Over the past month, our dev and graphics teams have been working in parallel to develop the first version of our forthcoming ideas app and platform.
Following more than 200 design iterations, we initially narrowed the graphic design of our app down to 4 contenders.
A triangular based design that draws you in to the idea in the middle.
“Jaggedy Robot Smile”
We made some robot designs early on. This was an effort to bring some of that feel into our current design. It didn’t work out so well.
This design proved very popular, and prompted a spirited thread on Facebook. Friends likened it to a ‘sunrise’, others wondered whether it appealed more to women (the data was inconclusive), others said it felt ‘free’, ‘natural’ and ‘smooth’.
A re-work of an earlier design that was very popular internally, we improved the ‘coin’ at the top and the colour scheme. This one also prompted chat on Facebook. One friend likened it to a bee hive. On Facebook at least, it got exactly the same votes as the Circles design above.
A month ago we had realized we needed a wider circle of input to our design process, beyond staff and friends. We were coming up with so many designs that we liked, that we needed some external opinion!
We went looking for a service where you could get feedback from real people on graphic designs. Amazingly we found not only the perfect service, but one that had many traits in common with our own.
Usability Hub lets you request people to vote on your designs. You can have up to 100 people vote on a preference between two designs, and there are other design related tests you can do too, like… what do people click on?
Here’s our admin and voting page on Usability Hub, showing 4 tests that we ran over the course of the past month.
Admin Page – Usability Hub
Voting Page – Usability Hub
Curiously (and somewhat bizarrely) Usability Hub has many striking similarities to our own service, in terms of how it gets people to vote on things. Results come in quickly, and you can earn credits by voting so you don’t have to pay if you’re an active voter. These are all features in our planned ideas voting app, and it made us realize we’re on the right track. Companies like Mixcloud, eBay and Zendesk all use Usability Hub.
We ran the test you can see in the image above, as our final test to determine which design to use. Amazingly, the result was a completely split vote. If we hadn’t seen it with our own eyes we wouldn’t have believed it, but (at the time of writing) it is 54 votes to 54.
This wasn’t exactly what we were hoping for in terms of giving us clear direction, particularly since our friends had been split on Facebook too, so we elected for an internal vote to decide things.
Here are some colour variations of the chosen Hexagon design…
We need to try more colour combinations.
Our graphics team’s next task is to take this design and try it out on other screens of the app and see how it might look on our website too. We elected to design the most used screen first -the voting screen – and then iterate out to the other screens after.
Our dev team can now begin implementing the Hexagon design on our ‘wireframe’ app, starting with the voting screen. Around half of the functionality for version 1 of the app is now complete, and we’ve built a web interface too.
There’s a great deal to be done still, but a really positive sign for us internally has been how staff are using it to regularly record and share their ideas, not because they work for us, but because they want to.
That’s a really GOOD sign