Making users feel like home

As already presented in previous posts WApP provides its users a wide set of benefits. One of the main goals for its end-users is to give them control over their information and how they experience it. We aim to provide users with the same feeling of pleasure and control that a person has on their home. Make them feel like home. To achieve this there are two key characteristics that help people feel in control of their place and are presented in this post.

The apps configuration tool

One of the key features of WApP is that it enables users to create their own applications by using a set of components that can be customized to their individual needs. In order to achieve this, the components described in deliverable D3.2 are used as building blocks that are combined in a single screen based on selected layouts. To facilitate users in that process they are provided with a configuration tool for applications.

The tool is accessed directly from the applications market place where the user can click the option “Manage apps” and then select either to build a new application or modify an existing one.

When the user access the tool, he can setup an application by repeating a 3 steps process. The process creates a row of information in the application that can contain different components. After creating a row of information the user can select to add more rows or save the application giving a name and selecting a category to place it under. From then on the application is available as any other application under the selected category. The 3 iterative steps are the following:

Step 1: Select a row layout.

In this step the user selects how the layout of the row will be. There are three choices separating the row in one, two or columns respectively.

Step 2: Select components

Having selected a row layout the user is presented with that and he is asked to define what kind of component he wants to display in each column. To do this he simply selects a column and then a component from the ones available in the configuration panel on the right hand side. After selecting components for all columns the user can proceed to the next step.

Step 3: Configure components

On the third step the user selects each of the components from the previous step and configures it through a series of selections based on the component. Apart however from the configuration that the user does for the component there are also personalization aspects that are considered when displaying the component to the user so based on the profile they might see a different version of the same component.

These three steps can be repeated for any number of times to create an application that can be tailored to specific user needs.

Finally, the tool also allows the user, after creating an application, to share it with other users on the same or other groups. This way, as already mentioned, social collaboration between different users is encouraged and facilitated.

Apps Configuration

The home app

Based on the user test interviews, it was clear that although there maybe broad agreement in terms of data that is useful and important the way in which end-users prioritize this data or like best to receive it, is very subjective. Some people for example like the idea of seeing a stream of events, similar to a social media feed, on the first page they see when entering the platform and others just wanted to focus on data and diagrams not caring about news or other information.

In devising a solution for this, we considered an option where the home page of a user entering the platform would show an application that they have already selected and installed so they can pick the one they liked. However, given the observation that most people had a basic prioritization on the most important information we opted to let the users decide what they want to see on their home page of the platform.

The ability for users to customize their home pages is accompanying and connected with the ability to create their own applications through the apps configuration tool. Since users can create their own applications and select which one they prefer to see in the home page it is easily understood that they can create a unique application for their own home page combining components from many other different applications. This way home page applications do not restrict users and allow them to create a home page application containing the most important information for them. Moreover, the ability to change their applications’ configurations at any time allows them to also change the home page applications from time to time to include new and temporal interesting pieces of information (e.g. include a graph for the rain water harvesting measuring for the winter and autumn months only).

The combination of the configuration tool with the ability to select your home application provides users with a level of control that makes them feel like home when visiting WApP. Similar to their home they can select which apps (pieces of furniture) they want to use, they can create their apps (DIY furniture), they can share them with friends (making presents for friends) and select their home app.

This post is written in collaboration between Christos Kouroupetroglou, Jessen van Stoolen and Wassim Derguech