Project 1 — To-do list

So the UX course was off to a flying start where we were immersed (pun intended) into our first project on our very first day in class.

Upon hearing my designated topic my mind sprung directly into coming up with solutions on how people can write their to-do lists. However as we uncovered more about the research process I was forced to realize that there was a lot of work to be done before designing the application.

My first task was to come up with a problem statement. In order to do this I needed to learn more about the topic and understand how people interact and behave in relation to my topic.

The research method we used for this project was conducting user interviews. The structure of the interviews was divided into two parts, first the subject had to write down their Pains, Pleasures, Context and Behavior of remembering things to do. This was followed up with a series of probing questions on each of the words listed in order to understand the user’s thought process and fully understanding how people experience the task of remembering things to do.

Interview in progress!

After conducting several user interviews in class and at home I was left with a long list of Pains, Pleasures, Context and Behaviors all related to how people experience remembering things to do. From my interviews I understood why the interview subjects gave me their specific answers but I still needed to do something in order to analyze the results and find my key takeaways from the research.

Say hello to the affinity map

I jotted down all the words my interview subjects had given me onto sticky notes and threw them up on my wall grouped into the 4 topics from earlier. I was now looking at rearranging the notes in order to find patterns and connections to help me come up with a problem statement. During this process I was for example able to connect specific pain points with certain negative behaviors. In turn I was able to to connect these pains and behaviors within specific social contexts. Using the affinity map I was able to come up with a few key take aways that would help me construct my problem statement.

  1. People make to-do lists in order to avoid forgetting things
  2. When people forget things they experience negative consequences
  3. These negative consequences are often related to their personal relationships

My next step was to come up with a problem statement based on my research and analysis.

Problem statement — From my research I learned that people often have a hard time remembering important tasks and appointments while juggling they professional and personal lives. Forgetting these things often lead to negative experiences causing people anxiety, guilt and damage to their personal relationships which needs to be rectified and repaired.

With my problem statement in place I could now look at how some companies try to solve this type of problem. I looked specifically at the mobile application Wrapp where people can buy gifts to their friends in a social manner. I conducted a user flow analysis based on the task of buying someone a gift which helped me understand the steps and processes a user needs to go through in order to complete the fairly simple task of just buying someone a gift. By doing this process I could start seeing how my own app would be able to address the problem I stated previously.

User flow for using Wrapp to buy someone a gift

My next step was to do draw a storyboard depicting a user in action during a specific scenario:

Storyboard

I had now created an actual user of my application. With the storyboard in place I was now able to see how, why and when someone was able to use the solution I was in the progress of designing. By just drawing the storyboard I had actually created my Scenario and Task.

Scenario:

You are at work and are super busy with a client needing some last minute changes on their project. You suddenly realise that you were supposed to meet your partner for dinner 15 minutes ago and there’s no way you can make it across town to meet up. Now you feel really bad and guilty about missing your appointment with your loved one.

Task:

You have opened the app, now let your partner know that you’re sorry.

At this point I now had a fairly clear idea of what the purpose of my application was and how a user could use it in order to complete the task. The next steps were to open my sketchbook and draw up some low-fidelity interfaces that I could test on some potential users in class.

Low-fidelity!

I created a paper prototype that I was able to test on users in class. The test was done by stating the scenario and task followed by observing how the user completed the task without receiving any further assistance from me. During the test I would ask the user what they expected to happen next, this helped me identify any misaligned user expectations and analyze how a user would like to solve the task I asked them to complete. After a few tests I would analyze the notes I kept during the tests and make changes in the design to better address the user expectations and simplifying the user flow for the task.

This process was repeated a few times until I was happy with how the user completed the task through the paper prototype.

My next step was to create a prototype in POP so my application could be tested from a smartphone. While doing the prototype in POP I still wanted to get some user feedback so I conducted a couple of tests with the application in POP as well in order to make some changes and improve the experience.

The prototype can be accessed here: https://popapp.in/w/projects/565abcd9ac4fae455b567498/preview/565abce5a5f09889482130ed?transition=pop&t=1448787307116

Having my first experience as a UX designer left me with many new insights. The key takeaway for me was the process of coming up with the problem statement. At the start of the project I thought I had a clear solution all made up and ready to go, however just a minute into my first interview I realized that the person I was interviewing had a completely different view of remembering things to do and I realized that I had to take a step back from the solution I had in mind and just focus on finding a problem through the research I was conducting. This experience helped me think outside the box and attack a problem from a very different angle than I usually would. Being able to use my creativity to solve a very complex problem and being able to complete the project within 3 days was extremely satisfying.

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