Retrospective: Weather Wear — My First Crack at Designing a Mobile App

Credit: Chris Ford

I just finished my first week at General Assembly in New York City as well as my first UX project (yay!). It was a great opening project to get me and my classmates acclimated to the basics of user research, synthesizing data, prototyping, and usability testing. Basically, we were given floaties and were thrown in the kiddy pool. I’m looking forward to diving off the deep end by the end of the course. If you have a couple minutes to spare, I would appreciate any feedback, I’m here to learn!

A Quick Overview

The goal was to design a weather app based on a problem I wanted to solve. It was a solo project, and my role was to gather research through user interviews, then synthesize the data (find meaning), sketch the design (be prepared to see some amateur stick figure drawing ahead), prototype and conduct usability tests. This project took a week to complete.

Behold…The Research Process

The Competition

From left to right: Native iOS, Sunshine, The Weather Channel, AccuWeather

I first downloaded a few weather apps to get a feel for how they displayed information, and what features they included. I returned to these apps throughout the research process as I gathered more information from my users.

User Interviews

My fantastic user giving me profound insights! (Yes, I’m left-handed)

I’ll be honest, I initially went into this project without a problem to solve. I wasn’t sure what problem users would have with the weather apps they currently use. The first day of class, we were introduced to user interviews. So, the first thing I did was compile a bunch of questions to ask my users in hopes that it would reveal a problem I could solve for them. It did!

Here are a few of the questions I asked my users (4 interviews total):

  • What do you use to check the weather? Can you show me?
  • Why do you check the weather?
  • When do you check the weather and how often?
  • Do you plan what you wear around the weather forecast? If not, why?
  • When you check the weather, what do you look for specifically? (temp, hourly, 5 day, etc.)

Insights from my Awesome Users

Here are a few of the insights I found from the user interviews that helped mold my problem statement.

“The weather is unpredictable here.”
“I don’t have a good sense of temperature.”
“I plan my outfits around the weather.”
“I hate getting rained on.”
“I don’t trust beyond the daily forecast.”

I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know my users better. This was my first time interviewing people, too.

Looking for Trends Among my Users

Affinity Mappings of trends I spotted

After I finished my user interviews, I went to the drawing board to begin synthesizing my data. I created Affinity Mappings, which are just a bunch of post-it notes of user insights grouped together to spot any common trends(each color post-it note represents a different user I interviewed). I discovered my users depend on the weather to figure out how to get dressed for the day. I had one user describe a situation she experienced here in New York City:

“One time I wore a suede jacket for the first time and I didn’t have an umbrella because I didn’t check the weather. It started raining as soon as I got in the subway. I was running late and had to walk for 10 minutes in the rain.”

We’ve all been there! I felt her pain. So, I directed my efforts into designing a weather app that would help solve that problem.

Well, Tell Me the Problem!

Credit: Dexter’s Laboratory

Here’s the problem:

People don’t always know how to dress for the day because they feel the weather can be unpredictable.

My users really expressed their frustration with the weather being unpredictable at times. Of course, it’s important to note that all of my users live in New York City. I probably would not have had the same problem with users from California, for example. Therefore, my target users for this app are those who live in cities with frequent weather change.

The Proposed Solution

An app that shows you what other people in your area are wearing.
My initial rough sketches for Weather Wear

I started to think of an app with the following key features:

  • Customization of an avatar for the user. The user would be able to choose what clothes they are wearing from a preset selection, and if they have an umbrella. They would then be able to share their outfit with other users of the app to see.

Why: My users said they love the visuals and simplicity of the weather apps they use (such as the animated sun or rain). I wanted to come up with a solution that would be fun and interactive for the user.

  • Shows you what other people nearby are wearing, and whether they have an umbrella or not. There would be a percentage shown on the home screen that might say “58% of users took an umbrella with them today.”

Why: All of my users said they plan what they wear around the weather, and shared apps with me that do something similar, such as Sunshine which gives you suggestions on what to wear for the day.

  • The hourly forecast.

Why: Unanimously, my users agreed that they love the hourly forecast. What does this mean in terms of my app? Well, if users are checking to see what other people are wearing for the current day, there’s no need for a 3-day or longer forecast. They are making their decision on what to wear based on the current day. I wanted to keep it simple.

Initial Prototype (AKA my first time sketching lo-fidelity wireframes!)

From left to right: Welcome screen, create account screen, create avatar screen, home screen
From left to right: Hourly forecast screen, previous outfits screen, see other people nearby screen

These are the first sketches I used for the prototype. A bit rough, but I wanted to test the concept and navigation with users immediately so I wouldn’t waste too much time making it look pretty. Additionally, the users were different from the ones I used for my interviews so there would be no initial knowledge already imparted on them. I imported these sketches into a testing app. I used POP for this purpose. This app is awesome, by the way!

During the first test of this prototype, this is the feedback I received from the users:

  • “What are you wearing?” seems confusing.
  • Does “Share” mean only on social media?
  • Knowledge of app could’ve been better.
  • Understood navigation.
  • Enjoyed the customization aspect.

It was a pleasure to watch how the users interacted with the prototype and see where they may have had issues, but I was especially delighted when I had one user become very interested in the app and was excited about it.

Iterations and Feedback

Highlighted in yellow the changes that were made based on feedback

These are the changes I made based on user feedback:

  • Changed “What are you wearing” to “What are you wearing now?”
  • Changed “Share” to “Submit.”
  • Added description on welcome screen.
  • Added more detail to this prototype version.

My stick figures look a little better in this iteration! This is the final prototype I presented for my project.

If you’re interested in seeing the prototype in action, click below!

Next Steps and Closing Thoughts

This was a great introduction to learning the UX process, and i’m both excited and curious to continue on this path.

If this project were to continue, I would definitely conduct another round of usability testing to further prove that this could be an app to solve the user’s problem. I am definitely going to work on my interviewing skills because I probably could have discovered more insights or details than I did. Additionally, I want to work on taking better notes and organizing a coherent structure next time.

Floaties may come off by the next project!

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