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You don't need to be an expert ornithologist to identify birds songs. Lyre is your expert ornithologist. Identify over 400 North American birds by their songs or calls with just one tap. 

 
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Easily and quickly identify the bird songs and calls of over 400 birds in North America. Why rely on clunky guidebooks when you can use Lyre?

Lyre makes the process of identifying bird sounds easy and seamless with your birding experience. You can start recording just from the home screen, with the button large and always within reach.

The record button was designed in mind with the thumb zone. Upon opening the app, the record button is always within reach for those easy to miss bird calls.

Have pre-recorded audio you want to identify? With Lyre you can upload any audio file to be analysed by the app.

 
 
 

Tap the record button and Lyre will record up to 10 seconds of audio to be analysed.

Since birds don’t always make it easy for us to identify them, the recording can be paused and continued at any time. This is useful for when there are long bouts of silence between calls. Giving users more control over their recordings gives them the most accurate results.

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After accurately identifying the recording, the user is directed to their results.

From this screen the user can:

  • Compare their recording with the recording on the app’s database.

  • Tap to view their Sightings history. 

  • Tap to view more details on their bird.

  • If the user doubts the results, the user can view other possible results.

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If the app couldn't produce any definite results due to a poor recording, than up to 3 species of birds is shown instead. From this screen the user can manually confirm the bird they recorded.

Each species of bird shown on this screen will:

  • Contain a number percentage of how likely it matches the user’s recording.

  • Recordings of each species from the app’s database to compare with the user's recording

  • The option to view more detail on the species and to confirm the bird to the user’s Sightings history.

 

 
 

Birdwatching doesn't stop at identifying a bird. People are curious, and want to learn interesting things about the birds they see. That's why Lyre also contains a database for the 400+ birds you can encounter in North America. You can look up any of these birds in our database and learn more about its appearance, diet, migration habits, and more.

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the process

Identifying birds by their songs is not an easy task if you’re not an ornithologist. There's hundreds of different bird species in North America, each with their own unique variations. Even the most enthusiastic birders will find that their own unreliable memories and clunky guidebooks get in the way of quickly identifying birds.

the problem

 

So how do we solve the problem?

user research

Here are the questions I needed concrete answers to before I could move on:

Do users have any interest or knowledge in birds?

If there’s no interest in birds there’s no interest in the app. Which in turn raises another question, if users are too knowledgable on birds, will they even use the app?

What are examples of the ideal and faulty birding experiences?

The app needs to be an extension of the birding experience not an obstacle. These insights will allow me to improve the birding experience.

Would users even use the app?

An interest in birding doesn’t necessarily mean an interest in the app.

What features would users expect from this type of app?

Will users just want the identification feature or will they want more?

 
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20% expressed frustration over not having the right resources with them while birding

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53% expressed an interest in learning more information on the birds in addition to identifying them

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40% are frustrated over not being able to identify birds either visually or audibly before they fly away

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26% emphasized the importance of simplicity in the product

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33% seek out an immersive nature experience while birding

 

personas

After comparing the results of the user interviews, I created 2 personas. These personas, in addition to my user research, informed all my decision making in the rest of the project.

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WENTING / the expert

 
  • childhood birder
  • immersive nature experience
  • consolidation of resources
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PUNEET / the fascinated

 
  • grew up in a suburb
  • curious about the unknown
  • likes easy access to info
 

environmental impact: noise disturbance

In the birding community there is controversy surrounding the practice of Playback. In this practice, birders will play audio recordings of bird songs to draw out the desired bird(s).

Playback can harm birds by throwing their behaviour out of balance. Birds will assume these recordings are of actual, nearby birds. Male birds will assume another male bird is trespassing, and will leave their nest to investigate. This unnecessary stress disrupts their day to day living and can shorten their lifespan.

The American Birding Associations advise birders to exercise caution when using playback. Many conservancies even prohibit the practice out of caution and respect to the birds.

In light of this, Lyre will not play recordings any louder than 20 dBa. If the user has headphones plugged into their device, the maximum volume extends to 40 dBa. Lyre is an extension of birding, not a tool to harm birds themselves.

 

information architecture + wireframing

 

knowledge

 

simplicity

Before starting any sort of information architecture, I went back to my user research. I pulled out a couple key concepts for me to keep in mind for every step of the project.

 

Anyone with the slightest interest in the birding don’t do it because it’s something that happens. Every single one of these people have an innate desire for knowledge. For them, birding doesn’t stop at seeing a pretty bird.

Birdwatching is about being in the moment, it's an experience you don't want to break. User research emphasized the importance of simplicity in a bird identification app. Keeping the app simple is important to a seamless birdwatching experience.

 
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From here, I created my initial user flows. I made sure the final user flow reflected the two key concepts from above. Solidifying the user flows allows me to move onto the low-fi wireframing stage.

 
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Looking back at the paper prototyping process, it was one of the most integral to my entire IA stage. This process tested whether I had completed and implemented my research correctly. If users can't navigate the interface at its simplest, then how can the final product solve the problem at hand?

I relied on Bandit Testing for the most thorough test results. It is also a helpful tool considering the limited timeline.

 
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in memoriam: the confirmation screen

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I thought a confirmation screen would be a great idea! A fun little delight that would appear upon confirming a bird to the user's Sightings, and would display a fun fact. But testing showed that this screen cluttered up the flow, and was an unnecessary extra step. 

 

branding

I focused on balancing the brand personality to be friendly, reliable, and informative. If it ever became too childish, or academic, I would risk driving away potential users. There are already products out there that focus its marketing towards expert birders. Lyre is not that kind of app, but is also meant to foster the curiosity of anyone interested in birds.

 
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The app is named after the groundliving Lyre bird of Australia. When brainstorming names, I was looking for names that either had a bird or music association. The Lyre bird not only fulfills both of these associations, but is also a sound mimicking bird. These aspects of the Lyre bird make it a pretty well rounded name for the app.

When brainstorming the branding process, I went back to the user research. I wanted to keep that feeling of being immersed in nature in the app. I thought about modern visual design and how a lot of apps embrace the usage of white for a simple, clean feel. But looking at a bright, white screen in the middle of a hike takes you out of that experience. That’s why I decided to embrace a primary green hue instead of that jarring #FFFFFF.

I also looked at the visual design of other nature related apps. As expected, I found that most apps embraced the greens and blues associated with nature. Yet, these colour palettes tend to be pretty drab, which is not the personality I want my brand to give off.

One solution could be to implement bright, and warm green hues. But this saturated colour palette would threaten to make Lyre more childish than it actually is. I compromised by keeping the less saturated greens, but using a bright orange to accent it. The pop of this orange is reminiscent to seeing a splash of colourful plumage while birding.

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in memoriam: the colourful background

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Originally I settled onto the monochrome, light green background for the main screen. Through user testing I learned that the screen was actually drab, which was what I was trying to avoid. I tried livening it up by adding the orange into the background pattern, but then my background pattern wasn't doing its job of staying in the background. I went back to my original drab monochrome background and kept playing around with different contrasts until I could come up with a design that worked well.

 

building a personal archive with Sightings

Every species of bird that the user has identified gets archived in the Sightings feature. Sightings is a personal database where you can look back at all the birds you've seen. This feature also provides statistics of where and when the user has seen any particular bird.

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the primary focus of birding? fun

Lyre rewards users with medals for identifying birds with the app. The medals are categorized by different species of birds. Tapping on a category will show users: 

  1. How many birds they’ve seen of a certain species.

  2. Tips on where to find birds of that species.

  3. A list of birds of that species they have, or haven’t yet, identified. 

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in memoriam: the top navigation bar

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In an attempt to minimize the amount of icons on the home screen, I consolidated the Achievements within the Sightings feature. But simplifying the home screen meant making the Sightings UI a cluttered mess. In the end I decided that adding one more icon to the home screen isn't so bad, if it means not having the top third of this screen a casserole of navigation bars.

 

prototype

This prototype follows the user flow of a first-time user successfully identifying a bird song.

 

reflection

If I didn't learn anything during this entire process, it would mean the entire project was a failure. So I'm sure am glad I did learn a few things.

experts would use this app

Before starting the user research, I assumed that the app would be unappealing to expert ornithologists. I learned that even the most well informed ornithologists are stumped by the intricacies of bird songs and calls. The app would serve as a helpful validation tool in addition to it being a simple identification tool

keep it simple stupid

Even though I kept this doctrine in mind for the entire project, I still failed to keep it simple at times. It's easy to lose sight of your main goals when you're too engrossed in your product.

peer review

Even when you think you have everything perfect, your peers are always there to remind you otherwise. This project would be a sad clumpy mess without the constant feedback I got from my amazing peers at Bitmaker.

 

next steps

This project is far from being over. In addition to all the little reiterations that need to be done, I would like to include the following:

sightings extension

Some of my interviewers expressed interest in an interactive map that pinpoints where the user has seen a certain species of bird. This would be a part of the Sightings feature.

spectrogram

A spectrogram is a visual representation of sound commonly used in ornithology. The idea is that users can edit the spectrogram of their recording in out to isolate just the bird sounds. This will allow for a more accurate identification from the app. This feature will be optional, and is geared towards those more serious about birding.

photo-based identification

Why not go big, instead of going home?

sharing

User research showed that most people like to birdwatch with others. A fun, simple feature would be to include a simple social media feed. The feed would display when the user and their friends successfully identified any bird.

 

in memoriam: misc

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If you have any questions, comments, or wanna chit chat about what you love about birds feel free to email me! beenamistryart@gmail.com