Design: Meeting Intended Learning Outcomes

This post discusses how we have met the intended learning outcomes within the design processes.

Creativity: Throughout the design processes, we have been creatively thinking of appealing ways to visually produce our application. Lots of design experimentation was carried out, with many beneficial amendments being made along the way. We aimed for our app to be intuitive and easy for anyone at the Magna Carta exhibition to use and hence the simple sophisticated final design helps to achieve this. We creatively experimented with using a range of Salisbury Cathedrals style guide colours, in order to see which colours worked best on our app. We choose the brown and gold as the main colours for our app as they were the most aesthetically appealing, complementing one other well as well as signifying the importance of the Magna Carta document. Additionally, we experimented with different creative ways to display the clause information when it an overlay is selected. Coming up with a few ideas: on a new screen, pop up box or sliding up from bottom. We choose to have a slightly transparent details box sliding up from the bottom of the screen, this arguably can be regarded as an Apple convention as it is used on the iPhone. A prominent design feature in our app that highlights our creativity is the iconography  within the menu bar. We had to creatively think of inventive yet understandable ways to visually represent each of the Magna Carta clause categories. An example is the ‘all clauses’ icon, it is a feather quill writing, this is inventive as we have related it to the Magna Carta and the way it was written in 1215. Some other icons which emphasise creativity could be feudal and justice, they are quite unique and show that we thought outside of the box to come up with the inventive icon designs.

Originality: Our app and the features it offers users are original ideas that we have developed over the course of the project. We have tried to be original within our designs but at the same time have adhered to conventions in order for it to suit other iOS apps and hence live up to iOS users expectations. The use of categories filtering is a original feature, that we used to clearly enable users to interact with the Magan Carta. Without the category filtering technique, the document is covered in overlays, making it look less aesthetically appealing and also more confusing for users. Initially, the icons used to represent each of the categories were taken from the internet. However, to avoid copyright issues and to enhance creativity and originality we designed our own. Designing our own original icons was advantageous, helping to make our app more unique and memorable to users. Due to this being a live brief with clients, we were limited to the extent to which we could be original as throughout the design processes, we had to ensure our app suited the clients requirements. Also, we had to adhere to Apples conventions to maintain iOS users expectations and thus originality was further restricted.

Conventions: Our app adheres to Salisbury Cathedrals style guide, having distinctly used their chosen colours and fonts throughout, ass well as using their Magna Carta logo within our navigation bar. This is extremely important as it ensures that our app will fit well within their exhibition and maintains consistency throughout their other products. We have also adhered to Apples iOS developer guidelines throughout the design processes. This is extremely important due to producing an iOS application. We have followed Apples conventions with the sizing of design elements including navigation bar, menu, icons and font sizes. We have used the conventional apple menu button (burger shaped) within our applications. Users will most probably have existing knowledge on Apples icon and thus the icon will be readily understood. This is important as if users don’t understand what it means, they may not click on it and thus the menu bar will not appear for them to easily filter down the clauses on the Magna Carta. When creating our icons for each of the categories we further followed Apples guidelines, helping to make our icons look more professional. Apples suggestions was consistency throughout the family of icons, we achieved this through using the same size, colours and stroke weight. Although some icons can be regarding as inventive and unique, others can be regarded as quite common such as the ‘key clauses’, ‘women’ and ‘jews’ icons. Apples convention are that icons are outlined and then when selected they fill. We adhered to this convention by designing unselected and selected icons, however did not have enough time to incorporate this feature. Following conventions could again be seen as limiting design creativity and originality, however it extremely helps to make designs more professional looking and hopefully more successful with both the clients and users.

Professionalism: Our final design is sophisticated and professional looking, the simplicity making the app clear and easy for a range of ages to use and understand. Searching and adhering to Apples conventions portrays that we have been a professional agency, designing a suitable app to fit the iOS market and maintain user experiences. We have also been professional in regards to our agency -> client communications throughout the project. Keeping clients updated on the progress of our app and always following their suggestions. A main example of this is the ‘hidden details’ category that the clients strongly recommended and thus we included this within our app, showing the intriguing, random things about the Magana Carta document. As an agency we have been professional by assigning job roles and tasks. Following an agile methodology, we used trello to create and assign tasks and follow how individuals are progressing. Communication between the designers and programmers was strongly maintained throughout the project, which is crucial as programmers needed to know what to visually program the app like, and what colours and icons to use. Working on a live brief has extremely developed our professionalism in working within an agency and thus will be useful when going to work in industry.

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Programming: Final Changes

As we come up to the final week, we’re just adding the final touches to the application to make sure that it is the best product we can provide for the client.

Last week we were given the final translations and contextualisations to use in the app from the client, so the first step was to add these into the code. After we did this, we noticed that they were significantly smaller than before. Because of this, the detailView seemed far too tall compared to the text inside it.

Originally the detailView was 500 high. This value was just an estimate size as it stuck throughout most of the development. First we tried lowering this down to 300. This worked well with some of the shorter clauses as the box didn’t drown them, but with the preface and suffixes, it seemed to be far too small and required too much scrolling. We went for the final option of 400 high. This was a good middle ground between being small enough for the shorter clause translations and big enough for the larger ones.

While doing this, I went through and cleaned up the code. This meant adding comments to functions and deleting excess line breaks to make it neater and easier to read. Commenting the functions and code is essential when handing the project over to someone else, and is always good practice to do just for myself. It is a way of always knowing what the code does and why it works/ was included. Sometimes what seemed like a simple thing to write at the time can seem complex and difficult to understand a week later. Commenting the code speeds up the workflow and is a good professional practice to get into so the code is clear and easy to read, edit and understand.

I also removed the swiftyJSON.swift file from the code. This remained in there from when I experimented with using JSON to get the translations into the code. There were also some old image files left in the project folder from when I was testing for the best solution and images to use. It is good practice remove excess files and text to keep file sizes to a minimum. Its not good to bulk out the project with assets and code which aren’t even being implemented as it makes it cluttered takes up unnecessary space.

Design Guidelines

As we are producing our app for iOS devices (iPad, and possibly iPhone), it is important that we look at Apple’s iOS development guidelines. This ensures that the app we produce would be suitable for the iOS market and that it adheres to conventional iOS themes. ‘Although crisp, beautiful UI and fluid motion are highlights of the iOS experience, the user’s content is at its heart’ (Apple 2015). We plan to create a simple and well designed information based app that will allow the user to quickly and easily access relevant content related to Magna Carta. After reading through the iOS developer guidelines, we picked out some of the most important iOS themes to consider in our app designs:

  • Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 16.45.00Translucent UI elements – we could consider this so that when users taps on a clause, a translucent overlay appears with more information regarding the selected clause.
  • Use of negative space – it is important that we use plenty of negative space within our app in order to make it clear and easy for users to understand. We have to consider not putting too much information over the Magna Carta image as it could easily be overwhelming for the user.Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 16.46.32
  • Simple colours – using the Cathedral’s style guide, we will use their chosen colour scheme in order for our app to be consistent with existing products.
  • Ensuring legibility – we will use the font suggested by Salisbury Cathedral (Eidetic), at a suitable, easy to read size.

It is important to also be aware of the basic UI elements in order to help us make further decisions about the design of our app.Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 16.14.41

  • Bars (navigations/tab) – contain contextual information that tell users where they are and controls that help users navigate or initiate actions.
  • Content Views (collection/table views) – contain app-specific content and can enable behaviours such as scrolling, insertion, deletion, and rearrangement of items.
  • Controls (buttons/sliders) – perform actions or display information.
  • Temporary Views (alerts/actions) – appear briefly to give users important information or additional choices and functionality.

Using conventional iOS gestures is also essential and something we need to consider when creating the design of our app. ‘Using gestures gives people a close personal connection to their devices and enhances their sense of direct manipulation of onscreen objects (Apple 2015). Some of the common iOS gestures that we could incorporate into our app include: tap, drag, flick, swipe, pinch, and double tap.

It is also important to use Apple’s built in features (UI elements and gestures) due to the time constraints we have to make the app in. Given our current skill level, it is essential for us to stick with what we’re familiar with and are being taught so that we can produce a fully functioning, and hopefully aesthetically pleasing app before the deadline. Creating our own UI elements can be far too time consuming and difficult for us, and will only be done if it is essential for the app to function.

Here is Salisbury Cathedrals Guidelines that we were given. We will adhere to these within our app through using their chosen colour scheme, fonts and existing graphics. This is important in order for our app to be consistent with their existing products for the Magna Carta exhibition.

From this, we will go on to create some initial designs for our app taking on board the above Apple and Salisbury Cathedral guidelines.

Reference:

Apple, 2015. Designing For iOS [online]. Available from: https://developer.apple.com/library/ios/documentation/UserExperience/Conceptual/MobileHIG/ [Accessed 6 April 2015].

Design Methodologies

A methodology is a system of methods used in a particular area of study. It is important to explore different design methodologies in order to understand how the industry operates and to use the methodologies when producing our group app, in order to achieve a successful design solution.

Waterfall:

waterfall_model

The waterfall methodology was one of the first to be introduced. It is a simple, linear model that is easy to follow and understand. The model is fixed and doesn’t offer much room for constant improvements and refinements to be made. Therefore, it would not be useful for us to follow this method as it is important that we are regularly engaging with the clients to ensure their requirements are being met. As well as constantly thinking about the users of the app and carrying out user testing with the target audience nearer to the end of the process. Following a waterfall methodology could result in the following:

mismatched_expectations

The illustration clearly explains mismatched expectations, hence showing the importance of regularly having team meetings as well as meetings with clients in order to ensure that everyone is working along the same lines. From this, it is very important that we meet the clients requirements in our app and also to sustain users expectations.

Iterative:

iterative-model

This is the methodology that we followed for the previous Design Iterations unit. It allows room for constant refinements and improvements to be made, and the cycle can be repeated various times, to produce a successful well developed end product. The testing stage in particular allows you to gain important user feedback, allowing you to improve on the product to enhance the users experience.

Agile:

agile-methodology

The agile methodology is an iterative model when design solutions are produced in incremental, rapid cycles. It is normally used when there is a short deadline and usually works best with smaller design teams. It involves constant testing and engagement with clients in order to satisfy their needs and requirements, therefore avoiding any mismatched expectations show in the illustration above. This is a diagram to visually show the sprint cycles within agile methodologies:scrum-overview-mark-hoogveld

The scrum methodology is that which we will be following for the production of our Magna Carta app. As it will ensure that each of us team members are on track, continuously working to produce a product that will meet the expectations and requirements of the clients and users. The daily scrum stand ups is something we could incorporate, as it will allow us to share how our individual work progress is going and any problems that we may be encountering. However, as we don’t have a dedicated office/room, the location would have to be organised in advance. We will hold stand up meetings once/twice a week rather than daily as we may not see each other every day at uni.

It is important that we explore different design methodologies, as using methodologies reflects the design industry and helps to make our team more professional, due to this project being a live brief. We will assign job roles to each of our team members (programmer/designer etc) and by following an iterative agile methodology, it will ensure that we are all working along the same lines in order to meet the users requirements and to produce a successful end product that satisfies the users.

Cheng, C, 2015. Why Scrum? Why Agile Development? [online]. Available from: http://calvinx.com/2014/05/22/why-scrum-why-agile-development/ [Accessed 1 March 2015].

ISTQB EXAM CERTIFICATION, 2015. What is Agile Model – Advantages, Disadvantages and When To Use It? [online]. Available from: http://istqbexamcertification.com/what-is-agile-model-advantages-disadvantages-and-when-to-use-it/ [Accessed 1 March 2015].