GoSketch

How might we help the users to look for sketching places so they will be more motivated and inspired to sketch outdoors?

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Research indicates that many Hong Kong people are feeling stressed today. We believe that outdoor sketching has a healing power. Through observing nature and the environments around us, we slow down, focus and reconnect with nature and our inner self.

I would like to create an app that helps people to look for places to sketch outdoor easily. Eventually, it may change the ways we think about the world we live in. 

RESPONSIBILITIES

User research and discovery
Competitor research
Persona and user flow 
Ideation and prototype
Testing
UI design
System design
Logo and identity design

The Problems

WHERE TO GO? HOW TO START? WHAT TO SKETCH???

People are interested to sketch outdoors but they are confused and overwhelmed at first - from choosing a place to sketch to preparing and then figuring out what/ how to sketch on location.

PROJECT GOALS

01   Help users to find inspiring places to sketch
02   Let users share their artworks
03   Let users participate and contribute their sketching places
04   Motivate users to sketch by seeing their improvement   
05   Tips to help new sketchers to get start on outdoor sketching

Understanding the Users

CONDUCTING USER INTERVIEWS

In order to better understand the needs, problems and motivations of the sketchers, I reached out to 3 people who practiced outdoor sketching regularly.

I conducted in-person interviews about these areas:

01 BEFORE THE TRIP
  • What to bring? Where to go? How to get there? Who is going?
  • How did you prepare for a sketching trip?
02 DURING SKETCHING
  • Frustrations/ difficulties/ satisfactions/ learnings derived from outdoor sketching?
03 AFTER THE TRIP
  • What did you do with the sketches after the trip?
Research plan

Research plan

Interview guide

Interview guide

ANALYSIS DATA WITH AFFINITY MAP 
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After the interview, I transferred my notes onto sticky notes. I arranged the stickies under categories based on the themes of my questions.

Key Insights from User Interviews

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01 THE "PLACE" IS AN IMPORTANT MOTIVATION 

Finding a special and meaningful place will inspire and motivate people to sketch outdoors.

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02 PLANNING THE TRIP CAN BE OVERWHELMING  

Things to consider before the trip: Weather? Water bottle? Food? Art supplies? Paper? Colours? Folding chair? Tripod? Umbrella? There are even more to consider if many people go.
People think that learning about the places in advance help to reduce anxiety. 

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03 FRUSTRATION DURING SKETCHING 

Common frustrations are: Do not know where to start; Sketches do not turn out as expected; Sticks to old drawing habit; afraid to experiment with new mediums

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04 WAY TO OVERCOME FRUSTRATION:SKETCHING AS A PROCESS

People who overcome tends to think of it as a relaxing pastime for well being and mindfulness. He/she can revisit the place and improve later. Therefore no ned to make it perfect at once. Rather, they think want to see their progress and improvement over time.

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05 OUTDOOR SKETCHING AS A MIX OFSOLITARY ABD SOCIAL EXPERIENCES

The act of sketching is solitary; However the desire to share and feedback on each other’s sketches is social. 
To them, sketching is not just making an image, it lets them experience culture, such as local food and interaction with local people.

Curating Personas

Based on the user research, 2 personas were developed. Personas helps me to focus on user needs and guide my design decisions.

01 CAROL _WEEKEND SKETCHER

Carol is the adventurous one who wants to find inspiring places to sketch. She wants to become better prepared before her sketching trip. Due to her busy schedule, she wants to spend less time searching for places. She also wants to find companions to sketch outdoor together. She likes to look at other's sketches and places they went to sketch. 

02 BOB- RETIRED ART ENTHUSIAST

Bob is retired already and wants to further develop his artistic talents. But due to mobility limitations, he needs to choose the sketching locations carefully. He wants to make sure that the places are easy to get to. He is also cautious about sharing on social media platforms.

 

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Carol - Weekend sketcher

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Bob - Retired art enthusiast

User Flows

I focused on the primary persona-Carol. Her main problem is finding interesting places to sketch. So I believed that by highlighting inspiring places and enabling the “Search" feature, we can motivate her to sketch outdoors.

USER FLOW 1

Browse an ideal place and save it to “Favourite" folder.

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USER FLOW 2

Search an ideal place by “Nearby Location” and save it to “Favourite" folder.

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USER FLOW 3

Browse "Saved" places, look at details and share with friends.

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Competitive Analysis

INSIGNTS FROM DIRECT COMPETITORS

01.  They don’t have very strong web presences. Some rely on Facebook Page for their websites. 

02  Opportunities- They emphasise on the art and community aspects, but do not offer much help on finding sketching locations and inspirations.

03.  Informations not well organized and hard to find

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Direct competitors

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Indirect competitors

So I I tried to look for indirect competitors for inspirations. I looked at hiking apps such as AllTrails and TrailWatch for ideas about browsing/searching for information, sharing users reviews and trip planning.  

The research reassured my intention to focus on helping people to “Find places for Sketching” in Hong Kong , this will differentiate us from other competitors. 

Paper Prototyping

I tried to quickly validate my design flows with paper prototype. I run the test with 3 users. Here are the tasks:

01  Use the sketching app to find a place you would like for outdoor sketching on a Sunday morning
02  After finding the place, you want to invite Mary to sketch with you

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FEEDBACKS
  • “I care more about the theme and what to draw, rather than the locations.”
    Users have different ways of looking for places. At first I assume users would mainly use keyword search; After the test, I found out I was wrong. Some users prefer to “Browse" instead of “Search"; Some want to be able to search places nearby ; Some want to discover districts she have never been to.

  • “I would like to upload my works and look at other’s works and reviews”
    User wants more user-generated content and participation


  • “I don’t need all these filters. Filter such as “weather" does not make sense”
    Filter design looks complicated and hard to choose

Iterate with Wireframe

I started wireframing in order to bring more clarity to the design flow. I made iterations based on the feedbacks received from the paper prototype. I showed them to the users again to get more feedbacks.

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SEARCH & FILTER 

Recognizing the need to let users “browse” for places, I introduce "dropdown" where users can make selections about the place. I also tried to minimise the importance of the search bar. 

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FEEDBACK

Major issues were found with the dropdown UI:

  • Usability issues -Users expect to see different menus when clicking on the dropdown fields. The prototype shows a filter page which does not really make sense. 
  • Conversational UI pattern hard to use - It requires too many steps. They have to first tap on the dropdown to open a menu of choices, then scroll and scan through the items to select one, and then close the menu to get back to the home page.
  • Confusion - Do I need to selects all three drop-downs before I search? What if she does not select any dropdown and click on the “search” button?

Iterate, Iterate, Iterate...

Feedback from the usability testing led to more iterations, usability fixing and interaction fine-tunings.

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Visual Design

I revised the prototype based on the user feedback meanwhile I started working on the visual design.

For colours, I kept them light and understated, so that users focused more on the artwork itself.

For typography, I picked Noto Serif for headers display because it looked more elegant and artistic; In contrast, I used Noto San for body text because of its legibility and simplicity. 

UI_system

Alongside the UI design, I start developing a design system. I created a Figma file documenting all elements to keep the designs as consistent and re-usable as possible.

Logo Design

The logo was inspired by the continuous line drawings made in quick sketches. I tried to re-apply this "one-line" drawing style to the website illustrations as well.

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Responsive Experience

WHY MOBILE FIRST?

Mobile first approach was taken, most of the users use mobile when searching for information about sketching places; However, some users also mentioned they used tablets and laptops in addition to mobile.

I ensure it works on other devices. A total of 3 breakpoints were designed in Figma.

GOSKETCH HOME PAGE
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"PLACE" DETAILED PAGE
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"ADD A PLACE" PAGE
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LISTING PAGE
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PROFILE PAGE
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ACCOUNT PAGE
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Learnings 

01 LEARNED TO EMPATHIZE 

This projects makes me reflect on what it takes to be empathetic. I think I am not a particularly empathetic person, I come from a graphic design background, and design can be very ego centric. I was trained to do works that wow. I think I am good at it and I learned a lot from doing branding, identities and advertising. It was a little discomforting for at the beginning, to take a non-judgemental mentality when doing user research and usability testing. I learn to hold the space for user’s perspectives regardless of what they said, either positive or negative. I had to tell myself I am here to learn and I am coming up with a design that works for others not for myself.

It is challenging but I enjoy the experience of being a researcher. It is not easy to open up a space and invite people to fill it with their thoughts, feelings, experiences and perspectives. It is a great art and skill, how to get the trust of another human being and invite them to share their experiences with you? Then during the interview, how to stay open minded and not controlling of what he/ she said? It is almost like a therapy. I am very surprised of what the participants shared with me. They opened up things that I don’t expect them to open up
  

02 NEXT STEPS

This project is very much like a hobby to me. After the first cycle of learning - designing - validating, I would like to pitch this project to potential partner to build the MVP. At the mean time, I will keep developing and testing the project.

There are still many ideas/ assumptions that I would like to try and test out . For instance, how to motivate sketchers to keep sketching and improving their skills in the long run?  How to engage the sketchers in outdoor sketching so it becomes a natural habbit to them? 

I think what I have here is just a start...

Selected Works

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