A couple weeks ago I was approached to take a look at the MySurface iPhone app. They were curious to hear my thoughts so I was happy to check it out. The first question I asked myself as I tested it was why would anyone want or need to use this app? The quick persona that came to mind was a person that’s either an interior designer or home renovator enthusiast that wanted a bunch of swatches at their fingertips. They need something mobile so they can find surfaces quickly while on location and want the ability to explore a number of options, and once they’ve made a surface choice order it quickly.
When I opened the app for the first time it quickly zoomed past the cover screen and planted me on the color swatches. While the nav wasn’t confusing, as a first time user I wasn’t exactly sure what I was supposed to do. In subsequent visits it became obvious quite quickly but something that I think UI designer’s take for granted is the first time user experience vs returning visits. There doesn’t have to be a full blown tutorial, but some text that explains the features would have been helpful. This dialogue box can always be turned off the next time the person uses the app.
As I started moving around the images with the slider I had the option of clicking to view a larger image. The only action that I could take after making the swatch bigger was to save it. Once I pressed save it would have been a nice touch to reframe the image or denote somehow that this image is now saved. While the bigger swatch is helpful to get an idea of what the surface is like, it seems like the second screen is missing something—maybe have more info about the swatch or show related swatches that I might like to look at if I like this one… I also noticed that each swatch has a name, but no identifying number. If the swatches has a numbering system it might be easier to find something down the road—I realize I can save stuff, but once I start saving a lot of swatches a number system would be helpful to organize things. Speaking of favorites, another piece of valuable information missing is the date that I saved the swatch. There’s also no note taking ability which down the road could help explain why I wanted to use a particular swatch. Taking that a step further it would be cool if I could attach a voice memo to the image, that way I don’t have to type anything.
There’s a share feature but it really shouldn’t be labeled as such. When I tried emailing my swatches all I got in my inbox was a url to the DuPont site. There was no info about what I actually had saved. This should be fixed right away or have the button reworded. Ideally I could either email myself one or all swatches of my choosing. In the email I can see the actual images and have buttons that I can get more info. Another feature that they have is the gallery which shows 12 images of the swatches in use. They’re nice to look at but I’d take a second look at the whole feature. I would have either broken it into different sections like kitchen, bathroom etc or different types of surfaces like counter, floor etc. I’d also list the swatches in use and make it easy to save those swatches to my library…
While the first version of that app works for showing all the swatches that DuPont has, there’s a lot of things that they could make for version 2 of mySurface better. It probably wouldn’t be easy, but integrating the iPhone camera would be a huge asset. If I could take a picture and overlay the swatch on top, I could get a really quick idea of what the surface is going to look like. The stitching doesn’t have to be perfect. It just seemed natural that I’d want to overlay a swatch, and if I’m using my iPhone it feels like a natural extension to use the camera. If I’m using an iTouch I could always import an image. The other big feature would be gallery schematics. Basically have a library of line drawing with different counter shapes, tables, floors, walls etc. Within that library I could transpose my favorite swatches to see what they would look like in context. The other thing that I mentioned above was having a more robust share feature that actually emails me the swatches instead of sending me a url to the website.