Progress Since Last Check-In
So last week’s post was a big one reflecting a lot of new research and a refinement of direction, idea, and planned execution. Shortly after writing the last post I finally sat down and started coding. I wanted a functioning app that I could put into people’s hands and see how they felt while using it. To that end I took a lot of Swift tutorials on various topics to do with my idea: Taking & Editing Photos, Popping up Alerts & Notifications for questions, and Sharing Information to Social Media. The result of all of this learning was taking my quick visual prototype from last week and turning it into a functional demo – although it doesn’t quite look like the visual due to some roadblocks I ran into when designing all of the functionality for the app.
Last week I said that I had 5 project goals I wanted to accomplish before my critique.
Goal 1 – Build App that Can Take/Share Photos & Add Filter Goal 2 – Add lock to filters so that questions must be asked. Store question answers in app . Goal 3 – Connect app to facebook, set collected question answers as default text in comment with filler text that makes complete sentence.
Goal 4 – Create stickers library & allow user to add to app. Programmatically add stickers as questions are selected based on the input.
Goal 5 – Make it look pretty.
One excellent milestone this week is a refined name for the project that I like sooo much better than “Foggy Mirror” and “Steamy Selfie”. While building out the prototype late into the night, I kept thinking about how people used to say that photos would steal your soul – I certainly felt so after taking about 1,000 of myself looking more and more tired during testing. This got me thinking about stealing, stealing to types of people who steal, and that made me think of ninjas. I liked the idea that my app is kind of a ninja app, being that ninjas are skilled in the art of deception and distraction. From this long train of thought “Stealfie” was born, the selfie app that shares more than you think.
Early last week, I created an initial prototype which was still dubbed “Selfify” at the time. This allowed users to:
- Take a picture/add picture from library
- Edit picture using two groups of filters accessible through different buttons
- Change the intensity of some filters using a slider in the middle of the app
- When user tries to access filters questions pop-up requiring completion before access is possible
- Question answers are recorded in the background
- When user goes to share the selfie the answers are computed and custom text is pre-filled into users Twitter share box
- User can post image and message to Twitter – but has ability to edit the message first.
Check out the demo video below.
After some user testing early last week, I received/noticed the following feedback on this prototype:
- Users didn’t know what to do first when opening the app. Camera button wasn’t obvious enough to make them automatically think to do that first.
- Users were amused by the questions at first – not expecting to encounter them in an app – but more and more annoyed when they answered it and clicked the filter to have another pop-up and then have to again click the filter for the available filters to pop up
- Users complained that if they moved slider first, or tried to access filters without taking selfie – which happened a lot – that the app would crash
- Add more filters, the ones that are here aren’t that fun and some of them don’t actually work.
- Consider having the questions be more narrative oriented, they should get weirder the deeper in you get. Maybe the cooler the filter, the more invasive the question.
- Selfie apps have a history of turning the amateur into the artistic – think about this trope and how you can play with/subvert it
- Twitter isn’t a safe space, we have a preconceived notion of anonymity – I like that you take that away
- I like the experience, but it needs to be more jarring. It needs to take the desire to edit a selfie to be cooler/more connected as per other selfie apps, but transform it into an eerie experience through its intrusion into reality
- Selfies equal self-projection, when software talks back to you it confronts you, about yourself, your choices
I made another version mid-week trying to rectify the above three issues so that the app would be much more unbreakable for further testing and have more guidance on what to do. See video below of most recent prototype, actually called Stealfie.
This is the version of Stealfie that I demoed at Major Studio 1 on Thursday and over the weekend to some of my students/peers at Girls Write Now’s monthly class. Here is some of the feedback I received from these sources and other intermittent play-testing throughout the late week/weekend:
- You need to adopt more of a perky tone, it’s too clinical. You might also benefit from creating a splash page with instructions/a disclaimer. Take Selfie, Edit, Share = Fun! Right now there is a tonal contrast, you have serious questions but fun filters. Make the questions better fit the actions user is taking.
- Start with questions being less creepy in the beginning.
- You need to make it more obvious what the app is, invite people to use it. They have to want to keep using the app and be compelled to keep answering questions, either because they don’t care if they are weird or because of the very fact that they are weird to this sort of experience.
- Think about where the ending is going, where does the data go? could you maybe put them on a website too or also? A wall of selfie shame?
- Refine the questions, think about the logic and consider having a question for everything.
- Refine the filters – there are too many – and also give them less technical sounding names, you don’t need to have so many there in general.
- You need to focus in on what you are making and why?
- People are fascinated by assumptions and tech that seems to assume things or predict things about them (especially if those things are ambiguous) you might be able to use this in your design.
- Work on the UI a little so that the camera and buttons are more obvious to the flow of the app, right now they are in weird spots and/or look like they are merging with other elements like the slider.
- Think about how you want users to feel: A. When they first open the app, B. When the questions pop up, C. When their info is “stolen” at the end. During future prototypes ask users what they are feeling at these junctures and see if this is what you want them to be feeling at that stage in the flow.
Moving Forward & Refined Research for Precedents
While testing the current prototype I started to do a bit more research on other art/design pieces that “talk back to the user” and those about privacy/surveillance hoping to get some insights about how to set up the questions, what information to display at the end (what user selected vs. making up text that fires when combos of certain questions are answered). In my next post, I will go into that research a little bit and some insights I’ve formed/am forming that will help guide my next steps.