PROJECT 1: Name of Mobile app : ACCOUNT-A-BILL
ACCOUNT-A-BILL (Phonetically equivalent to “Accountable” which is defined as “subject to the obligation to report, explain, or justify something; responsible; answerable”.
“Smart-phone savvy users who actively used mobile apps for capturing their appointments and deadlines still encountered occasions when they forgot to pay their bills !”
To create a simple mobile app to capture all the bill details — by taking a photo of the bill and generating 2 reminders (one on payday and another 2 days before actual deadline) sent to the user via on Watsapp.
BASICS OF UX DESIGN COVERED IN WEEK 1
1- Hypothesise- We were taught to come up with three pain points which we assumed the users had in relation to our chosen topic. I chose “PRODUCTIVITY” but it was such a general topic and it was difficult to come up with assumptions unless i first decided which area of productivity i wanted to focus on.
I felts so stuck when it comes down to the “figuring out what app i wanted to design! Especially when we encounter so many apps which can do so many things, most of us focused on the end goal- creating an app that could serve many purposes. However, i kept telling myself “Don’t aim to invent a full spectrum kind of app “swiss army knife”.
2 We were then told to conduct interviews to confirm our assumptions. I felt that i couldn’t formulate specific questions until i narrowed down my area on productivity so I gravitated towards the topic of task collection- by asking my interviewees general questions like:
- Do you currently have any task collection method?
- How do you plan your day /schedule?
- Where do you note down your appointments or errands?
- How did you ensure that you would not forgot errands or appointments?
Unfortunately, my interviewees had different views on productivity- some with no interest in productivity habits and relied heavily on their memory to remember things, to those who used google calendar, excel spreadsheets to collect all information and appointments. I felt that my interview was going nowhere until I asked, “give me an example of a task or appointment which you have forgotten the the last month”.
To my surprise, the ones who actively used calenders and other tools such as Google calendar, ical or a physical diary, could recall that they had recently forgotten to pay a bill and one missed an appointment. Upon probing, I realised that these people had already set a reminder for their bill payment or appointment but forgot to complete the task because they had to delay taking immediate action. One interviewee explained that she could not decide whether she wanted to committ to an event at the point when she entered the appointment in her calender and therefore didn’t set a reminder. Therefore making an app which helped capture their tasks would not solve the problem of missing bill payments.
Asking more detailed questions to find out WHY the interviewees forgot their bill payment and appointments helped me narrow down to their specific pain points and gave me insight on the exact problems i wanted the app to help solve.
One revealed that she didnt have her bill information with her when she wanted to pay at the AXS machine, and she would usually consolidate all the bills to pay only once a month. Another said that the reminder on her phone was too easy to deactivate. One classmate commented that the reminder was set too many days before the actual deadline of her bill and therefore allowed her to easily postpone taking action on her bill payment.
I chose to focus on a specific problem- tech savvy people with access to all kinds of productivity apps, still rely on their memory or simple alarms to alert them on their payments, at the risk of incurring late payment fees.
HOW AND WHY I SOLVED THE PROBLEM
Keep asking: start with concise questions but drill down deep. I assumed that the users forgot their bills because they were too lazy to enter the bill payment information in their planner/calender. The real reason was that most bills remained unpaid because the reminder came at the wrong time (ignore the simple alarm on their phone) or they simply forgot!
Insert personality during the interview: interview questions always start off vague and awkward. Both the interviewee and interviewer did their best to anticipate each person’s reactions and comments but as I relaxed and asked more questions, we realised the direction the interview was going towards and the interview became more of a conversation and information sharing session.
THE PROCESS AND DIFFICULTIES:
Although the course teaches us many new tools and concepts, the greatest difficulty in this project was the interview.
I’ve always held the view that dealing with humans would be difficult. We all have different wants and needs and a one size fits all solution is seldom possible. Finding the pain points and problem to solve took a long time and most classmates struggled with their problem statement for more than the time given to us. Many resorted to ‘reverse engineering’, trying to come up with a pain that they wanted to solve then asking questions which would lead the interviewees to confirm that they had the same problem.
Using the Affinity diagram to solve this was also difficult since there were varying problems and it didnt seem possible to come up with common problems after interviewing 3 classmates. I had to interview up to 5 classmates and 2 friends before i could narrow down the pain point which i wanted to work on which i felt would benefit the most people. Other tools we learnt to use were user flow diagrams , wireframes, sketches and storyboards.
My idea of the reminder app went through several revisions. Initially my app was intended to be a task and voice capturing app with the goal of making it easier to capture all tasks and appointments and having the app sync with Google calender.
However with more interviews, I realized that my intended users needed a task reminder app instead of a task capturing app. This led me to abandon my initial design and re-think the problem and solution.
I wanted to create an app to serve as a simple but useful bill reminder app. Ideally, the app should be simple enough so that users could incorporate it into their busy lifestyle and current habits without them having to learn how to use a new app and adjust the way they use their mobile phone.
GOALS of the app:
*capture the full bill details
*capture the actual deadline
*generate 2 reminders which would not be easily ignored
*have a sharing function so that the user could make use of an accountability partner to help remind them of the bill
To fit in with the user’s lifestyle, i designed this bill payment/messanger app to replicate the widely used “Watsapp” interface. All my interviewees used this app on a daily basis. The app would also have a camera function for the user to capture the full bill details (such as account number, bill, breakdown of the bill, bill payment date). Since the users all carried their phone daily, the bill would be available to them once it was captured in their phone. I wanted the reminder message to be triggered via watsapp to serve as a audio and visual reminder rather than just a alarm on their phone. The user could then take immediate action to pay their bill or to forward the reminder message to their accountability partner such as spouse, parent, sibling or close friend, who could remind them when they reached home or meet up.
I also suggest setting the reminder watsapp to be sent on the day after payday so that the user would not have the excuse of having insufficient funds to pay the bill and another reminder to be generated 2 days before the actual deadline. This should give the user sufficient time to plan for the actual payment.
Final prototype (sample of screens)
See clickable prototype at https://popapp.in/projects/575054efd033be4b2eeffef8/preview
Although my prototype is low-fidelity at this point, i hope that my thought process has been clearly conveyed.
I believe that a good product or service should be designed according to the intended user’s lifestyle instead of forcing users to adapt to the app. Personally, I would rather find a new app to use than force myself to form a new habit with a downloaded app. Forcing a user to change their lifestyle for a new invention or design is often is unsustainable.
List of tools used/learnt in week 1:
Axure RP, Sketch, Pop, Google drive, Keynote, InVision, Medium, Slack.
My goal in taking up this course was to learn new things in a different industry. So far I’ve been introduced to many practical tools and concepts and have made new friends from diverse backgrounds.
This course has so far been well organized and structured in bite sized chucks to facilitate learning for participants without any tech background. While its been years since I had to prepare my own slides, I’m glad my hobby in photography and photo editing has helped make this learning process easier than if I had come in straight from my previous job in the area of trademark prosecution.
Here’s looking forward to the next 9 weeks!