Don’t do more housework than your SO

an application for equality and peace at home.

1. Problem

When I moved in together with my boyfriend for the first time in my life we quickly realised that our standards for “clean and tidy” are, well…not exactly the same. Not like I hate housework, but I love justice. Somehow I felt that I was cooking and cleaning at least twice as much as he did and that really hurt my emancipated soul. Finally we came up with a ridiculously simple idea to avoid debates on this topic. We started a chore-barter.

Our “invention” was basically a piece of paper on the fridge. Each time I performed a chore I wrote it down then drew a line beside it. For example if I took out the trash he had to come up with another task in return and write it on that line. One for one. Look at this like the first analogue prototype of our future application. Pretty primitive though…Over time I realised he often didn’t see what to do more in the apartment, so I started to give him some inspiration too. I won’t say this method turned out as an overwhelming success, but we definitely have seen progress. We didn’t want to turn it into a competition so we agreed that the closer we get to 50%–50% (chores done) at the end of the week the bigger reward we got.

  • 60% — 40% = we where going to watch only The Fellowship of the Ring
  • 50% — 50% = all the three LOTR movies in extended version. Perfect sunday.

One day a friend of us came up for a few drinks. Fortunately we forgot to take off our shitty papers from the fridge. Judit, who worked as a service designer in one of Hungary’s biggest startup incubator at the time, seemed very interested in our DIY solution. After a few beers she convinced us to apply for their so called Talent Program to develop these torn notebook pages into a relationship-application. This is how it started. You don’t know how encouraging a drunk feminist designer can be.

there are two women in the team

Long story short we teamed up with three friends from the business and tech field and successfully got into Kitchen Budapest’s Talent Program. I was excited and pretty sure that designing an app shouldn’t be much different than chairs or hairdryers (studied industrial design). I must say I was naive.

2. Validation

As a first step we formed our focus group asking 24 couples from different cultural and financial background to administer their household activity for a week on a nicely designed piece of paper which already contained some elements of our application concept. This low-fi prototype could be sticked on the fridge of course. We wanted to know

  • who does
  • which chores
  • what time of the day
  • and last but not least we asked them to evaluate their experience on a 1–3 scale where 1 means “absolutely hate it” and 3 is “I actually enjoy doing it”.
All research tools are original pictures therefore, they are in Hungarian. Sorry for that.

Guess it won’t be a shocking surprise: women won with dominating victory over men. Beside making in-depth interviews with these couples we asked them to record some of their conversations to better understand their attitudes and perceptions towards the delicate issue of (in)equality at doing household chores and how it affects their relationship.

Persona (couples)creation

My teachers at uni often told me a designer shouldn’t create products based on their own experiences. I think otherwise. I must say I am a very typical copy of my own generation and society. We created 3 types of persona-couples (different age groups, professional, financial background) than chose the one that could have been nearly any member of our team.

3. Solution

We named our application DEAL. Couples in our focus group used to say this word often while negotiating about chores. Usually this was the resting point of their conversations so we considered deal as a word of peace and concord.

— I’m going to water the plants, if you take out the trash today, deal?

— Hmm…Deal.

App process flow

So basically we created a chore-barter platform for couples. Sounds silly ?Look at the home screen: in the UI we tried to focus on symbols of love and togetherness instead of dirty toilets and stuff.

Users can add new chores to the shared task list. At this point there is no task delegation yet. We were also planning to create a topic based rewarding system, that’s why giving tags to the chosen task were essential. However these badges wouldn’t be a part of the DEAL MVP.

When picking a chore from this list the user can point out what she would expect from her SO in return. If everyone agrees on the barter than they got a deal.

Notifications appear by tapping on the DEAL text button. Here the user can simply decide weather he wishes to accept the task-pairing or just ignore it if it seems unfair to him.

And now you got your own task list where each chore has a “pair” on your SO’s side. When you complete a task and mark it “done” your check mark icon will change its colour. The idea behind the design is shown above: the two screens is designed like they would make one big united screen together, that the user can see only half of it.


Minimalist UI to keep everything nice and clean

We wanted to keep everything very light, and extra big using a very simple structure and a lot of white space excluding any element which is not absolutely necessary. Organising our personal life, especially everyday must-dos can be tough even chaotic sometimes. This design aims to give that “I-can-handle-this” feeling to the user. To give little plus to this minimalist monochromic design we gave the possibility to choose between multiple colour options.

4. Testing and the inevitable pivot

We wanted our app to be part of a bigger social movement towards gender equality in terms of household. UX tests and interviews quickly proved that this is a very delicate topic that is hard to handle with absolute honesty. Our questions towards beta testers often provoked shame and embarrassment. We realised we weren’t ready to handle all the psychological depths of a romantic relationship. Not yet. So we turned to a less intimate kind of relationship as our next possible user base: roommates. My next story is about our pivot to a completely new app that finally hit the App store.

Did you find this case study interesting? Kindly tap that 💚 button ! I’d love to hear your thoughts on this story and your ideas on how to achieve gender equality at home by replying below👇.