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dBike Tracker

App for tracking Dublin Bikes

Intoduction // Justification

Dublinbikes are a public bike rental scheme with stations around Dublin City Centre. Each station has a set number of spaces where bikes can be parked and rented. dBike tracker is an application that tracks the availability of bikes at stations around the city centre. The app was built for Android in 2017 by Aaron O’Hare and Rory Plunkett Boyle. Due to time constraints on the project, 5 major problems with the original interface were addressed

  1. Lack of Feedback - it just wasn’t clear to the user what was going on or if they were progressing with their goals
  2. Lack of Labelling - there was inconsistent (or no) labelling on crucial elements of the application
  3. Banner Blindness - Some of the most important parts of the app were in a spot that could lead to banner blindness
  4. Consistency - colours were used ineffectively and data was presented in an ambiguous way
  5. The Logo - This was less important to the UX but a logo symbolises the quality of an application (link), which this logo did not

Research

This was the first project that I used a focus group as a means of finding issues with the current UI. This proved really helpful; users (especially those with Dublin Bike experience) provided really valuable insight into how the app could better meet their needs. I tried to jump the gun on researching a bit on this project, which failed (as it always does) and just meant I had to start the process again to reach an end-product I was happy with, which I’m extremely glad I did.

Low Fidelity Mockups

Low fidelity mockups were sketched done in Adobe XD. My main focus was to limit the amount of steps needed to get to the app’s core functionality of finding and predicting availability, which meant designing different user flows and layouts. This meant a lot of wireframe prototypes that I could get people to quickly test to see if it made sense to them.

High Fidelity Mockups

This was only a redesign and not a full development of the new UI, so the remaining time was spent designing the high-fidelity mockups in Photoshop. This was the first time that I had designed an interface specifically for Android, so I had to learn the conventions and not use elements that could confuse users. I also did a new logo at this point.

Conclusion

The use of focus group was particularly effective in finding some more use cases and things that one designer would miss, such as the use-case where a user would want to park a bike. Researching the service from a user’s point of view was also very beneficial.

I had not designed specifically for Android devices before so I had to familiarise myself with standards and screen sizes on the platform before I started into the visual design process. I learnt a lot about process and how important it is; in the early iterations of this design I kept jumping the gun and trying to visually design before I had a solid idea of who it was for and what it needed to be. This resulted in a relatively late “throwing out” of what I had and restarting with a rigorous process of researching and rough iterations before moving onto higher-fidelity mockups. Although it made for a lot of work, I’m proud that I could realise the interface wasn’t where I wanted it to be and go back to the drawing board – that discipline is a good skill going forward. Lastly, I learnt a lot about working with someone else’s interface. This changes how you approach reviews; it teaches how to criticise fairly and objectively. The creators of this platform care a lot about it so I did my best to handle the redesign carefully. Working with Aaron was a pleasure, he was very open to new ideas and criticism.

You can email Aaron at aaron.ohare@outlook.com and Rory at bowbione@gmail.com

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