Application Seminar – Critique on Flowx

To be honest, looking at the first slide of presentation on the app Flowx, I lost my interest already. Flowx is designed to be a very unique and advanced weather app that helps users to understand weather more easily. The screenshot of it is a weather map which just looks too professional for me, and it cannot stop me from wondering “who would even use this app? how many people can understand the weather graph” and so on. However, as more and more question arise, I started to focus on the presentation and tried to find out the philosophy behind the app.

From the presentation, I find three important points of Flowx.

  • Flowx can provide very detailed data and visualise them in a great way. One special feature of Flowx is that it allows us to pan across the screen to see how weather transits from one day to another day. Also, we can visualise a combination of data from over 30 data types that it provides, like pressure, total cloud, wind speed and temperature. After selecting the data types that we are interested in, we can then see how they flow together day by day. Apart from looking at data flow in a map, we are also able to choose different types of graph for different scenarios. For example, if I want to go stargazing, the star night option would show me a graph that shows the cloudiness in the sky, which is quite useful and powerful. Also, the team mentions that Flowx can visualise the path of solar eclipse, so that we can find the best place and best timing, or even just follow the path to watch the eclipse. Therefore, I am impressed by this app on how many advanced features it has and how it presents them in the way that everyone understands.

 

  • Flowx is perfect for outdoor activities. Flowx has many powerful features that really help under certain scenarios. In the presentation, the team said that Flowx is perfect for outdoor adventures like sailings. In outdoor activities like self-driving tour, we may want to know the weather all along our way before we start off. Also, for activities like stargazing and viewing eclipses, Flowx would be useful as well. Although we can achieve the same thing using some weather forecast websites, they are not portable enough. Flowx on mobile makes it a lot easier when we want to check the weather status while we are doing outdoor activities.

 

  • Flowx has some commercial potential, but it needs to attract more users. Since there are certain scenarios that Flowx is really useful, and better than a common weather app, there is no doubt that it has some kind of commercial potential. For now what Flowx does is that the app can be upgraded to a pro version through either a one time purchase or yearly subscriptions. The team also presented their idea on how Flowx can achieve more, like collaborating with businesses that allow user to easily see points of interest if the user decides to travel to a place with good weather, in which way users can just see interesting places right away when they are playing around with this app. Also, the team mentioned that Flowx could have some additional features catered for businesses who are strongly affected by weather condition, like those companies that provide outdoor activities. Also, the interface of Flowx should be simplified so that it won’t scare off users. In this way, FLowx might attract a new pool of users.

These three points are of great importance, as the first one shows that Flowx has good and powerful features, and the second point shows how users can make use of these features and why they are great, and the last point shows the commercial potential of this app. These three points together, we can then have a better understanding about Flowx.

However, I have some personal thoughts about this app.

  • There is no doubt that this app has really great and advanced features, but from the point of necessity, it is not really necessary for me. Although it is an awesome app for outdoor activities like self-driving tour and sailing, how many of these outdoor activities do we have every year? Even if I may have many these outdoor activities, I believe that most people would just google the weather forecast beforehand, instead of watching how the cloud moves when I am already outside. Therefore, I am doubtful about this team’s idea on the commercial potential of this app. In my opinion, rather than making this app more simple and intuitive, this team should really make this app more professional and advanced. There are so many awesome and beautiful weather apps out there on the market, people won’t really torture themselves with this app if they just want to know the weather tomorrow. However, for those professional users, who are really interested in the weather flow on a map and different types weather data, they won’t find this app too hard to onboard, since they already have enough professional knowledge about weather forecasts, and they know what each colour and graph represents. Hence, if we make this app friendly for professional users, instead of normal users, this app would be more focused.

 

  • About the commercial potential, Flowx can work with some companies or websites on specific topics. Like the website that astronomy enthusiasts would visit to keep track of astronomical phenomenon, websites for travellers who like self-driving, or company that needs accurate data on weather. In this way, the target audience of this app is very clear, and there can be higher commercial potential. Normal users cannot feel the necessity of this app, thus they do not see the point of paying for the app, but professional users know what he can get out of those pro features, which leads to the commercial potential of this app.
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3 thoughts on “Application Seminar – Critique on Flowx

  1. Hello Weiguang. This is Jia Yee.

    In contrast to your reaction, I was quite fascinated with Flowx (:

    Flowx was a good break from all the generic social media stuff everyone is doing. It is an affordable (because it’s a freemium, for one) weather analysis software. A professional one would have cost so much more. I would say Flowx is a good (business) decision.

    While Flowx seems to have a lot of “advanced” features like rain, wind, pressure, and so on, a new user like me (secondary school elective geography) is able to appreciate the app. Users will only become more and more educated. Flowx’s intended audience is not me, of course, since I do not go for outdoor activities overseas.

    However, as one of our presenters (probably the ones for Airfrov?) have stated, people are travelling more, and that would only make Flowx’s audience grow. Flowx is prepared to face a potentially growing market, and it actually helps people to plan their outdoor voyage.

    On the other hand, you may be especially uninterested in Flowx because of your current lifestyle. However, Flowx is not just for us. There is definitely potential in the other markets (which does not consist of us, sadly).

    Well, but if we have to further dumb down the app for the even more casual/random users (I am quite casual already), I would recommend having labels in words instead of numbers or arrows, like the weather forecasts in television.

    You raised a good point on collaboration with professionals. Flowx is definitely the app for professionals too. One product I can see coming from Flowx would be APIs to embed the visualizations into commercial projects.

    Last but not least, I would like to offer some ideas as to how Flowx can earn from their casual users too. One way would be to put the visualizations into words, or voice. These words/speech can become easy-to-understand summaries for casual users to plan their outdoor trip.

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  2. I agree to your thought that “okay, this app is cool and pretty, but who would ever use this app?” Sometimes, developers are so exited about their idea that they build a pretty, powerful and useless software. Personally, this app taught me once again the importance of user-centered design. “As an user, I want to know whether it will rain right here, within 30 minutes”. This kind of information is what users will want and need, not like general me theological data that most average people can live well without it. I think it would have been much more successful if the app had a rain prediction feature, which tells me if it is going to rain where I am standing now(GPS Data) anytime soon by analyzing the geographical cloud&wind data around me.

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  3. Hi Wei Guang! This is Jin Jia! I think the presenters of Flowx actually misrepresented what Flowx is supposed to be. Moreover, they did not exactly present well on what sets Flowx apart.

    You need not be a niche user, someone who is interested in self-driving tour, sailing etc., because that is not the point of the application. The creators of Flowx sought to make information accessible for ANY outdoor activity. Unlike other weather apps, the the user experience of Flowx is highly emphasised. Flowx keeps meteorological data simple and even explains how to read them in their FAQs. You FEEL like a meteorologist even though all you do is swipe. The way the forecasts change with every hourly increment is excellent. Every additional data layer is complementary to one another and seamlessly integrates with existing functions/actions. The application is just so beautiful in its design and experience; enticing users to play with the application and continue using it. You need to try Flowx to know what I am referring to.

    While there are many supposed features on Flowx, there is barely any learning curve because everything is done by swiping. The Flowx interface is very simplified. When you install the application, all it says is, ‘Swipe to Start’. Immediately, it started working and as a user I was impressed. Unlike many applications out there that requires many clicks before starting, Flowx was extremely simple and allowed me to start and explore on my own (constructionist way of learning).

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