A SOCIAL PLATFORM
THAT REPAYS YOU
WowApp is an integrated communication app based on a gamification system that provides you with the easiest way to be rewarded for doing what you do best. Designed as a sharing experience, it empowers you to connect, chat, make calls and share moments with everyone in your social network.
I joined the team with the purpose to help out with the User Experience and refine the design process as the Lead Product Designer for iOS and Android.
As the interface needed an update to meet the new native design requirements, it was the right time to improve the User Experience and Information Architecture.
Since the company was recently rebranded, the main challenge was to create a cohesive experience which was unified under a single brand, even when spread across multiple platforms (iOS / Android / Windows / OS X).
USER EXPERIENCE AND DATA-DRIVEN DESIGN
Improving the User Experience was helped by the fact that we had a product that was released to the public and obtained a suitable user base. Since the app had already received plenty of feedback and we had decent metrics to interpret and work with, we were offered an insight into the problems we were facing.
A good data-driven model must include both qualitative and quantitative metrics. Moreover, good working knowledge of how the two aspects relate to each other will not only provide better insights, but will also improve communication between team members.
After we decided on the new concept based on user testing results and after we delved into analytics to base our decisions upon, we were ready to implement our findings in a sustainable, ongoing manner.
REDEFINING THE USER JOURNEY
The next steps in the design process were presenting the new concept, informing the rest of the development and QA teams and starting to work on sketching and refining the Product Map. It was really important to have this in place at an early stage as it conveyed a more detailed picture of the user journey and a feel of the entire product.
The wireframing process started with consultancy meetings and quick whiteboard sketches for receiving fast feedback from the developers and harmonizing with the outlooks of the product managers. After we all knew what our targets were, I prepared a batch of low fidelity wireframes to further analyze in the following meetings and to approve for a specific user journey to be made native, easy to develop and ensured a fast and lean strategy.
The sketches were followed by higher fidelity wireframes, which were discussed with product managers and lead developers until the smallest details and edge cases were reviewed. This was the last step before creating a more detailed mock-up to be prototyped in InVision and showcasing the flow to stakeholders for the final approval.
We started this redesign just on the verge of the prototyping era. InVision, Flinto and Marvel had just emerged and were fighting for the supremacy of the lead prototyping tool. At first, we used Flinto, as it was more stable and it handled the new iOS 7 transparent status bar better than its competitors. Subsequently, we had to switch to Marvel as it was the only tool that offered Android support.
The team behind it genuinely processed all the qualitative feedback from users and brought it to fruition. This was the manner in which we built the first prototypes, showcased them to stakeholders and communicated within the teams involved in building the product.
In order to base our UX decisions, it was really important to be able to experience the flow and tap on elements just as a user would. Prototyping is about crafting the experience, not merely the design. This way, we can demonstrate an experience that comes as close as possible to the final product. It empowers the person testing the prototype to engage in the experience, instead of having it explained to them.
DESIGNING THE USER INTERFACE
Seeing that this product was aimed to be used by all categories, without a target audience, the design had to be almost invisible, in the sense that users would already feel as if they were accustomed with the interface. With this in mind, we chose a native approach and studied in depth the iOS and Android design guidelines.
As we used the Teehan&Lax GUI to help us iterate faster, we started constructing the interface based on our wireframes and we added the brand assets having in mind consistency and cohesive implementation on all platforms.
Building consistency into your designs helps strengthen your brand and keep the brand message clear. Defining consistent relationships between color, photography, typography, illustration, icons, etc., dictates how a user associates with your brand, how they feel about it and how they use it.
Once these frameworks and patterns are developed and established, designing with consistency in mind is quite simple. And the result makes our audience happy. A consistent interface requires less learning because users can carry over their knowledge from one page to the following, making the entire experience more fluid. This ease of understanding develops trust and comfort, both of which ensure a more engaged audience.
MANAGING THE DESIGN HANDOFF
Providing Assets, Specs and Guides for big project handoffs can be really demanding and time-consuming. Research the best way to do this, try to automate the process as much as possible and communicate with the development teams before providing the assets in order to make sure that everything is on the right track. Furthermore, please keep in mind that this is an iterative process and don’t aim for perfection.
Some of the tools that helped us to complete the design process: Dropbox, LiveView, PngExpress, TinyPng, InVision, Sketch, Adobe Creative Cloud
MESSENGER FOR THE APPLE WATCH
The watch is one of the first gadgets you interact with at a very young age. You soon learn how to wrap the strap around your wrist, how to take a quick glance at it and read its face. It is attached to your body and it is an expression of your personality. Ultimately, a watch is an incredibly personal object.
We have known how to design products for phones, tablets and computers for years. Designing WowApp for the Apple Watch determined us to review more than just the user interface. Because this is a device you wear on your wrist all day long, we aimed to design the most personal messaging experience ever.
THINGS I’VE LEARNED
USING THE PRODUCT
If you’re spending the bulk of your time looking at sketches or discussing static screens, you’re making far too many assumptions. A great product doesn’t just look good, it works well. Many UX issues are invisible. The interface needs to be used for them to be discovered. For this project, we ensured our use of the product by repeatedly going over user flows in InVision and subsequently testing the builds and issuing bugs.
LEAN AND AGILE
Agile is a set of techniques developers came up with to help solve problems akin to the problems designers face today. How do I know when I’m done? When will this be done? How can we minimize the grunt work and focus on the interesting problems?
In an agile environment you have to be dynamic, to handle project deadlines and to help out the development team in order to expedite the process as much as possible. Don’t be irked by frequent changes in scope and implementation and do your best to share design-related assets in small batches in order to obtain fast feedback.
FINDING AND KEEPING THE RIGHT FOCUS
With all the consultancy meetings, scrum meetings, feedback requests and distractions in an open space office, sometimes it’s very difficult to retain a state of flow, mindfulness and a clean headspace.
I improved my efficiency, productivity and creativity a lot by remaining organized (Get Stuff Done), having a proper daily routine and a healthy diet. Moreover, I’ve made long-lasting habits that will probably help me in the future.