Intoduction // Justification
Recoup was a project completed in college as part of a year-long Group IT module. In a group of four, we had to develop an app prototype. Our group decided to take it one step further and actually develop out the front-end. The app was centred around stress relief and breathing control. There was an animation on screen that users synchronised their breathing to and a system to log stressful periods to make note of patterns. Recoup was researched, designed and built by Susan O’Donovan, Katie O’Sullivan, Ian Watkins, and myself.
One of the reasons that this group work was so harmonious was that we were all on the same page from very early on in the project. Once we had established what the goals of the project were, we started doing basic sketches of the interface. Everyone had similar ideas of what the interface should look like – there was a focus on minimal interaction choices as the person using it might be very stressed or panicking.
After the low-fidelity mockups had been developed to a stage that we were all happy with, I started developing high-fidelity mockups in Photoshop and Illustrator and putting them up in our group Facebook page to get quick feedback and changes. This was really worthwhile and it helped that the group members all had an eye for visual design and impending UX issues with the mockups presented. These quick iterations on the high-fidelity mockups were really efficient and effective at coming up with a better design.
Once we had all signed off on the high-fidelity mockups, I started doing the front-end development. It was all just HTML, CSS and jQuery. At this time, I was not as competent with web languages as I am now – it was one of the most ambitious projects relative to my skill level that I had taken on that year. It was also the first time I had used HTML’s local storage (which was used to save theme preference). The group ran really efficiently at this point as the other group members transferred to doing research and user-needs and passed it onto me in really readable chunks. It meant that when we came to discussions or new features, there was always a database of research to inform our decision. I implemented a “scrum” like system for this stage of the project, partially because I wanted to try it out and partially because I thought it would be beneficial to the efficiency of the project. It turned out to be really useful and I proceeded to use it in some capacity in other group projects moving forward.
We did some informal user testing with classmates and patient family members. This was the first time that I had user tested something that I had built, which was a new experience. I started to see how you can lose site of the UX when you are the one building it, which was a good lesson to have early in my career. We got a lot of valuable information out of the user testing, primarily that people weren’t understanding what the app did, which was primarily due to an issue with labelling.
We all did really well in the assignment and our going beyond the call of duty proved worthwhile. Part of our plan was to talk to professionals in the industry (councillors) and get some informal feedback on whether or not the app would be useful. The two we talked to both had really positive feedback and helpful advice for the project. The group worked really well together and I learned a lot about playing a specific role in a team. It was a really important project for developing confidence in web languages too.