Traverse is an app that helps you keep your memories. It uses your photos and a map to visualize the connections between those photos and the things they make you think of, so you can keep, relive and re-explore your memories.
I’m a bit of a hoarder, and the premise behind it deals with memory and how to better keep these photos that trigger memories in a way that mimics the way your brain actually remembers and stores memories. Right now all of our photos get stored in a timeline format, based on the timestamp of when the photo was taken, but that’s not how we actually remember and create knowledge. We do it by context, by the things that actually matter and made us took that photo in the first place.
In my case it all started with me looking for a photo. I knew exactly what was in the photo (a brown paper bag that was used to wrap my birthday gift), I knew it was connected to my birthday (but not taken on the actual date), I knew it was a gift from a dear friend and I knew I threw the bag out because it was big and bulky and space in Brooklyn is pretty limited. So, how to take this and make it into an app that helps me find that photo again and then helps me spark all those memories attached to it and explore new connections between the things connected to it?
I started with research and came up with a series of concept that inspired this approach to understanding memory and storage:
- Rhizomatic and non-hierarchical data entry and exit.
- Context-based organization and knowledge.
- Accidental-knowledge to encourage exploration.
- Maps and traversing different points.
- Stargazing and how we connect stars to make constellations
- Neurons synapses and how when we learn something, a path is created between connected neurons, and how this path is the actual imprint of knowledge.
Next step was to how to take all these things and a complex idea and make it into a practical app? I started delving into conceptual design and ended up building my perfect app.
I first started with organizing everything on a visual way to understand what I wanted to do and what was the inspiration behind it. So, for the first go around, it looked like this:
I went full-on with my vision board for the product strategy. This mixed the main ideas leading the product: why do I want this? how is it used? what can I use it to build it?
After this first take on it I decided to clarify the user roadmap. During this process I realized that there were two different things that I wanted to do: keep memories by tagging them in a more contextual way and create a way to retrieve those memories, but also to explore the new connections that might come up thanks to this context.
With that in mind I moved on with the wire-framing:
I usually start my wireframing process with pen and paper, trying to have a feedback process between the wireframes, the UX research and the usage that starts to develop once I put screens to those ideas.
For this particular app, that feedback loop was intense and insane. One of the fundamental elements at its core it’s deeply subjective: how I categorized and organized knowledge. This is decision that’s informed by a number of things and needed to be boiled down to the basics, in order to make an a useful tool.
With that in mind, and realizing that this was a product that responded to a personal, but that could fill a much universal need i.e: organizing photos and being able to retrieve them based on context, not date; and that it had another connected, but maybe more playful side: jumping between photos and exploring these, jumping between them based on what they all have in common.
With that, I Following that I decided to split the app in two: traverse would work as the app that helps you explore your already-tagged photos and Made me think of you would work as the active-tagging image app.
That product decision allowed me to concentrate on the strengths of the two different-but-connected apps and work in making them as useful and pretty as possible.
For traverse, I came to this user experience flow:
These two apps are still a work in progress. I’m still working on the UX/UI and the back-end of both, but more importantly, these apps allowed me to discover the power of building great products.
I’m still working on making a great product and tool for myself that can help me understand how to make great products for others. You can also check Made me think of you… and see how the evolve and connect.