Once the concept of iCareCoops had been derived from our research we started to design a first version of the technical architecture, modules, database and framework. In this process we heavily made use of the popular Unified Modeling Language (UML) for architecture design. The development team analysed current frameworks and libraries to define an optimal development environment for the iCareCoops implementation. The investigation concluded that Laravel (backend), Bootstrap (frontend) and MySQL (database) are best suited for the specific requirements.
Getting user feedback through paper prototype tests
Based on the first draft of the technical specification we developed paper prototypes of the solutions. This method provides a time and cost efficient way to get user feedback on the concept before the technical implementation. It is very useful to identify issues early on avoiding development overhead. The test sessions also included background interviews, post-test debriefs as well as qualitative and quantitative assessments. 22 participants representing 3 end-user groups have been invited. Previous studies have proven that this size suffices to discover about 70% of UI issues.
One of the main insights was that many participants showed negative emotions because of misunderstandings, information overload, used language and missing operations. Nonetheless, all tested care receivers would use the solution again and were 83% satisfied with the prototype. Moreover, participants showed great interest in the platform as a whole.
Iteratively optimising the specification
After the paper prototype tests the technical specification was updated and comprehensive use cases added. Features, component attributes and the database were finally specified in detailed lists. The validated requirements document with wireframes, database specification, use case specifications and component and feature specification marked the completion of milestone M3.
Let the coding begin
The previously defined framework and database needed to be installed to finally start with the implementation of the iCareCoops solutions. Starting with user operations, user profiles, login, user list view and information services technical development has been well underway. Usability is key in our AAL context. We aim to create a system that efficiently supports the user in their task. This means it must be suitable for the user’s tasks and have a clear navigation and interface structure including skeuomorphic elements. The UI design must easily forgive any user errors and provide an understandable solution for error recovery. Special focus is put on accessibility ensuring that as many users as possible can use iCareCoops themselves. The development team relies on heuristic principles of design for senior users by Jacob Nielsen and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). iCareCoops aims to achieve at least Level A or above of this usability standard which demands, for instance, a high contrast version of the user interface.
Connect your solution to iCareCoops!
In the course of the project we define an application programming interface (API) for uptake by third parties. Using web services and open data structure specifications you can connect your solution to iCareCoops. The REST architectural style is broadly used and provides high flexibility. Security implications have been considered in each and every step because of the sensible health background of the project. Access to iCareCoops is only possible through authentication via an access code in order to validate the requester. This access code will be generated by a request containing a username and password.
With all deliverables submitted in time and the implementation of first features and modules the project is well prepared for the midterm review by the AAL programme and looking forward to a fresh external view on iCareCoops and feedback on how to further optimise our solution.