Prototyping an app for personal accountability

Gabriel Thomsen
Nov 3, 2019 · 4 min read

In the first week of my UX/UI Design Bootcamp at Ironhack Berlin, we worked in teams of 4 people to develop an app addressing a wicked problem. My teammates and I chose to address the problem of overconsumption of information on the Internet (sound familiar?). The brief asked us to conduct research into the problem, ideate possible solutions and to prototype and test one of them, all within a 1-week design sprint.

1. User research

We began our research by creating a survey designed to find out whether people felt they overused the Internet in their daily life, what they thought about certain features, how they felt when and if they thought they overused the Internet, and whether they would be willing to try an app that limits their Internet use.

Ninety-three people answered the survey, and the results were enlightening. A majority of respondents said they use the Internet more than they would like to, but at the same time, they were reluctant to use an app that limits their Internet use. Streaming of films and shows was also identified as one of the most common activities in Internet binges.

Survey results

After getting these results from the survey, we went to the streets and conducted 10 personal interviews, with the goal of getting a deeper understanding of what people do when they overuse the Internet, why they do it, and how they would rather spend their time.

Our insights from the personal interviews were that there are 2 main types of Internet abusers: those who procrastinate and would like to be more productive, and those who experience loneliness and spend a lot of time on social media (particularly Instagram).

2. Problem definition

Armed with the knowledge from our research, we made an affinity diagram to help us understand what exactly were the main problems, and to empathize with our intended users. After analyzing all the information we had, we came up with a user persona who would serve to guide our design principles throughout the rest of the process.

User persona

Our persona reflects both main types of Internet abusers: those who procrastinate and would like to be more productive, and those who feel lonely and would like to be more sociable.

We started to think about how we could tackle both of these problems we had pinned down (procrastination and lack of socialization), and decided to focus on the first one, largely because we perceived a lack of products on the market that addressed this problem.

3. Ideation

Once we defined the problem we were going to solve, we did brainstorming sessions to come up with as many ideas as possible. The crazier the better! In this phase of ideation we were just focused on putting out as many ideas as possible, without constraining our options judging how realistic they were. We wrote down our suggestions on sticky notes, and then had a vote on the ones we preferred, followed by group discussions about how we could combine this ideas and implement them.

The result of our ideation phase was the product concept we later prototyped: an app that allows people to join personal accountability groups, where they can get in touch with other people who have similar problems and goals, and help each other achieve them, while also socializing in the process.

4. Wireframing and prototyping

To start materializing our product concept, we all made a first round of paper wireframing, in which everybody drew what they imagined the product might look like. Everybody’s lo-fi wireframes were particularly good at one thing or another, so we mixed and matched them all and iterated a few times until we had a set of paper wireframes we were happy with.

Paper wireframes

Our next step was to create mid-fi wireframes using Sketch; from these mid-fi wireframes, we created a clickable prototype using InVision, which you can check our for yourself by clicking here.

Mid-fi wireframes

5. Learnings

Throughout this intense first week at Ironhack I learned many things about the UX design process: the importance of user research to inform design decisions, ideating and defining problems through a defined process involving affinity diagrams and brainstorming, instead on just sitting and picking your brains; the importance of making quick and easy lo-fi wireframes to start materializing your ideas and start running into problems sooner rather than later. But I also learned how good teamwork is carried out: all of the team members were involved in every stage of the process, sharing our ideas and doing constructive criticism.

Gabriel Thomsen

Written by

UX Designer passionate about User Research. Open to work opportunities in Berlin

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