The City of Seattle maintains a huge database of information that includes current and archival crime and emergency statistics, parks and recreation info, logistical and operational data, and hundreds of other topics. The project required creating an application that would incorporate live data from any topic covered in the city’s database. My team searched through the available data and decided to create an app based on the large number of lost pets found and placed in shelters throughout the city. The objective was to help people locate their missing pets via their smartphone.
Client: City of Seattle
Challenge: Use any data from the seattle.gov API to design and build a working mobile app from scratch in a 24-hour sprint.
Team: Designers/Researchers: Myself, Diana Artalejo, Jilian Ryan; Developers: Matt Duffin, Severin Rudie, Mike Kang.
My Role: UX Designer, researcher, assisting with proto-persona development, storyboards & sketches, wireframing, visual design, testing.
Given the nature of a 24-hour sprint, our research consisted mostly of digging through the seattle.gov data for relevant information, then searching for existing comparable apps and doing a quick competitive analysis. Then we sat down and brainstormed some ideas on various features and directions; as we are all pet owners, we already had a little bit of insight into what users might want. In addition, we threw together a short interview script and called a few people we knew.
Armed with information gathered from this effort, we began to whiteboard a rough userflow and finessed it into a simple architecture for our MVP. And yes, we surrounded ourselves with images of pets.
Our sitemap consisted of one main taskflow (Lost/Found Pet). We wanted to add a social aspect and some informational content to give users a reason to download (and keep) even if they weren’t missing a pet, so we added two smaller sections (Profile and Tips). A user would register their pet’s info in the 'Profile' section, and then if they ever lost their pet, all the info would be in the database and they could just hit the 'Help Find Me!' button.
Armed with all the information gathered thus far, and our own ideas about the app, we sat down for a quick brainstorming session that turned into a series of five-minute charettes. We iterated on the best of the sketches until we were satisfied with the flow and the overall feel.
I then took the final aggregated roughs into Sketch, and built hi-fi wireframes while the dev team worked on accessing the API, which had proven to be a difficult task. There were evidently some issues with getting the data, and it was 3am and many Red Bulls before they had a breakthrough and got it working.
While my brilliant dev team was occupied with trying to get the API gremlins to cooperate, I was able to polish up and perfect all the wireframes, annotations, styleguide, and bits and pieces that would be needed for the entire app, so once they were finally able to connect, the rest of the project came together at lightspeed.
Hit the play button to check out the demo!
We had the following day to complete a working app and put together a presentation. By mid-afternoon, it was time to present to the judges, who were visiting from several local tech firms. There were six projects from six teams, and for all of us, this was our first Hackathon. And I am proud to say that my team won the day.
We learned a great deal about ourselves and what we could achieve in a 24-hour sprint, in addition to real-world utilization of the tools we had acquired in our many weeks of intense study. It was a lot of work, no sleep, and an absolute blast. I feel privileged to have worked with such a stellar team, and I made some lifelong friends and colleagues that night. It was, as mentioned, my first Hackathon, but it definitely won’t be my last. As for the app, we are as a group considering taking it to the next level and, after some user testing, feedback, and subsequent refinements, presenting it to the City of Seattle to gauge their interest.