Design Critique for C-Board

Feb 2021 • Product Design / Android / Accessibility
A learning experiment: In January 2021, I offered to critique and redesign student projects as a learning experiment for folks. As a student myself, I would spend endless hours trying to perfect my designs to bring it to industry standards. They didn't always feel right or polished.
I wanted to take up a couple of student projects to critique and redesign them with the knowledge that I have today, as a full-time product designer. Here, I look at one such project by @Resham Khanna, where she's volunteering on a project called C-Board for the UNICEF. C-Board is an application for children and adults with language impairments, aiding communications with symbols and text-to-speech.

My approach to this redesign was to keep it simple, functional and accessible.

Follow the story and evolution of designs below.
✍️ Planning the redesign
At this point, Resham and team had already collaborated closely with their partners at UNICEF to redesign the existing experience. With that in mind, I wanted to focus on the finesse of the project, rather than a complete redesign of the experience.

Every project has different needs and circumstances. For this one, it was less about innovation, and more about optimizing the design for repetitive tasks.
📖 System Typography
"Don't reinvent the wheel type-ramp"

Why is this important for mobile?
 Typography usually makes or breaks the experience for mobile users. Given the breadth of devices, form factors, screen densities, accessibility settings and languages — it's nearly impossible to design for every single permutation and combination of these parameters.

The safest route for many apps with smaller teams is to follow native guidelines for typography. Using the system type ramp for iOS and Android will keep it familiar for your users and might save you months of engineering time in the future, as your app scales.
🧭 Simplify your navigation
"Don't make your users think."

Navigational patterns form the foundation for all mobile apps. Apps that have a need for repetitive manual tasks demand simplistic experiences. Ergonomics and native gestures play a deeper role in the design of the apps, and C-Board is a prime example of it. The design phase also needs to account for system level controls like the gesture bars, and the status bars that dictate the visual proportions of headers and more.
🔮 Refine the visual details
It's all about the details - it's a choreography of the grid, the type, the icons, and the colors to create a holistic experience.

In my personal experience, I've seen students and junior designers spending a majority of their time researching the right problem to solve, designing personas and going through detailed research exercises for every new project.

While that's important, what really matters is the outcome of your work as a whole. Is the design truly usable? Does it elegantly and delightfully solve user problems? Is it functional? Can it be made real? It's the visual details that bring it altogether.
🎨 My humble attempt at the redesign
It's not the innovation or the process that will help your designs stand out from others; it's the usability, the familiarity and the simplicity that will.

Resham and team have put in tons of work in coming up with their designs. My designs may not be fully informed by their users, and are redesigned from purely from my personal point of view. This was my humble attempt at illustrating how I would approach finessing an app like C-Board.
🧠 Parting Thoughts
I've reviewed and critiqued work from 100s of students and designers over the past years. The points covered in the critique above reflect and illustrate 60% of the most common mistakes designers make on a day-to-day basis. Your work will stand out, and feel more realistic by just focusing on these small details.

Hope this has been insightful. You can follow me on LinkedIn or Twitter.