Apple Watch Essay inc. Mockups

INTRO

Watches are an indispensable tool in modern day cultures for measuring time. The first clock was invented in Babylon 3.5 thousand years ago. These were a sundial which consisted of a stone dial with a rod set in the middle, the shadow of this rod indicated the time. These clocks accurate and reliable, but they have one major drawback, they can work only in daylight. The Incense clock, a traditional Chinese timekeeping device consisted of an incense stick being burnt. The time taken for the incense stick to burn was known which meant the time could easily be calculated.

The first self winding wristwatch system was invented by John Harwood in 1923, and since has gone from strength to strength. Watches are no longer worn as just a a functional device but as a fashion statement too.

THE MISSING MARKET

Apples sales started to peak with the iPhone 6 with stock prices falling since due to less phones being sold. It needed a new product to please investors. At a time where consumers had peaked in interest about smartwatches, Apple released the watch. The Apple watch, a square format Apple watch, a device that connects to the iPhone via bluetooth to make life a little easier for it’s owner. Glances were meant to be able to give the user all the information they required about their notifications. Fitness was to be tracked to try and benefit the users health, this was done with sensors embedded within the device that was able to track all types of information, heartbeat was just of one them. Not just a tech device, Apple targeted the fashion market too with this product. Three different ranges for the product, sport (£259-299) ready for fitness with sweat resistant materials Watch (£479-949) made from stainless steel and coming with a variety of different style bands to match the watch. Edition (£8,000-£13,500) a luxury model made from 18 Carat gold and different strap materials including leather. What is interesting about this range is that the while the style differs, the product and it’s function are exactly the same, with everything that the most expensive gold watch is capable of being available also on the cheapest sport model.

Apple claims that the reason they made the device rectangular rather than a tradition circle shape was that it wouldn’t be able to display the information without cutting it off at the edges.

What went wrong?

It can be argued that the Apple watch was a failure, Apple refuse to announce sale figures and reports find that the company currently sells as little as 20,000 watches a day, just weeks after it’s release (Mail Online, 2015), compared to the 818,329 iPhones sold every day (Kingsley-Hughes, 2015). So why did it go so wrong? There are no answers currently and this is where I will speculate and give my opinion about what happened with the watch.

I believe that the watch was too complicated and aimed too high too soon. Applications weren’t stored locally on the watch and were loaded from the phone directly meaning that any function of the phone took a while to load. It used a a full colour palette meaning the the systems battery, which was already small, would be drained within a day. Questioning existing users and potential buyers gives the consensus that the ui of of device is not brilliant, the main screen has lots of little icons squeezed together to display the apps (Shown Below), and that there is room for improvement.

image-watch2

Another inventional design Apple has used within the design of their watch is the square format. The reasoning seems almost only to stand out from other smartwatches available on the market, users consider the device to be un-watch like due to the screen being an unconventional shape. Questioning potential buyers, I found more people would be likely to buy the watch if it came in a round form factor. The current ui, while already flawed, is not built for a round watch face and so would require a complete redesign;

Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 10.10.08.png

What I’d change

Firstly, if I would change to a conventional round form factor, this would attract the majority of the people I questioned regarding the watch. I would scrap the external apps and use the watch for a few simple functions that it could achieve really well. It would be able to aid with fitness, music, contacts, e-mail and social feed, anything more complex requires more than a simple ‘glance’ and should be done on the phone. Pulling the majority of the colour from the ui is important, this mean the device could use the different colours as detail to amplify meaning, green becomes good or accept, orange being a neutral colour, red becomes alerts or warning. The watch would be capable of three simple modes, time mode which displays the time and customised notifications, fitness mode displaying the heartbeat calories being used and speed of which user is running and finally music mode offering simple controls over the song currently playing.

TIME-MODE.png

The above image shows how the watch face really uses a simple single colour palette to amplify its’ design with the red appearing for just the notifications on the device.

MENU.png

This shows how the cut down menu doesn’t need to be difficult and complicated, it’s simple and flat design allows the user it easy and quickly understand the layout and access they desire straight away.

SOCIAL-FEED.pngThe above Image combines the entire social feed, just like Blackberry devices do in an easy to understand way. Checking if you have new messages has never been easier.

This shows how the simplistic design of the watch face makes the information on the screen a little easier to understand rather than being cluttered with too much information the neutral orange has been placed around the edge to help the user to understand the progress they have made.

MUSIC-MODE.png

This image shows music mode, with basic controls over the song choice and volume, it is set up to ensure the user can control their music easier than taking their phone from their pockets.

MUSIC-MODE.png

The above image displays the music selection app, using the alphabet around the exterior of the screen it means the centre can display more, the actual artist. This means there are quick ways to jump to characters within the alphabet or just scroll through artists as you would wish.

MUSIC2.png

This shows how simple it is to pick a song once you have selected an artist, this is important as it doesn’t confuse the user with an over complicate layout, just a simple list will suffice here.

MULTISCREEN.png

Finally, this mockup displays the different screens the user has been through to get to their current screen, this means instead of hitting the back button the can push harder on the device and it would show the user every screen allowing them to choose how far back they would like to go.

While this is a simple concept, I believe Apples’ watch user interface is what let it down, and that it is trying to do too much at once. A simpler device with five main functions that can be handled really well is much better than a device can try and fail to achieve a far greater amount of functions. This would set the foundation for the watch, allow people to see the watch as a true fashion item and allow Apple to build upon it for it’s next generation.

References:

Kingsley-Hughes, A. (2015). Nine iPhones sold every second | ZDNet. [online] ZDNet. Available at: http://www.zdnet.com/article/nine-iphones-sold-every-second/ [Accessed 17 May 2016].

Mail Online. (2015). Apple Watch is a FLOP: Sales have fallen 90% since April, report finds. [online] Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3152514/Apple-Watch-FLOP-Sales-gadget-fallen-90-April-report-claims.html [Accessed 17 May 2016].

Old VS New

I think it is a vital part to note how far the design has come compared to the original! (Old on the lft, new on the right)

The hompage went from a then strange structure containing too much infformation and not structure to the site to a more boxxy format. I containtains a lot more heirachy and takes more importance on colour coding;

The lineup page went from being a list of names to an image of an artist complete reviews;

The artist pages were massively improved. They contained only an image and social links, the new layout gives the artist a dedicated page. It contains an image of the artist, an overall theme, imformation, albums and social links;

 

Research – What I learnt?

By looking at the various festival websites, I learnt quite a few important things about the design of the sites. The key factors are;

Use a simple layout, that the user can understand

Lineup is the reason for someone to attend a festival so having it accessible is important

Tickets are key importance, and simplicity of the purchase is vital

Artist profiles can be improved on with increased information and interactivity

A countdown until the festival starts

Images of previous years at the festival

 

 

Great Redesigns

Redesigning a website is the most common job a professional web designer faces in his daily life. That’s why it is extremely important to look at previous examples of successful redesigns and how they have improved the sites services, functions and overall feel. I will look at what has been stripped away and what has been left, I will look at what has been added and the reasons for this, this will help us understand what needs to be done to successfully redesign a website from the ground up. Given the fact that the site we have been given to redesign is content heavy, riddled with problems, complications and clutter, where else to start the research other than the old New York City website which looked like this;

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Using the Web archive, the initial appearance of the site was in 1998. Strangely enough the page here features flat colour so doesn’t look that old fashioned, while the style wasn’t so bad, the format was awful, multiple text links on both sites of a square centred in the screen made up the navigation of the site.

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November 2001 sees the addition of an almost ‘responsive’ website where the lines of text adjust themselves to be the full width of the page. This is not responsive as we know it though as it stops working at 960 pixels wide, though this was probably fine at the the time there was only one standard screen size.

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December 2002 saw the removal of flat colour from within the pages, and the addition of third dimensional objects like physical buttons.

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September 2005 saw the removal of the ‘responsiveness’ as it was in it’s current stage and shifted the page from central to the left, a stage of the design that actually seemed backwards to the previous versions. The colour has been simplified though and a lot of the flat colour areas have been made a light grey colour, something we would continue to see on the web even with todays modern design. This design stays exactly the same with only changes of content for the next eight years until it is decided that the government just had to be redesigned. What’s fascinating about this is the fact that the iPhone revolutionised mobile web browsing back in 2009 when it was released yet it still took five years to decide it needed to be upgraded to be optimised for mobile.

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The new website has been completely stripped of all the text links on the site and been replaced with drop down menus that work on both desktop and mobile in the exact same way. The flat colour has been added in the background to make it up to date with modern day fashion trends.

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Orbital Alliance is another good example of great redesign. Back in 2010 it seems to have got a few things right, using subtle gradients to make content stand out more and a reasonably uncluttered layout.

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Moving forward to 2014 though, there has been a complete redesign of the site which brings it in line with modern design. It has flat coloured images behind sections of white which move behind the sections.

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CNN is a brilliant example for the design as it’s initial design back in May 2001 is messy, cluttered and not responsive with no colour and text links.

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The new version is much much better, it has less but larger text, with images representing the stories but still uses drop down menus on the desktop to allow the user to access more content. Column layout seems much more prominent in this design compared to the original, but it the images help emphasise this.

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Given Apple is at the forefront of design today and the worlds most valuable company, it’s difficult to imagine a time when they weren’t top dog. Back in April 1997 the design was as bad as the other designs around at that time. It featured one section of flat colour that held all of the text links and then a grid on the left to hold all of the content.

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The site got a major update in may 1998 when it changed its layout that is consistent with the one still used today, using a pyramid layout. Something that I noticed about Apple’s site is that it uses a landing page tho greet the user to the user, this is something that is seldom seen in web design but is a small detail that can really make an impact on the user.

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December 1998 saw the rise of Google as we know it today but only in beta form, it has remained in the same general layout. Originally it was a pyramid format just like Apple’s. In turn of the century, the pyramid layout went and simply left the search. In a sense this was completely different what everyone else was doing at the time with over complicated content filling the pages, and Google just kept it simple. It is this simplicity that has made Google the biggest search engine on the internet.

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References:

http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/35572.asp#multiview
nyc.gov
http://web.archive.org/
http://www.orbitalalliance.com/
http://edition.cnn.com/
http://www.apple.com/