Carnegie Mellon University_ Masters of Human Computer Interaction
Course: Programming Usable Interfaces
Duration : 3 weeks
Skills: Scenarios_ Journey Maps_ Directed Storytelling_ Diagraming_ Personas_ Low- and Mid-Fidelity Prototypes_ Usability Testing.
In this project, I was tasked to make a todo list app. I picked campers as my audience, because there is a lot they need to keep track of. As a camper I interviewed said: "camping is fun, until you realize that you have forgotten the tent at home!"
I specifically narrowed my focus to people who camp as a group. I learned during my research that there weren't any products that meet the needs of such campers. The final deliverable, then, was an interactive paper prototype that targeted the coordination of a camping group.
I interviewed five campers for this project:
- Three experienced female campers
- One experienced male camper
- One inexperienced male camper
I used directed storytelling in twenty-minute sessions to understand how people organize for a camping trip and gather information about their pain points. I broke down their process into three phases: Discover, Prepare, and Share. Sharing often fuels and informs the discovery and preparation phases.
I found an important distinction between the types of campers I interviewed:
- Those who like to camp alone / as a couple.
- Those who camp as a group ( 3 or more people).
Next, I did a competitive analysis of three different apps targeting campers. The purpose was to find out how they cater to the three phases of a camping trip organization and how they address the needs of people wanting to camp as a group.
None of the apps addressed the social aspect of camping. So, I decided to focus my camping todo list on the challenges of organizing a group of three or more for a camping trip.
Consolidating my interviews, I created a customer journey map, reflecting my best understanding of the present state of how group campings are organized.
There were pain points at every phase. For example, people expressed frustration about difficulty to find exact information about camping grounds, and were at times disappointed once at the site. However, given the goal of my project to make a todo list app, I found the communication issues that came up under the preparation phase to be within the scope of what I could tackle in this project.
Going back to my interview notes, I created a diagram. I analyzed the communication flow between a camping trip organizer and other participants. How does the coordination happen as they prepare for a trip? Where does the communication breaks down?
It turned out that there were two main issues:
- shared tasks
When sharing a task people didn't always know what the exact responsibilities of each person was.
When somebody cancels, it is hard to keep track of all the tasks that now must be reassigned.
Design and Prototyping
Based on all my findings, I created a list of features and iterated on a couple of tentative app flows. Given time constraints, I used mid-fidelity paper mock-up of the app. The advantage of paper prototyping was that it would allow me to quickly get the app in front of potential campers.
- Campers can browse for camping grounds
- Campers can share tasks
- Campers can see progress on a given task
- Campers can keep and share logs of their past trips
I did four user studies. The users were asked to:
- organize a camping trip
- invite friends to the trip
- share tasks with those invited
- go back to the event in order to make a change.
Here are three things I learned:
- Better labeling
- Organizing with time in mind
- Give control to users
Under tasks, I had named the control button for assigning tasks “suggest”, and tagged those assigned with a task with the word “suggested”.
My users were confused, and feared that by pressing “suggest”, the task would get assigned to people at random. My intent was to show that assignments are not obligatory, but rather suggestions that other campers can decline.
Solution: I replaced “suggest” with “make a request”, and “suggested” with “pending”.
I displayed “events created by me” and “events created by others”, one under the other. My users worried that as the number of events increases, they might have to scroll a great deal before they can cross the threshold of one category into the next.
Solution: I switched to using tabs for the different categories.
3. Giving control to the users
For the tasks that were shared with others, I hadn’t initially implemented an overarching “task completed” button, thinking the task will be completed, when every individual has checked off their share of that particular task.
But, my users wanted to check off some tasks because they had been able to complete it on their own before others had had a chance to do their share.
Solution: On shared tasks, provide campers the ability to check off, not only their share of the task, but the overall task as complete.