The Project

A new social media platform had been released, App.net, and I was approached by two Android developers to help them design an app that would allow the users of App.net view the posts from the microblogging platform in a similar manner to Twitter. Having never done Andoid application design before, I jumped at the chance.

My Role

  • User Research
  • User Journeys
  • Sketching
  • Visual Design

The Process

Competitor Research

When I joined App.net (ADN) the social media platform was really in its infancy. There were about 30,000 members at this stage, and most users were using it very much like Twitter. As such, we decided to create a Twitter style app for reading, posting and commenting on the ADN microblogging API. We looked to inspiration from Twitter apps and worked from there, working on the basis that we would quickly release a minimum viable product (MVP) and develop it based on the feedback that we got from the community that was using it.

User Journeys

We worked as a team to decide what features we would include in the MVP so that the users could at least perform basic tasks, and allow us to develop the application further. We came up with a number of features such as creating a post, replying to a post, and finding and following other users. I created a number of user journeys to fulfil these requirements and the developers were able to start their work.

Layout Sketching

I identified the key screens that would be used in each of the user journeys and selected those that would be the page templates. I then created low-fi layout sketches for the developers so that they could carry on with their development while I worked on the visual design of the application.

Visual Design

We had made the decision at the start of the project that even though the first release would be an MVP, we still wanted it to have a high level of visual polish. The limited apps that were available for ADN when we first released were very rough and ready in terms of design and we wanted ours to stand out from the crowd. While the developers worked on getting the app working, I created high fidelity mockups of some of the key screens that they could then take and apply to the app.

Review and User Feedback

Due to the app being created for a social network it was fantastically easy to receive feedback from the people using the app, all we had to do was to remain active on the network and occasionally search for keywords regarding our app. As users with a direct link with the creators of the app, users were vocal about what they liked and didn’t, and we were able to react to their feedback accordingly.

Project Review

With every project there are good bits and bad bits, and the only way to work on projects that have more good bits than not so good bits is to learn, and apply what is learned to new projects.

What went well?

  • Being in complete control of the layout and style of the application, from the branding to the promotional website, to the app itself. I got to try a lot of new ideas that I had been wanting to try on other projects, but hadn’t had the opportunity.
  • Working with two dedicated and talented developers made the project a pleasure to work on.

What would I change?

  • Due to the short lived popularity of ADN we eventually had to shelf the project. This was a pity, as we had some exciting ideas for the next stages of the project.