Our lives are completely run by apps on our phones. Let me explain…

Every morning, I wake up and turn off the alarm on my phone. I then check my notifications, which usually consist of emails in my inbox, social media likes/comments, and messages from friends who think its socially acceptable to start a conversation at 3 AM. When I arrive at work, I frequently check Whatsapp in case my boss had to share something on the fly with me. Throughout the day, I browse Instagram, LinkedIn, and Buzzfeed. These “app breaks” are almost like those a smoker would take. Just being able to scroll mindlessly helps me decompress.

After work, I watch YouTube videos. And of course, if I try to do anything productive, an app runs that too. The good thing is, I’m completely aware that I’m an addict. While apps are great ways to ignore your responsibilities at both work and home, they serve huge functions that help us stay connected and informed. For example, this past week when storms were brewing in our area, my family received multiple weather alerts that kept us up to date about power outages, outside conditions, and road closures. While these general weather apps are nice, they don’t really reflect what goes on in my hometown that well. This got me thinking, could an app that is Hillsborough-centric be the answer to a problem like this?

The Gameplan

Last week, I explored how my hometown maintains and organizes its website. While the website wasn’t SO bad, the way it organized the mass amount of information it held was not user-friendly. I also noticed that the website did not perform well on mobile. The navigation was clunky and none of the objects crunched in a way that made viewing easy. To combat this, I proposed an app that would act as a companion to the Hillsborough website that would complement the township’s communication efforts and help the community feel more informed.

Once someone starts using your app, they need to know where to go and how to get there at any point. Good navigation is a vehicle that takes users where they want to go.
– Fabricio Teixeira

I chose to focus this app around parents and new residents who need information quickly and easily. Reestablishing the app to favor community updates and local business/organizations, I was able to really give purpose as to why Hillsborough should even have an app in the first place. To bring the app idea to life, I created a presentation that outlines three different users, their needs, and their lives in Hillsborough.

Working on the user flows throughout the app gave me a newfound appreciation for UI/UX. In many cases, a team has to do thorough research and testing in order to remotely figure out what information their users what and how they prefer – or expect – to find it. While the flows I created were fairly straight forward, it begins to map out how the app will function as a prototype and what integrations (whether it be from other sites, social media, etc.) need to be considered during development.

I think that this first step made the app come to life. By adding in realistic stories, I can see even myself using this very specific app in order to find the information I need. Most times when it comes to my hometown, if it’s not on Facebook or on a sign on the street, I often don’t know anything that’s going on. Do you feel the same about your hometown? Leave a comment below if you think that a township app would make you feel more informed and connected to where you live. Can’t wait to read your responses.


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