DESIGNER | RESEARCHER | MUSICIAN
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Fáinne

Fáinne

An immersive mobile guide to the Corca Dhuibhne gaeltacht.

A mobile guide highlighting the rich culture and natural beauty of the area, while allowing the user to practice conversational Irish.

A mobile guide highlighting the rich culture and natural beauty of the area, while allowing the user to practice conversational Irish.

Fáinne

Explore Corca Dhuibhne

A mobile app I designed in collaboration with my colleague Sinéad Davis for our Master’s thesis. We completed all design, development, and user research ourselves and documented our findings in our thesis, available at the DIT library. Fáinne is currently in beta testing, to be released soon on the App Store.

Our thesis is available for download here.

 

The Pitch

Our process began with a giant brainstorm. What app could we make that would appeal to users, satisfy the requirements of our thesis project (to design and development a mobile app with digital media elements), and applied passions that Sinéad and I shared?

We went through any number of ideas relating to music, folklore, etc. Ultimately we settled on one area where we could see a need that wasn't being met, Irish language tourism.

We completed extensive research when deciding on the app we would design, development, and document for our thesis project.

We began with online surveys to gage interest in such an app, to identify target audiences and future user testers. We came back to many of these early testers to continue testing iterative prototypes, from paper to Invision to beta. We gained a lot of valuable insight from their experiences, and made a lot of changes to meet our users needs.

 

Our Users

We wanted to create a user-centered design that our users found easy and fun to use. To figure out how to accomplish that we brought our questions straight to the users!

 

User Research

We conducted user research sessions online to evaluate what features our users would like to see and then continued to test with many of the same users to get their feedback throughout our development and design process as the project evolved. Our user testing sessions were so enlightening! We tested with people both in the development industry and outside of it, with a known interest in Irish language and no prior experience. Each user had a slightly different take on the project and provided with great constructive criticism. More on user testing below in the prototyping section.

 

Personas

We developed three personas based on our user research and developed of use cases to suit the needs of our personas.

Data Model and Use Cases

We developed use cases based on our personas, and then in turn created a data model based on these use cases to plan our functionality and corresponding assets.

Click arrows to browse or click the image for a closer look.

Fail Fast Fail Hard

One of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of working on this project was learning the true meaning of the Agile Mantra, "Fail Fast, Fail Often." Neither Sinéad and I had worked on a design/development project of this magnitude before and we realized quickly that the most important quality for us to maintain as a team was truly user-centred design. Several times we had to go back to the drawing board, when we received feedback from users that something wasn't working, whether is was our branding scheme or making the giant leap from coding in Lua for the Corona Game Engine to Javascript, Phonegap, and PHP to allow for more user interaction. Switching coding languages was somewhat daunting at first, but quickly paid off when we could see a positive difference in our user testing! It was a huge help to use agile project management throughout the project Sinéad and I each had our deep dives (I focused on UX, visual design, and front end, while Sinéad focused on UX, backend and databases), but we worked collaboratively a lot, helping each other solve bugs, run ideas by each other, and ultimately each of us signed off on every decision made and made the user experience our priority.

Prototyping and User Testing

We used Invision App, XCode, Flinto, and paper prototyping for user testing sessions with assets create in Illustrator.

Get an idea of the evolution of the app through wireframing and prototyping in these photos from of user testing sessions. A lot of changes made over time!

Development

The development of Fáinne was a challenge, but we learned so much through the process. We became familiar with the Phonegap framework, created an SQL database to stored data server side, learned PHP to write scripts to connect the app to the server, and used Javascript, HTML, and CSS to create a dynamic user interface.

 

Technologies

We packaged the app for iPhone using the Adobe Phonegap framework. We used primarily javascript to code the app, but used HTML and CSS to customize our front end and implement UI assets, and PHP to communicate with our SQL database. We used trello to track our task based on sprints.

 

ScreenShots of Fáinne Beta

Below are screenshots from our beta build on the iPhone 6. We are still working on tweaking our build to best represents the visual assets and digital media we have created, so stay tuned for updates.

Click through to see an array of screens and hover on each image for comments.