My First UX Bootcamp Project

My first project as a UXDI student at General Assembly was to solve a problem of another classmate via a product. I was tasked with helping my buddy address his sleep concerns, and getting him more rest via getting to bed on time.

Luckily for me, this issue came paired with a number of underlying issues. What initially started out as four user interviews, quickly inflated to ten. I began by categorizing my constituents between those that did and did not have sleep problems to see what I could generalize between the groups. Was there something that the lucky few that get enough night’s rest are doing that the rest of my users weren’t? Maybe there was a secret club I didn’t know about. I began to identify patterns in routines before bed, throughout the day, and in the morning.

Once the stage was set, it was time for the meat and potatoes. What keeps you from getting a good night’s rest? How do you know you slept well? What helps you to get some rest, and what have you tried in the past? Users reacted to this series of questions passionately. This told me it was an important topic for those that struggled with it and set up some robust insights.

People were often times staying up past their bedtime because responsibilities from the day were carrying into the evening. Somebody might be overwhelmed with the duties of a task and slacking on other things. This led to an issue of functionality.

I also found that people environment is one of the most influential components of a good night’s rest. Every single person, without fail, cited that they needed very specific criteria to feel comfortable. It was not uncommon to hear, “I like to be chilly, but not too chilly.” This was a topic that was very subjective and I never got the same answer when asking for specifics, like temperature.

Another insight I received from user interviews was that screens were a double edged sword. The same things that were being used to destress at the end of the day were also unanimously attributed to keep folks up. While most had little tricks they used, like adjusting screen settings, getting sucked into social media was far too typical.

The final insight that I gained from user interviews on this topic was a central theme of stress. All of the aforementioned insights were facets of stress that were keeping my users up. They were trying to get comfortable and unwind from the day all so they could get to bed. This helped layout a platform for my design principles.

Essentially, I needed to eliminate stress. That was the main design principle. How would I do that? Introduce more structure and functionality into a person’s day to help them feel better about the day’s events and what is to come. I would also have to create a way to seamlessly control their environment. Finally, I had to discourage time spent in front of screens.

I had a fairly broad range of issue that I was trying to solve that were all directed at sleep. The fun thing about the material I realized was that all of these problems had actually already been addressed by other products on the market. There is already smart thermostats, calendar/to-do apps, alarms, and apps that lock other apps. This also meant that there was not one app that integrated all of those things into one.

Meet The BedTime App: an IOT (internet of things), cross platform, application built to help you curate a better night’s sleep. The product is meant to integrate with your local calendars/to-do lists, Nest or Ecobee, and all of your social media. It would be available across ALL of your smart devices: tablets, computers, TV’s, phones, watches, etc. The more you integrate and install on, the more you get out of it. It could recommend alarms and bedtimes based on your schedule, forecast scheduling errors by pulling traffic info from Google Maps, and lockout social media and javascript. Being intuitive would be one of the main selling-point of the app.

The idea was great, or so I thought. I set out to do some concept testing, and that was where my interviews exploded from four to ten people. What I found was that I was solving some areas of the problem to varying degrees for people. The common theme amongst everyone was that they had very strong feelings about how authoritative of an experience they would have with the product. Apparently, people don’t like to be told what to do. This brought about a fear in me that if my product irritated people enough they would dump it. This led me to my final design principle: make sure the product is customizable. The final prototype then had the option of making everything an option.

Introducing the re-iterated concept sketch…

Homescreen (top box down): to-do, environment, bedtime settings, wake settings
Set-up: selecting apps to sync
Bedtime Settings (boxes top to bottom): typical bedtime, preferred hours of sleep a night, allow bedtime reminders and recommendations, disable for 24 hours, set environment settings to auto, environment settings
Environment Settings, numerical box asks how long before bed, or wake, to begin adjusting settings to preferences
Wake settings (boxes top to bottom): Preferred wake time, pick your alarm sound, time needed to get ready/start day, allow wake reminder and recommendations, disable for 24 hours, set environment controls to auto, environment controls
To-do list

The environmental cues from the auto settings create a psychological effect to induce fatigue and prep sleep. The reminders are intuitive and pull info from your calendar, while also being consolidated into an easy-to-read list format. This keeps you better on top of things and, ideally, stress free. The 24 hour turn-off feature accounts for unforeseen plans, like nights out with friends or needed late mornings, while also making sure you return to your allotted schedule. The entertainment and javascript lockout feature can be aggressive as you want it to be as well by choosing which apps and accounts you integrate, if you choose to. I found this to be an issue that people were extremely passionate about, and therefore likely to be highly motivated to hold themselves to high standards when setting their preferences.

The project went well, overall. Rough patches were mainly in the research and concept phases. It took some time for underlying notions to click for me, and some trends to become salient, but I now know this and can plan accordingly. The OCD of looking at the mess of post-it notes when affinity mapping was a clean freaks nightmare, but perhaps that can be my next endeavor. This hands on experience gave me a lot of insight into the time requirements of the process, and that is also something I can take with me into future projects.

If this project were to continue, reaching out to a bookstore or publishing company as a stakeholder would align well with it. Doing so might help to cement more good habits in people. Books are attributed to helping many people sleep better, and a decrease in social media usage could attribute to that. It just makes sense.