Between 2015 and 2017 I worked as Senior UX Designer for ‘Picture Dots’, part of the ‘Noticing Tools’ suite of apps for the New York Hall of Science.
Picture Dots was conceived by a group of scientists led by Cornelia Brunner, of the USA's leading pedagogical experts. It encourages children to notice the world around them and categorise what they see through colour and sound in a playful way.
I worked on two phases of the project: as UX Designer on the 2015 prototype, designing sound effects, writing and directing English and Spanish voice over and supporting the creative director with icon and UI Design. For the 2017 refresh and release, I led the project as Senior UX Designer. I wrote initial user stories, created UI flows and interactive prototypes and completely redesigned the interface and icons, reporting to Marino's creative director and working closely with NYSCI and Marino Software's engineering and QA teams.
One of the most interesting challenges in this project was redesigning the ‘Notice and Play’ toolbar (see first image below) after the prototype testing revealed that our young users were getting confused by the 'edit' function. On a single screen, a pre-reader needs to be able to interact with dots and edit each of the four coloured dot's music note, sound effect and voice over.
The solution was to reduce clutter (I removed a rarely used ‘swap image’ button); make sure all buttons were on display at all times (I changed the music/sfx/voice buttons from a single toggle to three visible ‘keys’); and to take advantage of the bold dot colours by definitely linking the edit function to the dots with clear colour matching.
Before and after examples are below:
Part of my regular asset delivery process for all apps is creating a style/sticker sheet which lives on Sketch and is exported to Zeplin. The sticker sheet is distributed to engineers and QA, who all love being able to view and download all the assets from once place. The Sketch/Zeplin sticker sheet format takes advantage of Sketch symbols which makes updating/editing individual assets a breeze.
“Picture Dots” was one of my favourite apps to work on and has been hugely successful in user testing. The app has been exhibited at Maker Faire NYC, tested in schools around the USA and will be released in the App Store in August 2017, accompanied by storybook/learning guides.