Working mindset: an app to keep the focus while you work — Case study

Brief

The purpose of this 4-day-project was to develop a wellness app until a low-medium fidelity level. This exercise was part of the second week of a UX/UI design Bootcamp in Ironhack Barcelona.

Wellness is a wide concept. However, my background as a psychologist drove my interest in the area of emotional and occupational wellness. I wanted to know how social media affect these two areas of wellness. We are constantly receiving inputs from social media: messages, friend requests, likes, updates, etc. This stream of information overloads our cognitive resources, creating stress and less capacity (resources) to focus on other activities.

Research

In order to narrow the topic and get to know my audience, I conducted research with online surveys and in-person interviews. I collected data from 50 survey participants and 6 people interviewed.

Research results

Surveys gave me a lot of meaningful information, which was reinforced later by the interviews. From the research, I found out that:

  • 90% of participants think that they spend too much time on social media.
  • Participants remark that this is especially problematic when they are working, learning or studying.
  • The most conflicting social media platforms are Facebook and Instagram. They find more difficult to stop using them in comparison to other platforms.
  • The most difficult moments are varied but have in common boredom and stress. These two emotions can be considered as emotional triggers of the behavior.
  • 50% of the time, participants open social media unconsciously, without thinking, which makes more difficult to control the habit.
  • Finally, participants use a variety of control techniques to reduce the habit: all of them try to hide, block, restring…

“When I’m with friends and everybody checks social media, I feel bored and I end using it too”

“The last time I felt I was checking too much social media was in class because the content was difficult to understand”

“I can’t control it, I’m going to see the time and suddenly I’m in Instagram”

Persona and problem statement

To empathize and keep the focus on real users’ goals and needs, I developed the following user persona, which was based on the research results.

Personas are the fictional characters created based upon the user research to represent the different user types that will use the service/ product/ site.

I decided to focus the project on people like Paula, that is:

Young workers who need a way to be more aware of their social media habits and reduce their use while working, because they affect their ability to stay focused and be efficient.

Goals

Once the audience and the problem were defined, I set the next three general goals for the app:

  • Increase the awareness of the habit, so it’s easier to prevent people from using them.
  • Give alternatives to cope with the emotional triggers, different from checking social media platforms.
  • Include control techniques. People already use strategies or apps to control the time they spend on specific apps. This feature must be included in the app, as it’s usefulness has been probed.

Prototyping

These clearly defined and specific goals helped me to begin with the ideation of possible design solutions. To spark the process, I used the crazy 8s exercise, in which I sketched different versions of my ideas until I finally made the first paper prototypes of my app.

Overview

The flow of the app goes as follow:

  • In the “home” page, users can activate or deactivate the “working mode”, which means, that the access to specific social media platforms is somehow restringed.
  • From the “home” page, users can also go to “settings” to specify these restrictions: which social media platforms are restricted, the maximum amount of time allowed on them, the number of checks allowed or schedule the moment when he can check the platform.
  • Once the “working mode” has been activated, users lock the mobile phone and start working. If they suddenly want to check, let’s say, Instagram, they unlock and try to open the app. At that moment, the “working mindset” app shows the person a message and asks them “how are you feeling?” and let them choose between stressed, bored, none of them or just, skip. Depending on their choice different options are displayed. For the two first, alternatives to cope with the stress and the boredom are offered. For the two later a reminder of their “working mode” and information about the time spent on that social media.

Paper prototypes and iterations

The paper prototypes were tested four different times with a total of 13 users. Users’ feedback guided my design decisions which can be observed in the following section.

“Home” page (on the left, 1) and “Settings” (on the right, 2)

(1) I made changes in the logo, so it looked more like a logo and less like a button. I added some social media icons to help the users understand the functionality of the app. I placed the turn on/off button further and I added the tag “working mode” because it was confusing for the users.

(2) The “Setting” section suffered many modifications. The “Set a challenge” section was confusing and nobody understood what was it for. “Warning messages” were misunderstood as messages that come from the social media platform, so it was changed for a whole sentence. “Working mode” was removed here to avoid repetitions.

The “How are you feeling?” screen pops up when “working mode” is active and the user wants to check a social media platform (3)

(3) The flow within the app was changed several times because it wasn’t clear for the users. I put the screens in different order, then I displayed the information on the same screen and finally, I reordered and changed some of the content.

“Set usage limit” page (4)

(4) The “Set usage limit” section was also simplified and a “save” button was added because people thought there was enough information, but they needed some kind of confirmation.

Final prototype

Finally, here you can see the whole virtual prototype.

Prototype made with Sketch

Roadmap

Although I’m happy with the results achieved in only 4 days, there are still some problematic points in the app that I’d love to improve in the future:

  • In “settings”– the option “schedule the time to check” was difficult to understand and follow by the users.
  • In “set usage limits” — There is no general view of the social media apps so the user can’t see what they currently have at a glance.

Takeaways

This was my first individual project as a UX designer. My main learning goal was to train the mindset “let the research guide the design”. In other words, avoid jumping into conclusions or solutions too soon. It was a real challenge for me because of my background, the topic selected and the lack of time for the project. However, I was able to be open-minded and I discovered unexpected things from the interviews and testings.

As a psychologist, I am used to talking about emotions and I don’t feel them an intrusive topic. However, I found a tester that felt the app invasive because of the question “how do you feel?”.

His feedback led me to a different point. Even if people decide voluntarily to download the app, we must consider that they will feel frustrated if any obstacle blocks their goal. Contextual clues to remind the user that the message is connected to the app and a more gradual approach could be good improvements.

With only 4 days for the project, it’s important to schedule the process so you organize your time properly. In the research stage, as the says go “the more you dig in, the more you find out”. Interviews, surveys, and testings give you tons of information, but someday you have to stop, make decisions and take some risks as a designer, knowing that trying to solve all aspects is a perfectionist goal.

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