Keeping track of the places that I love, that have been recommended to me, or that I simply just walk past was something I always struggled with. While travelling, I had no data plan, so no way to use a pre-existing social network. Back then I would take a snapshot of places to remember them. It was a bit messy, and I ended forgetting which picture was of which place. There had to be a better way… and like many designers do, I decided to set on a path to solve my problem.
To have a better understanding of the type of audience I would be catering to, I started reaching out to Instagram power users in order learn what kinds of problem they faced with photo traveling and photo bookmarking. It turned out that I was not the only one taking shots of places I wanted to remember. I was lucky enough to get a good conversation going. From there, I was able to identify some precise user needs.
The opportunity was to create an app that would work with an offline mode. We would be using Fousquare or Google's database to spare users time-consuming filling and organizing. The app would be created to work fast, fast enough so it could be done in a single tap.
With those insights in mind, I turned to the drawing board to first scribble my ideas and see how everything would work. Once I got to a spot where I had mapped all the actions and most of the flows, I started the visual design.
In order to get things forward, I needed to have a clear vision of who I wanted Picplace to appeal to. The core target audience would shape the Branding of the app. At the end of the day, I wanted to create something that would appeal to Young Urban people who would value travel a lot more than other segemtn of the population. Ideally those people would be creative or at least very curious and have a true appreciation for discovery.
Support the identity
Part of the identity was to create a style with motion that would fit the app. Apple has been slowly limiting the branding opportunities for its apps. The way the UI moves would still be a very big chance for my app to shine and be unique. Things that move have emotions.
The right fit
Finding the right partner wasn't going to be an easy task. I wanted someone who could contribute as well as help me with some technical questions. I met Andrew throught Mikael from Crew. Andrew was super excited with the design and the idea of the app.
As Andrew sat on the West Coast we were using Basecamp as our main tool for communication. Developement was scheduled to be under 2 month. We would work easch week on a new sprint. Andrew was amazing at nailing down the design in every little details and make it work beautifully. We would review everything each week together over a quick Skype call and discuss plan for the following week. I was travelling quite a lot for work over that period but we maintained that schedule pretty successfully.
That was the most complex part Andrew and I had to take on together. I used a few different set up to do testing but I have to admit testing the app in relevant way was a true challenge. It is really hard to make people care and deliver good feedback. Here is the different tests I've manage to put together while we were develloping the app.
- I've set up quite early a group of close friend from hyperisland that could test the app all over the world. About 3 people. Andrew would add them to test flight and I would try to get them to test the app and deliver feedback as we go throught with it.This prooven to be a tricky business as we were all pretty far away and the best way for me to get feedback was to get them on Skype.
- I've reach out to the original Instagram people I've worked with in the Research phase and offer them to try out the app as we were nearing the release. A lot agreed but it was once again really hard to make them care. Test Flight was definitely a blockage at this point as it took a bit of iOS knowledge to get it working.
- I've went down to some buddies workplace to try it out with them. This was the most successfull test of all. Being in person while people would test help me reaching some insight. Sometimes it also turned into brainstorm. Jeremy and Pierre for instance were key in helping me revisit some part of the UI to increase performance.