Grumble is a social, location-based, mobile application that allows commuters to vent frustration related to their commuting experience, commiserate with their peers and have a laugh while they’re at it.
This project is the result of a 9-week studio project course Interaction Design Studio with John Zimmerman. The goal was to design a mobile application interface for commuters. The design team focused on commuters sharing, seeking, and retrieving information in support of their commute. The space offered opportunities for overlap between entertainment, information sharing and retrieval.
See full project description here.
An iterative design process was followed comprising 5 stages: User research, persona and scenario development, wireframing, designing UIs, and animating. In each phase, class critiques provided feedback on ideation and design.
1. User Research
Semi-structured interviews and directed storytelling were conducted with 7 users. Users were interviewed at coffee shops, bus stops or their homes. 6 participants 20-30 years old and worked various jobs such as software engineer, nurse, and students.
Research found that commuters wanted to feel in control, found it hard to keep track of time while getting ready to commute, found it hard to determine whether the bus was late or had left already, and were frustrated to see packed buses skip them.
Commuters had a range of complaints about the bus system. Background research on Pittsburgh’s Port Authority revealed that it was suffering financial debt, and proposed to cut 35% of bus routes. This made it challenging to design an app involving the bus system. Hence, the team decided to focus on helping commuters manage their frustration.
2. Persona and Scenario Development
Through value diagrams involving key stakeholders and feedback from class, the team decided to provide an avenue for commuters to vent and manage their frustration. Personas that embodied people with this need, and scenarios that motivated usage were created. Personas were crafted to appear sympathetic to the development team creating the service.
In this phase, we outlined the key functionality and preliminary navigation for the app. We also rapidly brainstormed and sketched out our design ideas on paper.
We then created low fidelity paper-based wireframes affording the scenarios of use. We ran 4 think-aloud usability tests using these wireframes. Users found the app amusing and several usability enhancements were uncovered. These included desires for missing features, confusion over existing ones and UI elements that could be made more intuitive.
4. Designing UIs
We created the first iterations of higher fidelity versions of our wireframes using Illustrator. Feedback from think-aloud studies was used to revise navigation flow and amend features. While creating the design language, the team tried to draw analogies between rants and rotten tomatoes with a prominent red aesthetic. However, it felt intense and the team chose to go with an orange aesthetic that suggested playfulness and drew similarity with traffic cones.
5. Refining and Animating
After receiving feedback from critiques, we decided to make dramatic alterations to our design language. Most of the feedback indicated that the text size needed resizing, and the design language would be more effective by reflecting the bus stop environment. We created a moodboard to reflect anger, frustration, and yet a feeling of playfulness to reflect our goals for the app, and ended up choosing a grungy metallic graffiti aesthetic. We created animations using Keynote to demonstrate functionality for selected scenarios on selected screens, as well as show transitions between screens.
Feedback from mockup pitch was evaluated and used to create the final pitch presentation, process documentation, and design specification.
Next Steps: Grumble Louder
People feel better about themselves by looking at others’ miseries. Grumble hopes to become addictive by leveraging people’s desires to feel good about themselves. By allowing them to post, comment and ‘like’ rants, Grumble keeps commuters entertained. As public transportation problems are widespread, Grumble can be scaled up to major cities such as Los Angeles, and accommodate for other means of transportation such as subways and trams.
It can be monetized by building relationships with cab companies and offering discounts on cab rides. It can also be monetized by building relationships with local consumer businesses that are located at bus stops e.g. Starbucks could encourage people to drop by for a quick cappuccino while they wait for the next bus.