Ernest Szymula

“Visit Japan!” App

Case Study
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Branding | UI Design | UX Design | Icon Design |

Illustration | Research

The Vision

I decided to test myself with something new, because I have never created an app prototype. I wanted to raise my awareness of how an app works, how users would interact and learn about the navigation requirements. I chose to make an app showcasing popular locations in Japan because it is a beautiful country hence illustrations would be a must, choosing a travel app allows me to make many particles such as text, illustrations, navigation and more thus helping me develop more than one skill.

Research and Discovery

Before starting any research, I decided to recognise important factors which included finding the purpose, looking at the target audience and screens that would lead to the users’ end-goal. By doing so I found that my target market would be travellers and people living in Japan or looking to find out more about it, I found that the purpose of this app is to teach people about the selected locations and I found that I will have to create a loading page which could lead to a gallery of locations and then the pages specific to the attraction. After researching several apps I found that having as little transition screens is very important to increase user satisfaction, I found that having back buttons on the top left is the most noticeable location and also that having illustrations alongside text will increase interest and understanding of these locations. When completing my research I looked at applications which were illustration based, client based and travel based. By looking at a variety of applications I noticed the different trends in length and objective within those apps.

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I decided to start thinking about methods I could use and what I will need to do to ensure a more simplistic appeal to my app. To do this I began with some sketches of possible website layouts, and I realised that I was trying to create a much too complex system which incorporated many elements such as maps, loads of locations, different destination types and more which made the wireframes feel very cluttered and unorganised. By having this many features, it would also be more difficult for users to navigate what they truly wanted to find and thus after feedback I realised I must stick to one core purpose for the app which I chose to be describing the history of four selected locations.

Planning and Designing Content

Through feedback I made the decision to create more app sketches to have a clearer vision of the application appeal, as it will now contain a more minimalist purpose and navigation. I looked at some applications which featured a more minimalist approach and created some more sketches which brought together all the best elements from the different sketches to form the final application. By having these sketches I was easily able to determine how navigation from one element onto another would occur and where content would be organised. I then began selecting illustrations I would make based on real-world locations, and this was important because the selection of locations also dictated the content. This step let to writting out all content for the application and creating illustrations which I done after completing some master-apprentice exercises. I decided to do some master-apprentice exercises so that I was more aware of different styles used within Japanese illustrations and was more aware of the process for creating my own illsutrations.

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Having all content set out and illustrations created, I was able to easily create wireframes which represented what the potential end-product would look like. With regards to my final sketches, the high resolution markup looked almost identical with the main difference being the selected font and location names being given in the main navigation page.

Problems I Encountered

The first problem that I knew I would have to tackle was that this project was my first time making real-life illustrations based on the real world and thus master-apprentice exercises would be of high importance to re-create my selected locations accurately. Another problem was that I bought nre software which I have never used before and thus I had to get familiar with it and all its tools. When creating app sketches I realised that I would need to conduct some research into app trends and navigation because as a computer user I felt like I didnt have suffice knowledge on apps to complete this project. A huge issue which I had to tackle was the overload of information and tasks which I wanted to accomplish, mainly because instead of making it an app in which users could select locations I also wanted the app to have map features, reviews, images, user information and more which simply meant the app lost its core purpose making it more difficult for users to find what they are truly looking for. Because of this I realised that it is important to identify a main purpose that apps should succeed in because even though it would otherwise have more visits and users, the app itself will be less useful for the actual target audience thus attracting less specific users.

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The main takeaway from this project is that I should practice some more illustrating as I found this a very fun exercise that was worth all the effort I had put into it. If I were to make another app prototype, I would definitely change how the back button looks to make it more suited and personal to the app. I would also change the font to something more easily readable and also I would change how the main page looks because it feels lacking in terms of presentation. Here is my entire process of creation!

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