My Sketch App – Redesign and Development

For this project I chose to redesign the app ‘My Sketch’ which is compatible with the iPhone , iPad and iPod touch. I have used this app on many occasions before and liked how it transformed my photographs to sketches. When using the app I always thought the colour scheme unimpressive, uninspiring and relished this opportunity to redesign it. Whilst the current app is easy to use and interpret and has good reviews I feel the ranking of images and colour revamp will transform and improve it.

The current app logo suggests ‘pencil sketching’ but with no connection to images. I feel the female image used on the logo is too individualist suggesting usage by a particular demographic. When designing the new logo my aim was to make it immediately recognisable while suggesting what the app actually does and make it non gender or demographic specific.

The functionality of the app is good allowing users to overlay sketch filters onto their images. I do feel one of the areas which comes across negatively is the use of colour. The current colour scheme consists of pastel colours and browns.   Pastel colours are thought calming and soothing. Brown suggests dependability and reliability and can be considered dull and inexpensive; either or a combination of these colours does not suggest creativity or inspiration which the app itself implies.

With the new app designs I was aware of the need to be specific, aware of exactly what was being offered to users, as the space is more restrictive than a desktop. Also with app design user gestures and thumb placement has to be taken into account as gestures make up the human interface for controlling the app. This was an area I considered when redesigning the placement of call to action buttons and menus.

These are areas not mentioned above which I took into account in the redesign:

  • Usability – needs to be usable.
  • Easy to understand –so users can instinctively use the app.
  • Effective, reliable – needs to be effective and reliable.
  • Loads quickly – should load quickly taking into account minimising of code and size of images, major factor in SEO ranking.

In the current app Christmas filters are shown all year round as the initial filters to select from which I feel devalues it. In the new design users can like a filter, which is indicated with a yellow heart. Filters are ranked and shown on the lower area of the screen; ranking is firstly by your ‘liked’ filters and secondly by the most popular.

Instagram uses a similar filter function so users could already be familiar with this funcitionality, which promotes a good user experience. The fact users can instinctively know how to operate the app promotes usability.

My new designs have a more simplistic colour scheme incorporating yellow, which is a vibrant colour and is used to draw your eye to specific areas of the screen and call to action butons. Yellow is thought a warm, happy and exciting colour which suggests creativity and the promotion of vivacity and liveliness both I believe making the app more appealing and engaging.

The new minimalist colour scheme and ranking of filters enables users to focus more on their images allowing them to more effectively and quickly use the app. I feel the new design is more inspiring and engaging making it more current whilst offering an overall better user experience. The app could be developed in the future to allow images to be shared i.e. social media. I found that visual content is more likely to be shared on social media than other type of content, images can speak a thousand words. Facebook posts with images have been found to have more engagement than without images.

The app itself is quite simplistic with the aim to transform images and photography I feel I have been able to enhance it through the colour scheme and ranking of images whilst still keeping the functionality simple and easy to understand.

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Wearable Fitness Tracking Technology – Is it a fad or here to stay?

This essay will examine wearable fitness tracking devices and the recent rise of their popularity. In recent years sales of these products have soared, according to Statistica sales of health and fitness wearable devices in the UK rose from 6.7 million in 2014 to 13.7 million in 2015 a rise of 7 million sales, see figure 1 (Statista, 2016). Are they a fad or are they here to stay and how can they be developed further? By investigating the market and through my research this essay will look to answer this question. Looking to the future the essay will compare brands and look at how they plan to move ahead with their products in such a fast paced sector.

Tracking our activity levels is not a new phenomenon, in the 1960s Dr Yoshiro Hantano developed a pedometer called a ‘manpo-kei’, or 10,000 steps meter, see figure 2 (The British School in Toyko, 2012) which was a huge success.

This sector has developed rapidly in the last decade, see figure 4, from pedometers to wearable fitness tracking devices. With advances in technology and as devices have become more affordable (Mintel, 2015) it is now easy, social and fashionable for us to track our fitness. We have seen a huge growth in the popularity of these devices with everyday consumers who are becoming more health conscious and looking to track their activity levels. With the NHS recommending we walk 10,000 steps each day to improve our health (NHS, 2014) these devices help us to self-monitor and improve our health and reach such targets.

In 2014 the major competitors were Fitbit and JawBone (Lamkin, 2014), this is no longer the case with new brands and devices entering the market. The number of differenct devices available is highlighted in recent surveys into the top sellers by Which? see figure 7 (Which.co.uk, 2016) and TechAdvisor Test Centre see figure 3 (Martin, 2016) which each rating a different model as the top device. However reviews and comparisons are not always focused on each consumers needs, Bethany Gordon visually displays more ratings and findings, TopTenReviews, see figure 5; it is clear here to see that one device does not perform top in all tests. This is also the case in a review by Evenson, which states ‘no single specific tracker had a complete assessment across their five measures’ (Evenson et al, 2015). This indicates how difficult it is for consumers to choose a device, tracking can range from basic steps, sleep patterns to heart monitoring. Brands continue to add more functions; this can be seen by the development of the Fitbit range (Jary, 2016), but is this enough as consumers look for more personalized, customisable products? Consumers are looking to purchase a system to fit in with their lifestyle not just a wearable device where the user experience and user interface is extremely important. Users want to be informed of their progress easily they do not want to be challenged by accessibility and compatibility issues.

There is also the option to use smartphone apps to track activity i.e. Google Fit which turns a smartphone into a fitness tracker and has been found to be more accurate. ‘Fitness bands less accurate than smartphones in counting steps – fitness bands incorrectly estimate number of steps by up to 22.7% while phones get it wrong by 6.7% (Johnston, 2015). This together with the introduction of smart watches, which include activity-tracking functions, this brings not only more choice but also more confusion for consumers.

The notion of tracking activity to promote health is motivating and moving people in the right direction however (The NPD Group, 2015) found ‘about 40% of wearers trackers stop using them within 6 months’ which implies this could be seen as a fad and tracking exercise is not enough. In January 2016 Dick Costolo the former chief executive of Twitter announced he is working on a new project, see figure 6 (LaMagna, 2016) he stated “the new platform will go beyond measurement to motivate and drive improvement. The fitness industry is transitioning to a world of specialized studios and programs with a multitude of connected devices and software trackers”. Fitbit CEO James Park discussed

‘a big theme for them is going to be the inclusion of more advanced sensors. In the future what we want to do is get to the point

where not only are we addressing lifestyle conditions but more chromic conditions as well, whether it’s heart disease,

obesity, etc.‘ (Metz, 2016).

Choi also suggests this ‘in the future there may be a less invasive way to obtain valuable information about a person’s health – wearable sweat sensors could track your health’ (Choi, 2016). With more data and more data being recorded security issues are a concern which consumers should be aware. Research by Open Effect suggests ‘that users can be surreptitiously tracked over long periods of time, together with further security issues’ (Prince, 2016). While security as always is an issue my research suggests the future holds more specialised and personalized tracking and the devices worn today maybe seen as primitive in another decade. My research suggests while consumers looking to improve their health will continue to look for ways to track their activity; niche audiences will develop to look for specific wearable tracking technology related to individual health needs as with the sweat sensors (Choi, 2016) which can track levels of glucose.

Fitness tracking devices are great tools for motivation, results can be seen quickly without having to wait to see our bodies change and the loss of weight. Being able to monitor our own fitness looks to be increasing the appeal however they will not be for everyone. Whilst the Fitbit Charge is rated top in two out of the three surveys in my research it is clear that there isn’t one fitness tracker that ‘fits all’. It is based on the individual consumer and what they are looking for as to which one fits their needs, whether that be step counting, calorie counting etc.

From my research fitness activity tracking technology is being developed further to track and monitor specific health issues which can only be thought of as a positive move. Not too long ago we may have owned a mobile phone and an mp3 player or an iPod; today all these technologies are combined in a smartphone or tablet. In the future more data will be combined on devices and platforms to constantly inform us of our health and other tracked information. It will be down to consumers individually to decide what to switch off and what they want to view to avoid being bombarded and possibly overwhelmed.   Consumers have more power than ever before and the user experience and user interface of any new products combined with functionality and connectivity will be major factors in a products success. This is an exciting time for this evolving technology and the idea that the nations health will be improved can be thought of as an achievement alone.

 

Bibliography

Choi, (2016) Wearable Sweat Sensors Could Track Your Health [Online] Available at http://www.livescience.com/53499-wearable-sweat-sensors-track-health.html (Accessed on 23 March 2016)

Evenson, K. R., Goto, M. M., Furberg, R. D. (2015) ‘Systematic review of the validity and reliability of consumer-wearable activity trackers’ [Online]. Available at http://download.springer.com/static/pdf/66/art%253A10.1186%252Fs12966-015-0314-1.pdf?originUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fijbnpa.biomedcentral.com (Accesed 27 March 2016)

Jary, S (2016) Which Fitbit is best to buy? Fitbit Range [Online] Available at http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/feature/gadget/which-fitbit-is-best-buy-3501231/ (Accessed 28 March 2016)

Johnston, C. (2015) Fitness bands ‘less accurate than smartphones’ in counting steps [Online] Available at (http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/feb/11/fitness-bands-less-accurate-than-smartphones-counting-steps) (Accessed 26 March 2016)

LaMagna, (2016) Have we reached peak FitBit? [Online] Available at http://www.marketwatch.com/story/are-fitness-trackers-a-fad-2016-01-26 (Accessed 25 March 2016)

Lamkin, (2014) Fitbit Flex v Jawbone UP24: what fitness band is right for you? [Online] Available at http://www.wareable.com/fitness-trackers/fitbit-flex-v-jawbone-up24-best-fitness-band) (Accessed 25 March 2016)

Martin, (2016). The best fitness trackers & fitness bands you can buy in the UK today. [online] PC Advisor. Available at: http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/test-centre/wearable-tech/best-activity-trackers-2016-uk-summary-3498368/ [Accessed 15 May 2016].

Metz, R. (2016) Fitbit CEO on Wearble Gadgets the Future of Sensors, and Wall Street [Online] Available at https://www.technologyreview.com/s/545271/fitbit-ceo-on-wearable-gadgets-the-future-of-sensors-and-wall-street/ (Accessed 24 March 2016)

Mintel, (2015) Wearable Technology UK, December 2015 [Online] [Accessed 10 March 2016] http://academic.mintel.com

NHS (2014) Walking for health [Online]. Available at http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/getting-started-guides/Pages/getting-started-walking.aspx (Accessed 26 March 2016)

Prince, R. (2016) Almost every fitness tracker on the market leaves their users at risk of ‘long-term tracking of their location’ [Online] Available at http://uk.businessinsider.com/major-privacy-issues-in-almost-every-fitness-tracker-report-2016-2 (Accessed 28 March 2016)

Statista, (2016) Number of health and fitness wearable devices and app users in the United Kingdom (UK) for 2014 and 2015 [Online] Available at http://www.statista.com/statistics/407640/number-of-health-and-fitness-wearable-devices-and-app-users-in-the-uk/ (Accessed 28 March 2016)

The British School in Toyko, (2012) Are You Still On Target For Your Daily 10,000 This January?[Blog]. Available at http://www.bst.ac.jp/principalsblog/category/topical-news/ (Accessed 26 March 2016)

The NPD Group, (2015) U.S. Smartwatch Ownership Poised to Catch Up With, and Potentially Surpass, Activity Trackers, According to The NPD Group [Online]. Available at https://www.npd.com/wps/portal/npd/us/news/press-releases/2015/us-smartwatch-ownership-poised-to-catch-up-with-and-potentially-surpass-activity-trackers-according-to-the-npd-group/ (Accessed 24 March 2016)

Which.co.uk. (2016). Fitness tracker reviews – Which?. [online] Available at: http://www.which.co.uk/reviews/fitness-trackers?source_code=911CQJ&_$ja=tsid:57182&gclid=CK2VqI3G48sCFUa4GwodpGcKcA (Accessed 15 May 2016).

 

Figure 1: Statista 2016, Number of health and fitness wearable devices and app suers in the United Kingdon (UK) for 2014 and 2015 [Online]

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Figure 2: The Manpo-Meter, The British School in Tokyo, 2012 [Online]

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Figure 3: Which Fitbit is best: features, TechAdvisor [Online]

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Figure 4: A Decade of Fitness Activity Trackers

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Figure 5: Fitness Tracking Review – TopTenReviews Bethany Gordon [Online]

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Figure 6: Fitness Tracking – A New Platform

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Figure 7: Ratings

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Links

Blog: https://joanneclappison.wordpress.com/category/interactive-communications-practices-s4-self-initiated/   

Presentation: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1zA3R3Rj17vYpr2EqHBP3zMr2bSNw_dOeqpcaej31JXI/edit?usp=sharing 

Invision Prototype: https://invis.io/8T7CHGPZ2#/159323142_CaravanDesktop

Video:   https://youtu.be/od82U-h_s8g

Website: http://www.chccs.co.uk

 

 

Evaluation

From the start when I first analysed the previous www.chccs.co.uk website and looked at what I wanted to achieve by the redesign I have again learnt so many new skills.   Looking at the old website pages it is clear now they were not engaging at all for visitors to the website, even since the launch of the maintenance page whilst developing the new website more bookings have been made.

I felt I was able to implement and progress through the discovery phase which I learnt last semester more quickly with this project; I was mentally planning how I would do this when developing the self initiated project brief.  Although the website is not totally finished due to time constraints of the project I plan to finish and make the website live as it is for a local business.

Creating a competitors report was new to me but enabled me to see more clearly the differences between this business and local competitors.  It highlighted the differences in particular most of the local caravan sites do not have their own website which I felt was a big USP (unique selling point) for this business, however only if the website new provided a good user experience.  I felt developing for mobile first although important with all new sites was very much the case with this project as pitch bookings are often made on the road when travelling.

A good way to engage with users is with images, from my research they stated they like to see clear, representative images of what they are spending their money on.  To enhance and develop my photography I feel I have learnt a lot with this project about the actual images and video and how to create and develop these using Adobe PhotoShop and Premiere Pro, which was a big learning curve.  My aim was to make them emotive and engaging; with the video I wanted to tell a story, which people can relate to, and which is also very much a trend at the moment.  Although I have incorporated large emotive images throughout the site I learnt how I needed to keep them to a reasonable size i.e. less than 2Mb so as not to slow the loading time of the site.  When enhancing the images it was easy for them to be excessive in size when finished up to 30Mb so I had to be aware when using them.  This is especially the case for mobile as fast optimised pages are thought to lead to higher visitor engagement and retention and a higher SEO ranking.

Being able to include guest reviews I felt was good as through my research this was an area potential customers look at when deciding to book, they like to see what others have said.

I learnt new skills when downloading WordPress as I had never done this before, and have learnt the importance of keeping plugins and themes updated; you need to keep these updated, if they get too out of date then you may be unable to catch up and may have to delete the plugin and reinstall. Learning a how to setup the WordPress Bellevue theme was quite difficult at times.  The slider problems took a while to solve with me eventually reverting back to a single hero image on the main screen was because I found I could not use the central ‘Check Availability’ button when using a slider and this button is needed on the this screen so users see it immediately and and therefore accessible.  I felt this was a learning curve and with this knowledge of the Bellevue theme a big benefit time wise would be if I were to use this theme for future projects as I have invested time in learning and am still learning how to develop the website using this theme.  I questioned would it be more beneficial although difficult to develop the site using foundation and code, as these skills would be more transferable however one of the benefits of WordPress is it is also a CMS (content management system) so is easily accessible for administrators of the site to update information.

I feel I have been able to complete most of my aims of my initial self initiated brief especially simplifying the booking process and making it as painless as possible.  With the new designs contact information is clear and I feel the site is easy to navigate through.  I did not create wireframes or designs for tablet which is something I will need to do in future projects. My main reasons for this were mainly due to time constraints of the project and also through my research of the Bellevue Theme I found it was responsive on mobile and tablet; this was one of my reasons for purchasing this theme.

In my self-initiated brief I listed looking at implementing a jQuery element into the new site in WordPress; I was able to do this with the call to action button ‘Check Availability’ on the initial page, when you hover over it with the mouse or finger if using mobile device the transparent Check Availability button fills with colour.

I have learnt and feel the user experience is crucial it can take only seconds for a user to reject a website and leave for various reasons.  Subsequently good or bad feedback can spread quickly via word of mouth or social media and can be the ‘making of’ or the ‘end’ of a product or service.  I feel this emphasises how important research, the discovery phase, the design process and each step in the development of a new site in the creation of a good user experience.

One of my aims when redesigning and considering what the new site needed to offer was to make it engaging and offer and develop a better user experience and through user testing have been told this is the case which I feel happy with although I still have a little way to go to finish the website especially with the Check Availability and Trans Pennine Trail pages as I don’t feel these images could be improved.

Future Considerations:

Finish the project – Continue with development and complete the website and the video.

User testing – Continue with user testing and focus on different browsers and devices.  User testing is something I would implement and incorporate more and at various stages throughout the development of future projects and not just at the end as this is not practical and I feel it could to lots of changes having to be implemented at the end of the project which is not practical with a client project.Google Analytics – Once the website is live monitor Google Analytics more frequently.

Social Media – The Caravan Site already has a Pinterest account but I feel I need to develop this further and create a Facebook account for the Caravan Site, through my research on my other projects I found this is huge market for advertising and connecting, engaging with potential customers.

Mintel Research Ltd – It will be interesting to see the Mintel report due out this year into the caravanning and camping market to see if the rise they predicted in 2012 has materialised.

Business Cards – Create Business Cards to give to guests, merchandise and marketing.

Booking Deposits – Incorporate WooCommerce and look at accepting deposits for bookings online.

Future Plans: (due to time constraints I have not been able to spend as much time as I would have liked on these areas)

Look at and research other wireframing tools for future Projects including Adobe Experience Design.

Look at WordPress in more depth and how the actual themes are created.

Accessibility

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 18.39.40

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When starting user testing and actual usability of the website I also thought about accessibility because it can only be usable if it is accessible.  Accessibility is a word used to describe if a product whether a website or mobile site can be used by people of all abilities and disabilities and in what ways can they be inaccessible?

What is Accessibility?

It is thought that a website is should be accessible to all people whether disabled or able bodied or elderly.

On a website, accessibility depends on how a person’s disability affects the way they perceive information and how they navigate within and between pages.

Elements that affect accessibility include (http://www.bbc.co.uk/accessibility/best_practice/what_is.shtml):

  • For people who can’t see very well: the colours and the contrast between colours; the size of text; the choice of fonts
  • For people who are blind: how a screenreader interprets the elements on a page (for example, alt tags for images, and title tags for links); the inclusion of audio description for video content
  • For people who can’t hear very well: how any audio content is represented graphically (for example, including subtitles or signing on video content)
  • For people who find a keyboard or mouse hard to use: the ease with which someone can navigate to parts of the page (for instance, by tabbing); auto-completion of forms
  • For people who find words difficult: the length of sentences and paragraphs; the complexity of the vocabulary; the choice of fonts and size of text; the availability of spelling checkers and word prediction; the opportunity to have text read out loud

According to W3C (https://www.w3.org/WAI/intro/accessibility.php): The Web is an increasingly important resource in many aspects of life: education, employment, government, commerce, health care, recreation, and more. It is essential that the Web be accessible in order to provide equal access and equal opportunity to people with disabilities. An accessible Web can also help people with disabilities and elderly people more actively participate in society.

Further research into accessibility highlighted you can actually be breaking the law if your site is not accessible to disabled users.

The law and Accessibility 

If your business has a website, it should be accessible to disabled users. Along with ethical and commercial justifications for this there is also a legal reason: if your website does not meet certain design standards, then you could be sued for discrimination.

So far there have been two cases, actions were initiated by the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB), and both out of court. Although the companies weren’t named it is a battle which any business would want to avoid.

More information on the law and accessibility: http://www.out-law.com/page-330

Centre Parcs

I thought Centre Parcs Accessibility policy very interesting, they include a statement signed by their Director’s and Chairman expressing their commitment to equal access to all.

http://www.centerparcs.co.uk/information/accessibility/index.jsp good see this

Site Improve

According to Site Improve web accessibility is about allowing people with and without disabilities to have access to the information they want and need from your website. With a reported 1 in 5 people living with some sort of disability, organisations need to ensure that their websites are both functional and efficient for every user.

Site Improve offer a service and an accessibility review of your website see link below:

(http://go.siteimprove.com/web-accessibility-checker-uk?gclid=CLa6spOG4cwCFS8z0wod9hICtw)

Site Improve do not mention costs on their inital screen, it could be thought especially for larger companies and brands that this is a factor in the design of their website they cannot afford to ignore.  However regardless of the size of an organisation behind a website this is an area that should be incorporated from the discovery and design stages as the user experience is a huge factor in the success or your site and you cannot provide a good user experience for all if not accessible to all.

User Testing

I carried out user testing and actually speaking to user to users to see what they thought of the site with positive feedback.  Although not all the site is complete I felt I wanted to get feed back as the home page was nearly complete according to my designs.  User feedback received indicated the site homepage was emotive and engaging and they liked the simplicity of the booking process and they felt they could trust the website if have to pay a deposit, aims I set within my self initiated project brief.

Negative Points 

The parallax scrolling of some of the images does not work correctly on Internet Explorer so the effect and the website is not shown at it’s best.  With the site being developed in WordPress and without altering any of the WordPress code to rectify this I plan to change the two images in question so they are more engaging whether parallax scrolling is active or not.