Starting your first real design is quite daunting. On one hand I was afraid of doing too much and on the other, terrified of over-simplifying it. I stuck on and with the insight of the team, testing amongst friends and the awesome local Ann Arbor folks, we achieved a simple design that is hard to re-think anymore.

The Mockup Process (finding the right look)

Seven iterations led to the current DoGood design. Some may find that to be a lot, however I worked on a process of reduction.

The basic design principle of such a deed system has not been touched much. The standard title takes prominence. There is a done button to mark your interaction. All pretty basic framework but how does one keep it simple and be visually different? I enjoy good print and one of the beauties of print is well-written copy. I strove for the same with DoGood. A beautiful copy set in a clean sans-serif – on the iPhone, we made do with Helvetica – especially the Akzidenz Grotesk on a gold bar was too good to give up. A couple of alternative color themes from the Facebook Blues to the Ning Greens were also considered.

The color scheme changed a few shades to be what it is here. This however, only experience will teach a person. What we see on our desktops/laptops is usually a screen with a 72dpi resolution, almost half in comparison to the iPhone’s much smaller but dense 163dpi screen. Having an iPhone is not completely necessary if you’re in a team but save yourself the trouble and get it. Recognize the device for its strengths and cons. The darks on the iPhone get amplified so lighten things up during design. These things seem small but they can be that slight difference in what our design should look like but it doesn’t.

Having a color scheme and content is crucial because they are the visual and mental interactions with the app. But how do we make it social. Don’t re-invent the wheel, another simplicity principle kicked in. We wanted it to grow organically. Adding a connection to Twitter & Facebook was the simplest thing to do. A connected audience of about 200million out of which there is a subset of a 40million user iPhone audience. It only seemed like the natural thing – this too is a lesson we learned at FOWA & BarCamp earlier this year in Miami. Gary Vaynerchuk’s H-U-S-T-L-I-N-G and Daniel Burka’s ‘Realign, Don’t Redesign’ had left a will to push out a simple yet well-rounded app using the social networks easily available.

How does one feel connected to the movement?

We had merely been giving out a task for people but there was no imprint of a DoGood sentiment. The Stories feature was a simple way to give people the chance to share their thoughts with the world. A simple location stamp, marked their involvement to show the global reach of the movement. We had seen other comment systems and most used callouts or boxes. It seemed natural that people got this format instinctively so the design was done to accommodate the engraved tabs with simple quotes.

The (Quantifiable) Impact of the Movement

Its hard to gauge the impact of an anonymous audience. A counter helped add numbers to the movement. A visual dashboard to display the statistics was a tough one to design. I almost always overdid it. Perhaps it was the little child in me wanting to make it too beautiful. A point where utility is forgotten over beauty. A simple recessed counter came in as a surprise but I’m glad it did.

A global counter gets prominence at the top. I opted to keep the full counter with the zeros to show our optimism for the potential of numbers we wanted DoGood to impact.

To tie it all up…

DoGood is my first iPhone project and at many times felt I needed to do much more. My goal for perfection was coming in my way. So when does one know its the time to stop? Well, you don’t but do one thing – show it to people. Ask a complete stranger to interact with it at a local restaurant or bar. All those things you assumed were buttons and arrows aren’t actually that to the end user. In the mode of design, one may get too absorbed in it. Having an outside perspective is tangent altering, better; if you can find both iPhone & non-iPhone users. Designing DoGood has taught me a lot in tackling interface design. I only hope to make DoGood much more enriching yet always maintaining it’s simplicity.