ConsciousLy | A UX Design Case Study

This is the capstone project for my UX Design Foundation course at RED Academy in the summer of 2016. The objective of the project was to design a mobile app/responsive website that helps make Vancouver a better place. Here is my project case study for my app ConciousLy.

The Opportunity

I have always had a great interest in sustainable living, which fuels my desire to create an app that makes Vancouver a more sustainable city. After looking into various sustainability challenges, I decided to do something that help people reduce their household waste.

The problem with household waste is often a result of impulse buying decisions and buying things that do not have long term or frequent usage. In order to waste less, it’s essential to own less. Having been moving around quite a lot since I came to Vancouver, I strive to keep my stuff minimal and not owning too much. Every move is a chance to tighten up my belongings, which comes with my frustrations of packing things that I haven’t used for a long time or sorting out the stuff that I no longer need.

I believe that buying less but better and owning less stuff is a common desire for many Vancouverites in my generation. If there’s a way to help people be more conscious about their belongings and the usage, it would really help with reducing the stuff that people throw out or clutter. But it has to start from the top of the owning funnel, which is the buying decision. Therefore my app aims to help people evaluate what they own, and ultimately guide people through their decision making process in order to buy more consciously.

Research

I created a survey for Waste Reduction and received 51 responses in return: https://goo.gl/forms/UdQPQMf7RgeVBFTI3

Survey questions:

  1. How old are you?
  2. Where do you live?
  3. What is your relationship status?
  4. How conscious are you about your buying decisions?
  5. How interested are you in reducing your consumption?
  6. What are some alternatives to buying new products have you been doing?
  7. What are your motivations to NOT buy new products?
  8. What kind of things did you buy in the past that you only used less than 5 times a year?
  9. What kind of things did you buy used instead of new?
  10. What kind of things did you rent instead of buying new?
  11. How often do you buy used items instead of new?
  12. How often do you rent stuff instead of buying new?
  13. How often do you borrow stuff instead of buying new?
  14. What is frustrating for you about buying used items?
  15. What is frustrating for you about renting items?
  16. What is frustrating for you about borrowing stuff from friends/family?

The key findings:

Affinity Diagram

Most of people that answered the survey are between 21 and 33 years old and live in Vancouver. The majority haven’t bought a lot of used items or rent products, however, they are conscious about their buying decisions and interested in reducing their consumption. Their main motivation to buy less is to save money. Items that they mostly buy used are clothes, household items like furniture and kitchenware, and sport gears. 57% of the people answered that sometimes to often they borrow stuff from friends and family. Their frustrations in buying used products include bad quality, hard to find, and taking too much effort to obtain. For renting products, they mentioned expensive price, taking too much effort to obtain, and hard to find. They don’t want to bother friends and family hence not borrowing stuff from people.

Persona

There are currently two apps that help people inventory and track stuff they own:

My Stuff

Main features:

  • Categories
  • Locations: house, office, storage
  • Actions: donate, lend, loss, repair, sell, use
  • Add items
  • Sort
  • Other tools

Sortly

Main Features:

  • Dashboard: item counts, lent & expiring items, helpful stuff
  • Add folder
  • Add items
  • Category: home, work, move
  • Account
  • More: labels, tags, moving checklist, export, import, settings, invite friends, help & support

Planning

After listing out all of the features I have prioritized them to find the essentials for a minimum viable product.

Here I mapped out a basic user flow.

Version 1

After sketching my first wireframes, I came back and revised my user flow to be more complete.

Version 2

Sketching — Paper Prototype

First Prototype

Usability Testing Findings

Scope: User’s final decision is to donate a french press, after inventorying & evaluate it through the app.

Findings:

  • Many people interacted with the prototype like a real app, and they get very confused when they can’t just click wherever they want but having to follow a certain flow. I learnt that users need a lot of explanations for what to expect & the scenario before interacting with the prototype.
  • I found out that I was missing some screens that confused people hence my flow was not quite complete as I thought
  • Some of my links were either broken or to the wrong places which also confused the users. There’s still work to do.

Second Prototype — Clickable on Invision


Lessons Learnt & Moving Forward

  • Because I only did surveys instead of empathy interviews for my research, I missed some deep insights that would have helped answer my questions along the way. Therefore I plan to redo my research and rebuild my personas.
  • My tasks flow takes too much effort for users to go through, which clash with the user needs to make decisions quickly.
  • I have the opportunity to gamify my app (with a reward system) to make the process more entertaining for the users. Right now it feels like chores which is not appealing for users to come back to use the app.