JENA MCWHIRTER

Jena McWhirter

MOBILE VERSION UNDER CONSTRUCTION.
PLEASE VIEW ON DESKTOP BROWSER.

Dark Sky Redesign

Winter 2020 — app design
TASK

Improve the user interface and experience for an existing weather app. Highlight opportunities to enhance the app within a competitive market.

DESIGN RESPONSE

A redesign that focuses on easily interpretable data, customized notifications, and clear visual language and hierarchy.

CONTEXT

— 3 weeks
— Individual Project
— Interface Design Class

HEURISTIC ANALYSIS OF ORIGINAL INTERFACE

To begin the redesign process I downloaded Dark Sky and performed a heuristic analysis on the current interface. After performing a 10 step heuristic review of Dark Sky's current interface, I decided to focus on three areas that showed the most room for improvement

RECOGNITION RATHER THAN RECALL

Standard: Minimize user's memory load.

Analysis: The many different forms of data visualization require a a high amount of cognitive effort and lack consistency across the screens.

USER CONTROL AND FREEDOM

Standard: People should be able to navigate freely, make and act upon choices, and have the option to redo and undo actions.

Analysis: Toggle bars allow for quick changes in state but further user freedom could be implemented. Users do not have control over what data is shown, the hierarchy, or how it applies to the information they want to know.

AESTHETIC AND MINIMALISTIC DESIGN

Standard: Only show what is absolutely necessary to communicate information clearly.

Analysis: Each screen has large amounts of information competing with one another. Visual hierarchy is present, but not immediately recognizable. Notification settings are mostly text based which add to screen clutter and cognitive load.

Competitor Analysis

Next, I reviewed other weather apps in order to achieve two important tasks for my redesign:

1. Identify opportunities for Dark Sky to thrive in a competitive market.
2. Understand the overarching user goals across weather apps in general.

HELLO WEATHER APP

Hello Weather utilized a more minimalistic design with a clear color palette. Their use of icons provided immediate recognition of weather forecast, although my understanding was slightly muddled by the nearby colors. Similar to Dark Sky, the visual hierarchy could be improved as well as the reduction of unnecessary information.

WUNDERGROUND APP

Wunderground focused on hyper local weather data, but their charts and graphs were not immediately interpretable. There was no clear color palette and a lot of information felt lost in the background.

USER GOALS AND TASK FLOWS

Next, I brainstormed overarching user goals and outlined potential directions for my redesign through two design proposals.

CRITIQUE

During class critique I gained valuable insight on the direction of both proposals. I moved forward with Proposal 1: Customized Notifications because it aligned with the current goals of Dark Sky users while simultaneously showing potential for an improved and bespoke experience.

PROPOSAL 1: Customized Notifications

My peers were excited about the idea for tailoring weather notifications to their specific needs. They acknowledged that this feature would be a good improvement without straying too far from the original purpose of Dark Sky.

PROPOSAL 2: Hyperlocal Interaction

My peers felt this idea would be extremely useful in situations involving extreme or unsafe weather. The liked the idea of the social interaction, but expressed concern over what would happen when "nothing interesting was happening with the weather".



INITIAL IDEATION

Next, I began ideating various styles and routes for the customized notification feature. I maintained the original app's dark theme interface, while exploring new color palettes to create amore energetic atmosphere and to invite user interaction.

It was important to consider the best possible way for users to change their "comfort zone". The slide bars needed to be conducive to touch interaction and allow for fine tuning of numbers (eg. changing 55 degrees to 57 degrees).

FINAL DESIGN

My redesign of Dark Sky focuses on providing clear weather data with minimal distraction. The original interface felt complicated. My redesign retains the quality of information, yet simplifies it for quick interpretation.

I added the "Comfort Zone" feature to allow users to self reflect on what weather conditions they are prepared for and to enable notifications when weather is predicted outside of their specified zone. Users can also choose which weather data is relevant to their needs.

VISUAL GUIDELINES

I carried Dark Sky's orignial dark theme and blue accent forward through my redesign. I changed the hue of blue to contrast more vibrantly with the black background. I also used a white stroke for weather icons to allow for easy recognition and less distraction.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

This project was a fantastic opportunity to progress my skills and design thinking while working within a preexisting product. I found the process of analyzing pain points and evaluating competitors to be a crucial stepping stone in improving the existing experience, while maintaining the original essence of the app.