EightShapes designed an iPhone app for architecture interns to track their progress with NCARB, the organization that administers professional certification.
Guillermo Ortiz, VP of Development, sought to encourage interns to enter time on the go, between meetings, and commuting to the job site. He wanted to reduce their dependency on the desktop application.
Learning from Interns
We talked to 6 interns to learn more about their approach and attitude toward tracking hours.
Interns aren’t all the same. Some have worked for a while, others are still in school. Technology adoption varies. Some use their phones for everything like many other professionals. Others don’t.
Some interns enter data at their desk at the end of the quarter when reports are due. Others record weekly, diligently using a spreadsheet transferred later to NCARB.
All about one number
Interns don’t care how much they’ve done, only about how much is left. They track how close they are to success.
Designing the Flow
Together with NCARB, we brainstormed the app structure.
Interns pick a task before entering time. The whole list doesn’t fit on one screen, so we nested them in categories.
Entering time is different from entering a phone number or a dollar value. Therefore, we designed a custom interface to minimize taps.
The app answers “How much do I have left?” in two ways: a dashboard summarizes time remaining for each category; and individual tasks show progress meters when swiped.
Submitting for approval
For the minimum product, we left out extensive interaction with the intern’s manager. Instead, they can trigger the process for approval, which happens offline.
Difficult design decisions
The team passionately debated how to handle edits. Ultimately, we determined that overwriting the entry was the least confusing. When users typed the new value, they would see that reflected, and we didn’t have to burden the UI with communicating how the hours would be summed.
Normalizing the Design Language
Designed by EightShapes in 2013, the NCARB.org home page implemented a new visual language and paved the way for the site’s responsive design. With this app, NCARB extended their brand identity beyond their web site.
Looking to the future
When we started this project, EightShapes prepared two distinct style tiles: one based on existing online apps, and the other based on the newer home page design. NCARB chose the latter, which represents NCARB’s visual language for the future.
Elements for native apps
We extended the design language to incorporate additional elements specific to native apps, including form fields, labels, and data displays.
Screens Worth Sharing
The striking data visualizations inspired interns to do something unexpected: they posted screenshots of the “hours completed” view on social media. The time-tracking tool became a way to celebrate career achievement.