Saturday, 9 February 2013

Brainstorming and Prototyping

This week's design exercise for the HPU Mobile course was around the beginnings of the process of delivering a mobile app -getting a concept and making a prototype.  A good introduction to this is in Scott Klemmer's HCI course.


The challenge was to come up  with 20 things to do on your mobile whilst waiting in line, a crack brainstorming team of myself and the trainee woman was assembled and this is what we came up with.

Design Brainstorm 1
  1.     Gambling  (bingo, roulette, fruit machine)
  2.     Vouchers (did this one for real)
  3.     Find someone to have a coffee with
  4.     Browse Comics
  5.     Listen to Jokes (Professor?)
  6.     Local News & Events
  7.     Watch a clip (trailer, sports, music vid)
  8.     Gossip
  9.     Update Shopping List
  10.     Take a virtual tour.

Design Brainstorm2

  1.     Language learning -about item of shopping?
  2.     Play a game
  3.     Read Magazine (e.g. Hello! guess who?)
  4.     Diet program linked to your shopping
  5.     Styling app -beauty products on your photo
  6.     Test the Kids app. (for mums in the line)
  7.     Recipe for item of shopping.
  8.     Queue switcher -the other queue is always faster.
  9.     Interactive Story
  10.     This has been deleted for reasons of taste, let's say dating app.


The next step was to build two paper prototypes. Firstly, I chose the Queue Switcher - it's simple to explain, it's a bit like a game (come to think of it there could  be a collaborative Queue Racer version) and I haven't seen one before. Secondly, it was the Recipe maker -because when I am standing in the supermarket staring vacantly at the food shelves I could use one. It is one of the perennial problems of family life -what am I going to cook tonight?

It seems the Queue switcher does need a bit more explanation after all, it's based around the perceived wisdom that the other queue always moves faster than the one you are in. The app lets you track that and suggests when you should move queues, based on their relative speed -of course we all know that as soon as you leave your original queue it speeds up! Thinking about it now we could add in a bit of social allowing you to share the outcome and a bit of gamification -you too can be a 'Quintessential Queuer'!

Queue SwitcherRecipe App

User Feedback

Next step was to try out the prototypes on some users. I wasn't really up for buttonholing strangers in the street so I picked on the family :

Entering an ingredient
Entering an ingredient
Generally they got the idea pretty well, but one thing I did learn is that it helps to screen your testers : My wife has never used even a feature phone; and the daughter doesn't really shop for food.

Recipe Dropdown
Recipe Dropdown

Insights Gained

  1. Better window titling to flag up what each screen is for.
  2. Error messaging would be needed.
  3. More interior navigation -having picked a recipe all the ingredients may not be available, so the ability to go back to the recipe list or the recipe search would be useful.
  4. Predictive typing would speed things up.
  5. The shopping list feature could just be a list, it was felt that the ability to tick items off, or remove items was unnecessary.

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