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Interaction Design Sprint — Mobile App Prototype

I was tasked with creating a mobile app prototype that related to citizen science with respect to animals. With the exception of some necessary features that needed to be included, the prompt was fairly open-ended. To begin, we worked in groups to identify potential users that our apps could be targeted at.

Brainstorming potential users of an app target at animal-focused citizen scientists.

We then brainstormed possible motivations that those users would have for participating in citizen science in order to better understand how to create our applications. Next, we wrote down types of data that would fit the constraints that were part of the project (such as numeric/sensor data, text input, ways to geotag a photo), so that we could understand how to implement those features.

Discussing alternative ways a user could geotag a photo.

I decided to create a social app for birdwatchers, so that they could interact with fellow enthusiasts. Users can post photos and detailed descriptions of the birds they spot, and the app would also allow them to submit their findings to scientists. To begin my design process, I drew out a UX flow, so that I could lay down the core features and pages of my app first.

Rough description and flow chart explaining the app’s screens.

Then, I began drawing out the screens on a rough sheet of paper, so that I could see how the flow I created would translate into an application. Next, I refined the screens and drew them on notecards for the final stage of the project.

Rough screen images on paper (left) and refined mockup screens on notecards to be imported into POP (right).

Using the POP (Prototyping on Paper) application, I turned my screens into a low-fidelity app prototype, and I recorded a video of a friend using it to illustrate how the app works in practice. The mockup we created was intentionally low-fidelity because it generates the most honest feedback from potential users, since they see it as a work in progress that could use some input, rather than an already finished product that can no longer be changed (a thought high-fidelity mockups can produce in users).

Overall, the experience was challenging yet fun. What I enjoyed most was seeing my crude drawings come to life using POP and being able to hand that prototype to someone and have them use it, almost like a real app. Working with a medium (smartphone applications) that I personally use so often in my life made this project all the more enjoyable as well.

The interaction design we used for this project is incredibly useful, not only in the mobile app realm, but in many other areas of design as well. Focusing on the user’s needs, as we did last week, naturally leads to a better app. The interactive prototypes we created were also very helpful for demonstrating to a user how the app might eventually work when it is created. POP’s system made feedback easier to receive and prototyping far easier.

Check out my POP app at: