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These stories are based on user research conducted in the fall of 2009 by Ginsburg Design and Reamy Research & Design. Diary studies were combined with field interviews with 12 participants in New York and The Bay Area.
This participant used to have a laptop (iMac) and a mobile phone. When her laptop broke she was torn between replacing the laptop and getting an iPhone. In the end she decided to get an iPhone since she has access to a desktop computer at work. In these photos, you can see a variety of ways that she uses the iPhone at work—to take pictures of framed photos to send to clients and to check if paintings are level. Other apps she likes to use at work include converter and translation apps.
This participant is a sophmore majoring in Chemistry. While he’s very busy with school, he also holds two part-time jobs: one at a hotel, another as a private gymnastics instructor. From the minute he wakes up, he uses his iPhone—it’s his alarm clock! Sometimes he’ll lay in bed for a little while as he checks email, the weather, his calendar. On the way to school, he’ll use other apps for checking the various bus and trains schedule. At school, he uses a variety of apps, e.g., the periodic table (above), graphing calculators, and a whiteboard app for collaboration.
This participant mostly uses the built-in apps on the iPhone—the calendar, email, photos, camera. When she goes to the flower market, she’ll use the Notes application to run through the list of flowers she needs to buy. She often takes photos of plants and flowers to send to clients. Even though the quality isn’t the best, it’s “good enough” as a communication tool. She’ll use her SLR or hire a professional photographer if she needs something of higher quality.
Participants also cited simple tasks taking much longer than they expected. For example, adding a to do item for the app above takes 5 steps. In contrast, the built-in Notes app takes just one step.
Participants expected apps to behave a certain way based on their experiences with a desktop or web application. This is not to say that iPhone apps should work exactly like their desktop or web counterparts, but it’s problematic when the differences create additional work or dead ends for users. For example, the built-in calendar doesn’t synch to do items on the phone, thus the participant (first image) added the items as all day events.
#1: Conduct upfront user research
Upfront user research will help you better understand
your users’ needs.
Research will help you make informed design
decisions; you may also uncover fascinating app
Methods to consider:
Shadowing, Field Interviews, Diary Studies
#2: Brainstorm & sketch like mad
Explore a wide variety of design directions early
Read Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines for the
iPhone, but try to see beyond the basic
Learn what’s possible with the iPhone technology
and consider ways it can benefit the user
#3: Refine & Test Promising Directions
Usability testing your concepts will help uncover
issues related to setup, flows, terminology & more.
- Paper prototypes
- Screenshot based prototype on the iPhone
- Interactive prototype on the iPhone
Thank you & good luck!
Also thanks to Michelle Reamy for her user
research work in NY: