Distracted by Technology
As a student project at the University of Washington, my team selected the problem question of distraction caused by technology. This was such a broad question and each of us had experience distraction caused by technology in our personal lives. When we began working on the problem, Covid 19 had changed many of the ways people lived and worked in the world. Many of us worked remotely and much of the foundational work was conducted remotely. My oldest son had spent most of his 2019 school year at home with an iPad. All this to say, it was a problem that many of us had experienced in our own lives. While I will be completing the UI in the next two courses, this course laid the foundational designs that I will build on. There were ups and downs in the process of building this concept for the Sherpa app, but I learned a lot about the design process and the logistics of concept testing with people who are testing the concept remotely. While this is lightyears away from becoming a finished product. The aim was to learn about the research and design process for creating an app.
Learning about the problem
We created a series of questions to generate conversation around the problem statement to be used in our interviews. We each conducted four interviews to derive insights into the problem then collected our interview findings into a single interview analysis document. There were a number of trends that stood out immediately. Some of our interviewees welcomed distraction, some were struggling with the distraction. Everyone was distracted by technology in one way or another. From the interview analysis we began to develop archetypes to refer to when designing our solutions to the problem.
Mapping the archetypes
We used mural to organize common archetypal goals, actions, thoughts and needs of each archetype. This helped to better clarify who these users were and how they were struggling with the problem of distraction from technology.
The User's Journey
Each archetype experienced the problem differently. The Multitasker mostly dealt with productivity concerns and feeling overwhelmed by the amount of interruption to the day. She never had enough time to complete all of the tasks while being present in the requisite meetings. The Boundaryless archetype felt guilty that they were missing out on family time because of work and missing his goals because of lack of boundaries between home and work.
Our team noticed that there were opportunities to help these users better manage the balance between home and life by reducing the users screen time, setting up a reward system and providing a support system to help these people find others to lean on during these challenges. It seems that especially during covid times where child care is limited and people are working remotely, that the boundaries between work and life are blurred to an untenable extent. Establishing healthy habits of mind and a balanced time in front of a screen could help users to be more productive with their time at work and to be more present with family.
Competitive / Comparative Analysis
After learning about the users journey through the problem space, we set out to better understand how others had addressed this problem with a competitive analysis. Here we collected a gallery of screenshots to learn key product features and functionalities that supported the user's experience. We researched some digital and analog solutions to the problem.
Value Proposition & Ideation Session
So, I learned as much as we could in the tight window of time that we had about what the competitors were already doing to address the problem of distraction and technology. There are so many ways to address the problem, but we set out to clarify our vision for our designs with an ideation session leading to a value proposition.
Low Fidelity Wireframes
At this stage of the project I was really excited to build the wireframes, but I also was having a crazy busy week with work. Consequently, there were some late nights working on this project. I found it really challenging to fit time in with my kids and wife in the final two weeks of class and just like that, our family's longtime pet Boston terrier ("Oly") died that Thursday and we needed to make adjustments to our weekend plans. All that to say, the Sherpa low fidelity wireframes were completed, but I wasn't all that satisfied with my work here. Constraints are real and they definitely draw a line between creativity and what can be accomplished. Of course, we all can design perfect wireframes with all the time in the world and money flowing in from all directions. That's just not my reality.
This is where we get the awesome feedback about our amazing app design or we get the helpful guidance that our concept is garbage. Sherpa tested somewhere in between. For the concept testing day my teammates and I created a concept testing stimulus, study discussion guide and a post study survey that would help us to evaluate how our app design was perceived. Testing took place on a Saturday and it was an all day event that was a lot of fun and a ton of logistics. Some of our participants were there in person and others were tested remotely, so a several of our tests were completed over zoom in an open classroom environment. The main challenge was dictating in our scribe notebook the tester's comments quickly and also making sure that they can see and hear everything clearly. We conducted 8 rounds of tests and I learned a lot about what people wanted and didn't want in their designs. The more elegant and simple the concept design was, interviewers said that they would use it more often. I was surprised to learn that half of the interviewers didn't want to see all of the data around their phone usage and many were not that interested in mentorship with their habit tracking. Another insight that I had was how drawn people were to the theme of Sherpa. They loved the mountain visual and the idea of gamifying their habit tracking.
Concept Testing Discussion Moderator for Sherpa App
Concept Testing Sherpa App
Concept Testing for the Problem of Distracted by Technology
Concept Testing Response Form
Concept Testing Key Findings
We have test our prototypes and gained valuable insights into what solutions addressed the problem of distraction by technology. Now each team member set out to iterate upon their prototypes. I created this feature value scale to better priorities which features were necessary to keep and what phase of development to launch them.
Sherpa Feature Prioritization Ideation
The Tree Test and Building a Site Map
In order to better understand how users categorize the information architecture of the Sherpa app, I designed a quick tree test using Optimal Workshop that I sent to seven participants. The results provided insights into where people would look on the site to complete several tasks. I used the findings of the tree test to guide the design of Sherpa's sitemap and user flow chart. I learned that the taxonomy of the site was flawed. The participants didn't even find my second tasks location because I had placed it under Rope Team branch which probably should have been in the Your Climbs branch of the tree.
Task 2 Pie chart from Tree Test results
There are ways to structure a site that work for users and then there ways to make it really difficult for the user to navigate. While I have experienced difficult sites to navigate many times, it is very different when you are thinking through the design of the actual site map. Figjam is an excellent app for creating site maps. It's quick, easy to make changes and has a lot of built in functionality.
In order to better guide my design, I created user personas and scenarios that would push the user through various tasks in the user flow map.
In order to understand how these users would interact with the app in particular scenarios I created a user flow to detail how the user would move through the application with a given scenario. There are tons of possible scenarios, so I tried to keep it pretty high level.
This abbreviated wireframe shows the some of the onboarding screens that users would interact with when either entering the application for the first time or after a prolonged period of low use.