I was fortunate to wok with Disney on the UX and IA of an iPad app for kids 4 - 8 years of age. Our studio, Worry Free Labs was responsible for delivering the UX and UI design for the project alongside 2 other firms: one developing the actual application, and the second designing and manufacturing a custom stylus for the application. As the Lead UX Strategist, I was placed in charge of managing the project and delivering a User Experience that was both suitable for a young, international audience, and met Disney's vigorous design standards. With a hard holiday retail deadline, multiple stakeholders, and a layered approval process, this project was a lesson in patience, compromise and execution.
Designing for this application was both fun and challenging. The fun part of the project was that we not only had the iPad's interaction capabilities to work with, but also a "smart" stylus that was equipped with an accelerometer. This offered a multitude of ways in which a user could interact with the system. The challenging aspect of the project was three-fold: 1.) we needed to ensure that any interactions with the system were easy enough for a child 4-6 years old to be able to understand, execute and repeat, 2.) that any capabilities derived from the use of the stylus was enhancing the user experience of the application enough to be worth its $50.00 price tag, and 3.) the user experience of the application without the stylus needed to to still be GREAT (Ok, so this last point is more of a given~ )
We began the project with a kick-off meeting to discuss the project's business, design and technology objectives and limitations. We talked about the business objectives that Disney and the stylus manufacturer hoped to achieve with this application and brainstormed ideas about how users would interact with the system and its content. This initial kickoff meeting set expectations and loose parameters for the applications interactions and experience.
Due to the EXTREMELY short timeline, I immediately began working with the developer to discuss details regarding the applications specifications, etc. As a part of this process I mapped out an "Application Flow" diagram detailing the various components and views of the application, and how they relate to one another. Each "Screen" of the system is represented by a node that includes all the information and action items required for that screen. Every Arrow, then naturally represents an interaction or transition point we will need to consider as a user navigates from one screen to the next. (For all you PMP's out there... this is an "Activity On Arrow Diagram," which works well in Interaction Design!) This becomes a nice integrated visual asset to use in discussions with developers and stakeholders to help verify project scope and expectations early on in the project. This worked well, but we were under a great deal of pressure by the stakeholders to "just start designing". As a result, the actual Information Architecture work iterated on in an agile manner from this base flow...
Once we agreeed on the general flow and story of the application, we started putting together wireframes and discussing a user's interaction with the system and how it was different for stylus users and non-stylus users. This is where we had to start making some tough decisions around what content and capabilities to include within the applicaiton for stylus owners, and what to include for non-stylus owners. Of course, the business folks wanted to segment these as much as possible to drive product and content sales, while the design team wanted to create something more seamless and unified across all mediums.
After a few tough discussions/negotations, and a consensus on how to handle these two types of users we were able to commence the visual design exploration, collection of assets, and development. Throughout the course of the project, UX was continually discussed and refined on an ongoing basis, and continues to this day as we collect user feedback. I always tell our clients, that UX is not a "Phase" of development or design, it is an ongoing process that should be managed as part of the product's lifecycle.
For this project, I consulted in the form of verbal, written and visual feedback. I was responsible for defining user interactions with the app for both the application's UI and with the manufactured stylus through detailed and annotated wireframes. Visual designs were executed by Worry Free Lab's incredible visual design team, which included Chris Mayers and Drew Liverman.
Disney Creativity StudioUser Experience