The journey to design “Voice to Task” app
To complete my interaction design specialization with COURSERA I went into an interesting journey of going through a complete design process. Need finding, Ideation, storyboards and paper prototypes, Heuristic evaluation, planning, testing, redesigning, testing again and then there it was… “Voice to Task” the result of all this 10 weeks hard work.
My observations and interviews where center around learning about how people manage their time on a regular weekday and see what type of good or bad habits comes with it. I asked 3 participants to walk me through their daily routines on a regular weekday including everything, live at home and also at work.
The results were amazing I realized that going through the observation experience I found a lot of user needs I would have never thought of. All users had different lifestyles and different responsibilities and systems to organize tasks and manage their time but all of them were lacking a fast system to organize ToDos and events. Most of the people I observed were refusing to use a digital system because of how long it took to input and organize the information. Basically they said:
“If it takes too much time then it is not worth doing”.
With all the information gathered, I wrote down a list of ideas to list all the user needs I found during the participant observation and the interview and it was quite clear that Everyone need to manage time one way or another even though if the person is very systematic or totally disorganized, time affect us all, the way we manage it allow us to accomplish what we want or need or becomes our enemy. People need a flexible and easy to use system to optimize time without spending too much time or effort in doing it.
Storyboards and paper prototypes
Now that I had a point of view to star proposing possible solutions it was time to develop a couple of ideas by doing some storyboards and paper prototypes.
Using the storyboard concept, I decided to prototype a mobile app to allow users to take voice notes and turn them into text note for ToDo lists, the idea was to provide a design for users to organize and prioritize a lot of tasks in no time. Although the app is was intended for mobile at this point I wanted the app to sync with any other device to check the ToDo lists and receive notifications.
The interesting thing about prototyping on paper was that it took a low effort and took me only a couple of hours to get it done. It was amazing how much I learned by running this prototype with a peer and a regular user applying Jakob Nielsen’s 10 heuristics along with his Severity Ratings for Usability Problems. I learned that the ideas were on the right track but needed a lot of tweaks to keep going so I made a proper list of changes according to what I learned:
- Add an additional sign in option, sign in with email.
- Change the task input to only voice record.
- The system will turn the voice record into a ToDo note that will create an event in the phone calendar.
- The notification system will now be the calendar of the phone.
- The tasks will receive the following inputs: task description, task type and due date.
- Every task can also be viewed in the phone’s calendar.
- User will be able to create events as well to sync with the calendar.
Ready for testing
Once I finished all the wireframes I moved on with a invision prototype to test with potential users with the following tasks.
- Record a new task and save the task in a new task list
- Record a new event and save the event.
- Check out one of your tasks lists and edit the first task of the list.
- Check out one of your events and edit the event time and date.
1st Prototype (Voice to task app)
At the end of the tests I notice that I was getting closer to get it done the right way, the app flow was working just fine but the voice record experience was still not good enough so I decided to A/B test two ways to input the information with voice record.
A/B test experiment : Tap to record Vs. Hold and release
While conducting in person testing, it became clear that the way both users expected the voice record to work was different, while Participant 1 expected to hold the record button and then release to finish, Participan 2 naturally interacted with the original design of tapping to record and then tapping again on the stop button to finish.
The voice record is the main feature of “Voice to task app” and is the feature that sowed more risk during the two tests, therefore I need to ensure that the interaction for voice record is natural and intuitive for all users. To determine which of the two recording methods is more clear and fast to use I need to increase the sample size in order to get more data, so I will be turning to online testing. This testing will be conducted in A/B fashion, with the A design being the original interface (tap on rec. to start recording and the tap on stop to finish). The B design will incorporate changes to the interface so users can hold the microphone button to record and then release to finish.
In general I was happy with the design so far, the general features worked just fine for all 4 subjects that runned the A/B test, all subjects interacted with the app with not many problems and all of them thought it was very easy and straightforward to use it. The main issue was still remaining, the most important feature of the app which is the voice recognition and it was the main A/B test difference:
Version A: recording voice wit a record and stop toggle button
Version B: Record by holding the record button and stop by releasing the button
3 out of 4 subject preferred the A version becaused it worked just fine in the prototype, the B version had a lot of performance issues. I concluded that the problem is that the prototype is an invision prototype that just work with clicks and don’t support hand gestures like “hold” and release.
Other interesting findings were the following:
- Users don’t state the due dates of the tasks using their voice.
- User get confused whether they are creating a separate task or a new list.
- Users started to show a learning curve which is very interesting considering they only interacted with it for a few minutes.
The final adjustments to tune up the app where the following:
- Add a (+) button on the home screen to create new task lists.
- Separate the voice input of the task name from the due date.
- Separate the voice input of the event name from the event date.