To design a fun and broadly appealing iPhone app around "discussions".
To understand the problem better, I extracted information from the project brief. Doing so also allowed me to ask questions and figure out the constraints I was working with. Knowing that it was an iPhone app meant that I would need to reference the Human Interface Guidelines to ensure I stayed within Apple's principles. The key functionality of the app was also specificed by the requirements in the brief.
After understanding the scope of the problem, I began to ask myself questions about when they would use the app. The use case for "discussions" on mobile meant that the needs were specific. Ideas such as "on the go", "time waster" came to mind. Questions were also asked around how specific requirements would be accomplished by the customer.
To help determine the best patterns to apply to this app, research was conducted on similar products to figure out their strengths and weaknesses. However, even with competitive research and an understanding of the project constraints, there was no information on who would actually use this app. Since there was no data on this, assumptions needed to be made on who the demographic was. Even if it was made up. Determining who the user groups are is essential to designing a proper solution. Having no restrictions meant that I could have some fun with this.
Fake personas were created based on the demographic landscape of the competition. After painting a picture of who the customers were, the needs of these individuals were also made up but it was still based on my initial assumptions on when they would use the app.
Without customer data, it was hard to determine if search or discovery would be the primary method in which they would find the discussions they wanted. However, based on the decription in the initial brief, the word "fun" was mentioned so I decided that discovery would provide an improved experience for the users.
To help match the requirements of the app with the customer's needs, sketches were done to outline key areas of the app. Breaking the page into smaller pieces made it easier to focus on needs and remove unnecessary elements. Components such as navigation, toolbars, filters, rows, and actions were drawn out separately in various compositions to figure out validity of it's use. Once the components were fleshed out, I pieced them together in a layout that would satisfy the needs of the personas.
Bringing the sketches into wireframes helped to validate or disprove the ideas I initially had on paper. I decided to focus on the interaction between the home screen and detailed discussion view. I felt these two views would attention since they would be accessed frequently.
For the high fidelity mocks, I wanted to create emphasis on the discussion topic itself. Readability was kept in mind as small amounts of colour was applied to the backgrounds and links. Dark text was maintained on a white background to maintain accessible reading throughout. By avoiding a lot of colour, it allowed the content written by each each user to stand out and grab the reader's attention.
In order to validate some of the questions I had on this project, getting it into the customer's hands would be the first thing I would do. Testing how they actually use the app would provide the best feedback to make improvements. I would also like to work on the branding as that was considered but not implemented. Driving social interaction to create more curated content would be another thing I would like to figure out for this project.