How does a user’s mobile experience change in a moment of crisis? That was the critical question we asked ourselves when we partnered with Prescient, a control center application for travelers, to refine the user experience. With the Prescient Traveler Mobile App launch approaching, the product team sought to improve or validate the usability of the interface before going to market by conducting a Heuristic Evaluation.
MSTQ’s Tenants of Usability
Our proprietary scoring system gave us clear insights into a vast array of different variables needed to make the Prescient application effective, including: ensuring the application’s match between system and the real world; user control and freedom; error prevention; cognitive load; flexibility and efficiency in context; and, of course, aesthetic design.
How a user interacts with a mobile application in the safety of his or her own home is very different than in a sudden moment of danger. Our design recommendations came after asking tough questions like, “How does the app perform when a user is in fight or flight mode?” To find these answers, we mapped out a series of emotional states based on different scenarios and varying levels of cognitive load. Animations, density of information, icons and recognizability of buttons were all questioned, and ultimately designed for the compressed mental state of Prescient’s intended users.
In a moment of danger, the aesthetic benefits of slow-swooping interactions and seemingly helpful windows with additional information all come second to escaping an immediate threat. In parallel with our design recommendations, we adjusted moments of experience within the application to speed up animations in the name of user efficiency. If certain aesthetic choices weren’t recognizable in both relaxed and heightened emotional states, they were tweaked and improved to be solutions, not distractions.