A personal project to document New York City’s remaining neon signs included a free “digital guidebook.” With funds from Kickstarter I hired a developer to put together an iPhone app under my direction and following my wireframes, mockups, and using assets I created (photographs, icons, etc.) guiding users to signs around the city and allowing them to rate their favorites.
With a minimal budget and a staff of two (the developer and myself) I needed to create realistic mockups as quickly as possible to facilitate communication with the London-based developer and help test the app’s flow with potential users.
Primarily hand sketches, Photoshop, and Illustrator.
The mockups worked very well in this context and the developer and I were able to work through iterations at a rapid pace. I had set a quick deadline in order not to lose the interest of backers, and we were able to achieve that with a smoothly functioning, easy to use app that was well received by users.
Impact of User Centered Design Process
When making the app I hadn’t yet learned all the tools of the user-centered design process, and I think additional prototyping might have been helpful. That said, the ability to rapidly mockup the design was a huge help, especially since the developer and I were in different countries, and it greatly contributed to a smooth process and also helped with testing before the app was released. In addition, the entire creation of the app came about due to frequent feedback from and interaction with users. The project began as a small photo set on Flickr, but due to overwhelming response and feedback, it continued to grow into a larger photo set, then a blog, and then the app. All along the way users continued to show their preferences for which photos they cared about, weigh in on app features desired, and share what information they found helpful about each neon sign. Without this ongoing feedback the whole project would have remained a small set of photos.