Somehow, somewhere, someone will begin pulling out a piece of paper and start jotting down little bits of details on tasks they need to accomplish, set goals or reminders. The truth is, everyone has come up with a to do list for work and personal stuff at some point in life.

For every lists that we have come up with, what are the chances of completing the listed task? How may times have we moved on in life without even finishing the list. How often have we tried to list down all the things we would like to do ambitiously and abandon them utimately due to time constraints? This brings to us the question: In the first place, do we even have time to complete the listed tasks on hand to begin with?


Aspiring UX designer using rapid and interactive prototyping to design a mobile app for To-do list in 3 days.


Double Diamond Approach


User Interviews

In a classroom setting, face-face interview was conducted among 3 users of to-do list base on the following techniques:

  • The 4 list interview: Users were required to respond to the Pains, Pleasures, Context and Behaviour associated with using To-do list.
  • Focus on probing questions: Who, What, When, Where, How
Am I Asking the correct questions?

All surveys and interviews are designed to arrive at one goal: ‘Getting to Know and Understand The User.’ As a novice, it is indeed a challenge to craft out ‘effective questions’ that will allow the interviewer to reap the maximum benefits of the interview. In the end, I realised that while asking the right questions play a pivotal part in the probing process, the essence lies in the interviewer ‘s ability to experience and walk through the problems the user presently encounters.

Results from User Interviews

4 List Interview

Interview Findings

  • “I am being overwhelmed by the number of things to do as new things crop up.”
  • “I forgot about to-do lists as I have too many things to do, did not prioritise.”
  • “I do not have enough time to do to-do list due to other work distractions.”
  • “I can’t find the time to finish everything on the list.
  • “I use to-do list anytime, everywhere.”
  • “I want to feel productive and “Feel Good” that I have accomplished my tasks.
“Don’t Rush, Take it One Step At a Time”

From the interview findings, ideas and solutions begin flowing in fast and furious. You feel that you are able to solve each of the users’ problems encountered in using To-do list. In your mind, you think, “I can help design this, I can do this, I can do that to solve the user’s problems.”


While ideas are good in one sense, the application of solutions without deeper thoughts and analysis may lead to a futile attempt to address the user’s needs. This brings to us the next technique in UX design: ‘Analyzing User Research using Affinity Diagram’.


Affinity Diagram

Affinity Diagram for To-do List

Problem Statement

From the above analysis, I need to come up with a problem statement users encounter for their To-do list. It is indeed daunting….there seems to be many problem statements from the research. Which is the best? Which will help to improve the user experience? Which will ultimately help the user’s life?

Many probable problem statements……which is suitable?

For this project, I arrived at the following problem statements:

  1. When I do not wish to do what I had listed in to-do list, I want to find someone to do it for me, so that I can concentrate on other more important things.
  2. When I have too many to do lists, I am unsure of my time management. How can I go about accomplishing my tasks and feel good about it?

The 1st problem statement was of great interest as the answer seems to lie in the design of an application to out-source the problem list on hand. The process though was however not that straight-foward.

Putting myself in the user’s shoes, the preceived solution is much more complex and complicated which I do not wish to go into at this point in time. I also understand that both questions lead to the primary issue encountered by the user: the user must realise whether he is able to manage his time!

Therefore, I chose the 2nd problem statement as it allows me to address the user’s time management of his To-do list first.


The design will thus focus helping users to first visualise the time management of their To-do lists. Main functions include:

  • Indicate the duration required to complete a task.
  • Take into account the users’ fixed schedules such as work and sleep time
  • Include a time bar for people to check their daily free time and add to-do lists to free time to accomplish their goals.


No design background, don’t know how to draw???

WORRY NOT! The comforting part about UX design is that the essence of a good design lies not in the visual or artistic feel of the sketch. The crux lies in communicating your design to the user and improving the process flow. Are they able to flow with your steps and use your product without any hiccups?

So just by using a simple technique in UX design… guessed it, you just need to know how to draw lines and circle…etc, you would still be able to bring about and communicate your idea to your user. No requirements for glamorous software to aid in your drawing. Ultimately, we are at low fidelity stage!

Sketch 1


Captures the process of the user.

  1. User has listed many tasks on hand. Does he have the time to execute them?
  2. Factoring his daily fixed schedule, he adds the new task to his list and checks the free time slots to execute his task.
  3. With better time management, the user is able to accomplish his tasks and feels good on his accomplishments.

User Flow

User Flow When Using the Mobile App


Scenario: You have not cleaned the house for some time and wants to list this down and check when you have the time to do so.

Task: Add clean house to your to-do list and check what is the time available!

Prototype 1

  1. The design failed in its functional test with the user.
  2. User was not able to flow with the app.
Lesson: “Flow with the user instead of expecting the user to flow with you.”

On hindsight, I did not perform the correct user flow. In my haste to complete the prototype, I failed to understand the difficulties the user would encounter. Moreover, introducing too many functions and buttons at this stage confused the user further.

Thus, I decided that I had to walk through the steps myself again, put myself into the shoes of the user and came up with the revised prototype.

Prototype 2

Captures the process of the user.

  1. Wants to add Clean House to his To-do list. Does he have the time to execute them?
  2. Factoring his daily fixed schedule, he adds the new task and reviews his time management.

Prototype 2 was much better. The user was able to complete the simple task of adding ‘Clean house’ to his To-do list and check whether he has the time to do so.


  • Further improvements in functionality of the app to manage additional demands such as increased To-do lists that exceeds the 24hr range.
  • Move on to the idea on how the application can help users to save time through outsourcing their tasks. Considerations for this will be whether this can be performed efficiently through a sharing platform for simple tasks (through people around you with free time, I help you, you help me concept) to paid platform for more complicated tasks.
  • Improvement to navigational buttons
  • Reach out to more people in usability testing.

During the 3 days, it was simply breathtaking to learn and apply the techniques and concepts taught. For subsequent projects, believe it is more important to spend the time thinking of the approach rather than ‘dive’ straight in to complete the required tasks, and ponder ways and means to achieve an effective presentation.

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