Lithium's Community platform is used widely by brands and enterprises to connect with their customers. However, the product's complex web user interface isn't entirely optimized for mobile.
Designing a reference app
The Lithium Community SDK for Android is intended to make it easier for our clients to integrate basic features of Community into their native apps. I worked with a product manager and a senior designer to create the user flow for a reference app that will be shipped as part of the SDK documentation.
The app embodies an ideal workflow for a customer who seeks an answer to an issue with a product or service. It demonstrates key features of the kit: searching/browsing for answers from the brand's support community, composing a question, recieving notifications, and responding to replies.
With less than 2 weeks left in my internship, I met with the PM and my design colleague frequently for feedback. This iterative process allowed me to polish the flow and address parts of the interface that lacked clarity to the end-user.
A browsing interaction that scales
While designing the browse view, I encountered an interesting challenge. A Lithium-powered community can contain infinite levels of folders and boards. However, existing UI patterns on mobile for browsing hierarchical data doesn't scale well spatially when diving into a deeply nested structure.
I decided to experiment with an accordion-style interaction that emphasize on maintaining the user's orientation in the hierarchy without costing more space. Internal reactions to the Framer prototype I've made were positive although it won't be available in the first version of the SDK.
My contribution to this project laid the design foundation for how our clients may be able to integrate Community into their Android apps. If I had more time, I would perform usability tests on the interface to ensure that the end-users are able to use the core functionalities of the app.
Furthermore, I'd love to test out the accordion pattern with more people to see if it could be a reliable solution for browsing deeply nested information structures on mobile.
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