Case Study: GLDFSH — Optimising Personal Organisation with Positive Reinforcement
The problem is, no matter how much people want to plan their lives meticulously, sometimes life happens and tasks get overlooked. Pair this with decision fatigue, information overload and burnout and you will likely soon be dealing with the frustrating by-products of disorganisation.
I wanted to find a way to fix that.
Before you start reading the article — Hi, I’m Amber, nice to meet you! 👋
I’m a UX/UI design student at General Assembly London and this is my first ever project! Woo! I researched and designed this app while having no internet for a week and a half, which I hope shows you my determination. The entire process from start to finish is here — even the mistakes. This is a learning journey. 🎉
•Timeframe: 2 week sprint.
•Team Members: Numero uno! This was a solo project.
•Tools: Figma, Zoom, Trello, Slack, pencils and paper.
Completed: October 2021
Let me introduce you to my friend Phil
I was presented with a problem a mere few weeks ago — Phil had a pretty frustrating and relatable habit of avoiding adding smaller tasks to his to-do list and desperately needed a way to rectify this because it was costing him time and money and causing him to feel stressed on a regular basis.
In part, because he didn’t like the continual time expense of actually adding the tasks, and partially because assigning yourself things to do just isn’t fun.
One of Phil’s regular complaints is that on a regular basis, after a hard day’s work, he wants a cup of tea and gleefully skips to the fridge, only to find an empty carton of milk, and the dormant feeling of disappointment and self-blame comes crawling back to thwart his optimism.
Sorry Phil, no tea for you. ☕️
I’m aware that convenience stores are self-descriptive, but as my friend pointed out there is nothing convenient about begrudgingly dragging yourself to the shops after settling in for the evening at home and then spending £2 on a pint of milk.
I immediately related to this as a busy Millennial who habitually completes reminders that haven’t been completed, and regularly forgets to buy oat milk for those crucial morning lattes. 😳 My friend, I felt your pain.
I began to think about just how we could turn the menial, repetitive task of personal organisation admin into something more fun, engaging and satisfying.
Let’s start by defining Phil’s problem:
Phil needs to find a way to lessen the mental burden of adding small tasks to his to-do lists so that he can improve his personal organisation and reduce inconvenience.
How might we create an engaging, fun solution for Phil so that he can optimise the efficacy of his reminders in order to not miss any small tasks?
● My first assumption is that as a time-strapped, busy professional, Phil isn’t going to want to spend a whole lot of time adding tasks, even with measures to incentivise this exercise — everything takes time, after all. I wanted to design an app for Phil that is streamlined, intuitive and intelligent.
● My second assumption is that because Phil doesn’t actually like to add the tasks, we would need some form of positive reinforcement to train his brain to enjoy setting himself tasks and completing them.
As this is a UX case study, Phil is a persona — a representation of an accumulation of people. This problem was presented by one real person and collated with data collected from others.
Phil’s photo was generated using www.thispersondoesnotexist.com.
I started by interviewing three people (this is my first step into UX so this was not a large project) to see if their experiences held any similarities.
What I found were the following things:
- The feelings garnered from forgetting to do simple tasks caused the interviewees to feel stressed, frustrated, distressed and in one case, manic.
- The tasks most frequently overlooked were picking up small items at the shops, doing laundry, going to the gym and writing grocery lists.
- The interviewees all used multiple apps for personal organisation but did not accomplish the tasks added to them.
- All of the interviewees stated that they disliked overcomplicated apps with too many options and features.
With the data collated, I felt that my initial problem statement still represented the problem initially presented.
Our users need to find a way to lessen the mental burden of adding small tasks to their to-do lists so that they can improve their personal organisation and reduce inconvenience.
Users want to be more on top of their day-to-day organisation. They are time, money and pleasure motivated and want to get the most out of their day.
Users don’t want to spend too much time or mental energy on repeatedly setting smaller tasks
I drew up the “happy path” user journey that I wanted my users to experience.
I started thinking of the absolutely worst ways to help my users.
Sometimes thinking of the opposite of a solution can lead to creative thinking. Let us introduce evil 8s into the equation. Most of my ideas included negative reinforcement (think: robot that bonks users when they do not complete a task, alarm clock on wheels that screams until tasks are complete — some really black mirror stuff) which got me thinking — how can we positively reinforce task setting and completion?
My next ideas were much more productive:
- A voice annotation app that organises tasks
- An app hat has the capability to recognise photographs of items to auto-add to a shopping list
- An AI that collates location data and the frequency of shopping trips to notify the user when they are near a target area (supermarket, gym, pharmacy etc) and a relevant item is on their shopping list
- Graphs to map user progress in task completion
- Fun, mentally stimulating logic games to give the user a brain workout, while incorporating their tasks
- Haptic/auditory feedback to positively reinforce task completion
A simple, smart solution to help our users feel good about organisation.
I started by thinking of a name for this project. I strongly empathise with this problem and have a healthy sense of humour so the name GLDFSH was apt. The first sketches, hastily done in eight minutes, were pretty rough but some of the elements remained in the final mid-fidelity wireframes.
FSHBOT was from one of the wild ideas I had before — an AI-assisted feature to assist users in task organisation.)
Okay, so now we’re on paper. Let’s get to Figma!
The initial wireframe followed the structure of the paper one, but after getting feedback from my GA cohort and instructor, I realised that the text box was not large enough to input data and the bottom layout was confusing, and there was no bottom bar!
The next iteration was a little flashier with some colour and followed a much more straightforward approach. I girl bossed a bit too close to the sun and my initial ideas were too complicated, but that’s okay. This is a learning process.
I then built a prototype, created a research plan and began to test the app on users.
- Purpose & Goal: Users will be able to sign up, add a new task and complete/delete a task in under 5 minutes.
- Logistics: This test will be conducted via remote software (zoom) due to the tight time constraint of the project. The test will be unmoderated and users will be given a prompt to complete the test independently.
- Participants: This test will be conducted via remote software (zoom). The test will be unmoderated and users will be given a prompt to complete the test independently.
- Scenarios & Tasks: My usability tests will be conducted on three people — my target audience is anyone who struggles to set reminders and maintain task management and organisation.
I will ask my subjects to complete three tasks — 1) Sign up for an account and log in, 2) set a reminder, and 3) complete a reminder from their list of tasks. The test should take no longer than five minutes of active screen time and I will then ask follow-up questions to assess their level of satisfaction.
- Metrics: I will measure usability based on the number of successful vs. failed actions, user comments and verbal/body language cues.
Findings from Testing Round #1:
- Users found it difficult to locate the email sign-up button as it was displayed as an @ symbol — this was changed to a text link.
- On the “+REMINDER” page, users did not interpret the smiley face add icon as the button to add their tasks to the list below. I changed this to a pill button to clarify the function.
- The newly added reminders list did not have a title so it was unclear that this was the purpose of the section. I added a clear title.
- The FSHBOT function confused users — I mean, it didn’t really make sense at first glance, did it? I added an announcement/onboarding card on the home screen to outline this feature and removed the on/off option because the AI assistance would be the main feature of the app.
I made the aforementioned corrections to the app and re-tested the below prototype with a little more visual design:
This time, my users experienced a much steadier flow and were able to sign up, locate the task allocation area and set a task accordingly. None of the users tested experienced apprehension while navigating the interface, but some further insight on the visual design aspects was given, of which I am continuing to iterate on.
- Remove the name FSHBOT — this was a bit of a far-fetched idea and something like “Assistance” or “Algorithm” mentioned on the +REMINDERS page, on my assumption, would clarify the feature’s function without adding new terminology for users to learn. 🤖
- Further iterations on the design are required to improve the app from an aesthetic point of view. I designed this app before learning about auto layout, spacing, colour theory and interactive components — this was primarily a UX project and the spotlight was not on the UI aspect.
- The home page needs simplification to avoid overloading users with information.
In case you’re wondering on how far my UI skills have come since this project, I have mocked up a high-fidelity prototype below for your viewing pleasure. FSHBOT has been binned and replaced with “AI Assistance” — something much more recognisable. The aesthetics are looking pretty good, and the homepage is much simpler.
Thanks for reading, and if you’d like to follow my progress through the beautiful intrigue of UX, click the follow button!