In June 2009 I was approached to participate in an extensive research and development project for the BBC.
The brief was to identify tools and services to improve usability and engagement of the Religion and Ethics section of the BBC website.
Working alongside Matt Patterson (Constituent Parts) we carried out interviews with potential and existing users of the web site to gain insight and recommended a number of tools that the BBC should consider developing.
In March 2010 BBC commissioned a prototype of one of those tools – a multi-faith calendar.
To develop a prototype of a proposed multi-faith calendar based on the initial R&D project.
My role was to conceptualise the product, define the user experience, develop wireframes and provide direction to the visual designer. I was working in a team of 5 consisting of developers, usability designer and visual designer.
We knew the calendar needed to consist of 2 axis, width and depth. Width in the sense that we needed to show events (festivals, feast days, prayer times) spanning a year, and depth in that each event needed to be ‘drilled into’ for detailed information.
We began by researching calendaring tools from across the ages and across the world with a trip to the British Museum.
The visit provided the inspiration that the calendar needed to feel 3D in nature and using it should be almost a tactile (although screen-based) experience.
A 3D calendar
We settled on the notion of a ‘drum’ that could scroll both vertically and horizontally.
The default view would show one entire year with religions appearing stacked in rows around the drum. Festivals, feast days and prayer times would be represented on the drum in terms of the number of days or amount of time they spanned.
I developed a set of 6 personas to enable us to test scenarios
The personas enabled us to conceive some user journies and test concepts throughout the design process.
The tool needed to support various levels of interaction. It needed to have value for a person skimming content to see how different religious festivals related to one another on the time line. It needed to help people research information about religions and religious festivals. It also needed to have a practical application in notifying people when to pray on a daily basis.
In order to satisfy these key requirements of the brief, it needed to be possible to be able to drill down to discover details about each item on the calendar.
We identified key ‘zoom levels’ at which different amounts of detail would be available.
I worked alongside the visual designer on iterations of wireframes followed by polished designs.
Refining designs as they were tested against the personas and the original brief.
The final product
We built a fully functional prototype using real content from BBC website.