Victor Ramón Stoljarow
Research, Design & Management
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User Research, Prototyping and UI Design

VELA - A Mobile App For Water Sports ​

User Research, Prototyping and UI Design

Relevant Information For Water Sports Enthusiasts

Days on the water are meant to be everything but stressful. To avoid these, it’s good practice to check the conditions of the wind, waves, and weather near the body of water where we will be having fun. This can help us avoid dangerous situations and better prepare for a day of sailing, diving, or surfing. Existing weather apps aren’t meeting the goal of displaying complex weather data in an accessible, easy-to-comprehend way to people who regularly engage in water sports.

VELA is the result of a research study to provide beautifully displayed and easy to understand wind, wave and weather reports, forecasts and statistics for sailors, surfers, divers, and any other water sports aficionados.

  • Project Start: February 2019
  • Project Role: UX Designer

How can water sports aficionados save time to prepare for their water sports activities?
User Research, Prototyping and UI Design


During the discovery phase of the project, I conducted qualitative user interviews to get a better understanding of their needs and goals. I moderated all interviews onsite and ask questions according to these four categories: water sports interests, water sports preparation, app features, and information sharing.

Interview insights:

  • All interview participants practice their water sports activities on a regular base, enjoying their water sports experience, and improving their technique. 
  • Maps and location rankings are essential research tools.
  • The interview participants are looking for an app with in-depth information per location in forecasts, recommendations, and reviews.
  • Most interview participants would like to interact with their peers through social media channels.

User Research, Prototyping and UI Design


Based on the interview results, I set up three personas and referred to them throughout the entire product development process. For the personas, I used the following sections to compare our insights:

  • Demographics
  • Water sports activities
  • Goals and needs
  • Motivations
  • Frustrations

Customer Journey

To get to know my users' behavior better, I created a Customer Journey Map. The main touchpoints for which the personas would like to use the service are the forecasts, maps, and posting information on water sports sights.

User Research, Prototyping and UI Design

User Flow

Besides the customer journeys, I created user flows to narrow down which screen are necessary to fulfill the function.

User Research, Prototyping and UI Design
I selected three user flows for the basic functionality of the app.
User Research, Prototyping and UI Design


I usually start the design process with low fidelity sketches of the core features. This is the way I iterate through many design options quickly.

Comparing my sketches to the best practices of other water sports and weather apps, I selected the sketches with the clearest design.

Vela Home Screen

Vela Home Screen


At the beginning of my design process, I created low fidelity hand sketches wireframes and developed them further to mid fidelity wireframes in Balsamiq for testing purposes

User Testing

I tested the mid fidelity wireframes with a small group of test users analyze the usefulness of the core features: search forecasts in maps, read and write recommendations, and post pictures of water sports sites.

A critical insight of the user test was that location-specific forecasts as a separate screen with statistics were more crucial to the users than the embedded forecasts in the maps feature. 

User Research, Prototyping and UI Design

UI Design


Once I tested out all usability mistakes, I started designing the final screens in Sketch. I iterated the design connected a screen with forecast statistics to the favorites feature as well as the maps feature, following the iOS Human Interface Guidelines.

After testing the UI design outdoor, I specifically chose to design a dark theme to provide users with readable content in different light enviroments. Vela users are often outdoors and face different weather and light situations and need a way to read content in low light as well as high light environments.

Test users
Cups of tea