The feedback I got for the mark two prototype very much reflected what I had already been thinking. For a project that was supposed to aim to “delight” it was very much lacking in just that. There really didn’t seem to be much of personality. Even with the addition of the playful paper planes as a metaphor for sending thoughts it still didn’t seem right. One of the pieces of feedback was that at the moment there seems to be two forces fighting the one to do with the metaphor of emoticons and then the paper planes. I do believe that this is actually why it has felt that little bit wrong, guess it has been a gut feeling that something isn’t exactly right. So fueled by this realisation I decided that rather than trying to forcefully continue with something that isn’t working it is better to iterate and go back a few steps in order to find a better path for the project to continue on.
Armed with post-its and the help of a peer I went back to what is the main aspect of the application. Even though the paper planes is a nice metaphor it kind of diminishes the main purpose, connecting to your loved ones. Using this insight I asked and answered some tough questions about the app and by the end of the quite long session had a (slightly) new direction. Or rather had a clearer vision of the purpose and how to best support that. Ditching the paper planes metaphor and concentrating on bringing the forth the connection side felt a lot better.
Another thing I did during this project related soul search was giving the purpose and content of each screen a good think. Mirroring the fact that connecting to others is the main meat of my app the main screen, and the first screen that is seen when the app is opened, features visual representations of each person you have connected with. Besides those some sort of visual clue will be given if one of them has added a new update as well as some sort of change that represents that someone has thought of you. After giving this a think and discussing it with peers I decided that when someone thinks of you, you will not know who it was unless there is only one connection (then it’s hard not to know really). I decided on this after realising that in a way as the purpose is to only connect to the people you really care about (this enforced by limiting the connections to four) it doesn’t actually matter who of them thought of you. This way also hopefully avoiding some drama that might ensue from “he thought of me but she didn’t” type of thinking. When viewing the mood of someone I have kept with the idea of having to actively select them before seeing it. I am still very much intrigued by this idea of having an individual “moment” with each of the connections when viewing their entry instead of being able to see all of them at a glance.
Other aspect that isn’t as prominent but still necessary is an archive where the moods that you have added get stored. As a decision was made based on the experience prototype that this is not for reflective purposes a full archive will not be available. This also addresses the point raised during the interview with the experience prototype participant of the emoticons getting too abstract over time to really get reflective value from them. Also it can be argued that the information that your loved one was sad three weeks ago even though they are happy now is unnecessary. These are the reasons why I am limiting the amount of entries accessible to the seven previous moods added on both individual level as well as when accessing the moods of connections. The individual archive will be represented visually similarly to how the moods of the connections are represented.
The really big change is in the representation of thinking of someone. I wanted to go back to something quite abstract giving the emoticon/connection idea more room to breathe. After going through few ideas I came up with it being a visual change in the look of the app as done through a pattern. So the pattern could represent “thinking of someone” and change if someone actually thinks of you. Then while viewing the mood of someone you could “apply” that pattern to their circle thus thinking of them. A fade effect could be applied here that would then get replicated on the other persons screen (so the pattern fades-out when you think of someone and fades-in if someone has thought of you).
It is quite scary to have hit a wall at this late stage in the game, but suppose it is part of the thrill of a design process. I feel more confident now in this new direction and the next stage will be doing some research into the world of pattern to try and find some inspiration to start from.