Project Overview :
Timeline: April - May 2021( 3 weeks )
My Role: Solo student project undertaken for a local hackathon.
Also my first UI project, so excuse the flaws :)
The challenge :
“ People find it hard to get through their daily tasks and to set new routines in place.”
Just like everyone else around the globe battling quarantine-boredom, I decided to use my time to finally get in shape ( A routine I’ve been trying to stick to for the last couple of years ). However, after repeated failures and restarts, I still couldn’t balance a proper routine only this time I just wasn’t ready to quit. With plenty of time on my side, I decided to dig in on how and why I always ended up on square one in a couple of weeks.
This led me to research the very psychology of habits and their effects on human brains, mostly referencing a self-help book named the Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. This is when I came to realize that the brain,at its very core, is just a pattern recognizing machine that easily repeats tasks provided it’s done for an extended period of time thus changing it from a voluntary action to an involuntary action. A daily task to a HABIT. This is why we have been brushing our teeth every morning for decades barely making any fuss but find it close to impossible to drop that slice of pizza.
I realized that habits and checklists only work if you come from a certain angle i.e. trick your brain with a dopamine shot (happiness chemical) every time you finish a task rewarding it for overcoming the hurdle.
So what does this do? A proper reward like an episode of FRIENDS for an hour at the gym or your favorite pizza for filing your paperwork can trick your primate brain into correlating happiness with the task completed thus enticing it to do it another time. Scientists have been conducting experiments on rats and monkeys with bananas and chocolate for tasks well done and found that they were more than ready to do it the next time.
Considering all this newfound information I decided to try my hand at developing the UI as a hypothetical checklist application.
High-level objectives :
- To create a checklist app whose simple clean UI focuses on its primary goal of a task manager that creates accountability in people in the form of “rewards” and “streaks”.
- To create a user-friendly “no-frills” interface that improves the experience of the user without any confusion.
After learning about the psychology acting as the clockwork behind the app, it was time to learn about the people whose opinion mattered the most — the users. Luckily, being in college I had the opportunity to tap into a large test group and gain inference from their feedback.
Using Google Forms, the following insights were prepared in accordance with the following questions.
- Tell me about the last goal you set
- What was the most difficult part about trying to achieve that goal? Why?
- What motivated you to start in the first place?
- What was your process for trying to achieve that goal?
- Tell me about a time you had to do something difficult and accomplished it.
- What do you expect from a checklist app?
The Main Insight :
Based on the trends , I’ve noticed how if there is no real consequence (accountability) associated with NOT achieving their goal as was the case in previous apps they’ve used, motivation to continue cease to exist.
I was able to implement all the findings in a simple cycle as given below.
Cue-Routine -Reward Cycle :
It is very evident that rewards only further good habits and therefore must be spent wisely. My next goal was to design an application that acts as a pathway between Routine and Reward navigating between managing tasks and its corresponding prizes.
The Solution :
Low Fidelity Wireframes :
Using the “crazy-8” technique, I rough sketched out a couple of screens as given below.
Mid Fidelity Wireframes :
Improving upon the rough sketches, new screens were created
Initial to Final Designs :
After careful consideration, the mid-fidelity wireframes were further converted to digital versions using Figma. However, significant changes were made so as to make the UI more clean and less clunky.
Illustrations were removed, glass buttons were introduced over flat ones and a light colored theme of blue and white was introduced keeping it aesthetically simple altogether.
Colors And Typography :
The color palette consisted of white and blue colors. The logic behind using these colors was simply what the colors stood for, i.e., white for clean, simplicity, freshness and blue for trust, peace and loyalty.
I decided to keep the typography minimal and clean. Thus I went with a very basic font, Apercu.
Conclusions + Lessons learnt :
This was my first-ever UI project (Phew..much harder than it looks). More than the actual output, however- I’m immensely grateful to have been through an entire UI process so I can see what it’s actually like. On that note, a few things I’ve learned:
- Iterate as much as you can. In the beginning stages, I’ve explored so many different options to try finding the right solution for my users- I’ve ended up “restarting” the project over 3 times with over 5 iterations of my FIGMA file to make sure every aspect of the app was designed with intention.
- Add a partner accountability feature. Another avenue I could have explored was adding partner accountability which has been proven to increase productivity up by 40% as it drives both people to achieve their goals. Example : People with gym partners are more likely to follow through on their gym sessions.
- Keep it Simple Stupid. Despite weeks of research + development, my first version of this case study was only fulfilling the goal of being visually pleasing rather than being what the name indicated — a simple to-do list. I had to strip down to the basics and iterated a better version as I realized beauty is only skin deep.
- You didn’t fail- you just found 100 ways that didn’t work. It was a tough journey trying to self-learn UI, but the Internet Gods did take pity on me and guided me through the right resources from YouTube to Coursera. From noticing mistakes in my UI to uncovering more foundational psychological problems in how my app performs, I’m thankful to have constantly asked for feedback from my peers In the end, I pushed to have the app as best I could, and did not let my own thinking stop me from questioning if my own decisions were truly best for the user.