I was responsible for the experience strategy and design of the iOS app. Our team produced low and high fidelity wireframes and worked alongside with the Dev team in Russia.
Challenges we faced include:
Before any design work, we compared the persona of its web app with users of similar mobile apps in Esri. We found distinct patterns of those mobile users. Then we ran a quick competitive analysis to explore the designs and interactions that we can mimic for our app. We designed, developed and iterated throughout the 6 sprints of development process.
Since this mobile app is an epitome of the web version, we revisited the personas we’ve defined for the BAO web application and compared the user requirements of the web and mobile apps. I noticed the target users of the web and mobile were slightly different. Mobile users would like to be more location-aware in terms of the places they visited and the data they collected. Besides, mobile users need a note taking feature when they do field studies offline (no Wifi or 3G).
After redefining persona types and aligning this with our phasing strategy we were able to prioritize features we would be focusing on supporting in the early stages. Our personas were constantly used throughout the project to guide design decisions, priorities, and create empathy between the users and the stakeholders.
At the beginning of the design process, we performed a competitive analysis on many web and mobile apps, I focused on mapping, social and note-taking apps. We liked the layer concept of Twitter, My Pad and Facebook and decided to have the similar type of layout for our app. I also familiarized myself with other Esri apps and understood the core competencies, technical and design constraints of the app.
I sketched our concepts to share within the design team and then built wireframes to present to the whole team. Once part of the wireframes got approved, we performed hallway usability testing in Esri café to validate our design. We evaluated the feedback received and reiterate our designs based on them.
The design team brainstormed the solutions amongst ourselves and also with the participants during or after the tests. Meanwhile, we worked with the graphic designer and then defined the spec that helped us bridged the gaps between designs and implementation. I worked alongside with the Dev team in Russia to verify the design.
Given the pressing deadline, some of the interaction designs got rejected by the Dev team and some were technically constrained by the Esri sharing platform and the standard mapping systems. The design team would weigh the importance of the feature and the amount of effort needed to push forward our design. Most of the time, I also worked with the developers to brainstorm solutions and find alternatives or similar design solutions.
We again tested the app in the Esri café and the usability lab for several rounds and tweaked the design. The app was finally launched in July 2012 in the Apple app store.
I learned the value of flexibility and compromise through this project. By flexibility and compromise, I mean not just between designers and developers but also being flexible and compromising on being consistent with the other products in the company and limitations of the core system (in my case it’s map). I believe we should stay focused on the project, end users, and clients, who at the end matter more than either the designer or developer and the potential ego that may be associated with them.