UI/UX App Design

Phase 1

Phase 2



Esther Jan

Billy Huang

Joy Chang


4 weeks



Esther Jan


2 weeks




UX Researcher and Designer

Swappit! is a mobile application designed to provide an experience that exists at the intersection of digital photography and analog camera features, allowing photography to play the spark of the relationship between people.


In 2014, I teamed up with two of my classmates to design a mobile app as a four-week assignment in our “User Interface Design” class. Four years later, in 2018, I decided to revisit this project as a personal project, wanting to see what positive difference I can bring to this product.

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In this case study, I mainly focused on the process of how I redesigned the product, and how the outcome became different from the original design.


I worked as a UX researcher and designer on my own, and used the research data and analyzed user needs through creating user personas. Then I created the information architecture, wireframes to redesign the user flow of the app. After this, I designed the hi-fidelity prototype as the final product.


Back in 2014, smartphones were just beginning to become popular on college campuses, and students began taking photos with the built-in digital cameras in their smartphones. As a result, digital photography began to flourish in our social circles.

As a student of the design department, my team members and I have been trained to develop both our digital and traditional photography techniques since the first year of college. Through the course of three years, photography has become a medium that not only helps us perceive the world, but also capture precious memories.

We resonated with the issue that although digital photography has become easy to reach, we all think that a more interesting and irreplaceable part of photography is in traditional film photography. Therefore, we decided to design a product that can open up doors for people to experience the fun of film photography.

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Comparison of traditional camera and digital camera

The Concept

Our design concept came from looking through the history of photography, we found an interesting activity that people in the past would do. Before modern technology penetrated into our lives, people used to write letters to each other, moreover, they would send negative films to friends living in places far away. Using “double exposure”, a function that only film camera can achieve, to allow the other person to double expose their film, and send it back to the original owner.


The exchanged film resulting in a piece of collaborating photography work, through one another’s lens, they get the chance to see different parts of the world.


Examples of double exposure photos (Photos from Unsplash)

The exchanged film resulting in a piece of collaborating photography work, through one another’s lens, they get the chance to see different parts of the world.


Thus, Swappit! is designed as a mobile app to revive the fashion of traditional photography. Its main goal is not only to introduce the special effect of “double exposure” in film photography to digital camera users but also to create a platform where people can have the chance to collaborate through photography.


The original product outcome was designed as a photo-sharing application with a function of "double-exposure", which as a result works more like a filter. Users can select two of their own photos from the photo album in their own smartphones and allow them to overlay on each other, creating a mimic effect of "double-exposure". This solution did not create a collaborative activity that can allow people to meet on the platform, thus, not responding much to our initial concept.

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The Second Approach

After four years, I still feel nostalgic about this concept. The idea of how people used to swap their film rolls and allow the other person to overlay their view of the world onto the original image is so old-fashioned that makes it so romantic. I see this activity as something that has been deprived by the efficiency of modern technology has brought to us, thus, made me wonder how this activity could have made an impact on people’s relationships, and I decided to revisit this project again.


Through these years, smartphones have brought a lot of influence on our lives. More and more products related to traditional photography, how can Swappit! Differentiate in an already mature and competitive market?


This time I decided to reflect back with the main reason why both analog or digital photography has become a constant hobby of mine over these years, and how it has started to shape my social circle, and given me a way to perceive the world I live in. 

My guiding question in this phase is:

"How might photography spark the relationship between people?"


I realized that the original design lacked the feedback from users before the design process, and this time, I focused on understanding how others feel about photography, do they think photography can become a way to meet people, and whether they would be interested in the activity of swapping photos with another person. 


My research was conducted by interviewing six of my friends in the age group of 20-35, who are all constant in taking photos, and share their photography works on digital platforms.

What does "photography" mean to you?

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User Persona

Based on the 1:1 interviews, I created a user persona for the target user of this product. This group of people has just started on their path in learning photography, they are interested in having a digital space to share or access knowledge about film photography. Also, they would like to have a place to connect with more people in the photography community.

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Keeping these survey responses in mind, I analyzed the key findings, and continue to create the design.

Key Findings




People are interested in film photography, but find it hard to approach.

Shooting with film isn’t that different from digital, however, it’s the inconvenience of processing negative films and purchasing films that made people find digital cameras easier to access.


Sharing and meeting new people in the community is important.

People in photography would love to meet new people in the community, and see how others’ are making different creative works with the same devices.


Photographers have a hard time to find collaboration opportunities.

Although photography is not usually seen as a “team sport”, collaborating in photography can actually push creativity and allow photographers to learn from one another more directly.

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Key Features

From the key findings, I reconstructed the goal and user flow of Swappit!, making three key features that respond to the three key findings.

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Combining the advantages of both digital and film cameras, the experience of swapping camera rolls with another user on the platform provides users a channel to share and collaborate, expanding their chance to interact.

Task Flow

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Information Architecture

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Sketch and Wireframe Planning

Apart from our "Double Exposure" feature, in order to stand out from other photo-sharing applications, we resolve to achieve the following goals:

+ User-friendly navigation

+ Clean UI/UX designs

+ Pleasant visuals and graphics

+ Personalized feed

+ Easy photo-sharing option

High-Fidelity Prototype

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Visual Language

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This project has endured through two different phases, from three people's class project to a one-person’s side project, and I learned a lot through both of the phases. During the first phase, as the visual designer of the team, I had the opportunity to lead how a product should look like. From the typography, logo, color schemes, and the visual design of each page in the application, I realized the importance of a designer’s role, and that the output I created after each iteration can help the team to visualize what we have been discussing. 


During the second phase where I worked on my own, at first I didn't dare to add new features into the design, I struggled through the journey whether to stay loyal to the original design or not. However, after conducting user research on my own, I gained a lot of motivations to create new features, based on the suggestions through user interviews, their suggestions have helped me validate my urge in revisiting this product design, and shed light to me through the design process.

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