Evolving fast: Tip-it!

After evaluating Pinterest, it was now our turn to start developing our own application. The developing consisted of three phases: brainstorming, storyboarding and paper prototyping. During the last session we discovered what the interpretation of these phases were.Β  The new application had to have one theme:

Someone recommends something to someone else


In collaboration with team LPG we started the brainstorming for the new app. A first obstacle to conquer was the urgent need of team LPG to brainstorm on a laptop while having an ideal green board nearby. We won ;). Apart from that small issue, a lot of ideas came out. Each member of the two groups provided enough input and this was the result. Screenshot from 2013-02-27 12:05:28

As you can see, there were three major parts on the green board. We thought about who could use the app, what types the users could recommend and how the recommendation would work.


The next phase of the process was storyboarding. Here we needed to sketch one of the main real-life scenario’s where our application could be used. Due to a time limit we sketched the first thing that came into our minds.We sketched a person on a party recommending that party to a lazy friend using a picture of a beautiful girl. Here you can see the storyboard.


It turned out that the idea of the storyboard should have been also the final idea for the application. Because of three main reasons we decided not to go further on this kind of application. First, the application was actually just a replacement for an SMS/MMS. Second, there would be a lot of privacy issues with taking pictures of (un)known people. Third and the most important, we didn’t actually like this kind of application ourselves en weren’t fully enthusiastic. Back to the drawing board!

The second iteration we started by brainstorming about the actual purpose of the application and for what we would use this kind of app. We came to the conclusion that in our environment recommendations were mostly about URL’s. We liked the idea of speeding up recommending URL’s and this became the base of the next storyboard.


This time our storyboard pictured a guy surfing. At a one moment he is watching some funny stuff online and immediately he thinks of his friend Carl. He thinks Carl would really like this site. So he ‘Suggests’ it to his friend. A bit later Carl has taken a look at the site and he informs his friend that he liked it. While storyboarding we found also the perfect name four our brand new application: Tip-It!Β 

Paper Prototyping

The next phase of the process was paper prototyping. In this phase we created some prototypes of the interfaces out of paper. With these we can then test the normal flow of the application quickly without having to do any implementation. Our drawing skills were tested to the maximum.



With curiosity we look forward to test our prototype to real users!


11 Responses to Evolving fast: Tip-it!

  1. So I send a tip to a friend and my friend can access this tip. Does that mean the tip is private? Have you considered other options than just the one to one tips?

    • thomasdemoor says:

      At this moment, the tip is indeed private between the sender and the receiver. But it is possible in our application though to set up a one – to – many tip by filling in multiple names in the receiver field. This will be more clarifying when you will see the paper prototype.
      We might consider to make all the tips public, but this is a consideration that we will have to do in the future, depending on some user’s feedback and so on.

  2. michaelg1989 says:

    I see you made the chose to create your paper protoype using a web browser. Any reason why you did it? Did you consider using smartphone paper prototypes?

    • thomasdemoor says:

      The main reason to do the paper prototype with a web browser is because we think our application will be more convenient and successfull in a web browser. This doesn’t exclude the use of a mobile application. We discovered with our own smartphones what was possible and found out that it was perfectly possible to use our application on a mobile device. So in the future, we will probably make also a paper prototype for mobile devices and maybe develop both environments for our application.

  3. tommpiot says:

    Most (fun) sites have a “mail this to a friend” button. At first glance, it seems tip-it doesn’t really offer anything new. However, hidden in the storyboard are some elements that I think could really distinguish Tip-it:

    *Instead of cluttering the mailbox / facebook wall, all tips could be centralized in a tip-it toolbar.
    *It is instantly clear if somebody recommended something new to you.
    *You can search your (and your friends their) history of recommendations for easy access.

    There are still some pitfalls with this kind of application. Take care in the design/develop process to deal with the following situations:

    *It’s not always funny: Do you risk your friendship by saying your friend’s cat pictures are boring?
    *Too much fun is unfun: Take measures to fight spammers who always send everything they see to everyone in their contact list.
    *It’s only funny for 5 seconds: The application should be fast in use. Really fast. The joke’s over after having to click more than 3 buttons to suggest or read something.

    I believe that, in addition to focusing on usability, it is important in the next steps to also increase the usefulness by really innovating the recommendation process. Why? Because usability alone is not a great selling point – everyone takes it for granted something is usable. To create interest in the other chikul students Tip-it also needs some spice to distinguish it from the “mail it to a friend” button.

    Good luck πŸ™‚

    • thomasdemoor says:

      Thank you for the constructive comment. We totally agree with your positive elements that will distinguish Tip-It!
      We will also certainly keep your pitfalls in mind. As you said, usablility is of great importance and we will focus on that to improve our application.

  4. gertvanwijn says:

    First of all, we only wanted to record the brainstorm immediately on one of our laptops, so we wouldn’t have to make it later, which we did πŸ™‚

    Second of all, thanks for the two links to our blog !

    About your ideas:
    I like the idea of tipping things you encounter online to other users. If you can offer a service that sends this tips very fast to the other user, this might be a successful idea.
    On the other hand, I also agree with Tom’s remark, that it should add something, beside the ‘mail to friend’-aspect. If you can come up with something special, users might be drawn to your application more that to other applications that provide the same service.

    At last, it’s nice you guys decided that the application should be used on a computer. This makes that you can draw a prototype for a computer screen which gives your more space for buttons etc., which you wouldn’t have it you wanted to have an app for different platforms (like tablets or smartphones) !

  5. Pingback: Human recommending and badges in my HCI course | Erik Duval's Weblog

  6. srousseeuw says:

    To start off, I think you made a good choice to not work out for your first storyboard, you’ve gave the reasons yourselves πŸ™‚

    The second storyboard was a better one, however, it was not clear for me who was who without reading the text, which maybe can improved with some colours, some dashed lines,…

    One last thing about your prototype, I really like it πŸ™‚ It seems very clear without any explanation needed. You even thought about the notifications: “you liked the tip” and “you didn’t like the tip”.

  7. Dimitri Vargemidis says:

    I really think it was a great and courageous decision to rethink your first storyboard. With this second storyboard, it feels like something more unique than what’s already available today.

    The only problem I have is that it’s not very clear to me what happens with the mobile phone part in your storyboard. Does it need a (simplified) app as well in order to receive new recommendations or notifications? Or is it done by sms? Can’t I just use the url I received on my mobile phone to visit the url?

    • thomasdemoor says:

      The mobile part should indeed require a simplified mobile application. Further, it has to be possible to install this mobile application as a plug-in in a web browser on your mobile phone, so you can use the app in about the same way as your computer. The space on the mobile screen when you are surfing is certainly a limit that we’ll have to take into account. The remark on the URL’s is a good one. We haven’t thought about it ourselves, but this is definitely something important, because it is a lot faster when you can load mobile URL’s. This will improve certainly the usability of the application.

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