A UX case study on how I designed the Film Photography Companion
This is my final project as a IronHack UX/UI Design student.
The aim of this project is to help photography enthusiasts make their first step from digital to analogue photography.
All the decisions made to accomplish the project are based on user research.
I decided to choose this subject to solve a direct issue I have.
I’ve been passionate about analogue photography since 2010 and I’ve had the opportunity to develop my films at the home of a friend, it was a great experience and a way to enjoy the process more.
I still have great memories about these times and I participated in the Lab Box kickstarter to get the tank for developing at home and support the ideas.
From the moment that photography became a widely loved medium, I decided to work on it and create something for the photographic community.
Develop a project based on a subject that we love or we are curious about.
Time: two weeks.
Understanding the user’s need
As a passionate photographer I have some knowledge about photography equipment and developing techniques, but I didn’t want to create an app based only on my own knowledge and experiences, as during the design process biases are the most dangerous enemy; stay away from them.
To solve this problem I created a survey to share in different Facebook groups, Twitter pages and I tried for the first time to use Instagram stories to reach a wider audience (and I discovered that users can only insert links into the stories when they reach a certain number of followers)
Discovering a lack of knowledge about analogue photography techniques.
68% of the results I got from the survey (52 answers) and interviews (10 people) showed that people do not develop their film at home because they think that a darkroom is mandatory.
Most of them were mixed up the printing process and the developing process.
Learning about this was very interesting and drove my initial idea to a different point, a wider learning experience.
Defining the User
Based on my research, I created my persona Ivan.
Ivan is a photography enthusiast. He usually shoots with a digital camera, but his interest in photography is very high and has driven him to try analogue photography.
Ivan is a very curious person, with a basic knowledge of photography, but he has no knowledge about analogue cameras, films and processes;
in addition he doesn’t have any tools at home for developing the film.
After creating the persona I came up with the problem to solve!
As a photography enthusiast I need a tool to learn how to develop my films because I can save time, money and control the process.
Competitors, not a lot
I found some apps on the iOS and Google Play store, but most of them are focused only on the timer/developing part of the process, or they serve as a photographic memo. All these apps lack a section where the user can learn how to do things.
Development and design process
I started my design process thinking about the page content, the flow and the architecture of the app.
As I wrote in my problem statement, the most important point I want to take care of is the learning path.
I positioned on the home page the elements with a hierarchical order, in order to offer a path from “zero to hero” and keeping the user flow very easy with a low number of steps to reach the main content.
Once the content and the architecture of my app was ready, it was time to give them a look.
Skeuomorphism is widely used in photography, because it gives a vintage or precious look, although now it is less in vogue in favour of the flat design style.
The idea I had in mind for the style of my app wasn’t either flat or a skeuomorphic design.
On the contrary, I really appreciate the editorial design of some magazines I read sometimes and decided to follow this style.
Moodboard (The New Yorker — Cereal — Drift — Kinfolk -some color palette and the FrankRuhlLibre font)
After different sessions of crazy 8 fast sketches I finally managed to visualise how to show content inside each screen and I started drawing a medium fidelity paper prototype.
Instead of creating the prototype on paper with the shape of the phone and testing it with users as I had done in the past, I decided to use Marvel and digitalise the paper prototype, because it was more handy to manage and a bit more natural to try for the users.
I tested it 10 times and I received interesting feedback and on the image below you can see the evolution of the filter page.
At the beginning there was a popup menu with only film type. But some users asked me about the option to filter more, and maybe have some photographic techniques; so I added more film types and two photography techniques. As a result, however, the screen was not so well organised which is why I added the separator line with the name of the section.
An interesting request asked from the users was a fast way to deselect all the options with a single tap. So I added a “deselect all” on the top of the filters that appears only after selecting at least one.
Another interesting iteration I had was the naming convention I used on the home page to define the categories of the app.
I used the word CHART, found in other different photography apps, but all the users got confused with it and asked me the meaning of it.
After consulting the dictionary and talking with a friend who is a native English speaker, I found that the best word to use was GUIDE.
And the last section LET’S DEVELOP was also not clear and I swapped it for DARKROOM which gave more idea of its content.
Roadmap for the next few months
In the next few months I would like to add a camera scanner, so that in the event you want to know more about a film, you don’t need to search the app, but can just scan the box and get all the information you need.
An interactive learning platform, that allows the user to receive badges and unlock new lessons.
A map of film shops, so when you are abroad and you need to buy some film you can search on the map and find some shops close by.
The last and tricky part will be to create a small online store or to link my app to an existing online store for film photography equipment.
This project was judged by a jury of designers who came from different companies and I think it is interesting to put their feedback.
- Well done, you look very passionate about the topic
- Incredible amount of information in the tool
- Gamification and processes great
- Have you thought about the idea of create kits? From less to most advanced users? It looks for people that already know what they are doing
- What other personas could be involved (shops)? They could also be creating content for you
- Great animation as a promotional tool
- Inside the research for the insights, try to make more of a bold statement
- Research findings could be more driven forward
- Paper prototype, testing and iterations great
- Scenario before prototype: thank you
- Good thinking on having the different filter options. Comparison feature very clever
- More contextual copy for understanding. How do you educate users to make them understand you don’t have to be a pro?
- Great learnings
- Persona: could have motivations to understand why they would come to your platform
This was the 9th project in only 9 weeks of bootcamp, and yet there are always a lot of lessons to learn!
Here are only a few:
Lean Survey Canvas is always a must for me to setup the design process and organise survey and interviews.
Paper Prototyping can be very time consuming if you want to craft it in a lot of detail, but it can give you really great iterations.
Testing is very important to understand what the users see through your app and how you can improve it, the more you test the better results you can get.
MoSCoW techniques for prioritising the features to develop inside the MVP are a great time saver that I used for the first time in this project and I will continue to use a in the future ones.
Bias & Personal Experience as I wrote at the beginning, are the worst enemy to keep away during the entire design process.