The Co.Labs and Target Retail Accelerator challenged entrants to design and build an app that would extend the Target customer experience into new areas, leveraging mobile software—native or web-based—to produce new and pro-social effects in their community, family, school, or social network.
What was your role in working on Divvy?
I was the senior designer on the project—well, the only digital designer. Chris Reardon came to me with the project and presented me some of the ideas that just he and Juuso [Myllyrine] had pulled together by that point. They had some sketches put together and Chris had some thoughts on the overall flow and user experience. But they were just sketches. At that point, I began fleshing out the design. To begin with, I did a little bit of research, looking at Target's digital properties: the website and existing app. My theory was that this experience [in Divvy] should go hand-in-hand with the existing digital work. So I tried to keep Divvy looking and feeling very similar in the way that it was designed, even down to the use of color.
What sort of tools did you use for prototyping the UI and your designs?
Pretty much we originally just worked with sketches on paper. It wasn't until late in the project that Chris [Reardon] actually put together a formalized wireframe. The first really polished designs were put together in Photoshop because we were working really quickly. We were experimenting a lot, but also trying to work towards the finish, polished product from the get-go.
What was challenging about your area of work on Divvy?
Well, from the design perspective I didn't want to visually get bogged down in lots of textures or any sort of superfluous elements like that. The idea of the app is very simple. It's a way to make and share lists. The challenge was coming up with the various visual representations of these lists because, essentially at some point you have a list within a list within a list. There's lists, there's receipts, the items in a receipt, and so forth. There's a list for the products you want to purchase and a list of the contributors to a shopping list. So the challenge was how to distinguish a receipt from a product list and things like that. That's why we decided to bring in a little bit of that tactile paper texture, to drive home that aspect of it. For example, when you're looking at a receipt we included a drawer where you can pull up who bought what and how much they owe. Those types of organizational bits were the hardest part of the project.
Where there any specific ideas you had on the design that ended up not getting implemented?
I was less involved in the conceptual phase, but one idea I worked on was to have a function where multiple people can come together to pay for a specific item. Kind of a cross between a gift registry and crowdfunding. But at the end of the day we wanted to keep the app focused. We didn't want to overload it with too many features. We were hoping to build something that did one or two things really well. So we approached that goal with a laser-like focus and I think we were able to achieve it in the end.
Can you tell us a bit about your past work experience?
Coming out of college I moved to New York and started for AOL as an interactive designer. I worked on several of their digital properties. I guess that's where I really sunk my teeth in and got to know the pure digital experience that I'm able to leverage now in my current position working on interactive advertising.
So what fills your time outside of work hours?
I try to stay active in terms of more traditional forms of creativity: painting, drawing, things like that. It's always helpful when designing to have that sort of background. So I paint in my free time and stay active with my sketchbooks. I'm always brushing up on my skills trying to learn new tools and techniques.
[Image: Flickr user Evalia England]