Track 24's Smart24 app helps corporate travellers stay safe in some of the world's most hostile places through location tracking and interaction with their security team. Track24 asked us to provide consultancy for them, focusing on incorporating a new feature within the app to help users feel safe, prepared and reassured.
My role was to be the group facilitator for our four person team, guiding the group through the two week sprint, from the initial client meeting to the final presentation of the design, leading meetings and design workshops with the client. We followed the British Design Council's Double Diamond process with its four phases: Discover, Define, Develop, Deliver.
A number of deliverables were required for the project, including:
The new design of the app provides users with the ability to:
Upon starting the sprint and gaining an understanding of our client — Track 24 — and what their key aims and requirements were, we conducted a competitive analysis in order to understand the competition. Competitors included both similar security focused tracking apps, such as Everbridge, Anvil and Vismo, and consumer tracking and mapping apps, such as Life360 and Google Maps, and we found the varying methods of adding custom locations particularly interesting.
We also conducted a usability audit of the existing Smart24 app, which highlighted some areas for improvement.
Our user research was arguably the most important phase in the whole design sprint, as the subsequent design was based on this. We conducted interviews with twelve users; these were both users of the Smart24 app itself and users of the GRID — the web-based platform used by security teams who monitored the users of the app. The interviewed users were located around the world, varying from the UK and US, to Iraq, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya and Uganda.
Our qualitative research highlighted a significant amount of data, which we made sense of using a large affinity map. This not only enabled us to clearly see how the app was used and what the key user requirements were, but also allowed us to identify some pain points for users, which I will highlight below.
From our interviews it became apparent that users of the app fit into two separate groups, each with a different set of associated behaviours and requirements.
Overall, we identified three key themes from our interviews.
Tracking — the primary use of the app was as a tracking device, with users feeling reassured by having the app. However, users often forgot to turn tracking on and off within the app and some raised concerns about privacy.
"I want to be able to set it and forget it"
"It's great that I always know my security team knows where I am"
Check-in — only a small minority of users used the in-app check-in feature, with the vast majority using WhatsApp instead, primarily owing to the pervasiveness of the app, the fact it is secure and can have everyone required in a group chat, including those without access to the GRID or Smart24.
"We use WhatsApp to check-in - everyone's in a group"
The emergency button — users found the current button too small and tricky to activate and were also concerned about setting off the emergency button accidentally with the 'shake to activate' feature.
"We ask users to turn the shake setting off - it's too easy to set off"
From our research, we created the persona of Roger and mapped his current experience, which highlighted a couple of pain points.
"It's very easy for me to forget my check-ins if I'm in a rush."
As you can see in the experience map below, these pain points were a result of Roger forgetting to check-in or forgetting to turn his tracking on.
With the time available very limited, we also took the opportunity to conduct a feature prioritisation analysis at this point, to ensure our design was focused on the key user requirements. The top 3 features identified were as follows:
Before moving further, we defined our design principles that would underpin our future activity:
Following the feature prioritisation, we conducted a design studio workshop with our clients at their offices. For the workshop, we focused on a scenario relating to safe places.
This was a really valuable session as it allowed us to bring our clients' ideas directly into the design whilst simultaneously ensuring that our clients were onboard with the direction we were moving in. This gave them more ownership on the process and allowed any unforeseen issues to be resolved at this stage, saving money and time in the long-run.
The output from the design studio was that we were able to fully realise the notion of 'safe places' and how they would work. In particular, that they would be personalised geo-fenced areas created by the user, where crossing into or out of the area would trigger automated actions.
Not only would this resolve some of the previous fears regarding privacy issues, but it would also be more beneficial and reliable for the users on the ground and the monitoring teams. Ultimately the burden placed on the user would be significantly reduced.
Identifying that we couldn't 'shoehorn' the 'safe places' feature into the existing app without it having a negative affect on the user, we chose to redesign the information architecture of the app. By refining and flattening it, we were able to reduce the burden on the user, making everything visible and easy to find. This was further enhanced through the addition of a tab bar replacing the hamburger menu and heavy use of the back button within the previous version of the app.
Once we had our basic site structure and had mapped this out — and the corresponding user and wire flows — we created a paper-prototype to rapidly test the viability of our initial designs through usability testing. We developed these into mid- and then high-fidelity designs on the basis of multiple rounds of user-feedback, refining and improving the design as we went. Track24's existing style guide was used as the basis of the final design in relation to typography and colour-scheme.
In the images below, you can see some of these iterations and how the design changed from the initial paper-prototypes to the final high-fidelity mockup.
On the status page — this is the primary screen that the user interacts with — the changes included:
On the newly added safe places page, changes included:
Within the new 'inbox' page, changes included:
The design process described above resulted in a high-fidelity prototype of the app made using Sketch and animated in Flinto. Some of the key flows of the app are shown in the GIFs below.
This shows the manual check-in flow within the My Status screen.
This shows the flow for activating an emergency.
This shows the flow for adding a safe place.
This shows the Inbox including the differences between the different types of messages.
This final GIF shows the revamped settings page where the real challenge we had was reducing the copy to the minimum amount whilst users still understanding the functionality and impact of a particular setting.
The re-designed Smart24 app was received very positively by the Track24 team.
"Thank you for the creative, original and implementable proposals you presented to us."
"In addition to conducting effective and original user research on a new concept called Safe Places, they also presented a critique of the information architecture of our mobile app Smart24, presenting some workable and idiomatic design improvements, and showing how the new feature could live along side and enhance the existing features.
Another highlight was the fact they explored, for the first time in our app, the use of animation to give better explanations and sense of continuity during user flows, using the tool Flinto, which was used to present the high-fidelity prototypes." Sam — Track24
Moving forward, recommendations for the future of the Smart24 app include: