Organizing your time- ‘Remind me’

My process for creating a ‘remind me’ feature for the Apple Calendar App.

Assumptions table

The problem statement provided was — GA students who were busy through their day needed a feature on an existing time management app, that will help them better organize their time. Being a person obsessed with micro-managing your time, this was fairly exciting to me. I first laid out my assumptions- what in my opinion could come in the way of users organizing their time — my usual approach is to start listing out examples and non-examples under broader categories I had defined for the project. The assumptions table was my process of going through the assumptions I had- and then starting to think about what kind of questions I would like to ask.

First round of affinity mapping

The next step was to start thinking about the actual questions I would like to ask. I realized in order to test out my assumptions I would have to ask more open-ended questions about time management and organization per se. This was really insightful in helping users talk more to their understandings of what it meant to manage their time. From the 5 interviews I took, the users seem to perceive organizing time very differently — some of them felt like if it was a routined task, they didn’t need reminder, while others spoke about being dependent on an app to be reminded to do something. The tools also were very diverse- some used their hand as an equipment to write down their reminder, some used a notebook and some relied on their phone. I was also amused when one user mentioned that their alarm clock was their time management tool — this helped expand on the series of assumptions and invalidate quite a few. The debunking and validating of assumptions continued through the affinity map. I went through 3 rounds of affinity mapping — my first round were my assumptions grouped into categories, I could see the questions affecting the response- however the second round, I let the data talk and the trends started becoming more insightful like for example understanding that time is a finite resource as a motivation for people to be organized or thinking about routines and habits that may not require reminders

The current feature of reminder on Apple Calendar

This led me to my problem statement that gave me a concrete sense of what I was working on — how might we support GA students be successful in helping them organizing the tasks for the day? Since 3/5 users used the Apple Calendar — I chose that app for a feature to add. Most users spoke about their need to be reminded about the a task, reduce time in entering the task and having the brain space to do other things. The reminder feature on the Apple calendar is not very intuitive; requires multiple entires before the user knows the app will remind them. Users also mentioned they would like to be told that they had been successful at the task — they felt a gratification by striking through the reminder in their notebook- ‘ the joy of crossing that which is complete.’ Based on this data, I decided to add a ‘Remind me’ feature.
The hope was by reducing the cognitive burden of remembering and knowing the tasks they need to complete in the finiteness of time, will allow for the user to be able to balance time for themselves and their significant others.

The key tasks the ‘remind me’ feature could do was two fold: First, to be able to add a reminder/event/ to-do through a sentence in the calendar directly. That is instead of searching for a time and date- you can type into the calendar the task that needs a reminder. For eg. remind me about calling Jane in 4 days at 5 Pm- the calendar would take this task from the day it was entered and set a reminder for the day. Second, a Haptics/ 3D touch based reminder mechanism that will allow user to cross through completed tasks or snooze. This will have the same gratification users spoke about when they crossed out something in their notebook with an interactive interface through haptics touch.

So I started to sketch out where I could place this remind me feature, the key task needed to provoke the user to click and hence I chose it to be in the center with a clear CTA. In my low-fi fidelity test- which I did with about 8 people — 4 GA student and 4 users of apple calendar to understand if the feature was noticeable — I got some great feedback about where users would click- what language helped users perform certain actions. For eg. ‘Strike through’ did not provoke the user to actually gesture it- but ‘swipe’ did. I saw the power of symbols and direct CTA’s as opposed to explanations. Using the feedback from the low- fi usability tests, I was able to make significant changes in the mid-fi wire frames — including alternatives in the user flow and wording of certain actions.

Comparison of ‘Remind me’ feature in the Apple Calendar, Low- fi and Mid-fi prototype
User flow with alternate paths

During my Mid-Fi testing the way I measured my key tasks was task on time and the number of iterations needed for the users to perform the task- which needed to be less than 2 to be successful. The three key tasks were defined as when the user clicks on remind me, enters the reminder sentence with a worded date and time feature and swipes through to complete the task. Of the 4 users, most of them were successful in click on the remind me and swiping through the feature.
What I think I struggled most with (this was also something I noticed when I was doing the paper prototype) was the habit users had of entering the details for the calendar and not trusting the calendar to do it. So that got me thinking about ways in which we can help users break out of that habit — this could be with a pop up bubble or just getting their marketing team advertise the feature in 5 second clips. Users loved that they could strike off and see success for themselves. The next steps for this could include a confirmation of the reminder being explicit — so the calendar repeats what the reminder is. And some users mentioned they don’t want the reminder to be 5 minutes before, but allowing them to choose how long before they should be reminded- especially for the tasks that needed a crunch time .

Features that users liked (1st & 2nd from left) and features users would like to see (3rd & 4th)