How might we redesign the Sunshine app to increase user engagement and emphasize the app's community aspect?
Sunshine differentiates itself from other weather apps by utilizing barometer sensor data from phones and crowdsourcing for more accurate weather data. Our goal was to bolster the social component of the app and increase user engagement.
We began by conducting interviews with 12 female students — 4 in high school and 8 in college, as 80% of the app's user base were teens and college-aged girls. Through usability testing, we gained insights on what people thought about Sunshine and how it compares to other weather apps.
From our interviews, we had similar findings among each of the three different age groups: high school, lowerclassmen college, and upperclassmen college students. We organized the insights from our interviews to create three primary personas that embodied the needs and goals of Sunshine's typical users. Below are the personas we developed, which we regularly referred to during the ideation process to ensure we were consistently targeting the needs of users.
A major pain point that we discovered through usability testing was that the app’s onboarding flow was confusing. The onboarding only included how to use the weather reporting feature, but users did not understand the concept of community weather reporting. Consequently, this confusion made it difficult for people to trust the app to report the weather accurately.
With this insight in mind, we redesigned the onboarding experience by designing screens that clearly and concisely explained how the weather reports are generated in a reliable manner. The app’s weather reports does not only rely on user-generated reports, but also pulls data from the weather-sensitive barometer sensors on the phones of users to validate the reports.
We also brainstormed opportunities to increase user engagement within the app and ultimately narrowed down to the following two features:
A voting feature on the user's feed, where users can vote for a "Best of the Day" status posted by others. This would help foster a greater sense of community and allow users to engage with the status posts.
A themes feature to motivate users to contribute to the weather reporting feature. User will be rewarded points from completing different tasks — reporting the weather, inviting their friends to the app, etc. With these points, users would be able to unlock new themes to personalize the app.
We first started by creating sketches of the basic elements that each feature would include. Afterwards, we created wireframes based on feedback from our client. We then user tested them with Berkeley students to identify issues with the usability and refined the design iteratively to achieve a final design that was simple and intuitive.
Below are some screens of the onboarding flow and voting feature that were implemented by Sunshine's developers.
This was my first-ever design project, so I learned an immense amount about the value of identifying the key pain points that users have with a product before coming up with ideas. I also realized the importance of considering the entire flow of the user experience to ensure that new features can smoothly integrate with the existing app.
The biggest challenge of this project was deciding what features of the app to focus on. During research, we discovered that people did not care for a weather app to include a social networking aspect, which was the key differentiator for Sunshine. This made it difficult to identify design opportunities that would make the app engaging for current and new users.
If there was more time, I would incorporate animations in the app to add more delight and personality. I would also redesign the main screen to help users more easily navigate to all of the features in the app.