A New York City illustrator
transitioning to design & code.
It's easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.
—Grace Hopper, as quoted in the U.S. Navy's Chips Ahoy magazine (July 1986)
As the Project Manager on Home Again, I led the team in brainstorming app ideas for our category (crime) and our resources (NYC Open Data); I also came up with the name. During the hackathon I assisted Thinley with his functions as Design Lead since I have a design background. I designed and created wireframes throughout the project's evolution, drew the app icon, and wrote out specifications for the Mental Health Crisis button.
Home Again was my first experience using the Sketch application for wireframes. I had to generate the wireframes quickly to keep up with our evolving vision of the app (as we were eager for the input of the more experienced mentors provided during the hackathon). I learned how important visuals are to discussing and reimagining the user's flow through an app. We wanted a very simple and straightforward flow as we imagined our users would be under considerable stress while using the app to find critical resources like food and shelter.
I sketched out the logo on the train and ferry on the way home from the first night of the hackathon; I was pleased with the final result as it emphasizes the ownership of your own experience of coming home with the key. The small light shape in the lower right of the icon is meant to be read as both an house and an arrow pointing up (towards a better situation, hopefully). We used the colors in the logo throughout the app as they were deemed soothing and non-institutional.
A "crisis button" was recommended by one of our advisors and I thought it would be an important addition to the app. I researched available resources and decided on NYC's "Well" hotline, as it was easy to access via phone, free, and fit in well with the other resources we were locating with NYC Open Data. The Well hotline connects New Yorkers in mental health crisis with certified counselors.
I was very concerned with the UX of the crisis button, as it served a different function than the other parts of the app. I wanted it to be prominently shown so a user would not have to search for it or, worse, never even find it in the first place. It should also be easy to use and understand what it would do, which required fitting a lot of information in a very small space. I was happy with our final design and very glad Eric was able to implement it so close to the specifications I made. It was a smaller part of the overall app, but a crucial one for the community we were serving.
While we didn't win the hackathon, our demo (slides by me) and app were very well received. I ended up doing a lot of design work to allow my other teammates to work on the tech they wanted to, and while I learned a lot about Sketch, User Interface design, and User Experience design, I wish I had communicated with my Tech Lead more so I could have assigned more coding responsibilities to myself. I believe I remedied this inclination to lean on my design skills at the expense of growing as a coder while working on Story Tell.