To create a companion app that can accompany you to outside spaces and assist people in taking simple journeys. It must have a simple interface that gives the user useful information about their planned trip – while building their confidence, social life and wellbeing.
My desk reaserch consisted of firstly just going through articles which were on the search results of Google. This was a great way to get me thinking and give me initial insights into what people think of the positives of walking. Websites such as Pathsforall and Walkingforhealth.
Online Case Studies
The first round of insights that I gained that was online case studies from an organisation called ‘Walking For Health’. The whole point of the website was to advocate walking groups and also help people locate their local groups.
Contacting a local walking group
My first stage of contact with local groups, was to email around to try and reach out to different groups, leading to potential interviews. My first few emails gave me links and ways of contacting local walking groupsso I could reach out and gain insights from contextual interviews. This was the first time I started to carry out primary interviews.
Guru’s Day is organised every year by the year group and lecturers to have people from their respective fields in their industry. We would each get 4 Guru’s who would pass on their invaluable insights into what they would do next and also where they see the project going. We made a small exhibition space where I put on display a video, which showed the challenges my Mum faced and three A3 boards showing the research I had carried out so far.
You can find more about Guru's day in my booklet which is attached below.
Most of my interviews consisted of contextual, alongside some primaryinterviews to help with me building up valuable insights. This was done by recording videos, sitting and listening and even having a casual conversation with the group leaders.
The first person I spoke to was my Mum, although it was just covering all bases. I then spoke to a physio, whom my Mum knew and another walker who walks quite steep hills every other day.
Interview #1 - Mum
Speaking to Mum I was able to discover insights which I never thought I would uncover. It was like not knowing someone and the interview uncovered some hidden insights which I never expected.
She mentioned that going on walks that she knew very well, this would make sure that she knew where to go.
Interview #2 - Laura
When speaking to Laura, who works as a physio, she spoke about the benefits that she has seen by walking in her spare time. She liked going out using the app Strava, to keep up with her friends and to share where she has been walking.
Interview #3 - Dennis
Dennis spoke to me briefly about how he likes to go out with his friends and walk up a hill near his home. He said that it was a good way to catch up and also feel good for the rest of the day, if they walk in the morning.
Going along to a walking group
When speaking to the walking leader about confidence, she made it clear that the people who go on the walk tend to think about it as the distance they have walked each week. For example, one woman was coming back from an injury and she said that she would test herself every week, trying to get herself further down the path.
This would, in turn, increase her confidence in going out, not only in the group but on her own as well.
Another factor which I found interesting, even from an individual point of view, was that having a friend come on the walk could help the user be encouraged to push forward and walk more. Maybe having a companion feature inside the app would be suited to give the user that bit of encouragement.
Another key point which I picked up on, which I was talking to Ewan (My lecturer) about, was the fact that how could the user possibly upload their own walking routes? I think this feature could be added in a way that would require very little input from the user. The walk I went on provided me with an insight that every walk has a start and a finish, where the users think that is, is up to them. Maybe having a record feature for the start and end of the walk?
Upon finishing the walk, everyone heads back for a cuppa and a chat, which is nice. Again, speaking to the walk leader about how she has in the past let users visually say how confident they are, which was in the form of a small graph, similar to a pie chart. They would colour in the circle depending on how confident they felt. This was for another group, which was learning how to cook on a budget.
I quite like this idea, I felt that it would be easier for the user to articulate how they are feeling without putting too much of an emphasis on a 0-100% scale.
Key Insights from User & Desk Research
Being able to research alongside with other users, getting to know them, really
helped open up new insights which I was not expecting. When speaking to users in the walking group, they were able to not only tell me interesting pieces of information, but also by observing them when I was going out wih the group.
By also speaking to indivduals, who were comfortable in trying to go outsideto try and increase their confidence, I was also able to gain insights from their perspective.
Here are some key insights I gathered, which combined my desk research and primary user research:
• Walking for 20-30 minutes a day can ward off depression in people of all age groups.
• The journal Mental Health and Physical Activity states that walking was an effective intervention for depression.
• The positive effects of a single exposure to nature – for example, a walk, run or stint in the garden – can last for seven hours after an individual has experienced it. This refers to feeling happier and in good spirits.
• Group participants find it easier to articulate how they feel through graphics, which they feel represents their confidence
• People feel that they can take the walking group at the own pace, even stopping and turning back it they feel that it is to much.
• They can build up their confidence every week, with the help of friends, but also if they walked alone, granted if they knew where they were going
• Having people come on the walk, can encourage people to maybe push and even forget they are walking for a certain length of time.
• The walks have a beginning, middle and end. I feel that I could use this in a recording setting. I did gather some research using a questionaire but I felt that this was not really helpful and quite broad, I decided talking to people would be
You can find more out on my blog, which features all the key insights I gathered.
Where did I go from the research stage?
Joining local walking groups and talking to different people, it made it clear that having a companion app on their walks would be the best way to go. This would be the best way to go as it displays other thoughts from similarly minded walkers, as well as new routes which are personalised. When talking to local walkers and groups, it was made clear what was most important to them when they were going outside. However, when taking all these key points, I was faced with the difficult task of putting them into the app, in a user friendly way.
User 1 noted how the on boarding screens were really useful and made her more understanding of the benefits of walking. She also liked how she could personlise the app without having to register. Another good feature was setting up her homepage too the way she likes.
User 2 liked the way the interface looked and how easy it was to navigate through the different screens. The clean colours reflected the outdoor mood and it made her want to get outside.
His feedback was helpful, he felt that the interface was easy to understand. The
buttons for navigation during the ‘getting to know you stage’ was self-explanatory. He also felt that when he was choosing the filters which would display on his home screen, was really intuitive. He also stated that being asked questions made it easier to make decisions, rather than having to fill out long forms or enter in data.
To read more about this section and indeed the rest of the project, you can view my final booklet here or read my blog posts here.