away just to get my thoughts out.

Sketching 1:

My first sketces
My first full sketch of the app

My first time I started sketching I wanted to to give the user the option to choose their news based on the country, athlete, and event they were interested in. I wanted it to be a process that worked like 1,2,3. In order to figure out the layout of the actual news page in my app I did research on other news apps to see what worked well for my app and what didn’t.

NBC Olymipcs app
Flipboard

I found that these apps were all organized a certain way that streamlined the user experience to a specific story. I wanted to do the same but only for what the user was interested in. As for the design, I wanted the user to understand what to do on each page as they moved through the app so this would include highlighting their choices, and moving in and out of articles and videos. Then I started created my first prototype on Marvel.

Prototype 1 and User Testing:

My first prototype

I really enjoyed using marvel! I did wish that I could layer designs on top of my sketched photos but other than that, the app was very intuitive and easy to process. However, I wish that the prototype user testing went just as smooth.

User Testing

As it turns out, my app was not as intuitive as I had thought I designed it. The users really enjoyed how the app was capable of highlighting their options. However they never knew what to expect on the next page. The placement of one of my arrows in the app also confused users in that they thought was leading to something else.

I didn’t know what to expect on the next step
Wow, yeah this looks like a scroll and the search is right there. Very cool
This was not what I was expecting from the previous page, no

So I took the feedback from my users and built out my second sketch and prototype.

Sketching 2 & Prototype 2:

My second sketch for “Your Rio 16” app

My users mentioned if there were less steps in my app, the entire flow would be way more intuitive and easy to follow. So I removed my step by step process and instead placed all of the information on one page. I decided to keep my intro page in order to introduce the user to the app in a fun and welcoming way that explains the purpose of the app as well as what to expect. Which lead me to my final user flow below.

From the conversation I had with my user after giving them the second prototype, they had a better grasp on what to expect in terms of next screens. I also made it especially clear they were on the correct track by included a green checkmark next to the sections they finished. I was trying to let the user feel good like they were accomplishing something every time they filled out a preference. By removing the number of pages, I was also able to streamline the user flow by simplifying the app. I feel that this product was a huge improvement from the first prototype.

Next steps:

I learned in class that we will not always have enough time to include all of the features and designs we wanted to. Given the chance, I would have included a feature that allows users to share the news stories they read to their friends on their own social media platforms. I would also like to have a desktop version of the app so they can maybe have it on in the background if they are at school or work. A final addition that I can think of at the moment is to add a top stories for the Olympics in general so they can stay on top of the leading stories.

What I learned:

Project 1 is done! It was a stressful, exciting, enlightening process and I feel proud of the product I produced by the end of it. Some key takeaways I had were that it is incredibly important that I document all parts of my process. I realized that I would get so lost in the process and making sure I obtain all of the parts I needed, that I forgot to document it. This is important for not only creating a portfolio in the end, but also to see my thought process on the way and to refer to the notes when I look back at my journey. I also learned to check in with my peers. I found that I can be shy and a bit introverted so I need to learn to feel comfortable going to my peers for help or what they can offer in terms of insights and resources. This will also help in the end to build connections and hopefully make some friends along the way. Probably my biggest takeaway was the actual presentation. The content and the flow of my slides felt alright enough. However, I need to be more aware of my timing. I was very disappointed with how I managed my time and information I presented during my presentation. Moving forward I need to rehearse my slides ahead of time, get my point across in a clear and concise way then move to the next slide, and to actually be able to present my actual prototype. I found myself going from the top of the emotional curve to the bottom very quickly. After some reflection and taking notes on how I can improve on future presentations, I was able to level out and able to focus on the next steps. Project 1 was a great way to get introduced to the process and to get us in the right mindset for future projects. I’m excited to see what I create next and how I improve.

The Emotional Curve
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