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App Design Expedited: The Story of a 1-Day Design Challenge

Julie Branson
June 22, 2020

In early June of 2020, a group of highly-ambitious digital product designers at Crema set out to complete an entirely-remote design challenge. The event was the first of its kind at our organization and one that allowed the designers to flex their creative muscles. In just one 7-hour workday each designer sought out to create the UI screens for their own original app concept. And the results were pretty astonishing.


To put into perspective how impressive a feat this really was, a set of UI screens (without full-fledged strategy & research) such as this might take anywhere from 3 days to several weeks to flesh out. Aside from app ideation and branding, all of the design work you’ll see here was done within one Venture Lab day. While we’d never rush a project with a client, it was a fun experiment to see how incredibly fast & efficient these artists truly are.


For this physically-distant Design Challenge, the product design team was tasked to come up with their own app concepts that were inspired by the current state of the world around us due to COVID-19. They each created a brief, which described their ideas that would impact lives in a meaningful way as we navigate to find our new normal.


In this article, you’ll get to see the final results of the apps designed during the challenge. You’ll also read some of the thought-processing of the participants throughout the day, how they felt about their final product, and their overall impression of the experience. Get ready for some serious UI/UX eye candy!


Huddle

First up is Huddle! This application was conceptualized by Crema product designer, Aubrey Illig.


What’s the elevator pitch for your app concept?

We often settle for the best of what currently exists - and in the case of video calls, that would be Zoom. However, users shouldn't have to settle for the “least bad” option (no offense to Zoom, of course). There should be a video call app that is enjoyable to use. An app that is intuitive for its users, flexible for a variety of different circumstances, and interactive/human enough to make users feel like they're together, even when they can't be. Enter: Huddle.


Huddle brings your teams together in an interactive video suite that will give users a multi-faceted experience that will redefine the way we think about remote work.

What was your focus for the day during the design challenge?

My focus for Huddle during the design challenge was to create the best possible user experience. I wanted to find a way to take all of the features that I believed were essential to making the remote meeting experience more human (i.e. Slack integration, meeting agendas, "smart" chat, person-to-person interactions and reactions, and customizable video grids) and bring them together into a single page that was simple and intuitive enough for a first-time user. This was the goal – all while still being flexible enough to fit the individual needs of each user and meeting.


In retrospect, what would you have changed about your design? What do you wish you had more time to work on?

I would have gotten more planning done ahead of time. Going into the Design Challenge, I'd created the brand and knew what I wanted Huddle to accomplish, but I hadn't spent enough time figuring out exactly how to execute it. I had to use valuable design time making a plan, and I think my work would have been more successful if I had that time to create more interactions and view examples.


What was your favorite aspect of your design and what you got done?

I'm excited about the concept of integrating Slack meeting channels into the meetings, as well the agenda based chat. I think having a meeting agenda that links into the chat feature by allowing participants to add comments and create conversations around agenda items, and then sending that meeting agenda/chat to the related Slack channel in a thread that could be easily accessed later is an idea that could provide a huge amount of value to users.



Wevoy

Next on the roster is Wevoy, created by Crema Director of Strategy & Design, Tyler Hilker.


What’s the elevator pitch for your app concept?

Even if it’s hard to travel with the current state of things, we can still enjoy the discovery of new places and planning “someday adventures” with others. For those stuck at home more than they like, and for those who love to share the joy of exploration, Wevoy is a way to capture and share the places you long to see.


What was your focus for the day during the design challenge?

That’s a tough one! There were lot’s of things I wish I had more time to do, but I definitely would have put more time into the features of sharing places and conversations between groups.


In retrospect, what would you have changed about your design? What do you wish you had more time to work on?

I would have put more time into the sharing of places and conversations between groups.


What was your favorite aspect of your design & what you got done?

The strength of the imagery, a few new interaction paradigms.



Pickit

Say hello to Pickit. By our very own product designer, Mary Carnes.


What’s the elevator pitch for your app concept?

During quarantine, I realized that many of my neighbors are taking unnecessary trips to the grocery store for a few quick items (maybe a cup of sugar for example), when a neighbor may be able to share or pick up requested items on their own grocery run. This would be especially helpful for those who are higher-risk going to the store.


How does the app work, you ask? A small fee is tacked onto a grocery pickup in order to incentivize use by all neighbors. Although, the greater mission of Pickit is to encourage connection and support with neighbors in a new digital way during the age of COVID-19. It’s grocery shopping with your neighbors in mind for safer, more efficient shopping.


What was your focus for the day during the design challenge?

I spent most of my time working on the user experience and the information architecture and tried to polish it off with some branding and visual design elements at the end!


In retrospect, what would you have changed about your design? What do you wish you had more time to work on?

This app could be over 50 screens, so I struggled to keep it within the scope of a 7 hour work day. I still have so many screens I'd love to design and I also wish I had more time to develop and infuse the branding throughout my application.


What was your favorite aspect of your design & what you got done?

I mostly enjoyed spending the initial time creating the concept and designing out the top to bottom flow as best as I could. Since it could be such a robust application, it was fun to challenge myself to get as much done as possible to create a comprehensive experience.



Wonder

This is Wonder! Created by Crema product designer, Sean Connolly.


What’s the elevator pitch for your app concept?

Inspired by my 2-year-old, Wonder is a playful, un-productivity app that gives you daily prompts to step away from the grind and see the world through the eyes of a child.


In quarantine, every day feels the same. Time passes by too quickly when you're stuck inside day after day, week after week glued to a computer. Wonder serves up new activities each day of the week to slow you down and draw your attention toward things that normally go unnoticed. You're encouraged to stretch your senses, get out of the house, and find small joys in the things only kids seem to notice.


What was your focus for the day during the design challenge?

The majority of my focus was on the aesthetic of the app. I wanted it to have a really intuitive, playful feel. I think I accomplished that with the colors and iconography but it was brought to another level with the transitions available to me in Figma prototyping.


In retrospect, what would you have changed about your design? What do you wish you had more time to work on?

I'm pretty happy where my design ended up at the end of the day. In general, my app was pretty simple. I think that let me play with a bit more polish, but I wish I had more time to think of additional features to make it feel like a more robust experience.


What was your favorite aspect of your design & what you got done?

I especially enjoyed tweaking the transitions to get the look and feel of the animations just right. I could spend a ton of time doing that. I also like the way it turned out visually. The child-like inspiration really comes through and it's quite a departure from anything I do at work.



Zoom Kids

We’re all too familiar with Zoom by now. But what about Zoom for kids? This app concept was created by Crema product designer, Pamela Porto.


What’s the elevator pitch for your app concept?

Zoom Kids is a feature or new version of the app for Zoom premium members who are homeschooling kids who attend video conferences regularly for class. Zoom kids allows parents to help and monitor their children from their device, rather than giving them full access to your personal account.


What was your focus for the day during the design challenge?

My focus was simply exploration! I had never done an app targeted to kids, which meant limited interactions and illustrations were going to play a huge part. As we know kids are comfortable with touchscreen interfaces that only require swiping, tapping, and bigger targets. My focus was that, which obviously requires more than one day and tons of future testing.


In retrospect, what would you have changed about your design? What do you wish you had more time to work on?

I wish I had more time to focus on more variations of the screens, especially the ones that involved feedback loops (decision, action, reaction).


What was your favorite aspect of your design & what you got done?

I enjoyed focusing on the personality of the app and the design approach to children. This wasn’t my original plan, but I pivoted that morning during the challenge. The design is not all there, of course but I enjoyed focusing on that instead of creating a generic app. I used procreate, which allowed me to do some custom illustration effortlessly.



To see more UI screens and demonstrations of animations in the apps you've seen here, check out this live demo video from the day of the challenge. Let us know what you think of the design work in the comments. Thanks for reading!

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