In January, three months into our 6-month Interaction Design Program, we began the Mobile App Design class with Thomas Girard. And what a great class that was…for so many reasons. Not only were we rested from first semester and ready to design anew, we were introduced to a true teacher in Thomas, who has recently been award with two emerging scholar awards and devotes his academic time to mentoring, challenging, and caring for his students. I had the good fortune of having taken a course with Thomas two years before, so I knew I would enjoy his class, yet I was still surprised by him and what we all accomplished in his class.
First week of creating with Thomas
To get our creative juices flowing and our ideas expanding, Thomas introduced his Blue Sky project; the beauty of which is that it doesn’t have to be doable. So off we went to start working on our app idea by using some of the tools we’d learned and some new ones Thomas taught us. Card-sorting and affinity-mapping are two techniques designers use to generate new links, innovative connections, and perhaps worthwhile ideas! The thing to keep in mind is that as the sky’s the limit you can go many ways…the trick is to push yourself out of your comfort zone and expand your ideas to a place you don’t know exists!!
My starting point was a journaling app idea I’ve been mulling over for a while that would create positive habits to empower, gain positivity, and build social networks. The idea started percolating about a year ago and has been at the back of my mind ever since. Here is the introduction of my What if? app idea, which I followed up by a second posting after having used and critiqued the journaling app Journey which I tried for a couple of weeks.
A push in a new direction
As I brainstormed about my ideas, stumbled, entered the “dead zone”, got frustrated trying to push myself into “new” territory regarding this app idea, Thomas’ looked over my mapping and words, and teased me with…
“I really like the idea about apps that do one thing”
My son and husband had just purchased Fitbits and so my first thought was a wearable. And as I began to think about how difficult it would be to journal on a wearable, my ideas started to morph. I began reflecting about the purpose of the journaling, the idea that by recording both positive and negative events or feelings, you could revisit these moments to potentially recreate the good ones and try not to revisit the less than positive ones. It is this prompting and recording and revisiting that might create a space to move forward in a constructive, more rewarding, and positive way.
My idea thus centred on: what could a wearable measure or monitor to gain access to our positive and negative feelings and emotions, similar to the Fitbit’s recording of heart rate and sleep patterns. I know cortisol is a stress hormone that rises and falls, yet I wanted to work on the positive end of the emotional spectrum…so measuring endorphins. According to Wikipedia, endorphins inhibit the transmission of pain signals and may also produce a feeling of euphoria. Endorphins are also related to higher self-esteem, good sleep cycles, and decreased stress and anxiety. If your endorphins were elevated you might want to revisit that situation/event/feeling that prompted their elevation and thereby create a positive feedback loop. That’s the thinking anyway!
Wordmark Designs for Habit
Finally I played around with designs for a possible logo or word mark for this 2-day project and came up with these options, using Thomas’ Helvetica font-based paradigm, which we also worked on that first week of class.
I hope you enjoyed this brief foray into the first mobile app design process that took many of our Blue Sky ideas to the next level with Thomas’ guidance, questioning, critiquing and feedback.