101PPT Mobile Version

101 PPT mobile version is software, which connects and syncs with the Windows version of the same name to allow teachers to remotely control their slideshows via their iPhone and or Android device. It’s very full featured software with login, remote control, viewing, downloading, editing, and includes basic classroom management tasks.

All these features tend to make for a great deal of complexity, which coupled with the fact that teachers have little time to learn new tools, and have many things competing for their attention, requires that we must design an app. that hides this complexity while still giving teachers the control that they desire. I was asked to do a complete redesign of the 101PPT mobile experience and given a deadline of less than 2 weeks to finish. After a number of meetings to clarify the requirements I refined the scope and set-out for a weekend of fun.

After the research is done or during, much of my design work is done while I run, then recorded immediately after with pencil and paper.

Generally I work with a team of people to accomplish assignments such as this, but with the scope and in the interest of time, I decided to be a UX Team of One and see what could be accomplished.

1) Current state analysis

Whenever possible I always start any project with research that will allow me to become as close as possible to a domain expert within the product space. It’s not always possible to spend a great deal of time, nor is it always required, but when I am asked to advise or work on a product I am unfamiliar with I find it very important. The activities might include literature reviews, user interviews, expert reviews, usability testing, and competitive analysis.

For 101PPT Mobile I did a complete literature review of current research (journals articles, videos, usability test results and etc.) focusing on a wide range of topics including ergonomics of how people use phones, how they present in front of a group of people, teachers and technology in the classroom, differences between Eastern and Western classroom management practices, how teachers teach, and usability test results of similar products. I also went down a rabbit hole when I came across some books on educational theory.

Next, was a quick competitive analysis of competing and/or similar products.

In my experience competitive analysis is often misused or misunderstood in China and Taiwan. It’s become an excuse to find apps. or UI to copy, without a deep understanding of what lead to their design decisions. I have seem teams spend a majority of their time surveying the work of others, instead of creating new work of their own.

In the past I have used this method to gain an understanding of the market and look for opportunities. Often it would also include usability testing. As I didn’t have time to do a proper analysis that could be shared with others I used this to inform myself about how others solved similar behavior problems and give myself more experience using all the software available in this space.

Emotionally the UI from Evernote’s presentation mode was my ideal, at least when compared to our highly complex UI on the right. Just looking at that might increase a users stress level.

Next up, was an expert review of the software in it’s current state.

There are as many ways to carry out an expert review as there are names (heuristic analysis, heuristic review, and Usability inspection etc. are others), in this case as I am becoming familiar with the software I attempt to carry out common tasks finding problems as I go, and follow with a screen by screen review. I primarily rely on Jacob Neilson’s 10 heuristic principles and a 4 point severity rating scale that I refreshed while at QNAP. Gerhardt-Powals’ cognitive engineering principles, and Shneiderman’s 8 golden rules of dialog design are good too.

The results of the expert review is below:

2) User Mental Spaces

Through classroom observation, non-leading unstructured interviews (see Indi Young’s book: Mental Models), and a fortuitous opportunity to participate in a focus group session, I was able to have a greater understanding of the needs of the users of the PPT 101 mobile.

I generally look for 6 representative users, with a spare in case something goes wrong. For this interviews I had to settle for 5 due to time constraints.

It was at this stage that I was able to make better decisions as to the direction the design should take.

My process is agile, with sketching and the recording of ideas taking place from the very beginning. These ideas are refined with each iteration as I learn more about the users another needs, the product, and the pain points that I find.

A construction of the teachers mental spaces or activities while having the possibility of using the mobile app was constructed after the interviews.

My redesign addressed the issues users had with the UI and interaction model, and lack of thought given to context of use. I addressed these issues by rearchitecting the app., reducing complexity and adding more intuitive ways of interacting with the UI.

My direction was far more task based and addressed the users needs for less distraction while they were engaged in classroom teaching. I proposed some novel approaches as well, including haptics and audio.

3) Sketches and wireframes

From initial pencil and paper sketches I then start creating detailed wireframes in Sketch.

In this case I had planned to further refine the UI with the help of an Interface Designer, but time and schedules didn’t work in my favor. The results of this effort were rolled into software development cycle to be launched in a later version.