Alex Akers reached out to me in June 2012, looking to explore solutions to a problem: existing calendar and scheduling apps were unfit to document complex medication regimens. Better-suited apps existed, but were second-class visual citizens on the iPhone.
High-fidelity UI comps, documented user journeys
Visual Design, User Interface Design
We had worked together on an earlier version of the application a year before, mimicking the iPad’s visuals to create a feeling of “newness” for users. User journeys and basic functionality were solid from this version, but the app’s efficacy was hampered by limited visual appeal.
After this lackluster reception of our original, stock interface, we decided to make the Arex UI into something novel, if unoriginal — clearly, inspiration is taken from the iOS 6-era Calendar and Find my Friends apps.
How, through aesthetics, can we build overtop the existing app’s structure with inviting, different, but known visuals?
I delivered an app icon and interface that was consistent with Apple’s then-currently visual language surrounding scheduling and reminders, built around a scheduling and database structure built for complex medication regimens, enabling users to set detailed mediation reminders by date, time, and location, as well as allowing users an eagle-eye view of their regimens to determine refill rates, and a ground-level view of their next doses.
We looped through a number of different icon possibilities — it needed to visibly cite the interface, while combining medication with timing, scheduling, calendar, cycling. The initial draft was a fully-drawn and completed icon, but better fit the earlier UI and was reassessed.
Retrospectively, Arex was a fun exercise in visual design — I believe the last time that I designed a skeuomorphic UI like this. However, it clearly put the cart before the horse, and implementation was hampered by spiraling frontend complexities.
If making something truly novel, why lean on existing visual tropes? Our interest in the exercise itself prevented a more honest assessment of what this project, and its audience, needed.