SerendipiCity mobile app

An app to help tourists discover a city by browsing photos taken near their current location (self-initiated project, 2010)

Research

The impulse to initiate this project was some research I did for a journalist on the subject of Mobile City Guides.

Insight

There is an opportunity to create a geolocalised app whereby users access localised user-generated content as a way to discover hidden, unmediated aspects of a city. Photos are an ideal social object to do this.

User scenario, proto persona

As an exercise, I created a persona and devised a user scenario to check wether the concept had potential

Prototype and user testing

I built a working prototype using Flash Lite, and set about to test it with users. It was not so much the usability of the user interface which worried me, but the desireability, my worry was creating an app that no one would want. People were rather positive when using the prototype and said they would pay for it, so I decided to carry on.

Launch of commercial version

Conclusion

Because this is a personal research project, it has been hard to get useful user feedback or conduct user testing. User testing is great for revealing usability problems but is less suited to measuring desireability of a product. Some issues were identified and an improved version was launched. Eventually the effort to keep the app up-to-date for the different iOS versions was too much for a pet project, so it was discontinued. In any case working and thinking about this pet project has helped me with client projects. It is a way for me to explore potential uses of location-based services and how to enable serendipity in software systems, the subject of a talk I gave at UX Lx 2011 and an article on Johnny Holland magazine.