How might we redesign the Sunshine app to increase user engagement and emphasize the app's community aspect?
Our goal was to understand the current user experience through usability tests in order to identify opportunities that would make the app more intuitive and engaging.
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 were able to see firsthand how users interact with the product, identify pain points within the flow, and opportunities for improvement.
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 data 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 the end user.
The major pain point that came up during 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 reviewing and validating them with our client, we created mid-fidelity prototypes. We tested our mid-fidelity prototypes with people to identify pain points and refined the design iteratively to achieve a final design that is 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.