A recent project at work prompted me to do user research on apps available for people suffering from pollen und fine dust allergies. The result: most apps for such purpose come only with regional data for pollen counts and/or fine dust index. My first thought—what about travellers and commuters?
I began toying with an idea for an app that collects data from not only the regional or national allergen index services, but worldwide, to make travelling easier for those suffering from such allergies. Such apps are not rarities for those suffering from food allergies, but there seems to be no equivalent yet for my intended target group.
Hence I started brainstorming: what are the features an allergic traveller would need? Information. Both where he is and where he will be. Today. Tomorrow. Or even for as long as his stay. A reminder for medication. A list of pharmacies. Of cafés. Of place where he could drop in fast to evade the outdoors.
It gradually became clear that the app should not try to be just like an app for local use AND much more, because it would be just overloaded with features (tracking symptoms, information for all allergens, medication information, weather data ranging from mostly cloudy, cloudy, sunny and the likes …) and I would be working against the idea of keeping it simple and in turn useful. I ended up asking the question of how much does a user NEED to know to travel EASIER.
The question became my guide in reducing the features—does he need to know what he is suffering from? How his medication works? Or levels to ALL allergens currently in the air? The answer here is clear. Does it make a difference to him whether it is mostly cloudy or just cloudy in his destination? Another round of research reveals that the intended target group is mostly concerned about the temperature, wind and rain.
I slowly began to see how the app should be shaped, and ended up with an idea for four features:
An “Air Scan” allowing the user to not only receive instant information over the chosen allergens in his current location but also in his chosen destination(s).
A “Forecast” over the next few days for chosen allergens and with alerts for levels hitting the higher regions.
A “Locations” list similar to TripAdvisor but more reduced, with bookmarking and recommendation features.
A “Checklist” that allows user to define their own packing list and, in case of high readings for his chosen allergen, reminds him of necessary item(s) that are still unpacked.
For this app idea I created: