UXDI Project One — Rapid Prototyping
Here we go!
Bracing myself for my first rapid prototype over the span of first 4 days into the course. We are expected to learn things on the job and apply them into our project 1. From getting a topic, recruiting users, crafting interview questions, synthesising the research findings, creating user flows, storyboards to an interactive app and finally present them in 5 minutes.
Learning curve: Pretty steep.
Day 1: Getting the topic
Understanding having a “real” partner to give a topic for the project 1 helps to ingrain the importance of curiosity and empathy towards a “real” user. Hence, my partner, Sant and I started asking each other’s recent pain points about bugging issues before deciding on one topic.
He mentioned about his concern for his quality of sleep and he thought that what is affecting it might be his usage of phone and the blue light before sleeping. That led me to start wonder about other people’s level of rest, how are their resting habits like and if I can get some insights and other problems by talking to more people other than Sant.
Challenge of the topic: If the usage of phone is the one of the contributing factors that is affecting people’s rest, yet I am trying to tackle the problem with an app?
I wondered what have I gotten myself into.
Day 2: User Interviews
Having an anchoring goal to improve the level of quality rest with the app, I took some time to craft my questions and even refined them by going through with a sitting partner to make sure that the flow of questions has a right rhythm, they are unbiased and open-ended enough to invoke more insights from the users.
After that, I decided to go ahead to test them out even though I was uncertain if these questions are going to be effective.
Throughout the 6 different interviews, I was a little surprised that some users did not answer in the what way that I was expecting.
For some, I had to elaborate the questions and prompt more in redirecting when the users seem to deviate from what I was trying to find out. By doing so, it has helped to give better insights to work with.
As I was interviewing the 2nd user, I realised as I was finding out about the user’s daily routine, they were mostly going through the same routine since I am interviewing my classmates who just started the course together. I had to go out and recruit 2 others for more balanced responses.
Day 3: Synthesising The Research
I took almost half a day to compile the responses while listening to the recordings. I was visibly behind time and the others. But by taking time to listen through carefully, insights that I did not realised while I was in the interview started to surface. I was actually trying to draw similar trends and insights along the way. Time was clicking, stress was creeping in but this quote assured me that the later part will be much faster.
“If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.”
— Albert Einstein
After compiling all the responses from the interviews and writing the key findings on post-its, it was time to try out the new synthesizing research method — Affinity Mapping.
The process of choosing what to write on the post-its was crucial in sieving out the right information instead of writing out the whole interview responses into a string of post-its. So deciding which statements were redundant, was a conscious effort in order not to miss out anything important.
I had to put on my sherlocks’ cap and magnifying glass and try to identify the trends from this group of information.
From the affinity mapping, the most obvious pattern that I observed was those who rated their level of restedness low (<5) were constantly under stress, depression and are less active out of work.
On the contrary, those that rated high (>5) practised self care exercises like breathing to counter stress, meditation and are active after work.
The next insight is the users think that rest (short breaks) is important for their productivity at work. In order to work longer hours, they take short breaks to quick nap or get away from their work to get a breather.
Hence, with these insights, I came up with a better articulated problem statement to the users’ need.
Local working adults need a way to improve their level of quality rest because they are working long hours and it causes long-term stress and depression.
Inspiration for solution
Asking myself a series of the questions before deciding the direction for the app solution:
- How does my app fit into the users’ life.
- How will the app be Useful, Usable and Desirable for them.
My take for this topic is not to solve the sleep or rest deficiency that my users are facing but to aid their rest habits to help improve the level of rest.
A few users mentioned that they used or knew about self-care apps like Headspace to help them to mediate.
3. How to have competitive edge against apps like this?
Lastly, one user mentioned that she does mediation when she is stressed. But she does not do it at work because of the fear of judgement of her colleagues.
The A-ha Moment!
What if she can have privacy to do meditation for a short time near her workplace?
Hence, having this inspiration, I came up with a solution statement to meet my user’s needs.
Using an app to help working adults to find places to meditate or power nap with privacy that are near to them, to improve their level of happiness and productivity.
With the solution statement, I began to draw the storyboards of my specific users’ needs — Meditation and Power Nap.
Using the user flow to plan the app, helps to visualise how it can meet business goals to make it desirable for people to use.
User’s need: 10–15 mins to breathe and tune out from work, at anytime of the the day near work.
Business goal: Capitalising on underutilized, safe, clean, private spaces around CBD to benefit the working adults in that area.
User’s need: 20–30 mins to power nap in a clean space.
Business goal: Capitalising the off peak hours of nearby hostels, gyms and places with resting facility.
After coming up with these 2 needs, I continued to stretch the idea by asking “What if the app can serve longer hours of rest but still shorter than one night of stay in a hotel?” Thus, that led to the third user’s need — Transit.
User’s need: 4–8 hours to rest in a clean, private space.
Business goal: Coming up with private resting pods in transit areas like airport.
Day 4: Prototyping The App
After coming up with the main features, I started sketching the screens for the app based on the user flow.
The steepest part of the learning curve is to pick up new softwares — Sketch, Azure, Invision and to create the prototype all within a day.
Meet Nodpod App!
The Nodpod app is named clearly to inform others about the main function of the app.
Although the app is currently still a prototype, I can envision its potential to grow in Singapore or even Asian markets where culture of working long hours is a norm.
Some other features that the app can take on if this project do continues.
- Having audio like directional meditation and a playlist of soothing songs to help relax
- Creating and growing a community within the app to promote effective rest at work and bring attention to people’s wariness to rest during working hours.
Learnings From This Project
- Time management and juggling priorities — With only 4 days to do a rapid prototype, it was important to foresee and plan the amount of time and effort investing into each part of the process.
- Deciding the infidelity of the prototype — How much is enough to better communicate and help the audience to understand the function of the app instead of confusing them in a short presentation.
- Putting down my pride and stubbornness to flag when I needed help with time, feedback and the softwares. Really thankful for having helpful classmates and TAs who spent their precious time with me.
- UX is not an individual activity even though you are doing it alone. It’s important to talk it out with other people as soundboard.