Week 8 of CS3216

This week, Prof Colin invited students from NUS Greyhats to teach us more about security and hacking. I honestly didn’t know what was going on as i didn’t have any prior understanding of this topic. I did try to listen but i couldn’t really grasp the concepts.

So this week, i’ll focus on talking about my assignment 4 grouping and progress. My A4 team consisted of Ana, Wei Wen, Si Kai and myself. Initially we wanted to build an application that allowed students to look for empty spaces to study in NUS but after discussing it with Colin, we realized that our idea wasn’t viable. We ran through other backup ideas we had during our consultation and we ended up on a dating application idea. We all agreed that we wanted to build an application that we are passionate about and hence, we proceeded with the dating app idea. Of course, there are a dozen of other dating applications out there so we needed to think of a method to differentiate our app.

While running through our personal use cases of dating applications, we realized that there aren’t alot of dating apps that allowed our close friends to be part of the selection process as well. When choosing for potential partners, our close friends will usually be included in our discussions, we will tend to update them about our status, we might even send them images of the potential partners for them to vet our choices. Therefore, we proceeded to with the idea of building a dating application that allows the users to include their close friends in the selection process. Of course, this is not the entire idea, will be evaluating more later! 🙂

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Week 7 of CS3216

This week’s lecture was spent on Assignment 3 evaluation by the TAs and SY. I think this lesson was really helpful as it gave us better insights about how we can improve our app as well as what we can learn from the mistakes that other teams made.

When SY was evaluating Around, which was the app that Wilson, Stefano and I were working on. While i was watching how SY was using the app, she had difficulty using it as she couldn’t zoom out to see the events that was populating the map. This resulted in user frustration and i was actually quite disappointed as it wasn’t how the app was supposed to be used. If the app was tested on a mobile phone, she would have been able to zoom in and out through the pinch in and pinch out action. If she was able to use it that way, she wouldn’t have as much frustration in viewing the entirety of the map.

I think when we were building the app, we didn’t foresee this issue, that the users would be testing it through the mobile view from the web. On hindsight, we should have designed accordingly to this use case as well. I think this is a very good eg. of how we can build a product to be used in a particular way, but users may not always use the product in the way we envisioned to be. We can list out different types of use cases for a user, but without proper guidance, there will be exceptions as to how the user can use the app that is beyond our expectations.

Overall, i really appreciate you guys taking time to go through each and every mistake with us – i’m sure we have alot of takeaways from this week!

Week 6 of CS3216

Sorry for the lag! Didn’t have time to catch up on the weekly postings but i hope this will make it up.

Just an update, week 6 was really spent on finalizing our application for A3. I grouped up with Wilson and Stefano in the end and they were really a joy to work with. We finalized on an app called Around, that allowed users to discover events within their immediate vicinity as we realize that most of the time, people want to discover events and happenings around them as compared to traveling somewhere further for an activity.

Events and happenings in this case can mean different things, it can be an event such as an impromptu concert held by a busker or it can even mean a car accident down by a busy street. Our concept was to allow people to view and comment on crowd sourced events. We spend this week finalizing the user flows for the app. Initially, we were contemplating whether it should be an event discovery app similar to Eventbrite, but we believe that there are too many of such apps lying around and hence, we decided to proceed with our initial idea.

Initially i was scared that it would be a disadvantage to have a 3 people team but i realized that it wasn’t at all. We were all clear about our roles and our work was completed quickly with Wilson on the backend, Stefano on frontend and me on design. Even though Stefano was overseas for a job interview, we still managed to communicate with each other. I’m really glad that they were very patient with me when i asked them to do minor changes to the designs multiple times, they believed in good designs which made it easier for me to communicate the importance of fine-tuning our designs. Even though we always joke about being chill, when it comes to doing work, we are really serious about wanting produce something that we are proud of and i think we managed to (hopefully)pull it off in the end! Really glad that i got to work with them 🙂

W5 of CS3216

Seeing that the lecture this week was on external pitching, I wanted to use this week’s post as an opportunity to reflect on Assignment 1.

Assignment 1 was really a mad rush, juggling multiple deadlines for different projects. Prof Colin was right when he warned us how little we will sleep during assignment submission deadline. I was mostly in charge of UI/UX and initially my plan was to built the design from scratch. But after receiving feedbacks and advice for us to use an existing template online due to time constraints, we decided to find a template and edit accordingly to fit our user flow. This was actually something new to me as i have always built UI/UX designs from scratch and i guess in the context of time constraints, it wasn’t possible to built it from scratch. Even from my prior working experiences, we worked in short sprints and the product designer will take one week to conceptualize and the hi-fi wireframes will usually be out in another 2 or 3 weeks, depending on how involved the clients are in providing feedback. I think comparing this to my A1 experience, it is pretty similar as it requires you to create a user-friendly UI/UX experience in a short span of time be it in school or at work.

On the day of assignment, Aaron and Huiyie were working together on the coding side while Jaron and I were working on the UI/UX and assets designs as well as CSS/HTML coding. We were rushing our assignment and only submitted it at 2358.

I think after the entire assignment 1, what i’ve learnt is that it is really important to work smart for such a short timeline. We were very ambitious at the start and we wanted to build an all-encompassing event planning product, however as the week went by and the deadline was nearing, we knew that we needed to manage our expectations and take out some features that were too difficult to build within the timeframe. What made the process really enjoyable was my teammates. They were really encouraging and positive, even when we were all stressing out, we could still laugh at make stupid jokes.

AirFrov – Assignment Critique

AirFrov is a peer to peer e-commerce platform that get travelers to bring back overseas products. It allows users to post requests of products that they intend to purchase with a willing-to-pay price. Travelers who are traveling to places that sells the products that are requested on the platform can then help these users purchase their goods by accepting the requests.

1. Commercial Potential 

The group explained that the profit margin of AirFrov is really high, they are earning $1.1 Million in revenue and they have currently expanded their services to Indonesia as well. However, they did mention about the e-commerce competition from RateX, Taobao and Amazon. I think that this was really significant as AirFrov works because of the fact that some goods are cheaper to purchase in person overseas or some goods are only available in certain countries. However, seeing that Taobao and Amazon are such big corporations with deliveries worldwide, they can in fact just help companies to deliver their goods worldwide or allow them to sell their goods on their platforms. Based on economies of scale, if there are enough demand, they can even reduce the delivery cost and pass on the cost savings to consumers. In this way, the potential of putting AirFrov out of business is highly likely when Taobao or Amazon sees the revenue potential of offering the service that AirFrov is currently having.

2. Improvement of UX/UI

The presentation also touched on improvement of UX/UI through a more flashy interface. They mentioned that the existing design has too much white spaces and the UI components are boring with pale looking fonts.  I had to point this out as i believe that improving the UX/UI of a website is not limited to a more flashy interface. Sometimes flashy interfaces might instead be of a disadvantage as users can find it too overwhelming. Additionally, i did not find the existing components too pale of boring looking. I think the definition of how a user experiences an application is subjective. But i did instead find error with how responsive the website is when i tried to change the sizing. AirFrov might also consider showing some numbers on the amount of transactions they have closed as an indication of how well AirFrov is doing.

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3.  P2P seller-based Marketplace

A new business idea they proposed was to create a marketplace that allows sellers to choose what they want to sell. I felt that this idea may not be feasible if this is in the context of travelers as sellers. In the long run, this would be dangerous as the sellers might not know what are the buyers demanding. If the sellers buy their goods and put it on this platform, they might incur sunk costs if they are not able to curate goods that are popular with buyers.

4. Thoughts…

I think that AirFrov seems like a good idea as i have personally experienced the problem of having friends asking me to help them buy things from overseas simply because its cheaper or available in some countries only. However, i do believe that in the long run, with growth of e-commerce, it wouldn’t be too difficult to purchase more things from overseas online.

Also, I think one particular niche group that AirFrov can target are Sneaker-heads who want to purchase limited edition sneakers that are only released in certain countries. There is a very high demand from such group of people and they are usually willing to pay a much high price for the sneakers.

I also only found out about AirFrov after the group presented about it, so kudos to you guys for that!! 🙂

Week 3 of CS3216

I was really looking forward to attending Week 3’s lesson as i was excited to attend Su Yuen’s class on building good UX. I think that as someone who is training to become a UI/UX/Design professional, having insights from someone who is so well respected in the UX community would be really helpful and useful.

I really love how candid she was when she was explaining the existing industry practices about how various companies will purchase existing templates found on the website and edit them accordingly to suit each individual website’s UX needs. As a designer, i always thought that designers or companies will tend to design everything from scratch in order to have a unique website design. But after the talk, i think it makes as well to use existing designs and improve on them to save time and save cost.

After the lesson, our group went to seek Su Yuen and Colin for a critique on our existing application design that we submitted for mid submission. I think it was really a wake up call for me as i thought that the feedback they gave were things that i should have known when the application was designed. Things like not to confuse user onboarding with information request, not to have too many steps that might cause friction between the application and user. I felt like i did not put my existing skills and knowledge to good use and i was simply just designing for the application and i overlook the fact that i need to constantly ask a key question, “Will the user do this?”. I think as designers, it is really easy to overlook the user needs but i’m glad that we got the feedback to make sure that our application can only get better from here.

And this is why i love receiving feedback from people, be it good or bad, i think every feedback has its value for me to reflect and make improvements.

Week 2 of CS3216

As i was away on an internship, the first lecture i attended was only in Week 2.

I think one of my takeaways during Prof Colin Tan’s lecture was the difference between Software Development Life Cycle method and Agile method. All along, from my past internship experiences, i was only exposed to the Agile method of software development where we would rank the features by importance and then decide in a certain period which features to build. By using the Agile method, it allows us to constantly improve on the product through multiple iterations as well as do user acceptance testing on features that were already implemented on the demo side.

On another hand, the SDLC method is a spiral process involving Planning, Risk Analysis, Designing, Implementing, Testing and Release and Business Requirements Analysis. The difference between both processes lies in the systems we are intending to built. If an application is not trivial and they are catered to individuals, it is alright for it to be built via the Agile method as the flow between people is not complicated.  However, if we are building large scale softwares that involves alot of people, we would have complicated flows between entities of systems and as such we will need the SDLC method.

This might not be new for people who may have taken software engineering modules before, but for me, i’ve only had past experiences in designing UI/UX for small scale applications and thus, most of my exposure was towards Agile method. I think looking forward, my next step would be to try and figure out how a SDLC method will be applied on real work.

Also, this week was also the mid-point submission for the Facebook application! I’m really thankful to have such a cooperative, hardworking and fun-loving group to work with, shout out to Hui Yie, Aaron and Jaron! Can’t wait to see what our final product will look like! 🙂

What I Hope To Learn From CS3216

At the end of CS3216, i hope that i’ll be able to say these statements to myself.

“I have a better grasp of proper UX/UI techniques that are based on user-driven designs.”

As someone who is training to become a professional UI/UX designer, i think taking CS3216 will be beneficial as i get to go through the entire process of building and validating UI design and UX of the product. As this module allows us to put our skillsets to good use, i’m hoping that through the process of applying my existing UI/UX knowledge to build a new product, i’ll be able to gain more knowledge about the techniques of building more user-driven products. The first step of UI/UX design is to always understand the users and put their needs first. I think it is also really beneficial that the professor and TAs will be working closely with each group and conduct twice-weekly UI/UX reviews on all programming assignments, i believe that this will definitely help me improve my understanding of UI/UX development process.

“I have gained a better understanding of the engineering side of building a software.”

I think as much as i am training to become a professional UI/UX designer, it is also important to gain a better understanding of the programming and engineering side of building a software. As i have had prior experiences working in a software development company before, i have witnessed the struggles UI/UX designers have with the tech developers and vice versa during the process of building a product. I’m hoping that with better understanding, i’ll be able to have better ability to mediate if a misunderstanding arises in the future during my process of working with a tech developer.

“I know how to work better with other key players such as developers and marketers during the process of product development.”

Apart from gaining more hard skills on UI/UX design and software engineering, i hope to be able to have better soft skills in terms of working in groups and people management. I think learning to interact and communicate with other key players is an important skill sets to have when it comes to product development.