The use of a Steve Krug-like rapid iteration approach was highly successful. We would recommend that other short projects set up user panels in advance, as we benefitted immensely from the benefit of an existing pool of users. We would intentionally use that strategy in future. Had we relied solely on recruiting participants during the project, the approach used would not have been viable, and a more traditional “waterfall” model would have resulted. It was challenging to obtain participants during the project due to time pressures on the research associate to develop the app and transfer the content.
Similarly, the lessons about content management were many. While the previous content was available, it took many days work to get full access to both the content and a working knowledge of how it was produced. Time could have been used more fruitfully had this issue been fully addressed beforehand. Despite the reassurances of the technical staff supporting the existing Learnmore service, pressures on their time, and the distance in time between the present and the production of the original material did mean that this issue was more onerous than they anticipated. Some of these issues could have been reduced by the adoption of a more structured content development and preservation process, but in decentralised structures, this is easier to argue for than to achieve.
The adoption of paper and digital prototyping in the early stage – as is so often said in user-centred design processes – again proved invaluable for the development team in minimising the amount of rework and redesign of existing code. Despite our initial reservations about user engagement with prototypes in the content of touch-based interaction, our concerns proved unfounded. We would strongly argue for using this approach early in any future design cycles.
In terms of the app development, the key concern of consistency with the existing online resource proved to be a recurring problem. While we experimented with many presentations and interactions that were consistent with the desktop site, these proved ineffective in user studies, and so the final design retains a visual coherence with the original site, but adopts a very native (iOS) look-and-feel.