Mobile Application: DSavvy

Mobile application user interface screens
Mobile application user interface screens
Mobile application user interface screens
Mobile application user interface screens



In the last decade Detroit has witnessed a series of fast-paced transformations that prompted many to talk about the Detroit revival. Among many other things, such transformations have entailed the demolition of old historical buildings, the renovation of many others, and an influx of young professionals who have been moving into the newly-renovated and costly luxurious condos downtown. At the same time, much of the city’s identity and history run the risk of being lost in this rush to gentrification, with many of the local voices drowned out in the excitement of new developments.

My proposed application, DSavvy, aims to foreground local histories by giving Detroiters the means to make public their own histories and stories about the city. Every place has a secret rich history that is known only to a few. Making such histories public would bring to life stories grounded in people’s lives and experiences and foreground collective popular knowledge. While this project is designed specifically with Detroit in mind, it can easily be expanded to other cities.


DSavvy is a mobile application that aims to respond to contemporary urban transformations by giving urban dwellers a tool to share and make public personal stories about places, buildings, landmarks that are often neglected or lost in the midst of urban transformations.

It is a communication and interaction mobile platform that incorporates digital signage software to connect users’ mobile screens with digital screens displayed in public spaces, enabling users’ messages to be read publicly in anonymous form.

Design Process

During the design process, I used the following design methods:

  • Competitive Analysis
  • Cultural Probes, a methodology that draws on users’ experiences and creativity by asking them to perform specific tasks, answer open-ended questions, and respond to hypothetical scenarios
  • E.g. For this project, I asked five users living in Detroit to capture on their phones either visually or textually their thoughts about the places they were passing by on their way to work or on their daily routines.
  • Sketching/Ideation
  • Paper prototyping
  • Digital prototyping in Axure

Design Philosophy

The following design philosophies have informed my conceptualization and design of this platform:

  • Participatory Design with its insistence on involving users in the design process
  • Critical and reflective design with their focus on ethical rethinking of design projects and their critique of norms and values embedded in our surroundings
  • Design Fiction, a design methodology, created by Julian Bleecker, that encourages speculation and innovation in an attempt to create bold and otherwise unthinkable daring designs.