This introduction will prepare and inform, once read, there should be a better understanding of the project. It will also include the aims and objectives of the project, which will be discussed to provide clarity. The aim of this project was to create an app that locates coffee shops for a user that are in a sudden need of coffee. This project was proposed by the supervisor because he believed there was an issue with finding coffee shops when in a rush, this is because when a person is in a rush or has a lack of time but needs a quick pick me up like coffee, they would have to go look around which is time consuming and not practical due to their situation. This app provides a service that allows users to specifically locate coffee shops instantly and give the user directions to that coffee shop, including a very presentable and easy, simple user interface and design, that is appealing as well as practical.
There are other apps out there that are similar to ‘Get Me Coffee’ but they differ in the aspect of specifically locating coffee shops. For example google maps can provide this service but you would have to go and type in the search bar or filter results to only show coffee shops which can be long and tedious for those who want results fast. That’s where the proposed app differs and is unique. It instantly provides what the user wants, it shows coffee shops with the click of one single button and there is no other distraction or time wasting.
The targets and plans set in the proposal were followed very carefully, as the feedback for the proposal was very good and so it made sense to carry on working in the direction discussed as that would hopefully lead to better outcomes in this report. The proposed app was built in android studio and the language used was java, one reason of which was because of (Butler, 2011) that will be explained in more detail later. Many problems were faced in the production process in regards to the software used but these will be discussed later in the critical appraisal section.
The aim of the project is to research, design, build and evaluate a mobile app that finds the nearest coffee shop for a user.
• Review the background to coffee shop apps based around existing academic literature on GPS location
• Design a user friendly and simple UI for the App
• Develop an app that provides information for users on the closest coffee shops in their vicinity
• Evaluate the overall success of the Get Me Coffee App via a focus group and manual analysis
• Formally document the project process and the product construction process in a formal report
Design and Implementation
This chapter will explain how the design of the app came to be and how it was implemented. This will be done through the use of storyboards, use case diagrams and the research that was carried out to find the best way to make the app. The user interface was built in accordance to how previous mobile apps have been produced.
First research was carried out to find what app users want in there apps and how they preferred their applications to look and feel. This research was carried out through the reviewing of numerous literature, like (Dogruel, Joeckel, & Nicholas, 2015), (Iqbal, Lee, & Lee, 2013), (Shull, 2012) and (Nilsson, 2009). These helped provide valuable information on how to design the app, how it should perform when a user accesses it and how to make it an app that someone will choose over others. For example (Shull, 2012) states “No matter how hard developers try to keep it simple, inevitably some complexity in the resulting apps arises, and users have to manage this on a fairly small screen. Consistency in design and layout is something that can help users quickly master the complexity and intuitively manipulate the mobile device.” This helped early on as it showed that the app needed to be simple and to avoid complexities and try to minimize overcrowding of the small screen of the mobile phone, which is how the app ended up, simple and utilizing the small screen space very well.
Once the research was completed, targets were set so that when creating the app, the direction of production wouldn’t divert too far from what was intended. This made it easier to stay on schedule and stay focused, because knowing where things need to be headed is better than going in blind.
Use Case diagram
A use case diagram is a depiction of a user’s interaction with a specific system, in this case it’s the app. A use case diagram shows the possible actions a user can take when using a system and what paths the user can use to get to their desired goal.
Now the use case diagram shown above shows how the user can interact with the ‘Get Me Coffee’ app. The user presses the one button available on the main page, which then takes them to the next page, which shows the map and the location of the user and all the nearest coffee shops. From there the user can share their location and get directions to the coffee shops.
Difference between proposal
In the proposal it was pointed out that there would be added features which can be seen in the use case diagram from ‘view coffee shops’ and all the feature attached to that, however these could not be added to the app due to time constraints, as to include these features it would of taken a considerably long time due to the advanced level of coding and also time which was not available.
On the left is the proposed design of the app, the images look simple and straightforward and the reason behind that design was because the whole purpose of the app was to be simple, easy to use and quick. So the idea was to not make it have many buttons or a complicated user interface and to use the mobile phone screen space, as mentioned previously in research, well and keep things compact. Also it should be mentioned that the proposed design got good feedback from the supervisor and so it made sense to stick to that design.
On the right is the actual app design and it can be seen that the app stays very close to the proposed design, it doesn’t over complicate and keeps things simple and straightforward and follows the use case diagram, up to the point of viewing coffee shops which wasn’t included as previously mentioned.
The tools used for the implementation was android studio and the language was java. The reasons for this choice came from when reviewing literature, from the literature (Butler, 2011) it was discovered that there are more android users than any other mobile phone platform, like apple. So the decision was made to use android studio and java. Also the fact that when researching on previous products, it was found that there was no app like ‘Get Me Coffee’ in the android market and so it was a great platform for this app to succeed in.
On the home page there’s a feature that asks for the users location which was suggested in the proposal due to privacy concerns as mentioned in (Almuhimedi , et al., 2015). So a prompt was put in place to ask the user whether they would like there location used to or not.
The Google API was used when creating this app, this decision wasn’t alone, initially it was proposed in the proposal that both Google API and Foursquare API would be used, but in the production stage it was discovered that the lack of time would not allow for both to be used and so a choice was made to use the Google API instead. The image below shows the API being utilized, it can be seen where the API key is being called and the making of the URL for nearby location.
Alternatively the Foursquare API could have been chosen instead of the Google API which would of provided much more places to search for and it would of allowed the app to do what was proposed in the proposal in that the menus, opening times etc. could have been added to the map view. However the Google API provided much more access and features, one of which was the link with google maps and GPS tracking, which in the long run was better for the app as the core purposes of the app were fulfilled.
This chapter covered the main areas of design and implementation and showed the fundamental points and processes that were undertaken during the course of creating the app.
The testing method that was used was using focus groups. The reason behind this decision was because in the proposal it was proposed that the best method for testing this app would be to use focus groups and the feedback for that was very good, therefore it was decided to keep to the proposal and test the app via a focus group.
TEST (FOCUS GROUP)
A focus group is a form of qualitative research where a group of people are questioned about their feelings, beliefs, attitudes and opinions towards any number of things, in this case, its towards the app. Questions are asked to a group where the participants can actively converse with other group members and talk about their views on the matter.
This test was targeted at university students and working employees as the app was intended for them. The first focus group included seven university students, the test was kept anonymous and the participants will be identified by id numbers. Now it should be mentioned that due to the university not having android studio it was not possible for the students to be tested all at the same time on the computers, so instead the app was put on a mobile phone device and given to the students one by one. Each student was given five minutes to test the app, this was more than enough time but it was given in case some students needed the time. All the students didn’t use the full five minutes and this was questioned later. Once all the students had a turn on the app they were given ten minutes to discuss the app. After they were done discussing they were given questionnaires on a computer to fill in which had questions relating to the test. Then the forms were gathered and read and all the data was collected to create a review that showed the successes/failures of the app. You can see this in the evaluation section.
The next focus group included three working employees, again the test was kept anonymous and the participants will be identified by id numbers. Each of them work in different environments so it was interesting to see how each reacted to the app. one is an IT technician, the other is an audiologist and the last participant is a carpet fitter, three distinctly different jobs. The it technician is isolated and isn’t under constant pressure like the others so comparing his feedback to the other two was thought-provoking, the audiologist is more busy and has to constantly interact with people so the feedback from him was interesting, the carpet fitter moves from one fitting job to another so his feedback was also interesting. The same process was carried out as mentioned before with the university students. The review can be seen in the evaluation section and the questionnaires can be viewed in the appendix.
Also white box testing, individual testing was carried out and results were recorded in a test data document, which can be seen below.
So it was discovered that the test was very influential and a lot was discovered due to these tests. Most feedback was positive towards the app and any criticism was well received and will be taken into consideration when developments on the app are made.
In this section the main areas of the project will be analysed and discussed. This will include the differences and similarities between the final end product of the project and the proposal. Also as mentioned earlier, the review of the tests carried out will be discussed here in detail and what was found from the results of the test.
DIFFERENCES AND SIMILARITIES BETWEEN PROPOSAL AND END PRODUCT
In the proposal a certain outline was detailed for the app, it was that it was to be simple, straightforward and easy to use for anyone who uses it, as the intended purpose of the app was for users to be able to locate coffee shops near their location, from wherever they are, quickly and efficiently. Now looking at the app it can be said that this was executed almost perfectly, as the app was made to be very simple and the testing carried out adds further proof to that point. From the moment the user opens the app it takes the user three very, very quick steps to get to what they need, which is directions to a coffee shop of their choice, whether it be the closest for rushing users or a coffee shop of which the user desires.
(INSERT IMAGES OF THE 3 STEPS HERE)
One area where the proposal differs from the final product is that the idea of using the Foursquare API was not accomplished. Using it had many advantages as mentioned by (Zickuhr, 2013) “offers real-time location-triggered suggestions that incorporate friends’ and other users’ activities and recommendations”. The Foursquare API could have added many additional features to the app that would have helped the social aspects of the app but the lack of time available hindered the use of this API and maybe if more time was available this could have been used and improved the app immensely.
Furthermore another plan proposed in the proposal that wasn’t added and is also linked to the Foursquare API is that the app doesn’t including additional information on the coffee shops. The app simply allows the user to click on a coffee shop and just get the name and address of the place and then directions to it. Having further information on the coffee shops was something that was desperately wished but again time played a factor and this could not be included.
Another similarity between the final product and the proposal was to include features that blocked the app from accessing the user’s location. This was proposed because of the mass issues online regarding location data. As (Andrienko, et al., 2013) mentions “The phones we carry around as we go about our daily lives do not only provide a convenient way to communicate and access information but also pose privacy risks by collecting data about our movements and habits.” So it was decided to have the app use only the user’s location and to ask the user, every time they use the app, whether they would like the app to access the user’s location. And when the app is switched off the location tracking is also stopped. Also no other part of the user’s phone is accessed so it gives the user peace of mind that the app will not record any private data they do not want recorded.
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REVIEW OF TESTS CARRIED OUT
The results from the focus group tests were very informative and provided very important information on whether the app succeeded in what it set out to do or not.
Firstly it was found that from everyone who answered the questionnaires, from the first focus group and second, they all gave positive feedback in regards to the close ended questions and all said they would download the app. These questionnaires can be viewed in the Appendix.
They all found the design of the app to be well done and so were happy with the user interface and this links to the proposal where there was a section on UI Design and what literature talks about that topic and how to utilize the small screen of the phone to its fullest. So the feedback from the test showed that justice was done to the research made in the proposal and that the app utilized that research and has accomplished the task of creating a good user interface.
Next, the participants of the test agreed with the question “does the app do what its set out to do”. Every one of the testers agreed with this and so this resulted in the fact that the app accomplished its main objective, which was to create an app that provided users with quick access to coffee shops near their location.
“Is the app helpful/useful for you”, this question was answered with again, all positive feedback. This showed that the app was something all testers found useful and so proves that the idea for starting this project and building this app was good one.
Now there was one open ended question in the questionnaire that allowed the users to write what they liked best about the app, most replied to this with very positive feedback. Two of which need worth mentioning, first was that one tester who was sixty four said that he didn’t use apps much but this app was easy for him to use. This is excellent feedback as it shows the app tailors to an older age group and that it is again very simple to use, which was also mentioned by a few other testers. Second was that the audiologist mentioned that they liked the idea of the app and that it was something that believed would be very useful to other people. This reply coming from a full time busy worker adds praise to the app in that it appeals to the people of busy lifestyles and is something that they would like.
The question on “what are the biggest problems with the app” was an excellent way to find out what users found was missing from the app, even though all the testers answered previous questions positively, some did have a few mentions on what the app was missing. This was a great platform to get some advice on what could be added or changed to make the app even better. It must be mentioned that most replies to this question were not about the core areas of the app and were more about bonus features that could improve the overall experience of the app. These will be discussed further in the critical appraisal section.
As shown earlier in the testing section, white box testing was carried out and the results were recorded in a test data format. From this testing, it was gathered that all of the main attributes and features of the app worked as intended and that all expected outputs turned out as intended and so all tests done were given passes. This showed that the app works from beginning to end and that there’s not errors and crashed. The app works smoothly through out all steps taken. See individual testing for figure 5 which shows the test data.
So in this chapter it could be seen that the individual testing provided a suitable way to find if the app works properly and whether the app could be out to the focus groups. Also the focus groups were crucial to finding if the app would work in the general public and whether people would actually like it. And to find problems that could be changed and features that could be added.
Critical appraisal is a popular process used which detects the strengths and weaknesses of many materials, in this case the ‘Get Me Coffee’ app.
So in this section the apps successes, failures and shortcomings will be discussed. As mentioned previously in other sections there is plenty to talk about and assess in regards to the app.
One very important point is that the app stayed very close to the proposal, most of what was proposed and planned is what eventually happened and created. This was because of the good feedback given for the proposal and so it was very clear that the project was headed in the direction and it would be a good idea to stick to that direction.
The testing proved a success because from it many faults were found within the app which is good as it helps in the overall success and development of the app. However it should be mentioned that the faults found were not severe and only either minor cosmetic issues or little features that could be added to overall improve the experience of the app. One fault that was found was that when the user finds a coffee shops and gets directions to it, the app doesn’t show the distance in metric units. Therefore the user would have to just the distance by the line given by the app. This could be improved so that upon giving directions the distance is given and this would improve the experience of that app as it’s a feature that can only help.
Additionally another tester found that the app would be better with an internal GPS that follows the user and gives live directions. Now the app does have this feature but it’s an external one in that it opens up google maps and carries out the function through that. The tester thought that it would be better if it was all internal as and this is a good point because one problem that can arise is that, however unlikely it is, some people may not have google maps and so having this feature built into the app would make the app much more useful.
Another query made by a tester was that when the app starts and the user clicks on the button that locates the user’s location, the map doesn’t fall exactly onto the user and instead lands slightly off. It does fall on the same area as the user but just slightly off. Now for this a feature was put in place that brings the user to center view via pressing a track button in the top right corner, but the tester wasn’t aware of this. Nevertheless this is something that should be fixed so that the user wouldn’t need to use the track feature, it should be there as more of a failsafe and not a constant requirement.
In the Use Case Diagram provided in a previous section it could be seen that one proposed idea for the app was to have a section where the user could view and a selected coffee shops opening, closing times and menu. This was not added due to time constraints but it’s something that could be added to majorly improve the overall accessibility of the app as it gives an alternative audience, people who aren’t in a rush, something more and useful. This could also add to the social aspect of the app and attract way more people.
Lastly, there was one idea that wasn’t proposed in the proposal but one that could greatly improve user experience and repeated use of the app. It was to create a section where users of the app could save favorite locations and then find these locations without having to manually find the places on the map. This would save a lot of time for repeat users and for those that only like going to select few coffee shops as it gives them a way to bypass the normal routine and find directions to saved destinations much quickly and easily.
So to summarise it can be seen that the tests carried out, played a major role in the critiquing of the app and finding problems that otherwise may not have been found. This also helps with the overall development of the app as now it can be made to become something more and better for users that aren’t the intended targets, the app can branch out to a wide variety of people. Lastly the comparison between the proposal and final outcome of the project showed that the app kept mostly faithful to the proposal and the targets set out were mostly followed and achieved.
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