UX Case Study: P1: Social Balance
Social Balance allows the user to allot time for their social and personal life.
For our first project, we were asked to pick a partner in our class. We will then be designing a prototype for an app that fulfills a need, solves a particular problem, and creates a new experience for our partner. We were required to focus on one problem or need and create a single solution. My project will be designed for Nikoo, a colleague from my UX program at RED Academy. Based on our initial interview, I found a particular need that will be the basis for my app prototype to be created in the following week.
On the second half of being introduced the opportunity, we learned about research methods that we will apply for the project. I conducted a user interview after coming up with an interview script. In order to create my interview script, I created a mind map with the main idea of finding my user’s need through our initial interview. From the main idea, it branched off to internal (history & background) and external factors (how & where they spend the most time).
My conversation with Nikoo started off with learning her whereabouts in the past week. She had just come back from her home country of Iran and still had a bit of a jet lag. I then asked how long she has spent there and when she decided to move here. Immediately we had a few things in common as I had also immigrated here a few years ago. As I started to write my notes down, I realized that writing was not the best method of note taking when interviewing because I would lose eye contact with the interviewee and they would get distracted with what I was writing. However I still (regrettably) decided not to record our conversation with my phone and opted to keep the conversation going instead.
As I started to write my notes down, I realized that writing was not the best method of note taking when interviewing.
I proceeded to ask about what she does in her spare time, and learned that she has a few friends here in the Lower Mainland that she enjoys to spend time with, being out in the city having coffee and dinner. She immediately added that she also needs time for herself to meditate, on top of spending time with friends, which hinted me on an idea for her need I will be focusing on.
After learning that she enjoys being out in the city with friends, I found out what activities she likes to do in her alone time. She also enjoys fine art like I do, and in particular, she likes to make abstract paintings. We had a good chat about what types of medium she uses to paint, then transitioned to which electronic devices she uses, which lead to asking what her favourite smartphone apps are. This would give me valuable information to what features I would reference from apps, as well as give me ideas for what the app would roughly look like.
At first I expected my app will be unique. However, after brainstorming the main features, it became clear that the features will have already existed from different apps. I conducted a competitive / comparative analysis and concluded that my app will contain a to-do list as would a note taking app, a scheduling tool, and a visual chart from a fitness tracking app. The objective was to take these features, improve on certain areas, and bring them all into one app.
From our interview, I was able to visualize a scenario where Nikoo would have to balance her personal and social time. With this information I created a storyboard that communicates the emotions she goes through in each frame.
The storyboarding process aids with laying out the user flow and where the user interacts with the app’s features. Based on a feedback for the storyboard, I added the second thought bubble on the first frame to show that she is planning to complete multiple activities on the same day, first to spend time with friends, then paint by herself later.
Right when the user starts up the app they will be given the option to balance their social and personal time, in percentages, for either a week or a month. From there they will be able to set specifically which week or month they want to balance, and then assign any desired activities for both social and personal time. They will be sent notifications about the activities they have set up, and also be able to view past charts they have balanced on the history page of the app.
I created a low fidelity prototype with paper for the first visual representation of the app. This gave me some insight for the hierarchy of the features, and revealed that I missed common prompts that the user expects to see, such as a confirm and cancel buttons, after completing an action.
The “Discard” and “Save” buttons on frame 2, and the “Cancel” and “Confirm” buttons were snuck on after the initial user testing. These would later be cleaned up on the revised low fidelity wireframes seen below.
After completing a few user tests with the help of other students, I added some features that I had missed for the first low fidelity iteration.
The usability testing was composed of completing 3 tasks:
- User will balance their time for a specific week in April.
- User will set aside 70% of the week for social time, and 30% for personal time.
- User will view their history for past charts created.
Users were able to complete the first two tasks with ease, with the help of making buttons and links on the app legible and clear to read. However, for the third task, a user was not able to find the history page, since the link was not as obvious as the others. The solution was to add this link to the menu button on the top right corner.
Completing this first project gave me very useful insight and has been a great introduction to the tools and methodologies used in the UX process. Right from the beginning, I learned that note taking will be made a lot easier by recording our conversation (after getting permission from the interviewee) and therefore validating the exact quotes made by the interviewee, and will eliminate the need to paraphrase their replies. I also learned the importance of paper prototyping and how simpler that process makes refining the user flow, features, and information hierarchy of the product.
A really cool idea that was mentioned to me after presenting was making the circle chart more interactive. This would give the user the ability to drag around the circle to set the desired percentage, and would even add a fun interactivity.
View the prototype here: