Rise Alarm Clock: A Delightfully Clever Way to Set Time
With more than 2,000 alarm apps in the iTunes Store, my colleague, Francisco Inchauste, and I have been asked the same question over and over: Why would you guys design an alarm clock? What makes Rise different? How did you define your concepts and what was your formula for success?
You will never have a complete concept designed, built, and tested in the first go — it takes a design circle of evolution. As your idea evolves overtime, stop to ask yourself, does form follow function? Does an idea add value or will it add clutter and confusion to your application. For example, I built an alarm clock… should I add the ability to tweet or add my wake up time to Facebook? As a concept, these may seem like creative and “buzz-worthy” ideas, but do they ultimately serve as must-have alarm clock functions? Ask yourself, is the idea simplistic and clever? If your instinct says no, then keep trying.
I cannot emphasize this enough in my daily work, test everything. Your work is not complete when a design is done. You need to test with real users… that is what makes or breaks a concept. May be great in pixels, but in the real world, you may find out that it is less than fetching in practice. So, test again, and again… and then one last time for good measure.
Don’t reinvent the wheel
We didn’t set out to reinvent the wheel, but to better an existing experience. The exercise of creating an alarm clock has been done thousands of times over, however, our goal was to create one that would work intuitively with its user. Rise takes you far away from default controls, and redefines how you set your wake up time by a gesture, shake to snooze, time-stamp a snapshot of your day, or replace traditional alarm tunes with a favorite song from your library. It evolved to create a new perspective on the meaning of function. Instead of creating another button, maybe there is a way to incorporate a gesture or catch a movement to engage the user. Listen to your intuition.
User Experience is everything
Even if you have the best design possible for your application, a negative user experience may demolish all of your hard work at once. Of course we can go on discussing at length transitions and user flows, but in the end, what matters is attention to detail. For example, you have an object that bounces at the bottom of a screen, that’s great. Did you take the time to make sure it accounts for gravity or force from the user as the ball is dragged along the screen? Or, if your objects change color, did you take into account that any text associated with the objects may have to change color as well _and _stay legible? Have you provided context in the experience as a user interacts with your app? Take Rise, for example, notice how the sky changes color subtly as time passes throughout the 24 hour cycle, and when you set your alarm, the App calculates how much time remains between now and the alarm time? Rise will also play the alarm tone as you set its volume to give you an idea of how loud it will be. Experiment and see what you can do with context to engage your users.
Looking back on our design journey to create Rise, there is not a single most important idea or approach — the key was staying simple, authentic, and keeping the user at the front of mind. You will achieve success if you remain intuitive and create — and test! — solutions that are simple and clever.