LXD 2020 | Learner Experience Design for Fatigue Management

Ivy Shi
Ivy Shi
May 9, 2020 · 10 min read
Our App: EnergyDrive


An online tool design for better integration and application of patient self-management skills

Helping patients with Chronic Diseases develop skills that enhance their treatments in-between hospital visits

Ivy Shi is a master student in the program of Educational Technology and Applied Learning Science, HCII at Carnegie Mellon Univerisity.

Corina Paraschiv — Healthcare Policy & Management, Research & Testing

GyuEun Park is an undergraduate student at Carnegie Mellon University’s College of Fine Arts, pursuing minors in photography, media design, and design for learning.


One of the learning problems we identified is that fatigue management is a very complex and broad topic that should be approached differently by every single person.


It is vital that individuals identify their own energy needs, understand the specific energy-consuming tasks in their daily lives, and implement effective strategies to mitigate fatigue.

Through research, we learned that the existing tools did not place emphasis on consistency and personalization, which are necessary in order to help users develop habits that reduce levels of fatigue.


EnergyDrive was designed for individuals who are struggling with fatigue and seeking guidance and assistance with energy management skills — users who are willing to take interest and initiative to learn about and improve their daily energy levels and management strategies.

It is a digital tool, which is experienced largely on a mobile phone. Its advantages include,

  • Portability
  • Accessibility
  • Data organization, display, and delivery

Our target audience consists of people who experience tiredness, as a proxy for people with fatigue, since this was a harder audience to reach. We discovered that throughout the population, many people face energy-management problems on a frequent basis, and are therefore able to provide insight into how these episodes are managed.

Our initial user research revealed five different Personae:

  • Social Sally, who is aware of her energy needs, but finds it difficult to enforce her resolutions with her social circle
  • Nervous Netty, who knows the right thing to do, but avoids it for fear of failure
  • Timely Tracy, who is concerned about efficiency, having very little time
  • Accounting Andre, who respectfully factors in the effect of his decisions on people that will also be impacted by his decisions
  • Hesitant Harry, who is unsure of whether or not his energy problems are normal, or worth a doctor visit.

Further studies, outlined in the “DESIGN PROCESS” section, helped us identify Timely Tracy as the most relatable user type, making it our core focus for our project.

It is our hope that the users continuously implement and experiment with learned management strategies, improving the quality of their daily lives.


Fatigue management is a relevant topic for every single person especially in a hustle culture, where overworking can often be praised. It is important that we pause and learn to manage our energy.

Although we have found many programs and tools aimed at educating individuals about energy management, we found very few actionable tools that helped develop skills through practice and reflection.

Our goal was thus to provide a tool bridging this gap, by focusing on providing learning opportunities for users to improve their self-management skills by practicing ——

  • Planning
  • Executing the plan, and
  • Self-reflecting on the results

We have implemented strategies that address these skills, in order to guide learning through practice.

Recognizing that there are unique individual needs and effective strategies for each and every person, we placed emphasis on the process of discovery through trial and error.

It is our goal to push the users to be active learners discovering strategies that do the trick for them, increasing their engagement throughout their learning journey.


Our process included several research activities, starting from the early explorations to determine personae. In order to determine the personae, we created a custom card sorting game inspired by preliminary interviews we ran with experts.

expert interview & affinity diagram
card sorting

By running qualitative and quantitative analysis through the 20 user interviews, we were able to determine major profiles and preferences for users, which became the basis of our personae.

Inspired by this insight, we imagined the user journey for a busy, working professional, integrating it with Ambrose’s Model.

Our user would learn about and practice new skills for fatigue management through the app, he would then observe his performance live throughout the day, via a custom dashboard in the app. Targeted feedback would be provided under the form of summary and self-reflection tools at the end of each day.

Ambrose’s model

Ambrose’s model provided us the best fit for our objective, which was to allow for practice and feedback. These two shortcomings identified during our benchmarking phase pointed to the need for a methodology that would emphasize turning knowledge into action — allowing us to provide guided feedback for improvement.

simplified storyboards for speed dating

Other testing steps included testing storyboards for validating concepts, testing UX concepts, and letting users walk through our wireframes by commenting out loud. Each of these interaction points allowed us to gradually refine our concept into our final form.

One of the key challenges we faced throughout the process was correctly identifying needs. This is because different people respond differently to different strategies for energy management. Our personae became a way for our team to share their understanding around who we would — and would not — design for, thus directing our design efforts and decisions.


Tracy is an IT consultant at a consulting agency. During the pandemic of COVID-2019, she works at home and feels tired every day. She downloads Energy Drive to learn how to manage her fatigue.

She takes pace to work and rest according to the App’s suggestion. When it’s time to take a rest, she searches recharging activities in the App and practices following the instructions. At the end of the day, she reflects on her performance and thinks about improvements for the next day.

By practicing throughout the day, she feels more confident to control her energy level and knows what are the effective recharging activities for herself.

Car analogy to simulate energy consumption/recharge

  • Color coding to visualize the different stages: high/medium/low energy level
  • Thunderbolt as energy units
  • First-person perspective to provide an immersive user experience

Enter tasks to estimate energy consumption

  • Input 3 most energy-consuming tasks
  • Estimate the number of energy units that will be consumed

Choose recharge activities to recover energy

  • Choose activities according to the time duration
  • Practice by following the instructions
  • Evaluate how many energy units are brought back

Reflection and my journey


  • Feeling and performance of the day
  • Select tags to save time

My journey:

  • Badges to reward achievements
  • Tracking the recharge activities
  • Show the performance
  • Provide a holistic summary of energy level


Several methods were used to capture user insights.
While the detailed findings are explored in the following section, we hereby list the various methods used:

  1. Speed Dating for scenarios selection [between 3 concepts]

2. User testing for low-fi prototype

3. Users testing for activities logging

4. Walk-through testing for high-fi prototype


As mentioned previously, we collected information throughout our journey, based on our interaction with user testers.

During the speed dating session, we discovered that people preferred concrete design to conceptual/abstract design.

Although not a universal finding — some testers found the abstract design allowed them to create their own meaning, making it more personal — this was a finding we adopted in our design to ensure clarity. The main critique received around the abstract concepts was that conceptual diagrams were hard to understand for users: the link between “energy” and “a curve” was not easy to grasp.

We experimented with several variations of concepts, from eggs in baskets to abstract shapes on visual dashboards and concluded a straight-forward gas tank (car tank as energy metaphor) was most directly translatable.

Another key finding during our testing was that people disliked inputting data into the phone.

This was consistent with previous findings from initial user testing; personae testing had shown us that users were busy and value their time. They wanted efficient solutions. The same user testing had revealed they would only use a tool when it was “worth it” — many expressed the fact they would not use a tool for energy management on days when they, in fact, had a lot of energy. Combining these early insights with the most recent finding — that people disliked inputting data — it became apparent that our solution had to be lean.

simplify user flow

We went through several iterations, identifying crucial flows and cutting down the number of screens. Page elements were also re-designed to allow easy input.

Simplify task check-off

For instance, manual time captures in the screens were removed in favor of checking off completed tasks (and quickly rating their effect on energy). This accomplished our desired goal — tracking activities completed — in a more efficient and effective way for busy users.

In that same line of thought, we also removed a substantial portion of the text, favoring evocative visuals, to lighten the cognitive load. Our application thus became streamlined, for faster use or access.

Another way to create incentives for users to input data, even though now minimal, revolved around creating prompts and providing contextual information on why this information would be beneficial to them and how it would be used for their learning.

After additional testing, some of these texts became available when prompted, through a question mark on the screen, while others were integrated into the design, for instance as grey text in a box prior to the user adding elements to the box.

An element which we also tried, and ultimately removed, was the “journey miles” element — cumulative miles score originally intended for gamification purposes. The goal was to prompt users to input data to gain additional miles. Through additional testing, however, we concluded the rationale was more effective for intrinsic motivation.

Although we have made several iterations of the EnergyDrive app, there remain additional paths we would love to further explore, time permitting. These are:

Could we increase the user’s motivation, in particular for self-reflection?

One of the mechanisms we would love to explore was suggested by our professor, Stacie Rohrbach, and consists of adding pre-composed options to the self-reflection screen, allowing users to quickly tap, instead of entering data manually. Other ideas might include integrating our insights from preferred strategies for different personae, tailoring proposed items for each individual.

Could we generate more meaning through our feedback mechanism?

Our summary page requires intensive efforts from the user in order to generate meaning. The graphs presented allow interpretation, especially when combined. But in order to generate this meaning, users have to work hard. A possible way to improve this experience lies in integrating the data into different layers.

This would allow users to toggle through views, looking at combinations of data, and inferring meaning in a more intuitive way.

Could we reduce the cognitive load on the main page?

One of the testers cleverly pointed out that the animations could be distracting on the main page. We had originally thought of moving completed items at the bottom of the page and shifting to-do items higher onto the list. One of our users suggested it may be cognitively simpler to see the items in the same order throughout the day, simply struck through to indicate completion. Another element to help orient the user may be to provide him or her with contextual cues on the main page, indicating an app is an educational tool for energy management.

Quick-wins such as these could help the user generate to make sense of the experience with less effort — and important features for an app destined for users low on energy.


We are at the very end of this semester. Our Learning Experience Design class started from the first meet at Margaret Morrison in January and ended after we finished this post in May at home. Thanks to our instructor Stacie for bringing such a wonderful course. She advised and supported our project. Also, our classmates provided very helpful suggestions during our design process. Thank you for all!

This is a long story of a non-design major team that finally accomplished their project. We met a lot of challenges but overcame them one by one. This will definitely become a memorable experience for all of us.

Project EnergyDrive | Learning Experience Design 2020

A story of three non-design major students who did a design project together.

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