Entry 2: Interaction Design
I started the design process by brainstorming various groups of people who might need to submit scientific data as citizen scientists. One of the groups I came up with included fishermen and marine biologists, who would have an interest in collecting data on lakes and rivers in a certain region. From there, I brainstormed types of data that might need to be collected such as ph balance and salt levels, as well as what features might be useful for users and scientists to see. I then designed a flow chart of interaction to lay out the different stages of the app’s use and the motivation for users to submit reports. I decided to have a navigation consisting of four tabs along the bottom of the screen, and a big button to submit a report on the home page for convenience. As an incentive for submitting data, I included a point system that would let users track how many reports they’ve submitted and reward them with a free fishing license for the next season, since that would be relevant to the intended users.
I enjoyed this project because it was a very practical exercise in designing a usable application, and because it forced me to think of the layout from a usability point of view. Even though we all use smartphone apps on a regular basis, it’s a bit more challenging to consider how a diverse group of users might approach the interface, and to tailor every button to be as user-friendly as possible.
This design technique is obviously well suited for creating applications and consumer software. It would also be a great tool for making specific-purpose items that may be new to average users. Any product that requires multiple steps to use would benefit from an interaction flow chart, because it enables designers to map out every possibility a user may experience. However, this technique might not be as useful in designing systems that are supposed to be automatic or used only by trained professionals. It also wouldn’t be as beneficial for designing tools with a familiar and obvious use, like a kitchen knife or socks.