Cleaning Up Interactions, On-Demand

Utah Valley University’s DGM 2240 course is my first true foray into Interaction Design from a strictly UI/UX perspective. It is a course that I am currently in the process of completing right now, but I can at least give insights into what I’ve learned so far in my limited time in the course.

For the course, we were put into groups in an attempt to mimic the real-world workplace. We were then tasked — as a group — to come up with design ideas for an app vaguely described by our professor as “an Uber for housecleaning”. This meant that users could either book a cleaner on demand, or become cleaners themselves in order to make money.

After getting a class period to talk to ask the professor questions about what sort of things he expected in the app, we began to brainstorm some ideas about the app, and what exactly we wanted the app to accomplish. Throughout this brainstorming process, we came up with this description for the app:

We all have busy lives and sometimes there isn’t enough time to vacuum, do the dishes, and attend to your cleaning priorities. From regularly scheduled cleanings to emergency clean-ups, an on- demand cleaning service like CleanApp is a great solution.
CleanApp allows you to spend time doing the things you want to and scratch cleaning o of your to-do list. CleanApp provides seamless and easy access to on-demand cleaning.

Yes, the app is named CleanApp. Cheesy, I know, but the ultimate purpose behind this course isn’t a clever name, but the design process and principles of interaction design.

After the weeks given to brainstorm had passed, we then had to conduct decently extensive user research, such as user interviews to gauge interest for the app, as well as other more specific details, such as specific age groups that would be interested in such an app, the type of people that would be using the app, etc. We also had to create personas that we felt would be potential users for the app. The personas included the following information about them: differentiating bullet point descriptions, behaviors, and finally, needs and goals. Eventually, we had to compile all of our research and brainstorming into a concise design brief in the form of a PDF file.

After our design briefs were created and presented, we were then tasked, individually, to come up with an individual design to fulfill the propositions that we had created as a group in the design brief. A large part of this process was coming up with simple requirements that the app had to fulfill. So, I came up with app requirements that I felt would provide a simple, but pleasant user experience for either those seeking some on-demand cleaning, or those seeking to clean in order to earn money. I felt that the app needed to provide:

  1. An interactive map showing locations of cleaners and clients
  2. An interactive map that provides driving instructions for cleaners on their way to their client’s place
  3. An easy-to-use, simple interface with UI elements that allow the users to easily choose what they want cleaned/want to clean from a variety of categories
  4. A review system that allows people to easily see reviews form cleaners, as well as to leave reviews for cleans that they have hired
  5. A review system that allows people to easily see reviews from cleaners, as well as to leave reviews for cleaners that they’ve hired
  6. A way for clients to become cleaners and vice versa

A few key screens from my individually-created design are below:

I’ve gotta say that the most intriguing part of this entire individual project was coming up with a visual design for CleanApp that not only met the requirements that were set for it, but that also exemplified the theme that the app was aiming for users to do or get done: clean. After coming up with a unified visual design, I was then tasked with creating a prototype for the purpose of user testing.

Throughout this whole individual design process, there were a few key things that I made sure to keep in mind that I feel you can, as well:

  1. I wanted to design a workflow that was both intuitive and effective. I also made sure to create a design that could potentially explain itself through its overall visual design, as I have learned through previous experiences that that most people, if not everyone, do not completely read through an app screen or page. Most people tend to skim and search for key words on an app screen or page.
  2. While working on the design of these screens, I understood that since this was a mobile application, I needed the touch areas of the application to be substantially large in order for the people using the app to comfortably select options and take action within the app. Hence the use of the ubiquitous cards pattern on the Home and Cleaning Selection screens.
  3. Performing user tests is simply essential, and just plain handy. The feedback that I got from my users tests has been immensely helpful as I come up with a final revision of my CleanApp design for the end of this semester. The tests helped me to find some decently-sized holes in this initial app design of mine, such as there being no way for clients in the context of my design to see a full list of available cleaners to choose from as opposed to my design of just searching by a specific cleaner’s name. And that’s okay, because at this point in the design phase, the design is an iterative process.

So far, DGM 2240 has been a fantastic course in terms of opening my eyes to the more nuanced face of interaction design, and I definitely look forward to learning more about this awesome field as I continue my educational journey at Utah Valley University.

If you’d like to check out my full CleanApp prototype, you can find it here.

John Toral is a student in the Digital Media program at Utah Valley University, Orem Utah, studying Interaction & Design. The following article relates to the (Mobile App Design project) in the (DGM 2240 Course) and is representative of the skills learned.

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