Be My Eyes
Experimenting with the design of an app for users who can’t see it
In a nutshell
Be My Eyes connects blind and visually impaired users with sighted helpers from around the world through live video. Whether it’s about helping a user check the expiry date on a milk carton, or read the results of a pregnancy test (yes, this has happened!), the Be My Eyes app has made a difference in the lives of thousands of people around the world.
We paired up with the Be My Eyes team and took an experimental approach to rethinking the app’s onboarding experience and user flow. The challenge of the experiment was to design an intuitive interface that also meets the accessibility needs of users with limited dexterity.
We started by researching how users with visual impairment operate mobile devices.
We interviewed experts at the Norwegian Association for the Blind (Norges Blindeforbund) and observed users in action. The process shed light on the specific features blind users rely on to operate their mobile devices – including voice command, magnification and swipe control.
With limited time on hand to get things in shape, we needed to move fast and smart. Thus, before jumping into the app’s redesign, we ran a week-long design sprint. The goal was to validate or kill product features and design ideas through a burst of intense sketching and brainstorming exercises. We also applied rapid prototyping and user testing to both narrow down and validate the scope of our redesign process.
In order to test the app among blind users, we needed to go beyond basic clickable mockups and build instead a more complete prototype with solid accessibility features. We chose to build a native prototype in Xcode. We rethought the design experience from the ground up by putting ourselves in the shoes of our target audience. For instance, we experimented with dividing several of the app’s frames into large tappable sections instead of opting for more traditional call-to-action buttons.
We also incorporated several voice commands, which we tweaked frequently.
The User Tests
Our close collaboration with the Norwegian Association for the Blind helped us regularly test out our prototype against the expectations of users with accessibility needs. The invaluable user feedback we received in real-time made us aware of needed improvements well before market launch.