Burnout is a very real condition that can affect anybody, especially college students. In 2018, 85% of college students reported feeling overwhelmed, while 50% said they experienced levels of stress that negatively impacted their academic performance. — bestcolleges.com
Understanding Our Problem
With our busy schedules, sometimes it seems like we do nothing but work. We wake up, work, eat, sleep and do it all over again. Doing this day after day will cause many of us to feel burnout. Studies have shown college students, more than any other group, are negatively affected by burnout.
“Burnout to me is the inability to properly function healthily; prioritizing school work over my wellbeing.”
We started by sending out a Google survey, seeking college students who could identify with feeling burnout. We had 34 respondents:
Although the results weren't exactly surprising, they confirmed our suspicions that there was certainly a problem here.
But perhaps burnout is just part of life? And to that, I would agree, however, what if people were able to manage their burnout more effectively? Could we, in turn, help them get past it quickly and back to feeling themselves?
Insights & Discovery
After interviewing several of our respondents we synthesized the following key insights:
- Experience burnout when they are emotionally, mentally, and/or physically exhausted, usually caused by repeated or prolonged stress.
- Tend to cope with the feeling of burnout by stepping away from their work and experience a change of scenery.
- Find it helpful when they take personal time and breaks to de-stress in between their workload.
- Users find that keeping a routine helps set their pace, and differentiating times for personal and work time helps prevent burnout.
Although time management may be a factor of burnout, we found that with most of our users, this wasn’t the core of the issue. They were so set in their routines that they weren’t using their free time effectively to put themselves back into their busy schedules.
Once we had our key insights we combined the most important and created our persona, Alma!
Alma is a full-time student at UC Riverside majoring in political science. She has 5 classes a week, engages in outside school projects, and works at two part-time jobs. She tries her best to meet the demands of her busy schedule but sometimes forgets that she’s important too.
Keeping Alma in mind we asked ourselves what was the true issue at hand?
Students who are experiencing a burnout have a lack of interest in their day to day tasks due to their repetitive routines.
Alma is overwhelmed with her daily demands and needs more personal time for herself to help her de-stress.
How might we help her make sure she takes time for herself and putting herself back into her schedule.
We chose to focus on an activity-based service, which would allow students to engage with our app to help them break up their routine; doing so in a fun and relaxing way. Thus, Utime was born!
Through our research, we learned many students reporting that a change of scenery is important to them when they’re feeling burnout. Because of this, we decided to design for mobile. We felt it was important for students to be able to use our app without being restricted to a computer screen.
Together we brainstormed features that would best suit Alma, and narrowed them down to the necessary and feasible ones to include in our design.
Activity recommendations were an essential feature of our app. Students often feel overwhelmed in the midst of their burnout and we wanted to make it easy for them to find activities to do, without being required to go through a long list of choices.
That said, an activity filter was equally important for users who did know what they were looking for, to be able to quickly find it.
Although social media integration was incorporated through connecting your Facebook account and an ability to share photos from your activities, this was not a “social media first” app. Alma already has ways of getting in touch with her friends; this app was for her.
Keeping in mind the features we wanted to include, we began sketching some of our ideas and combining the best of them together.
Once we had the blueprint for our design, we created our wireframes.
In addition to allowing users to filter activities by category, we also included options to filter by time and cost, which you can see on page 2. If you remember, many of the students we talked to had routines. Giving them the ability to select activities based on the time it takes, will allow them to find something to do, no matter how little time they have.
On page 6 we added a “how are you feeling after this activity?” Of course, this is great feedback for us, but it can also serve as a moment for users to acknowledge their feelings. We later added the option to skip, as we did not want the user to feel forced into giving a response.
Through testing our mid-fi prototype, 4 of the 8 users succeed. The most notable thing we learned from our testing was that users didn’t understand the search feature.
Most of the users ignored it, and the ones who found it assumed it was used for purposes not intended. As a result, we chose to eliminate this page altogether.
Jumping into hi-fi, the first thing we wanted to do was determine what colors and typography would best suit our application.
Through our color selection, we wanted to emulate a relaxed but inviting color theme to set the tone for various activities Utime has to offer.
We decided on Complementary and Triadic color combinations. This resulted in cool and warm colors.
All of our color combinations rated double AA accessible.
Next, we began converting our mid-fi to hi-fi. However, we made some significant changes during the process.
One of the most notable changes made can be seen on the customize page (2). To allow users to filter within a range, the limited slider was replaced with the ability to input a minimum and maximum.
Another major change can be seen on page 3. We decided to do away with the single card per screen on the custom page. Our original thought was too many options will overwhelm users, but we realized it can be equally overwhelming to view your options one at a time.
Our testing went very well with 6 of the 8 users successfully completing our tasks. There were two issues that we realized:
- The homepage layout doesn’t make it obvious that the page is scrollable
- The location of activity history may not be intuitive
In regards to the activity history, it was considered an indirect success because our users quickly checked under the favorites tab, but their next move was the correct one, switching over to the profile tab.
Due to the nature of this sprint, there are many things we weren’t able to do that we have in mind for the future. One of the first things we would do is increase the activity catalog and have users test activities for feedback.
In addition to the activities we would also like to implement:
- Reformat or add some sort of indication that the home page is scrollable
- The ability for users to add/invite friends.
- Prototype sharing feature.
- Utilize feedback from “How are you feeling” sections of the app to curate suggested lists of activities for users with similar feelings
- Adding push notifications
Through this process, we went from identifying a unique opportunity to a high-fidelity prototype. It taught me how to get out of that mind-frame of jumping to solutions before you know what is the REAL problem.
Thank you for reading!