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UX Design Portfolio Project 1: Beach Safety App

My first ever UX Design Project, originally created back in 2020.

By Justine CrowleyPublished 10 months ago 8 min read
UX Design Portfolio Project 1: Beach Safety App
Photo by Faris Kassim on Unsplash

Case study: Protection of personal valuables while at the beach/out at sea (NSW Government fictional client).

The Problem:

Users (predominantly surfers, yet this same problem is also applicable for other beach visitors) are concerned about their personal valuables getting lost and/or stolen while at the beach. Users are also concerned about getting injured by their personal valuables if taken out with them to sea. Users approached myself as a UX Designer to come up with an appropriate solution, so time at the beach is more enjoyable. This was a group based project, and the double diamond method was also utilised.

Why this problem needs to be solved/the barriers:

Users do not always go to the beach to surf, and/or participate in any other fitness related activity at the beach alone. Sometimes they want to exercise with their friends. The users also want to catch up with friends at the beach afterwards for lunch, and/or to socialise after their workout.

Users need to take such key valuables (being their mobile phone, credit/debit cards, keys, and opal card to name) with their to the beach in order to contact said friends to catch up, as well as to pay for lunch when it is their turn to pay. The same users need to take their house keys to the beach, because they don’t feel safe burying their keys in a pot plant, or hiding it somewhere else outside of their house, in case people nearby are spying on them; and therefore could break into their home with such keys.

One user used to drive his car to the beach, yet is no longer able to, as this particular user had to sell his car for financial reasons/being a full-time student. This user now walks to the beach (15 minutes duration), while other users interviewed for this project catch public transport to the beach, and therefore need to have their Opal card on them.

These users had grown up going to beaches, where one user was a qualified lifeguard previously. They know that although beaches are fun places to visit; yet truth be known, personal valuables get stolen. You cannot simply leave your valuables with a lifeguard, or with nearby cafe/bar/restaurant staff - as these workers are busy performing their duties. It isn’t their job to protect your valuables, and not all beaches have storage facilities for users (beachgoers) to store their valuables. You cannot bury such items in the sand either. (Literally.)

When users know that their key valuables (phone, credit/debit cards, keys, and opal card) are protected; they enjoy greater peace of mind, and a more pleasant user experience at the beach. The health, financial, and economic benefits to the user, as well as to the surrounding areas commerce are profound in positive ways.

The Process (UX Design thinking):

Empathise

I interviewed four (4) users within two days to determine and then verify if there was a real need in solving this problem, and if it is possible to come up with a solution in protecting beachgoers valuables without them getting lost or stolen; and without the need for the relevant users to risk injuring themselves if (for example) one or more of them happens to have an accident while out at sea. It was interesting to discover that a couple of the users slept rough at the beach for a small portion of their lives while homeless. The beach has been (and still is) their haven in more ways than one. Other research methods such as observation and contextual inquiries were not required or relevant in solving this problem, as rich, quality data was gathered during the interview process.

The key interview questions asked were as follows:

What personal items do you bring to the beach?

Why do you take these personal items to the beach?

Why don’t you take these items into the water with you/use some form of waterproof device?

How do you get to the beach?

Why did you stop driving to the beach? (To non-public transport users only)

How long does it take you to get to the beach?

To public transport users only: How do you pay to go to the beach?

How often do you go to the beach?

How long do you stay at the beach/spend time in the water?

Why do you go to the beach?

How many times a week do you generally go to the beach alone? With others?

To public transport users only: Why do you catch public transport to go to the beach?

To the user who walks to the beach: Why do you walk to the beach?

Why is surfing important to you?

Why is going to the beach important to you?

To delve deeper into having empathy for the users, and to help further define the problem (research synthesis was elaborated on in my next case study); drawing out a concept map below gave further insights into beach use and enjoyment for the users interviewed, and for other users who go to the beach; just to be certain that there are health and economical benefits for an app to help users keep their personal valuables safe while at the beach for their personal enjoyment; and to assist in enjoying the local eateries etc. nearby after their beach experience.

Define

We (the team I was working with on this project) are aware that there was a problem, and that problem needs to be solved. Thereby I came up with the following solution statement for this group based project:

"Users want peace of mind with their personal valuables while at the beach; and they don't want to take such valuables out to sea at all."

This then led me to synthesise the pain and gain points derived from the UX Research.

Pain points:

  • High risk of valuables getting stolen when left at shore/on the sand.
  • High risk of loss and/or injury when taking valuables out in the surf/at sea. (For example, choppy waves, causing a surfer to fall off their surfboard and lose their balance.)
  • Uncomfortable having valuables such as house keys sticking out in a wetsuit. (For example, if at least one user falls off their surfboard; the edge of such house keys could poke into their skin, causing further injuries).
  • High risk of theft if keys are buried outside/around the house.
  • Unable to get in touch with friends for catch ups if mobile phone is left at home.
  • Unable to spend money/use credit/debit card if stolen; and unable to get back home (public transport users) if opal card is stolen too.

Gain points:

  • Users enjoy going to the beach in order to be calm/relaxed and present, while exercising and keeping fit.
  • Users enjoy surfing/being in their element while spending time at the beach, and out at sea.
  • Users spend on average two hours surfing every time they’re at the beach.
  • The 15 minutes walk each way (to and from the beach, for the non-public transport user) is also beneficial. This user lives in Sydney’s Northern Beaches.
  • Users enjoy spending their money in order to feed themselves, and/or their friends after their visit to the beach. This means that the local economy/hospitality industry benefits more when users are comfortable bringing their credit/debit card and/or cash with them to the beach.

Iterate

There were a few weeks in between iterations, due to the passing of a loved one on the Central Coast, as well as the COVID-19 Pandemic happening simultaneously. I was solely responsible for the paper prototypes, as well as creating wireframes in Figma. The iteration process was constant with the prototyping phase. The sketching was re-done on a couple of occasions, as well as the digital prototype in Figma.

The initial solution to this problem was to create a physical product (a beach safe bag) that would recognise that the user is opening the product via their fingerprints, with an app needing to be downloaded in order to register the product to them, as well as their fingerprint. As I was not responsible for product management on this occasion; as a result another solution was quite simple, and that was the creation of a locker finder app instead.

The locker finder app allows the user to search for their beach of choice. For example, if the user wishes to surf at Manly Beach today, they simply type in “Manly Beach” in the search field, and then click on “search.” If a locker was available at Manly Beach, the app would advise of the location/address of the lockers available, and their cost of hire per hour. If a locker was not available at the users beach of choice; the app would advise the user that a text message would be sent to them when a locker facility becomes available. Locker facilities at nearby beaches (up to four) would also appear.

The app would link to analytical tools to monitor the most searched beaches in Sydney. That way the NSW Government can work with local councils to get more locker facilities available in the most sought after beaches, to encourage more users who love going to the beach to do so, and to enjoy the nearby facilities such as bars, cafes, and restaurants afterwards; all in enhancing the economy in such areas. The more often users go to the beach and exercise - the healthier they will be; hence taking pressure off the healthcare system.

Prototyping & User Testing

The final iteration of the sketched out prototype (lo fi to mid fi):

In relation to the user testing phase; both the paper prototype (via Marvel on my Android phone) and the Figma prototype (via Figma and Figma Mirror) were utilised with the same four users who were interviewed, while adhering to strict social distancing measures. The users understood the purpose of the app, and were therefore able to navigate it successfully. Only one user thought that the postcode of the beach had to be entered where the search field asks for the full beach name; yet understood the instructions on their second attempt unaided.

An example of some wire-framing in Figma on my first attempt - self taught:

Conclusion

By designing this app, the pivotal problem of the main users (beach goers) has been solved by enabling them to search for a locker at their beach of choice in advance; and to then make the right decisions beforehand in saving valuable time, while ensuring that their key valuables (phone, keys, credit/debit card and opal card) are secure from loss and theft while enjoying themselves in keeping fit. The creation of this app will also help the local economy by allowing beach users to enjoy nearby hospitality facilities such as bars, cafes, and restaurants to name. The ROI will return itself; pandemic or no pandemic.

By Arnel Hasanovic on Unsplash

NB: I (the author) have chosen to transfer my User Experience (UX) Design portfolio onto my Vocal Media work, due to undertaking a cost/benefit analysis of continuing to host the justinecrowley.design website. Executive decision: It will be defunct in September 2023. The $15 USD a month in web hosting fees is an expense that is no longer justified in this freelance work of mine, as I am happy with the ad-hoc clients that I am receiving in this work, as well as being at maximum capacity in my content moderation work on TikTok. This portfolio will still serve as a purpose for future IT work for being published on Vocal Media. Thank you so much.

Project originally created back in early 2020, while as a Student UX Designer for the Interaction Design Foundation.

By Kevin Butz on Unsplash

career

About the Creator

Justine Crowley

Freelance Internet Moderator/UX Writer/UX Consulting Designer/Graphic Designer

http://smashwords.com/profile/view/JustineCrowley

linkedin.com/in/justinecrowley

Lives in Sydney, Australia. Loves life.

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Comments (1)

  • Test10 months ago

    Super!!! Excellent story!!!

Justine CrowleyWritten by Justine Crowley

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