The Ushahidi iPhone Application – Please Critique

The volunteer developers behind Ushahidi are at work on a number of concurrent efforts, one of those is the team working on the iPhone application: Joe Jones, Chris Blow and Wilfred Mworia. They have reached the stage where getting feedback from a larger audience would be extremely helpful.

Click on the image above to see a full resolution version of the screen mockups.

What we’re hoping you will do is take a few minutes to study what we’re doing, and then provide a critique on what you think we can do better.

Though the mockups look “done”, they are not. We’re still at an early stage in trying to figure out what features should be included, as well as what the user interface should really look and act like. We have a lot of iterating to do on the design process, so please don’t hesitate to jump in with any ideas or changes.

Feel free to leave you comments below, or you can reach us through the contact form.

Some Background Information

Our goal is to drop people into the actionable items as quickly as possible. We think that most people will want to see the events happening near them (or their default location) first, but there is also the option to jump right into reporting an incident on the same start screen.

Viewing Incidents
Incidents can be seen in two ways, on a map and as a list sorted by proximity. The default filter is by category. You can drill down into any specific incident to get to the full report, where we’re trying to bring out the important parts of any given incident.

Reporting an Incident
We’ve tried to streamline as much of the reporting into a one-page view as possible. You go immediately to the editor to start creating it. If you have already taken a picture, you can still add it to the report at this stage, or you can take an image right at that moment to add to the report.

The location is defaulted to where you are currently when you create the report, however, you can change that by selecting the “edit location” option underneath the text box. That will take you to a screen that lets you drop a pin on the location where the incident happened.

Other Stuff
You can set a default location within “settings” so that you always start on a specific location to view new incidents, and you can set your favorite map view. That is the only information that is stored, upon closing the application, we would like to wipe all data from memory.

27 Responses to “The Ushahidi iPhone Application – Please Critique”

  1. Vincent Mutongi

    Looks great !. Though I have three questions:
    1) Is this application meant to work with Apple iPhones only or can work with other phones? Why? Because if its phone specific then it will eliminate majority of Kenyans who don’t have iPhones.
    2) On slide 8, 9 and 10, when the photos are taken and incidents recorded on the phone, who is the recipient of this data?
    3) Do you plan to add any encryption to keep the integrity of data from being tampered with while in transit? Maybe I am just too paranoid 

  2. @Vincent Mutongi
    1) We have a “mobile team” working on other mobile platforms as well, this is just the iPhone team’s work.

    2) Who receives the information is determined by who is running an instance of Ushahidi. You can always send it to the “global instance” of Ushahidi (which is us), but a lot of times the users will be feeding data right into the organization who is managing the instance in their particular country. That’s a setting that will come up on the opening page once we have other instances available.

    3) I’m glad I’m not the only one paranoid then! :) Yes, we will have data encryption and are very cognizant of personal data received – we don’t want any of your personal data either unless you choose to give it.

  3. Vincent Mutongi

    @ Eric Hersman – thanks for quick response. Sounds good to me. I am assuming that the target audience is only countries in Africa for now.

  4. @Vincent – Actually, the target audience isn’t just people in Africa anymore. The whole app is a free and open source tool now, so it could feasibly be used anywhere around the world.

  5. Great to see a very thorough app guys. Definitely look forward to a Nokia version.

    A few thoughts, questions, critiques:
    1) In image 2-5, I’m not a big fan of the tan background for the buttons at the top. It seems it should have more separation with black or grey. I like the use of the Ushahidi colors, but just doesn’t seem visually pleasing or utilitarian. Needs that separation from the map with a bolder color.
    2) In #2, at the bottom for the drop down box. Personally, I do not get ‘all incidents’. I’d rather it say ‘all incident types’. Just more clear on what that is and why my lie beyond that first item.
    3) In #5. ‘Orignal Incident Post Date’ is confusing to me. Just say Post date. To follow that up, I think there should be a spot for ‘incident date/time’.
    4) I assume in #6 you can click media to view full screen.
    5) On #6. I like the send buttons at the top, though I’m not sure that is straight forward as to what that’s for.
    6) On #7. I’m not a fan of the ‘location’ and ‘take a pic’ design. I think maybe all of that should be treated similarly to the ‘event title’ box. Here you can also specify the incident time/location.
    7) Great that you can take a pic in the middle of the app!
    8) It would be really nice if you were taken to a screen to provide a caption for the image you just uploaded, then back to the original post screen to finish.
    9) On #10a. Those buttons feel very large.
    10) On #10b. (PS. you have 2 #10s) If someone is inclined to click on ‘donate’ take them directly to the place to make a donation. Not a page explaining why a donation is good, more about Ushahidi, etc. But, it would also be good to have a ‘more about us’ link to the ushahidi site, etc. Actually, if the ‘donate’ button could open up another hidden app that allows you to just enter in your payment info right there, that would be awesome. Not having to go to a web site would be great. But definitely have another link that is obvious it takes you to the whole Ushahdidi site.
    11) On #12. I hope that you guys will be able to have more language support soon. I assume on this settings page, you could change the language.
    12) How does the phone keep track of ‘my incidents’? Do you have to create an account to post incidents? To comment on incidents. It would be great if you could click a button when viewing details of an incident so that you can keep track. Maybe you subscribe to incident updates when someone has commented, when it’s been verified, when someone uploads new media, etc.
    13) so now you’d need a whole new settings tab for your own account. Which incidents you’re ‘watching’, your past posts, etc.

  6. @Taylor – great feedback, thanks for putting the time into this! I’ll answer a couple questions really quick.

    Partial answer for #12 – We’re actually trying to keep everything anonymous as much as possible, for security reasons. So, while we see the value in a “my incidents” tab, we’re not doing that yet.

    We are interested in this functionality, but are trying to solve for basic incident reporting and alerts first, then will look at this a little closer.

  7. I was looking at slide #10 & 12. The icon in the bottom left is different than the rest. It says ‘my incidents’ instead of ‘incidents’. Is that a mistake or some kind of anonymous caching on the phone being used for now?

  8. @Taylor: That’s a mistake. Thanks for the catch. We will post another iteration soon. Thanks to everyone who has given input so far!

  9. It looks pretty good right now.

    I would agree with Taylor, the dark tan background on 2-5 seems to draw the eye away rather than to the buttons. This is especially prevalent in 3 where there is a gray gradient.

    The buttons on 2-5 (incident map/ incident list) seems a bit wordy to me. Maybe just map and list.

    The logo tagline on the home screen (1) is hard to read. Might just take it out.

    The buttons at the top of 6 aren’t clear to me. Email, sms, add. Am I emailing something in to Ushahidi or sending it to a friend? What is the ad button for? They don’t seem to go together from a UI perspective.

    This is all pretty petty, though. It looks really good and I’m sure people will use it regardless of any of my thoughts.

  10. @Paul – Thanks for the feedback. We’ll be taking your feedback back to the drawing board.

    I have to say, I was quite impressed that the devs on the iPhone team were so open to just throwing the design out for people to carve up and critique. They really don’t mind taking any and all feedback on it. Refreshing to see some designers not letting their ego get in the way! :)

  11. Thanks Taylor!

    It just occurred to me that I did not post the layered photoshop file: here it is.

    Please hack away and post your changes if you are so inclined! This is an open process and I would love to see more people working together.

    It’s very rare to see open source interface design taken this seriously and extremely rare that it is collaborative! So much fun.

    We should have a new iteration of the design very soon.

  12. Phavanhna Douangboupha

    It looks great.
    Here are some of my thoughts that you and your team may or may not already have them in mind.

    1/If it is going to be available everywhere, will you have this application in multiple languages?
    2/If this is aimed for everywhere around the world and it seems to contain many graphics; is there any progressive enhancement enabled feature for those areas where connection speed might be an issue or for a certain device that might not support some of the features?
    3/is there a reading text feature for the blind or in the case where a user does not want to read the article but he/she can choose to hear it?

    4/In the Home Screen, do you think is a good idea to display the current location of the user also?

    5/ Can a user up-load a file such as audio and text to report an incident instead of typing/texting on the phone? What if the user is currently in the disaster area and just wants to report it there and then; texting/typing might not be convenience for some people.

  13. @Phavanhna:

    Great questions!

    1. Yes, I believe that extensive language support is planned.
    2. Not sure about that; bandwidth-sensitive enhancements are a really, really good idea though.
    3. Text reading for the blond: Not for this release, but we certainly aim to to be as accessible as possible and will consider this further.
    3. There is some concern about the load time of that page. For now we’re going to keep it simple and low-bandwidth, but perhaps this is a perfect candidate for some bandwidth sniffing — optional items that load only if you are on a fast network.
    4. not yet, but audio-only reporting in particular is a wonderful idea.

    thanks again, we had not thought of most of these issues.

  14. Jesse Curry

    Is this project still active? Has it been released? If not I may be able to devote some time to the iPhone development effort.

  15. Kassy Oulai

    Is the app available on the apple appstore? I can’t see it. Thanks for your answer.

  16. Is the APP for iphone available now? If so what is it called and where can we get it??