Yesterday - Product Design

August-December 2014

 

Yesterday is an app that helps you create beautiful photo narratives and share your stories with the world.

This was a semester-long project that aimed to develop both my skills in designing an app from scratch, and a chance to explore the decisions I could make in a product where I had full agency. 

Yesterday was born out of a desire to have a frictionless tool to make coherent stories out of all the photos that live on my phone. The ability to tell a visually compelling story is the backbone of social networks and sharing platforms today, but very few of these services are focus on a clean presentation of the story. Facebook provides a cluttered and busy experience, Snapchat focuses on lo-fi, ephemeral sharing, and Instagram is based on single photos.  Many experiences we have cannot be told in a single photo, but that's no reason not to share them. 

Yesterday occupies the space between casual blog posts and the occasional emails to your parents. It's a tool and container - but it is not a social network of its own. You can publish your stories to Yesterday and share it to whomever you please, but if you want to keep these stories for yourself on your phone, that's also perfectly fine. Your stories are as private or public as you wish them to be. 

 

 

Process

I broke down the semester into three months, and dedicated a month each to brainstorming, wireframing, and interactive prototyping. 

I knew the most important thing to pin down was the creation flow. How would it be easiest to create a story out of the thousands of photos that live on your phone?  How much power over the format did I want to give users? Initially, I wanted to give them ability to format their text and crop their images, but these were just added functionalities that increase the complexity and time commitment to story creation - something I did not want. I cut out the distractions and focused on a flow that would auto-format photos in templates based on how many photos a user picked to create their story with. 

For example, stories with five or less photos would be allowed full-width on every photo with room for captions in between each; between five and ten photo stories would begin to collapse portrait photos together into two-column layouts, and more then ten-photo stories would start to collapse photos into four-by square grids. 

Text would be confined to body or title text; no more header text. I wanted to bring my knowledge of print design to digital - none of this body sans-serif type. Our displays are now sophisticated enough now to render serifs, so why not make the consumption experience much better?

Editing a story was just as important. Default templates are not one-size-suits-all, so I knew things like reordering, adding photos, videos, text blocks, and other media had to be simple. I went through a lot of headaches but finally settled on a Material Design-y device, the floating + button, to accomodate a "palette" that would bring whatever media you wanted to bring into your story into your document contextually (based on where you were scrolled to). 

 

Sketches to Sketch

These are some iterations and explorations on different functionalities in Yesterday.

testing out different styles for embedded content - here, we see Instagram and Twitter pulled into a Yesterday story

 

testing out different icons for the photo picking stage of creation