In 1992, IBM launched a device Simon Personal Communicator. Apart from calling, this device was capable of sending and receiving emails, faxes, and pages. It had a notes collection, an address book, calendar, world clock, and a appointment scheduling system. And yes, Also included a stylus!
It is arguably the world’s first “smartphone”, three years before the world even recognized the term “smartphone”. Today, smartphones are owned by 80% of internet users and half of them grab it immediately after waking up. They will, on average, touch this aluminium wrapped silicon a whooping 2617 times on average during the day.
Design follow people and if people are converting 64% more on mobile than desktop, its definitely the time to reconsider our priorities as communicators. Its time to learn and invade the haunting yet fascinating realms of flexibility and responsiveness. Our dream of people talking through palms has been finally realized but as always, there is a twist.
Mobile is well, mobile!
It something that is ever moving, being put in pockets, sit on, dropped, picked up, used thoroughly whether its rains or blazing hot sun trying to prevent us from looking at the rectangular piece of glass where all little bulbs combine to do magic. Its specie mutated to give birth to a whole lot of crazy before settling in to a rounded rectangle that follows the exact same proportions as the ancient roman architecture.
But for us, the people who hold wear odd-colored glasses and have a glowing fruit icon on our aluminium abacuses, the challenges have wandered into a strange dimension. We have a new dark monster in the game and its called “The Width” and unlike Doctor Strange, we don’t own the Eye of Agamotto so we can’t reverse the time and go back to the sweet past of 900px.
Peace Plus was my way to getting out from the spectator cloud and check the waters and I choose a bit of a unique ship as a first step ton this heroic journey and its a bit of an oxymoron but I like the contrast.
Prayers are a world wide thing and given the invading nature of smartphones, it was obvious for it to insert itself in the long held religious and cultural aspect of our lives. Muslims pray 5 times daily and its quite invasive for a religion existing in the 21st century, Those prayers have fixed timing and they all are performed towards a specific place: “The Ka’bah”. This direction is called “Qibla”.
The invention of GPS made it easier for them to locate the direction to pray and the little calculators we own has the ability to remember the specific timings of the day and can notify us of them. This has made the act of praying “mobile” a smooth experience for everyone. Usually, the prayers are followed by a period of “Zikar/Dhikar”, which is essentially praising the God and asking for blessings. Traditionally, the approach to design for the praying experience has been well, “orthodox”. Quite contradictory to the notion of minimalism that has been floating around for quite sometime.
Peace Plus is a response to that. It is an amalgam of this religious act and modern design. I kept the design as minimal and direct as possible so the user can focus on prayer and not of the decorative art that serves nothing but decor. This has served well as we humans are quite good at adapting to even the most cruelest of usability patters (Hint: iOS Dropdowns) given the time and enough motive. And as design had no specific religion, it helped me in improving this experience too. I researched about the prayer applications that exist and nearly all were riddled with shunned usability patterns with the focus leaning from usability to aesthetics. The app tried to be the center stage of an act that its should just shy from. The interface should feel like its not even there as the user needs to feel a connection to God that’s the whole essence of praying.
I love paper prototyping personally, its way less time consuming, its fast, its rough, cheap and can be discarded. There are no strings attached to it unlike most of prototyping apps out there that make the initial stages of prototyping more engaging and bend the designer away from taking newer options. After generating a diverse set of layouts, I tested them on the perfect user for the app: My Mom. Asked her to tell the name and time of current prayer and gave her 7 seconds per prototype and I chose the one that took the least amount of her time.
I showed them to a few people and did the same. This one still glowed more among others. I was about to keep it the same till I realized that putting the direction to pray in a separate page requires the user to do more interactions with the app thus requiring more time.
I took a leap of faith, gave the sleeping pill to the minimalist in my head and moved Qibla right on the same page.
So it takes user zero clicks to see: 1) Qibla Direction 2) Name of prayer 3) Timing of prayer 4) Time remaining till next prayer 5) The Georgian and Islamic Date
The most important use case i.e Time of current prayer took approx. 2.5 seconds for a teenager in the first go and 1.7s after getting familiar with the interface. An elder took 8 seconds in the first go and it went down to 3.2s afterwards. Its not perfect but I had to cater both age groups and it demanded liveliness for the young and ease of readability for the elder.
I also DIYed a simple screen reach-ability test. This made sure the main user cases don’t require difficult finger movements and remain in the proximity of thumb.
The second most important use case for the app was the Zikar and this was the feature I was most excited about and this is where the giant and cute button at the bottom comes in.
By adding a personalized Zikar through voice or text, the user doesn’t need to remember that phrase and read/listen to it at the time of Zikar. In the extended version of the app, I also added a feature that lets users keep a set of Zikar that can have multiple phrases in the order and count they wish to do them and the related analytics but in this exercise I kept the experience concise.
This is what the interface looks like for a normal Zikar use-case without selecting any specific one. It takes two clicks.
If the user selects a specific one, the main Zikar interface immediately slides in with the selected item and the entire process still takes two clicks and it take three only if the user drags the list.
I wanted to achieve an experience that is very simple yet provides the necessary infromation in the right priority and in as few interactions as possible. Prayer is something very private and no one, not even an app should be invasive enough to disturb that connection.