SPRING: A College Student’s Solution to Procrastination (CASE STUDY)

Note:: Spring is not available for download on the app store. This app creation is currently in its concept and planning phases and has been used as an education exercise.

THE CURRENT SITUATION

The research team was a group of students currently trying to find a common issue among the five of us. All of us are from different backgrounds, and yet we all came to the similar conclusion that socialization and procrastination were issues that we, and other college students, struggled with.

Our team of five wanted to reaffirm this hypothesis, so we went our separate ways for the week and reconvened once we had gathered data from our various social groups and organizations we were a part of. I personally reached out to a group of my peers, ages 17–23, and asked them several questions relating to their priorities when it came to planning their days out.

Examples of data gathered that helped to shape our problem statement, intended user, and solutions to their problem.

The survey can be found (here) for more examples of the questions asked, and a sample of my research is presented above. One teammate gathered several survey responses similar in nature to mine, while my other teammates did personal research by looking on reddit threads and other social media that college students frequented. We began to organize the implications of our research into groups. We found that stress, procrastination, work overload, and school involvement were the major reasons that most people couldn’t manage their time. Our brainstorming can be seen below.

We all came to the conclusion that there was 3 main types of people that college students tended to fall into: the socialite, the workaholic, and the flip flopper. Most people who filled out the surveys either prioritized friends and family over homework and assignments, while some did the exact opposite. There however were a few people who did not fit in either category and tended to “flip flop” between priorities depending on how they were feeling.

We gathered the three different personas and reached out to more people to follow up and determine which category they might fall into. We then took common phrases or thoughts and lumped them into the ‘empathy maps’ as seen below.

The empathy maps for our three types of college students.

PAIN POINTS

Our main source of conflict was dealing with the three different types of people and figuring out how we would make an app catered towards such diverse needs. One of the ways that we managed to narrow down our options was by creating “How Might We” questions.

  • How might we make someone who puts off school to socialize do something productive?
  • How might we encourage a less stressful lifestyle without having them to change their priorities?
  • How might we offer alternatives to procrastination?
  • How might we find a way to help the all play, no work to actually do work?
  • How might we motivated them to start the workflow?
  • How might we teach them how to manage their stress level?

We realized that while it would not be possible within the deadline given to cater to each of the complex problems, we could narrow in on one category as opposed to all. After discussing what each group would need out of an app, we decided that finding a solution for procrastinators on the ‘Socialite’ side would be our best shot at a successful application. Our new ‘How Might We’ became this: “How might we guide students to begin their workflow with minimal stress?

We then developed our ‘problem statement’ for the socialite: “Students who procrastinate aren’t capable of successfully balancing their work and social lives”.

IDEATION

Through further group discussion, my group came up with several ideal users and different contexts in which they would use our application. We then discussed possible features and content we could see them using. Synthesizing this information lead us to our main needs for this app. This is also seen below.

It was then that the group entered our final step of our team research and created a storyboard outlining what an individual would go through in order to effectively use this app. I was responsible for taking the artwork and the artwork created for the board and making it one cohesive visual element. After this phase, the team separated in order to create multiple different app interfaces.

PROTOTYPING AND IMPLEMENTATION

It was after this step that I began to create a rough rundown of how i wanted the app to flow. I created paper prototypes where I marked out different essential elements I knew I wanted on the page. I wanted to focus on the calendar function and the progress function primarily, as this is what my team decided would be our most important feature. However, I also wanted students to have the ability to keep track of their friend’s schedules when trying to plan gatherings, so they needed to have individual pages that allowed for people to see this information easily. Professors would also have pages where you could find their office hours and their classes.

A sample of a few very basic wire frames. The app originally went by the name “FLEX”.

While I did want to include a ‘social media’ type function, I didn’t want this to be the main function. I knew from my research that this was a main reason for procrastination and would be more of a distraction than a helpful inclusion. I also did not want advertisements or videos from businesses to be seen on their Newsfeed and cause distractions. This is why I settled on only allowing .pdf files, links, and image files to be uploaded in the progression bar. No posts that were unrelated to a project they were working on would be uploaded.

There is a messaging function as well as a group function similar to Facebook in order to keep casual classmates, professors, and close friends organized. You could also create your own categories.

Lastly, I knew there had to be the possibility for incentives. Professors would be able to upload ‘Extra Credit’ deadlines in order to make students complete their work early or on time. It was essential that they could keep track of what was happening.

With the help of different college age students, I was able to collect valuable information on how well I conveyed the flow and what needed improvement. Each new tester brought unique insight and a new version until we arrived at one that did the job.

Various college students engaging in testing of the paper prototypes.

These paper prototypes were moved into Adobe XD, and soon a functioning, digital prototype was created. The name I decided on for the app would be “SPRING”. I felt that the name represented the ideals of the application and its clientele fairly. A spring causes momentum and movement when pressed, even just lightly. This app aims to cause people who wouldn’t normally motivate or move themselves into action by applying pressure or friendly competition.

SPRING aimed to help college students take on procrastination and spring them into action. Will you make the leap into learning?