With ten weeks to finish the project, we were only able to allocate two weeks to conducting background research. That's not a lot of time-- especially when you have three or four other class projects to manage. So, it was important to select methods that gave us the maximum value in our limited timeframe. Here are the most critical questions that we wanted to answer:
My partner came up with a great strategy that allowed us to get a jumpstart on our research right away- looking into relevant studies and academic literature, particularly on the interaction between music, mood, and memory. By leveraging preexisting research, we were able to gather a great deal of insight in a very short amount of time.
Since a portion of our research was drawn from scientific papers, we built personas to bring our findings back to a more personal, emotional level. Role-playing as each of these archetypes made it easier to dial in on the app's key value propositions.
During the ideation process, we noticed that it was difficult to concisely describe certain features of the app. The concept of connecting a song to a location is unfamiliar to our users, so we needed to develop a quick and easy way to communicate our message. Our solution was to develop a few app-specific terms to make new concepts more approachable and familiar. Settling on the right terms took a lot of discussion-- navigating around the associations and connotations of a particular word can be challenging. We decided to introduce two terms:
Before starting the design, we used our consolidated research findings to start building out the features that our app should incorporate. We were aiming for a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), so certain features, like adding a more robust social component, were set aside to focus on the essential functions. We ultimately narrowed the list to these five tasks:
With the core functions and task flows identified, I was able to start organizing how all of the pieces fit together. I walked through the architecture from the perspective of each persona to make sure that every user had a clear and direct route to completing their most common tasks.
While sketching on paper, I played around with several different approaches to the process of creating a Moment. At the time, I decided the best approach was to integrate the feature as part of the media player toolbar. However, our evaluation showed that this design wasn't very discoverable to new users, so it was reworked into a more visible approach in the following iteration.
For some users, the idea of interrupting the perfect song to share it with others would defeat the purpose of the app, making it impossible to be fully immersed in that experience. The purpose of these screens was to build in a way for users to retrospectively create Moments by reviewing their previous journeys.
Notifications can be irritating enough to ruin the entire user experience, so it's something that needs to be carefully implemented. Magika uses two types of notifications: discovering a Moment and rating that Moment after it has been experienced. The purpose of rating Moments is to identify ill-fitting song/mood/location combinations and provide information to users about which Moments are most likely to make an impact.
To prevent overloading users with alerts, they are only pushed when a Journey is in progress. For those who wish to turn off rating notifications from the in-app settings, rating Moments can be done within the app.
In testing the wireframe, we found that the different processes for creating a Moment needed some additional explanation. I wanted to avoid formal onboarding that provides instructions when the app is first opened because it places an immediate cognitive burden on the user. Asking users to learn a new system is not a great first impression. To avoid this, I used the feedback from testing our wireframes to identify three 'hotspots' where more guidance was required and redesigned those areas to offer additional instruction.
Some users want to share a great experience as it is happening, but the process needs to be quick and painless. In the wireframe, this task flow involved the extra step of tapping on the 'Now Playing' bar to reveal a popover menu with a 'Place Song' button. In addition to adding time, this design wasn't very discoverable to new users. By adding a Heart Pin icon-- used throughout the app to designate a Moment-- on the left side of the 'Now Playing' bar, I hoped to make this process more streamlined and immediately recognizable.
Feedback from the wireframes drove two key changes to the process of creating a Moment from an earlier journey. First, since it was identified as a 'hotspot' for user confusion, brief directions were added to guide the user through the appropriate interactions. Second, the 'Select Mood' modal was integrated to maintain consistency between the two ways of creating a Moment.
Once a Moment is discovered, the song/artist information is provided and the user can decide whether or not it's something they want to experience. As another way to prevent the frustrating experience of notification saturation, I gave users the option to turn off notifications from these screens without opening the app.
We developed two questions to help flag problematic content, each requiring only a simple yes/no response to reduce friction. In practice, the feedback generated from these questions would be used to prioritize Moments with predominantly positive ratings and flag/remove Moments on the other end of the spectrum.
To evaluate our design, we created an interactive prototype using InVision. Usability participants were asked to complete a series of tasks and speak their thoughts aloud in the process.
The second iteration of Magika involved a lot of little changes and a few major overhauls. Many of the smaller issues were related to icon consistency, word choice, and providing additional information within modals. For the more substantial issues, I spent a few days sketching out a variety of different potential solutions.
Based on our usability findings, I changed the process of starting a Journey to provide more control over the experience. This approach allows users to 'tune in' to specific moods, filter notifications by rating, and fine-tune the frequency of notifications.
Almost all of our usability participants mentioned wanting to customize their experience to focus on certain moods. The implication of this finding for map exploration was straightforward: provide filters. Adding the ability to filter by rating gives the discerning explorer more confidence that a Moment will be worth their time.
In the original design phase, I overlooked using the power of ratings as a tool to help users decide which Moments to pursue. One of the ways that I addressed this in the second iteration was to add ratings to the 'Moment Info' modals.
In the first iteration, it wasn't clear to users if they could review the Moments they had discovered or created in the past. To make the feature more noticeable, I created a separate tab in the navigation bar footer and added new screens that made it easier to navigate through past Moments.
The process of creating a Moment from a recent Journey was visually and cognitively congested in the first iteration. Small text, too many overlapping elements, and unfamiliar interactions created a frustrating user experience. To chunk the information into manageable bits, I created separate screens for navigating between Journeys and categorizing/placing new Moments.
Even though there are still design improvements to be made, the end of our Spring semester also marked the end of this project. As an exercise in communicating design (or, possibly, as a way of passing the project along to another team), I created a flow diagram to illustrate the app's architecture and a set of style guides to facilitate coding the designs.
The structure of this project created a lot of unique learning opportunities. Since my partner and I created a sharp distinction between our roles as UX Designer and UX Researcher, I was able to practice incorporating research findings into the design of an existing prototype, communicating design decisions, and coordinating research and design phases, all of which helped me to grow as a designer and as a communicator. Effective communication is always important, but it becomes a make-or-break factor when team roles are more segmented.