A personal case study
- Redesign a section of the Scrabble GO user interface.
In my free time, I've decided to take on little projects to grow as a designer. I love Scrabble and have been an avid player since my mom taught me as a kid. It was announced that the long time mobile Scrabble app would be discontinued, and a new app was released recently. The new app, Scrabble GO takes the classic Scrabble game-play further by including various word game play modes, a reward system and other interactive elements.
To improve the current user interface of the game.
- To conduct and learn more about user research and data analysis.
- To get more comfortable with prototyping tools.
My design process for this project includes user research, prototyping and testing. I will be focusing on the Home page of the game. I recognize that designing an app as complex as Scrabble GO is an enormous task, and respect the thought and effort behind the making of the game. My views are my own, and I'm just another scrabble player wanting to uplift a game I love very much (and maybe learn something new in the process!)
When you win a game of Scrabble GO, the game provides chests as a reward. These chests contain XP, Diamonds and Tile pieces. XP is essentially the player's level and improves the game experience and rewards as it increases. Diamonds are in-game currency, and are used to buy chests, hints/boosts for scrabble matches. In the game, tile sets are customizable, and so players can collect tile pieces from matches to get the sets they want.
I took twenty 5 star reviews and twenty 1 star reviews of 20 words or more from the Google Play Store to try to understand how other users were feeling about the app. I understand that this method of gathering information is flawed, but it managed to give a rough idea of the user reception.
I was going to conclude the user research at this point, but the more I looked at it the less confidence I had. I felt like I needed to hear stories and more specific experiences about the people playing the game. Who were they? How long had they been playing Scrabble? Did they miss anything about the old app?
It would be difficult to answer these sort of questions with the first method, so I decided to extend the project by a few days to make a quick survey.
Survey + Personas
The survey received 36 responses and revealed some key points that both supported the previous user research and revealed some other possible points for intervention. These key points combined with long answer responses allowed me to come up with two simple personas of the people that I am designing for.
Hierarchy in design is important because it organizes information and keeps things clear and easy to understand. The interactive features in Scrabble GO are a fun new way to play scrabble with friends, but the layout on opening game is arguably overwhelming. It is fairly difficult to navigate, as the user is immediately greeted with several bright, occasionally pulsing buttons and panels.
Multiple buttons that redirect to the same location in an app or site can be very helpful. Sometimes you're in a menu within a menu within another menu, and there's something elsewhere that you want to check out really quickly. Having that quick redirect link there makes things easy, and you don't even have to leave your menu-inception. However, when there several iterations of this one button in different styles within a single page or two, it creates confusion. This is one of the issues with the Scrabble GO homepage, as several items with the same functional specification are repeated up to four times within one or two pages.
Re-designing The Home Page
Before I begin, let me just say that I (and a good number of survey respondents!) really enjoy the current icons used the game. They are well designed and relatively easy to understand, and I would have used them in a heartbeat for this project if I had access to them. This re-design is mostly focused on rearranging things within the home page and improving ease of use.
The color palette is very much based on the original, slightly toned down. The major principle driving this redesign is to keep things simple by reducing the number of repeated functions. This is done by including hidden menus and designated locations for items.
The New game button is clear and easy to access. The Active Games section only contains active games, and Challenge Requests come in as notifications in a separate section.
To reduce cluttering on the bottom menu bar, the tiles section has been moved to the home page. The Facebook connect button also has its own permanent location.
To test the design, I contacted some survey respondents I knew personally and received some positive feedback on the clarity and ease of use of this current homepage. If you would like to test this quick prototype yourself, please click here.
User research is a complex and sometimes tedious activity, but with the right tools it is a truly valuable part of the design process. There was so much revealed in that short survey, little of which I managed to put in the design itself. If there was one thing I could change in this project, it would have been to spend a little more time designing the survey and letting it run for a little while longer. Overall, This was a truly enjoyable project, and I learned a so much more than I had expected to.