App Design for a Reminder App
For the Kent State University (KSU) User Experience Design (UXD) program, I followed a user-centered design process on a fictitious smartphone app to be used for reminders and to-do lists.
The fictitious company, ReminderX, currently offers a basic reminder app. The company hired me to answer the following questions:
- What types of users should ReminderX focus on, in order to expand its business?
- What problems do potential users currently face? How can ReminderX solve these problems for users?
I undertook the following activities on behalf of ReminderX:
- User Research – discovered who ReminderX’s target users are and what they need from the product; created a user persona and design tenets to reflect these findings.
- Workflow and Wireframes – designed workflows and wireframes for the new app.
- Usability Testing and Iterative Design – usability tested on the app; iterated the app’s design based on feedback from the testing sessions.
- Final App Design – received critiques from fellow student designers; completed the app design.
I created a research protocol to serve as a guide during the user interviewing and observation process. While the interviews themselves were free flowing conversations, I sought answers to specific questions about how users…
- keep track of what they need to do
- manage things that need to be done by a certain time or date
- maintain lists for different kinds of things or activities (work vs. personal, for example)
- updated their reminder list in various physical settings and under various types of stress
I conducted user interviews with four people in the Cleveland, Ohio, area. The participants’ preferences for task management were shown on the dimensions below.
Based on my user research findings, I recommended that ReminderX focus on users who are tech savvy and are willing to put in the time to customize the app to their own preferences. Users who stick to pen-and-paper task tracking may be willing to try out the ReminderX app if it looks easy to use, but such users are a much harder sell and should therefore be targeted in a later release.
I also created a primary user persona: “Jessica”.
Based on my findings, I created design tenets for the new ReminderX app.
- Allow task capture across as many methods as possible. Scribbling, typing, speech-to-text, and web input are all in use. The smartphone virtual keyboard is an input method of last resort.
- Integrate with existing email, calendar, and phone applications. Quick creation of a task from an email, calendar event, or phone contact is another way that users can easily add to their to-do lists.
- Provide some standard task tracking methods but allow heavy customization. Users are familiar with methods such as Franklin-Covey, Getting Things Done, and Personal Kanban, but they have adapted those methods to suit their own needs.
- Separate work and personal task tracking. All users consider work tasks and personal tasks to be completely distinct.
- Use color to differentiate types of tasks. Let each user define his or her own meanings for different colors.
- Archive completed tasks. Some users enjoy seeing completed tasks. All users want to be able to refer back to completed tasks as prompts for additional work or to review information about a past project.
- Offer, but do not require, reminders and alerts. Depending upon the type of task, the user may or may not want to be notified when it is due. Users see task notification more as the exception than the rule.
Workflow and Wireframes
I illustrated two key user journeys:
I chose one user journey (Create A Task) and created low-fidelity paper prototypes of the ReminderX app. I tested those prototypes with four participants in face-to-face usability sessions.
Examples of the prototypes:
Based on the usability testing findings as well as other comments made during the test sessions, I updated the design.
- Spruced up the start screen to make the app more enticing.
- Introduced well understood icons throughout the app. Participants displayed knowledge of the ‘gear’ icon for settings and the ‘microphone’ icons for voice recording. Because the ReminderX target persona is tech savvy, I assumed they have familiarity with these and other well entrenched icons.
- Promoted stronger discoverability of the long press and swipe input methods on individual tasks. Busy users will appreciate the time savings of these input methods, compared to tapping on a task and then updating its status.
- Allowed tasks to be sorted and grouped by date created, date due, task status, and category.
- Simplified the ‘Set Reminder’ screen by pre-filling a suggested reminder date/time based on the user’s preferences (from the Options screen). Further, allowed users to configure which date/time entry method is to be used for manually updated reminders.
- Provided more user control over Options including app defaults, font sizes, and colors.
Final App Design
I received valuable critiques from fellow student UXD practitioners, which I integrated with the above updates into the final designs shown below.
Thanks to the iterative, user-centered design process I followed, I was able to create a compelling app design that will satisfy ReminderX’s target market. At various points in the project, it was tempting to enforce a particular task management flow based on my own assumptions and preferences. However, I resisted that impulse and instead referred to my design tenets and the primary user persona, both of which pointed towards a more flexible reminder app with plenty of optional features.
ReminderX: Start Screen
ReminderX: Tasks – List View
ReminderX: Tasks – Card View
ReminderX: Choose Category
ReminderX: Add A Reminder
ReminderX: What Now?