Today I continued working on Powerpoint. I have completed the other screens and will begin tomorrow with the "Official QOL" portion of the app. Looking at the different survey apps will help with this task as I think about a best way to organize this.
For the opening screen of the "official QOL" section, I am having a similar issue as I had for the home screen a week ago. I want the screen to both portray information about previous inputs and also make it easy for users to access the surveys to input new information. I have already drafted two screens attempting to accomplish this balance and I am sure, that just like the home screen, time will produce what I am looking for.
But really, sometimes I am just so surprised with the kind of work I am doing. I came today to continue producing screenshots on powerpoint, but first wanted to fix up Friday's home screen. When putting the screen together, I put little thought into what colors I should use. I decided that now would be a good time to sit down and choose a color scheme for the app. Unfortunately for me, matching colors was never a strength, so I did what one should always do when they're lost: Google It! The screenshot to the left is an app I ultimately downloaded that generates color schemes on demand. There were many applications and websites available to serve this function and now I just have to copy from the colors given to me. Add matching colors to the skills I picked up this summer!
And then I continued to put together screenshots. While these screens take much longer to make then working on Codiqa, I am just abut done with the non QOL screens. The goal is to be done by Thursday so I can review and perfect on Friday and after today I am in a good place for the week. I am becoming more efficient at using powerpoint tools from formatting pictures to setting up hyperlinking throughout the slideshow. Tomorrow I will finish the intervention screens and then begin QOL metric screens. These will be harder to complete as I will have to make more design decisions. I will also play with more survey apps on the iPad to see if and how the design changes depending on the platform being used. Using the Codiqa function of switching from an iPhone and iPad view will serve helpful with deciding how to change the app depending on the screensize.
Rendering of IBDPromise Homescreen
And there she is!
Using the new iOS images and powerpoint, I was able to get one step closer to the home screen that I want. Even as I write this, I can see places for improvement, but overall I am really happy that I was able to create something like this. This one screenshot took a few hours to create but as I worked, I became more efficient on utilizing different Microsoft Office tools to produce what I want. Now that I have a template screen completed, I will be able to work quicker on producing the remaining designs.
The next function to explore is how to link different parts of the screenshot to new slides (and keep the giant web of links that I am going to be creating organized). The Goal: by next friday I want to have the entire app outlined on a dynamic powerpoint file. I will use both my hand sketches as well as the condiqa outlay to guide me as I complete this.
One step closer!
I had a change of heart of what to work on today. Instead of exploring other app building tools, I am going to explore survey apps. A lot of what IBDPromise is about is data extraction. The purpose of building the app is to make it easy for patients to record their symptoms. I am hoping to come up with new ways to approach this goal by replicating apps that to collect data.
What I found as I started this search was really interesting. There are many free survey apps that pay you to fill out their ready made surveys. While I haven't found a gold mine (it's $0.05-$0.25 a survey) in just this research I racked up earnings of about $1.45!
My first finding is that all of these apps only ask one question per page. The surveys contained anywhere from 4-20 questions, and each had a different way for the user to proceed.
In the app on the left, the green bar on the top tracks how much of the survey has been completed. As I went through surveys on this app, I found submitting information to be simple and straightforward. After selecting my answer, I could always look to the top right corner to get to the next question while the green bar gave me an idea of how much more I had to go. In the app "datafield" I created my own survey to investigate the different types of data entry that are available. The sliding scale that is shown has a bubble that explains what each position represents. I was hoping to use a similar feature for our app when asking the SIBDQ. For this app, there was no progress bar and I think that makes it more difficult to use. The last screenshot is a third app that includes a percent completion in its "progress bar." I liked this design the best as it produces the feeling of a "location," which is an important notion in design.
While the app datafield did not have a progress bar, there were a lot of other great features we can replicate. This app used visual aid to make the questions and answers more clear. This addition makes inputting information easier, making the process go faster (as it takes less effort on my part) and in turn will make me more likely to complete the survey. I is important to pick up on tools like these because the success in IBDPromise depends on minimal user effort when putting in information.
Sorry for the stream of conscious but there is one last point I want to highlight. All of these apps showed consistency. The layout of each page was the same and there was therefore no need to re-orient once moving through the app. I have been playing with a lot of different designs for IBDPromise and I will have to settle on one template design for all the questions that will exits continuously throughout the app.
A screenshot from IBDPromise app
AND IT'S DONE!
At least until tomorrow... Linking the last "back button" to the correct screen made me feel light like a feather. The wireframe of IBDPromise has taken form and my reward was jumping around through the different screens. There are still touch-ups and perfections to be made, but it feels great see a product. We still need to make decision about the pages that have links on the bottom (My Doc, My Meds, History and More) and I am sure that fresh eyes, mine or anybody else's, will be able to make a lot of positive critiques. Just as a note: I could not create all of the features that I wanted using codiqa; and though I started doing so late, I tried to write these moments in the app to help remember. This usually involved formatting or finding new ways to link to the next screenshot.
Now that this is complete, I will make of list of other websites and tools for building applications so I can begin exploring and reviewing tomorrow. Experiencing Codiqa for the past two days will help me compare the other options that exist. I hope Codiqa lives up the the competition or else I guess it is back to the drawing boards...
In the meantime, I am just going to use this space to brainstorm on what criteria I would value in these tools.
First is speed. Speed is the reason I chose to use Codiqa over appnotch. Codiqa let me drag-drop, copy and delete with no down time. This was crucial as I explored different features and wanted to weigh different options against each other. With appnotch I frequently found myself waiting for the software to load and the wait aggravated me. I began losing focus while waiting, and was much less productive while using it.
Second is freedom. I am not really sure how I am going to rate or quantify this, but the ability to give each page of the app a personal touch is important. I can't compliment codiqa because that is all I have played with thus far (sorry codiqa, u really are awesome!), but I can complain about it (hehehe)! With codiqa it was very hard to format a page. The only way to put functions side by side was using the grid feature and I found this very difficult to control. I also could not re-size items or align them as I wanted. I am a big fan of symmetry or evenness on a page and this was hard to accomplish using codiqa.
Other categories to think about will be breadth of the features available, can I build I template on my own or do I have to choose from a ready made list, is there a good "test" feature so I can check and track my work, etc... Codiqa really was great software. Looking forward to seeing what else I can find!
I have almost completed the wireframe on Codiqa today. I have made temporary compromises on certain design features to get to where I am but seeing the dynamic representation makes this worth it! I still have to decide how I want to put in the official QOL metrics (SIBDQ, EQ-5D and Morisky-8) so I guess I saved the best for last... If you log into the codiqa website, you can see the design so far.
Next, we need to decide what the pages for "My Doc," "My Meds," "History" should look like/what features they should offer and brainstorm any additional features we want to add under "More." There is almost a computerized version of IBDPromise; mid-day tomorrow, this first round should be complete!
Close but not a perfect match
So today started just like Friday. I sat down ready to start producing screen shots; though this time I was ready for the software to be a little difficult to work with. After experimenting some more with my different choices (and again looking at some new ones like balsamiq) I decided to move forward with Codiqa. This quick and easy to use software provides me with the most options in an aesthetically pleasing environment. Realizing there is not one ideal software to work with, I figured it would be best to invest in designing with one instead of losing time playing on each software.
My issue is that I cannot create an exact replica of what I drew on paper using Codiqa. I tried manipulating different functions and even began reading about code so I can create my own designs (when I tried using these I found out you can only enter your own code once you begin a subscription account), but at best I am only creating something that resembles what we want.
So I will continue at this for 1-2 more days, using Codiqa to "transcribe" what I have on paper and we can then decide if if the mock-ups are satisfactory or not. As I do more work on the Codiqa website, I am able to work quicker so I should be able to complete the entire wireframe within the next two days. My hope is that Codiqa will get us to a good place and then with a little coding on our part, we can make the complete product. I am beginning to wonder if I should began investing serious time in learning simple computer languages. This would be worthwhile if coding knowledge ends up taking a large role in this project.
Hope everyone enjoyed their respective seminars, conferences and workdays!
So yesterday was it! I finished the hand sketches, or at least have enough to work with to start using software. There are still some kinks to think about and improve on: make a bottom shortcut menu, condensing the SIBDQ input page and re-work the display of "my care." It will be nice though to take a break from just paper and pen and now jump back and forth from initial storyboarding to generating electronic versions. So it is not goodbye to my favorite Four Color Pen but it is time to get involved with some new tools!
Just like my first week, when I was astonished by how easy it can be for someone to build a website with Weebly and competing software, I was amazed again by the vast options of software that serve the same function but for building apps. There are so many of these "bridges" that make the development world accessible to those of us with little programming background. I once thought everybody needs to learn CompSci because C++, Java and whatever other central computer languages that exist were bound to be the languages of the future. International languages that every 2040 child will learn with the first words of their mother tongue. Now I realize this knowledge is unnecessary and even inefficient. Just like most of us don't use Linux or other open source operating systems and prefer windows or what apple provides to us, there will be specialized website and application developers that make the process accessible to the rest of us. Obtaining programming knowledge is helpful, and still something I want to pursue, but you do not need it to innovate an old industry with new technology!
So this morning was time to explore. I first opened the three apps that Dr. Atreja recommended to me and surfed their websites. Hoping to get a sense of which software is best, I looked online for ratings and instead found this article listing many, many, more options. Though I was sure the original three would suffice, curiosity got the better of me and I visited the sites of the options that the article's author Reuven Cohen recommends. There is something out there for everyone: from the developer who wants both the independence of building on their own as well as the luxury of saving time to the uneducated (like myself) who needs all the programming to be a choice that is a click away. I gained confidence that even I can build an app and after some time went back to the three original apps that were recommended.
The first website I checked out was appnotch.com. Though not as user friendly, appnotch uses a similar system to weebly. The different design tools are present on a tool bar to the left of the screen available to be "dragged-and-dropped" right into the app. Most of the common features that are present in iphone apps are available to be added and my experience with blogging on weebly definitely made it easier to begin designing.
I added pictures, played videos and made menus, but when I began an attempt at making the home screen I sketched I immediately faced issues. There are no graph inputs, you can not just add icons to the header and the protruding menu on the top left corner is just not happening. As I have done with Weebly, I tried to use the tools that are provided to create these items in a creative manner but these efforts were to no avail. Finally I decided to try the next app and I opened codiqa.com.
Almost the exact same. To the point where I had to look for differences. Codiqa is a little nicer to work with because the screen is more colorful (aesthetics for the designer to appreciate) but other than that, the same "drag-and-drop" method is used and the same options are available (I will admit some are labeled differently ex. checklist vs. checkbox...). Also, Codiqa does not make me confirm every time I delete an input, which was nice when I am playing around with my different options but really does not make a big difference once I am really using the software. In short, I am either going to have to get a lot better at working with these services, find a new service, learn how to program on my own or come up with a new plan. I am not willing to give up yet and am going to try again next week to work with these programs and see what I can come up with. (appsmoment.com and ibuildapp.com use ready made templates to build the app. They seem limited to creating simple apps and I did not want to use them because I wanted to maintain full control. I can look into them again next week as well.)
But nothing is easy the first day so I still have hope. It may even just be that I need to upgrade to a subscription version to have more tools. I am sure that I will find a way! May just take a while...
Today was a productive day. After yesterday's triumphs there was a lot to re-work and I came in ready to do it. Well, ready right after a quick 16 minutes procrastination Ted-Talk (Ye, that's clickable-great talk about designing medical data in a patient friendly manner) that I have been meaning to watch at lunch and finally just did it first thing this morning.
But then it was right to work and speaking of lunch, I very well may have forgotten about it today. I re-designed almost all of our screen shots so they would fit to the new home screen that we developed yesterday. I worked on the home screen as well and I think it ready to be made on a computer so we can assess its user ability. The last project I had for the day is decide how we want to design the "Official QOL" questions that are key to the success of the app.
I read more about these staple questions and then was luckily reminded by Rebecca that it was lunch time (or at least late-lunch time). I was losing focus, sometimes I just don't realize I am hungry until I stop and think that I should be(?), so it was the perfect time to take a break. We went downstairs and she explained to me about Impact HepC (or what I have deemed HepCure!) and where her project has brought her. It was fun to help her begin the process and lend a hand in finding direction. I am happy to share the lessons that I have learned over the past month and will bring in Steve Krug's "Don't Make Me Think" for her on Friday!
After lunch I got back to the design. I have sketched some quick options and made some goals for myself in what I want these screenshots to accomplish. I want to make them as straightforward as possible as there is a cumbersome amount of questions and the success of the app relies on patients filling them all out.
So tomorrow I will work on these last screen shots some more and then will be ready to learn the computer software that will be used to produce these mock ups on the computer. I will probably take half a day to a day learning the software, so hopefully I can begin producing screenshots on the computer at the beginning of next week!
A little Team Work Goes A Loooooooong Way
I started the day reviewing the different mock-ups I have drawn and reading the different notes that I have written throughout the design process. By the end of yesterday, I saw that is was time to have someone critique my progress, as I was having few ideas on how to improve what I had already created. I compiled a list of questions that I have encountered throughout the design process so I could better understand the goals of the app and met with Dr. Atreja.
There are times when it is simpler to work alone, but when quality is a goal, there is no replacement for collaboration. Like a writing sample that is re-modeled after the inspection of an editors "new set of eyes," design can have non-linear improvement when another perspective is added to the mix. That is exactly what happened in today's meeting.
There were parts of the design that I felt I had settled on. I knew I wanted more from the design, but I could not on my own figure out a way to accomplish these tasks. The most pressing example was my debate on the home screen. I have already blogged twice about the debate I have deemed "Terminal Vs. Report Card" in which I want the home screen to both present information and provide easy access to information input functions of the app. Talking this out with Dr. Atreja put me back on the right track. We now have a plan to give the home screen both these functions, a plan that I am really excited about, and have now been working on. Whatever I make today will be ousted by something better tomorrow, but that is the way design works. Always look forward, never settle, don't be attached and embrace the new. I know each step has value and I am sure a piece of everyday's work will somehow be present in the final product.
So for the rest of the day I worked on the new version of our app. Though we really only discussed the home screen in our meeting: changing the first screen will change every subsequent screen... I have also done research on the Short Inflammatory Bowel Disease Questionnaire (SIBDQ), as I was just today introduced to the role this qualitative measure of QOL will hold in IBDPromise (Crohn'sPROMISE, whichever/whatever though if we change the name then there is the question of which letters to capitalize now?!?). For the SIBDQ I am going to make a mock up of both a scroll list of answers as well as a sliding scale. Reading about the use of the SIBDQ, it seems you tally a QOL by just adding up the response to each of the ten questions to get a score from 10-70. Maybe this needs its own clinical trial to justify (no, I will not request for an additional clinical trial to be run just for this...) but would a sliding scale for each question ranging from 1-7 not accomplish the same task?
Anyways, my goal is to be done with the design improvements by tomorrow so I can start rendering some of these ideas on the computer. I think once these designs are on a screen rather than my nursery level sketches, it will be easier to see where improvements can be made and which design concepts are most promising.
Jeremy Rosh is a rising Junior studying finance and pursuing a pre-med track at the NYU Stern School of Business. Searching for ways to combine the disciplines of medicine and business, he is working this summer on project to simultaneously improve the quality of care that patients receive while driving down costs. Embracing the summer atmosphere and as an energetic and curious twenty year old, Jeremy cannot wait to see what he will uncover during these next few months.