Public Realm Strategy and Design Guide
The Crown Estate has been working with Atkins since 1997 on improving the public realm of the Regent Street and St James’s portfolios. A great deal of knowledge and experience has been acquired over this period.
The purpose of the app is to share this knowledge with other members of development teams to provide a clearer understanding of how The Crown Estate operates when dealing with the public realm.
I was responsible for the experience strategy and design of the iOS app. I led the UX/UI work, producing all major deliverables.
Make it intuitive
Our client approached us with a primary objective: to enhance their app's functionality and usability.
To coincide with the end of the financial year our team was under extreme pressure to move fast. We were tasked to deliver an iPad high‐fidelity prototype to our technical team within 2 months. The combination of a fixed deadline, testing, and usability testing meant I needed to get the experience right in the first four weeks.
Focus on goals
The goal was to create an app that enabled the user to navigate seamlessly through large amounts of information and that got the user quickly to the relevant section.
A collaborative culture with lean UX
We opted for a lean approach which emphasised rapid sketching, prototyping, user feedback and design mockups. This created early team‐wide alignment, sparked tons of great ideas and created a strong sense of ownership across different disciplines within my organisation.
Building trust through transparency
Sharing our methods and thinking from the outset helped to build a strong client relationship. Ample opportunities for input at all stages of the project built trust and created a comfortable environment to share ideas.
Because of the project timeline and fixed date, we opted to use invisionapp which allowed for rapid prototyping and for the client to be able to use the product as it was intended.
Starting on the same page
Meeting with key stakeholders helped us to understand their expectations for the finished product. Together we constructed a shared vision for the app. Following this, I crafted an experience strategy outlining our phased approach and direction for the app.
Tight timing meant that we needed to be efficient conducting user research and collecting feedback. We conducted a range of interviews with stakeholders and co‐workers. This research technique helped to quickly gain insights into the needs of our users and gave us a concrete understanding of the environment and workflows.
There was a huge amount of information and sub sections within the app that had to be organised to allow the user to easily find what they were looking for.
Once I finished with paper wireframes I created high fidelity wireframes.
I broke the app down into distinctly designed sections. Creating wireframes for each section and sending them off for client approval as they were completed saved time as at no point was the client waiting for an entire app design in one go.
The main screen has been designed to allow users quick access to primary content. Imagery that relates to each section was added to increase the visual appeal of the app and also for user to quickly identify each section.
The layout of the app was split into three columns:
Navigation | Text | Images
Density of text had to be addressed. Blocks of text in the middle column where styled differently depending on their subject creating a visual hierarchy between i.e. ‘Objectives’ and ‘Key Objectives’.
The image section of the app displayed images relevant the content of the mid section, keeping the visuals alive and interactive as the user engaged with the text.
Using invisionapp enabled my team and the stakeholders to navigate to specific subsections. This quickly flagged up the need to go through and back without getting lost in the app. Navigation needed to be clean, explicit and come from one centralised location on the app. My solution was a permanent sidebar menu to which the user always returned.
With each section of the app serving a specific purpose we found users were able to navigate through the app with ease and get to the desired content quickly without getting lost.
“The more users’ expectations prove right, the more they will feel in control of the system and the more they will like it."
– Jakob Nielson, Web Usability Consultant
Designed for Confidence
The interface design does not contain unnecessary elements. We opted for clear, readable typography, choosing a sophisticated palette based on brand guidelines. The design is uncluttered, clean, large and well spaced.
All these decisions were focused by staying true to the brief, and thereby delivering a design that was inherently confident, visually engaging and user friendly.