Street art in London – discover London street art gems, one app at a time

SAIL, which stands for Street art in London, is an App designed to 18-25 youngsters who like street art or exploring London differently. The app aims to curate all the street arts in London, providing users with real-time information and location of street art. SAIL is a real-time app-based photo and route collective that produces a continuous live stream of street art photographs and routes generated by users, for users. With the support of interactive signage, users are going to have a playful, interactive and informative experiences in London, finding street art even easier.

Over the past three months, I have changed my design chanllenge from “how might we provide travelling information to tourists in the underground by digital city?” to “how might we simplify the process for a traveller to plan a travel itinerary”, and later then, narrowed to “How might we curate street art by digital city?”.

Talking about the design challenge, during the research process, I have visited London several times, and when I went to Brick Lane, I found that it is an area full of street art, which look like a street art museum without directory and information. Also, by interviewing real tourists, they all had same experience that the location of street art is unclear and difficult to find, as there are not much information they can find online. The information online are not up to date. In reality, there are some books like”where is banksy” providing the location and information of Banksy’s (a famous british street artist) works, however, street art is instant, unless we reprint and release an updated version of the publication time to time, the information in the book might not be useful anymore after some years. Therefore, I decided to create something that can help curating street art and provide an easier way for people to explore street art by digital city.

I have indicated lots of traveling apps, including airbnb, booking.com, google, tripadviser and see how these apps provide relevant information to users, so as the UI design of the app.

Beside narrowing my design challenge, the biggest turning point in my project is the format of final outcome. I was quite interested to create an interactive map on billboard for users to find street art, however, an navigation app is needed to show the direction. After the 1st usability test,  I gave up the idea of billboard, when I was struggling what the final outcome might be, I found a campaign called “Old town central” done by Hong Kong Tourism Board (Discoverhongkong.com, 2017). They used an app to provide toursit 4 routes which suggested by local Hong Kong people and QR code on wall to provide the information of the attraction. I took the idea of QR code on the wall to my project, which can promote the app and at the same time provide a route from that point to users.

Over the pass 3 months, I have done lots of in-depth research which helped me to narrow and redefine my design challenge, also provide me insight to find out the best solution of the problem.

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In the end of design 2, I started initial research for digital city by desk research, and found some interesting articles and examples, which provided me a basic knowledge of digital city. Among all, I was excited and impressed by the popularity of Pokemon go and how the app make people spend more time outdoors, exercis more and have more bonding time (Doowa, 2017). Later then, I organized all the research materials I collected on a data wall.

Then I went back to London and interviewed some tourists, found that they thought it is hard to access to network indoor and underground, which is inconvenient for them to search travelling infromation and the direction from airport to central London is unclear.

After the Easter holiday, we were asked to present the research materials by Pecha Kucha, and set a design challenge, at that moment, my initial design challenge was “How might we provide travelling information to toursits in underground by digital city?”.

Later then, I backed to London to research more about what people would do when there is no network, and found that they would usually pre screen-cap some travelling information in mobile or using the travelling book. So I tried to twist my design challenge from solving the problem tourists might have during the journey to simplify the process they plan for an itinerary, and using visual experience to outline all possible occassions tourists might have. After that, I used fact and inspiration to illustrate what information I have already known or might need to find out.

At the end of design 2, I designed a research magazine, which included all the research materials and insights I found. And I found research magazine is good for us to review and document the research materials, so as sharing ideas to others. You can check back my previous blog for more research details on the Pecha Kucha and research magazine.

When summer started, I tried to indicate gaps between travelling app, and found most of the apps are quite general, they are like an app-based travel journal. Except for cerating a travel itinerary, users can see other’s trip and share their itinerary in the app, however, I realized a phenomenon that these apps are not popular among tourists. By probs kit, i found Google is the main tool that tourists use to plan and research an itinerary, as Google can basically do everything.

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Here is one of the example, jodie usually gets travelling information and recommended by friends where to go, then she will start searching some relavent articles by google, tripadvisor and some Taiwan’s Blog. After collecting informations she needs, she will then put them into a Google document and have a discussion with family about the trip, deciding which one to go or not to go. She will always research the photo of famous attraction by searching the name on Instagram. She will then finallize all the useful information into a Google slides to discuss with her family before the trip, the slide will also be use as the itinerary she uses in the trip. Moreover, she uses Google excel to create a budget plan for the trip as well. Jodie usually uses a computer to research and make the itinerary and saved them into her iPad so that she can bring it in the trip. In here we can see that Jodie uses Google the most on researching and planning an itinerary, one of the main reason is that she can collaborate the document to her family and see the real-time edit.

When I tried to create some concepts for my final project, one of the idea is to curate street art by digital city. It was my personal experience to Brick Lane and realized the area is full of street art, however, they are hard to find. I don’t know if you have the same experience that I saw a place you want to go on instagram, but the tag of the place is too general that even though you tried to wonder around, you can’t find it. I think street art is one of the case, and they are instant, not much information can find online, but they are the culture gems shouldn’t be invisible. So, I decided to narrow my design challenge to “How might we curate street art by digital city?”.

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So I started to research on street art and what other problems users might have by goin back to Brick Lane again and did some interviews, also creating an instagram account for my project, documenting the process.

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Instagram account

From the personas, I realized that street art are instant, also they are all with an unclear locations, which visitors are not easy to find up-to-date information and direction online.

 

 

Talking about possible outcome, I have thought of website, app and billboard. And my original intent was to make a package to curate street art, an interactive map on a billboard which will be located in Liverpool street station was the main outcome of the project, an app for navigating routes, and a website to introduce the whole campaign.

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3nd Lo-Fi prototpye

Later then I created the 1st LI-FI prototype,and did a usability test with a real user. He suggested the function of billboard and application are identical, and he would prefer just using the app. I have been quite frustrated on how to twist and refine my project at the moment, I looked up others project on Pinterest, trying to stimulate my creativity.

By researching references, I was inspired by a campaign done by the Hong Kong tourist board. The challenge was to provide a different ways for tourist to explore Hong Kong local culture gems. They created an app, covering four suggested route to explore in Hong Kong for tourist and placed some QR code on wall for further information of each attraction like a museum. Therefore, I decided to replace billboard by interactive map and the app became the main outcome of my project.

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the campaign “Old town Central”

After that, I created my third LO-FI prototype and HI-FI prototype, and done three usability tests to help me to refine my project and did some minor changes to the functions of my app and website.

Here you can some summarized comments from the tests:

By the usability tests, I tried to refine my project, like the idea from changing billboard to signage, and keep it as a promotion of my App. So as some functions and features in the App, for example, showing the photos of street art rather than the interactive map with some Pin on it.

At last, starting on August 1, I tried to make all the outcomes digitally on my computer, including the website, applicaiton and the signage, so as updating my research magazine. I also went back to Brick Lane to film a fly through video for the project.

Belows are the final outcomes of the project and predicted customer journey:

 

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Know more about my project at tkyammy.com

 

So far I am excited and happy with my project, even though I have been quite confused within the project, sometimes, I wanted to change my topic in some point as I want to do something different rather than app design, but interactive signage is a fun and playful idea which also match the theme, street art.

Also, even if I want to do something different, I personally might think a billboard is playful and interesting, but in reality, people don’t really want to stand in front of a big screen and let the others know what they are searching, thus, the functions has repeated, by choosing application and billboard alternatively, application always win as it is more personal, interactive and easier to provide information.

The project ran over the summer plus half way of design 2, the time were quite tight, and it required multi-tasking, including graphic design, layout design, UI design, video recording and editing skill. However, by doing project plan and planning a schedule for my project, I finished everything on time, which is something I did better than last semester. I am happy with my project and all these skills would be beneficial to my future career.


References:

  1.  Discoverhongkong.com. (2017). Old Town Central | Hong Kong Tourism Board. [online] Available at: http://www.discoverhongkong.com/us/see-do/highlight-attractions/old-town-central/index.jsp [Accessed 13 Aug. 2017].
  2. Doowa, P. (2017). The Pokemon Go autopsy: It got people outside. [online] Crosscut. Available at: http://crosscut.com/2017/04/the-pokemon-go-effect-get-outside-make-friends/ [Accessed 13 Aug. 2017].
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