Brain Dump™ 💩

When I begin a project, I birth the thoughts swimming in my head into the physical world via a “Brain Dump”. A Brain Dump can include anything: from notes and sketches to full prototypes. I let my excitement to dig into the project guide me in coming up with an a potential . My goal is to get out what I think the product should be before inevitably returning to the user to clarify.

This phase ends when I have an Epiphany💫 and identify how key forces behind this potential solution can be rehashed.

Brainstorming & User Needs

To kick off this project, I spent a few days in the park brainstorming and sketching. I broadly defined that maniFest will give users at minimum a way to:

  • Find sweepstakes
  • See the status of sweepstakes (how many days left to enter, if expired)
  • Enter sweepstakes
  • Keep track of entered sweepstakes
  • Update settings

I decided to contain sweepstakes in “cards”, as cards are a popular UI pattern and industry standard for compartmentalizing information. Cards will have a bar stating the days remaining in the sweepstake, and will also show the prizes users can win by entering a sweepstake.

Prototype 1

Prototype 1 explores two possible ways festivals can viewed: alphabetically and on a map.

Flow for switching between alphabetical and map view on Prototype 1.

Prototype 1 Takeaways

  • Showing festivals on a map isn’t the most useful way of displaying information. A map view would be more relevant if the user needed to gauge the distance between two events or if the app hosted international sweepstakes.
  • Prototype 1’s navigation suggests that the main feature of the app is the ability to see the same content (sweepstakes) in different views, aka to “sort” it. However, while sorting sweepstakes is important, narrowing results down to find relevant sweepstakes, or “filtering”, takes priority.

Epiphany 💫

After Prototype 1 I decided to return to pen and paper. This led to an Epiphany 💫 that really set the design on track.

Returning to pen and paper

Feature Creation

While brainstorming, I can up with two use cases that helped me determine two necessary features:

A simple decision tree that helped me prioritize functionality.

I knew the next iteration of maniFest had to include both a Search feature for when a user wants to find sweepstakes for a specific , and Browse feature for when a user wants to see what sweepstakes are available to them.

The Question of Categorization

While making Prototype 1 I was hung up on all the possible ways to sort and filter sweepstakes. Thankfully, when struggling with a returning to the user always helps. I asked:

What makes a sweepstake important to a user?

The answer was clear: users care about what they can win from a sweepstake, in this festival tickets. And it doesn’t matter if a user wins 4 tickets versus 2 tickets to Festival X if they have no desire to attend Festival X. So, I decided that the most important way to categorize sweepstakes is by festival.

Although Prototype 1 does categorize sweepstakes under festivals, the design doesn’t do a well enough job in feeding the user festivals relevant to them. Instead of being encyclopedic in nature, I knew Prototype 2 had to place the user at the center of the festival filtering process and champion the relevancy of festivals rather than spitting out a list of all festivals.

The question then became how to categorize festivals.

I looked at event apps for inspiration and found that organizing events by genre was a popular choice:

A lot of event apps sort events by genre.

So, like the majority of event apps, I decided maniFest would give users the ability to filter by genre.

Bubble Filter

Once deciding to categorize festivals by genre, I decided that I wanted the Browse feature to have a “bubble filter” with tappable bubbles that have genres of in them. I can’t pinpoint where I originally saw the design, but by searching “bubble UI” on dribbble it seems like it’s an idea that’s been “floating around” (pun intended).

Example bubble UI found on dribbble. Credit: Alex Volk

Overall, the pen and paper brainstorm did not disappoint. It led to an Epiphany 💫 with feature verification, a refined app architecture, and UI. It was time to exit the Brain Dump and move to creating a second prototype with a more refined vision.

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