Predict the Sky: New UX & UI concepts, Oct 2012 from Sophie Dennis on Vimeo.
Another weekend Hackathon at The Met Office meant a chance to reconvene Team Predict The Sky. The story of building our prototype iOS and Android apps, which tell you when there is something cool happening in the night sky where you are, during the NASA Space Apps Challenge in April 2012, is told on the PredictTheSky GitHub Page.
You can see videos of my original paper prototype, and the prototype iOS and Android apps which we built over the original weekend.
I think this weekend was a bit of a hard lesson for some of the team in the large gap between a prototype and a finished product. Circumstances meant I was only able to join in remotely, so the team in Exeter did some corridor testing with the prototype Android app. This revealed a number of UI issues, especially with the rushed design implementation. We also hadn’t been touch-centric enough, with a lot of pressing buttons when people’s first instinct was to swipe. Plus I had an idea for a “date driven” UI approach which I wanted to try.
After a long conference call with the team, I spent the evening working on ideas for simplifying the existing concept, making things more swipe-y, and experimenting with the UX implications of switching to a date-driven model. Once I was happy with my basic sketches I made the video walkthrough* above to explain my ideas to the team, and help us explore the two very different user experiences they represented.
I find committing things to paper, even as very rough sketches, really helps clarify my thoughts. I’m liking these rectangular post-it notes for sketching mobile apps too. I know a lot of designers love their molekins, but I actually like using something that’s cheap. It encourages you to throw it away, which I think is important when you don’t want to get too wedded to a particular sketch or idea, and means you iterate rapidly.
As informal “UX Lead” my next task is to turn this into a slightly more robust prototype and talk to some real users about it. Meanwhile the technical team are going to pin down exactly what cool space events the app can tell you about.
(* Actually, using a pre-recorded video during a hackathon turned out to be a bad idea. While it was really quick to make, it took forever to upload and share, meaning the team didn’t get a chance to review it before the event was almost over. A video call would have been much better. A lesson for next time.)