MODULE 6 & 7 – The CIVIC Concept App Final Project with Prof. Patrick Hogan
What was changed and why
One person, or even a few people cannot do it alone. They cannot design a product that will potentially be a tool for thousands, perhaps millions and get it perfect the first time. It takes a village to raise a good app. Do not misunderstand, everyone knows that this is your baby, your brain child and without the tenacity and courage of the seed, there would be no tree.
Early user testing is critical to the design and development process. It saves time and money. It prevents little mistakes from becoming tragedies. It provides insight and reminds the team that there are human beings at the end of their efforts. Those human beings may not behave and use the product in the way the creators intended as they are approaching it without assumption, forethought or domain knowledge. It balances administrative goals, marketing objectives and other forces with a user centered organic observation and knowledge.
There are just things that developers miss, didn’t consider or could have taken further. Testers help us, testers fill in those gaps. They make our designs better, they can support our arguments in resource and timeline discussions, they make our products better and as a result help us beat marketplace competitors. The trick is converting feedback into meaningful and actionable intelligence. That in itself is an art.
In the CIVIC project, most of the flaws were revealed in testing. We were not completely satisfied with the design of the medium prototypes. There was disagreement about the darkness of interface, font size and spacing, Was it boring or not “sleek” enough? But that is not what testers cared about at all. Mostly, they just wanted to get something done. Although our testers found the app easy to navigate, they were unclear about the terminology. It was clear that we rushed through the conceptual stage of “My Links” and that users “would just know” that is where they keep their bookmarks. We needed to go back and think that through some more. Also, in all the materials describing the app, quick access to utilities was a prime benefit but in the UI development, somehow it was placed as a second tier item. This would require us to revisit both the content strategy and the user flow charts.
Time and attention is a precious commodity these days. Everything is competing for it, so when a product seems like it is “wasting” our time, even a millisecond, users are not forgiving. The information age has produced low tolerance for trial and error (or even instruction) and high value to intuitiveness. Even complex commercial products are now required to be immediate, responsive and easy.
That is why collaborative iterative methods are UI/UX magic. There is a paradox, where you need to blaze a trail forward in order to improve what was done previously. Two steps forward, one step back is steady progress. Each new screen informs the last, testing is just a powerful and more effective way of informing the whole process. When the path is not defined, it is prudent to not go too far ahead, but we must push forward just enough to reveal our missteps and go back. And don’t leave anyone behind: consensus is a compass, it lets us know we are making forward progress in the right direction.
Revised High-Fidelity Screens
Checking your Senator’s Campaign Finances:
App introduction and brief video walk through:
What was learned
I learned a lot through this project and during this course. I have a structured approach and methodology to ideation. It isn’t just eureka moments and divine flashes of brilliance, some work and discipline is necessary. I was introduced to Dan Brown and his eight principles of information architecture.I found creating personas, scenarios, user flow charts all In addition reignited and jump started my curiosity and focus on a user centered development approach. I realized and believe that user testing is a critical part of the design process in order to maintain a state of continuous improvement. Testing makes everything better so do it early and often. I discovered and had a chance to explore a bunch of new tools and resources to create and prototype mobile apps. Prototyping is iterative and iterations are paradoxical. There have been challenges, it all goes so fast, if anything, this was just an introduction and starting point for many more years of studying UX/UI. Six weeks to learn, a lifetime to master.
Thank you for taking the time to go through this presentation. CIVIC is a concept for a service and app that has a role in making our lives better. Healthy democracies are built upon a knowledgeable population and civic engagement. As I write these words, there are people being gunned down in shopping centers, immigrants being held in cages along the border for simply wanting what so many had done before them: migrate for a better life. Not all, but most. Our roads, schools and hospitals all need attention. The environment is eroding at an alarming rate. People fear each other and the worse for their futures. There is so much work to be done, yet people worry about jobs, careers and the “fragile” economy. The only way to tackle these problems is: together. Through participation, being aware and keeping leaders accountable. The vision and potential of the CIVIC app is to make that easier. Partisanship is a disagreement about values, “how” to solve problems, unfortunately, the growing negativity in political discourse has just turned people off to civic involvement. Leveraging technology in a non-partisan way to make government simply more accessible, is a powerful and right thing to do. As discussed, many of the functions of the app already exist in other forms, the CIVIC idea is just integrating it all into one platform. I encourage anyone who reads this: steal this idea, build it, I would even be happy to help and together we can try to make things better by making better things.
Resources & References
Babich, N. (2019). A Beginner’s Guide to Information Architecture for UX Designers. Adobe Blog. Retrieved from https://theblog.adobe.com/a-beginners-guide-to-information-architecture-for-ux-designers
Low-fidelity vs. high-fidelity prototyping. (2019, August 20). Retrieved from https://www.invisionapp.com/inside-design/low-fi-vs-hi-fi-prototyping
The Unexpected Benefits of Rapid Prototyping. (2014, February 11). Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2014/02/intervention-design-building-the-business-partners-confidence?referral=03759&cm_vc=rr_item_page.bottom
Test Paper Prototypes to Save Time and Money: The Mozilla Case Study. (2019, August 20). Retrieved from https://www.nngroup.com/articles/mozilla-paper-prototype
A Comprehensive Guide To User Testing — Smashing Magazine. (2018, March 07). Retrieved from https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2018/03/guide-user-testing
Task Scenarios for Usability Testing. (2019, August 20). Retrieved from https://www.nngroup.com/articles/task-scenarios-usability-testing
Top 100 UX Design Tips from a User Experience Master. (2019, July 17). Retrieved from https://www.intechnic.com/blog/100-ux-design-pro-tips-from-user-experience-master
Interactive Prototypes with Marvel – 20 Great Examples. (2017, July 11). Retrieved from https://webdesignerhut.com/prototypes-marvel
POP by Marvel – Turn sketches into iOS and Android prototypes. (2019, August 20). Retrieved from https://marvelapp.com/pop
InVision | Digital product design, workflow & collaboration. (2019, August 20). Retrieved from https://www.invisionapp.com
Download free Adobe XD | UX/UI design and collaboration tool. (2019, August 20). Retrieved from https://www.adobe.com/products/xd.html
Brown, D. M. (2010). Communicating Design: Developing Web Site Documentation for Design and Planning (2nd Edition) (Voices That Matter). New Riders. Retrieved from
Bentley, F., & Barrett, E. (2012). Building Mobile Experiences (The MIT Press). The MIT Press. Retrieved from
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