Inspix is a side project that I have been doing since January 2018 with a friend of mine who studies Graphic Design at Norwich University of the Arts, Emma McIlwaine. I started writing about the project in several of my reflective journals and other individual posts, however since this is a side project this is where it will now all be documented.
Read these first!
Inspix was first mentioned in the January 8-12th Reflective Journal as a side project that I started working in. In this post, I mentioned a little about the background of the project and how it came about.
The ‘proof of concept’ version was discussed in a blog post about how you can use the Node.js framework to upload files to a server and then display them back on the page.
It was mentioned again in the January 15-19th Reflective Journal from the perspective of Emma and I beginning to plan who our target audience is and exactly what we want the app to be.
I started a project with a friend who studies Graphic Communication at my university. We met each other at the university’s coding society where we began to work on creating an ‘Instagram replica’ together, the idea being that it would be a site where users could upload a photo and then be presented with two photos at a time, of which they had to choose one that they liked. Then they would be presented with another two. Up until now we had only produced a non-functioning mock-up of a ‘profile page’ using very basic HTML and CSS, but from this point forward we decided to actually try and create the site.
Emma has been learning code for a little while now and wants an interesting project to put in her portfolio amongst the work she creates for her Graphic Communication degree. I felt it would be good to collaborate with a student on another course using our skillsets to create an interesting product, so I agreed to help her with this.
Up to January 26th
Up until the point of writing this, we have done the following:
Come up with a name and a logo
We called the site ‘Inspix’ (‘ins’ being derived from ‘instant’, with it being a mobile web app and ‘inst’ being a popular prefix in the photography community at the moment: ‘Instagram’, ‘Instax’ camera and so on. ‘Pix’ meaning pictures or ‘pixels’, inferring that it’s a digital application for digital photographs) and set about designing a logo. We spent a lot of time thinking about elements to include in the logo such as hearts or Polaroid photos and also the shape and colours of the logo based on logos for current popular photo apps and in the end we came up with this:
Create a basic ‘proof of concept’ website
Before we went any further I used Node.js to create a very basic website which allows the user to upload a file to a server (a physical server in my house). I wanted to make sure that it would actually be possible to create a website and set up a server that would allow us to upload images and display images back on a website. The proof of concept was a success and is documented in this blog post. By creating a proof of concept, we are able to move forwards and start developing a front-end and make the back-end more sophisticated.
Define a target audience and unique selling points of our app
Following a talk about UX from Foolproof employee Pete Abbott about user experience design at university on January 17th, the Inspix project that Emma and I have been doing had now taken a different turn for the time being. Emma is now getting interested in UX so we focused on really defining our defining target audiences and what exactly we want Inspix to be, before we start to really continue with designing the system. This is great for me because it allows me to practice doing a bit of user research, target audience consideration and (eventually) user persona creation before doing it for my actual university projects – this is a little like doing it in a ‘sandbox environment’. It’s also great to inspire another student. I feel that if I can interest her in the subject then I am able to deliver the information to her in a way that shows I understand what I am talking about.
Below are are some diagrams we created showing how our thought processes on defining our target audience and what we want the app to be. We spent several hours talking and diagramming this. We found drawing spider diagrams was an easy way to link ideas and points together.
We appreciated that there were already several large photo-sharing platforms out there, all with different pros and cons. We wanted our one to stand out from the rest, which are currently mainly aimed solely at sharing photos and receiving gratitude in the form of likes. Instagram currently seems to be the king of photo-sharing platforms and is popular amongst teenagers and young adults, but other than uploading photos and videos it serves very little purpose. We decided that to make our app stand out it would need a clear purpose.
We decided that there is a gap in the market for apps designed to give arts students inspiration. Arts students are required to draw inspiration from critical references to produce their work. The nature of Inspix is that it is a photo/graphics/video comparison app, where the user is displayed with two images and they can tap on one to ‘like it’. The other image disappears and then another one similar to the one you just liked appears. This allows you to compare images and draw inspirations. The images you like can be saved to a moodboard than can be exported to a PDF or an image for use in your work. These are two things that the competition don’t really have or cater for. The target audience is of course students, our own age (we’re both 20). We understand this market very well so feel that we can produce an app that caters for it.
Professional networking is something that LinkedIn only really does – and that’s just like a public CV. There currently appears to be no social network at the moment that can help you design a professional portfolio that professionals can see. We both know that professional networking opportunities are vital to university students in helping them to find industry contacts to connect to businesses for internship and job opportunities. We envisage that Inspix with its educational roots could be a place for professionals and companies to talent spot individuals who post great content on their profiles.