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 help bolster the social component of the app by designing intuitive and engaging features.
We began by conducting interviews with people about their experience with using weather apps and usability tests of the Sunshine app. We interviewed a total of 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 were confused by the purpose of having users file anonymous weather reports. Community weather reporting was a new concept for users and it was 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.
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. After refining the sketches based on feedback from our client and user testing, we created mid-fidelity prototypes. Afterwards, we user tested them to identify pain points and refined the design iteratively to achieve a final design that was clean and intuitive.
Below are some screens of the onboarding flow and voting feature that was 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, and how new features will connect to the existing interface and features.
One major 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 have a social networking aspect involved, so it was difficult to identify other design opportunities that would make the app more engaging. Another obstacle was communication in the design handoff, as we did not document our design decisions to ensure that the developers would understand the changes we were proposing.
If there was more time, I would work on incorporating interaction design to make the app more delightful and redesigning the main screen to help drive traffic to all the features of the app.