Sprint 1 Process Blog

Sprint 1 focused on the concepts of interaction design and prototyping, demonstrated through our task of creating a low-fidelity prototype mobile app with the idea of citizen science — scientific research conducted by nonprofessional scientists, or everyday citizens.

The focus of our class was the water quality of the Puget Sound area. We began our prototyping process by brainstorming user groups that would use this app and characteristics of water that could be observed by the naked eye. My partner and I chose to have our app be centered around people who do any kind of water activity. With the user group being larger and containing a wider variety of people, we’d benefit by receiving much more reports and data to work with than if we were to focus on a more specific user group.

Whitney and I brainstormed user groups and characteristics of water quality on sticky notes.

After we brainstormed, we had to get all these ideas down on paper, sketched in the form of screens you would see in an app. We used an app called POP (Prototyping on Paper) to mimic a real app, taking pictures of our screens and adding transitions between them. After we completed the prototyping, we narrated a short 30-second demo of the app, which you can view below.

As I was sketching out my app, I realized I ended up spending a decent amount of time trying to make it look nicer or cleaner than it needed to be. Sure, it’s part of my personality to make my work neat, but when it comes to low-fidelity prototyping, some of it is simply unnecessary. When making low-fidelity prototypes in the future, I’ll certainly keep in mind that the main purpose is to get the flow of the idea out in some form without spending a large amount of time and resources. Some of the time I spent making it look better could have been used to improve the navigation between screens or the idea behind the whole app. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy making it look a little neat though.

Some of the screens drawn with written notes on the side.

This was one of the most enjoyable projects I’ve ever worked on. It was a unique project and I certainly had to draw on my creative juices to complete it. I never thought I could create a working app with just pen and paper, even if it’s not an actual app. It was also cool to see the kind of thought processes that go behind making an app, both in visuals and practicality. It really makes you think — you have to act as the user and think about why some things would be beneficial to have, or why other functions would be confusing. Using POP to create prototypes is definitely a possibility I would look into if I were ever to design my own app in the future.

It was also really cool to learn about citizen science because I had never heard of it in the past. The idea of ordinary citizens being able to aid scientific research is certainly something that could be crucial to the future of our society. Data gathered from nonprofessional scientists also allow actual scientists to get a taste of how everyday citizens see the world. Scientists can utilize this information to create more applications that would be more intuitive and efficient to everyday citizens, leading to a more successful society as a whole. Furthermore, prototyping is also a crucial part of our society. If our creations were implemented into society directly from the sketchbooks without any kind of prototyping, many users would run into problems we did not foresee and result in huge costs to both the users and the creators. Unhappiness would be prevalent on both sides, and that should never be the end goal of society!