Project 1 — Early Bird
Time. Sometimes you have too much and sometimes you can have too little. Project 1 presented me with both challenges.
In previous jobs working as a news designer, there usually is very limited time (minutes or hours) to understand the information you’re designing before having to come out with the final product. A lot of the steps in the design process are either assumed, skipped or not even thought about, which can show in the first edition of the paper, and hopefully by the end of the night for the final edition, you’ve worked out all the kinks and mistakes.
Research and Design
For my transit/time management app, Early Bird, it was a luxury to have time to go back and forth with the user to evaluate his needs and present him with comps to see how he was able to follow the workflow (POP concept).
The constant dialogue and revising helped the app evolve. In the news design world, most meaningful interaction with users came once every three to five years with a redesign of the entire paper, and angry phone calls from readers about why we moved the comics or crosswords would go unanswered.
I was surprised to find that the most enjoyable aspect of designing the app was the creation of wireframes. To be able to put on my headphones and just bang it out helped clarify abstract ideas about the workflow or the visuals. I shouldn’t have been surprised because I’ve never felt comfortable as a reporter doing man-on-the-street interviews. My comfort zone is to be insular, and I’m working on being more open.
The recorded presentation certainly played to my insular nature by allowing me time to script out every word to tell the story of how the app would be used. Once we get to the live presentations, I feel like I’ll do OK as long as I’m the subject matter expert.
One gap in the video that became apparent in how I crippled myself in the design process was limited documentation. I had a lot of ideas in my head that I executed before I wrote them down. That’s fine when you’re working by yourself, but in a team environment, more communication is needed.
Time. It’s a finite resource I need to manage better in both my personal and professional lives. A project management version of Early Bird would be a good tool to keep me on task.
The breakdown on how much time I spent on each step boils down to approximately:
Research (user interview, existing apps, comp testing): 4 hours
User flow: 2 hours
Wireframes: 6 hours
Presentation: 4 hours