May 2015 - April 2016
Personas & Scenarios
Sketching, Rapid Prototyping
Surveys, Focus Groups
Problem: How might we help individuals lead a healthy and purposeful life while enabling employers to reduce the cost of employee wellness?
Solution: A mobile app that encourages users to reflect daily on their Sleep, Presence, Activity, Creativity and Eating (S. P. A. C. E.) and provides personalized tips that helps them improve their energy and willpower thereby enabling them to work towards their purpose.
My Role: Working collaboratively with the CEO, the creative and technology team, I built hi-fidelity interactive prototypes of the JOOL app on Axure and conducted 50+ hours of usability tests with 75+ participants to gather user feedback and provide insights and recommendations that informed and shaped the product strategy and design.
PROBLEM AND OPPORTUNITY
JOOL Health is an Ann Arbor based technology startup striving to assist people to live a purposeful and healthier life. The JOOL mobile app is intended to help users identify their core values and life purpose and promote healthy behavior change by enabling them to track factors that affect their energy and willpower.
The app is targeted at employers who can purchase the app for their employees to reduce the cost of employee wellness, improve employee morale, productivity and well-being.
OVERVIEW OF DESIGN PROCESS
The design and development process was done following the agile framework in two week sprint cycles. As a part of the UX team, I designed and developed prototypes on Axure and conducted usability tests for a product feature that we were developing, usually one or two sprints prior to development.
KEY DESIGN DECISIONS
Following each usability test, I did a share out along with the entire team providing an overview about the test goals, the sections on the app that were tested, the location, user demography and additional information to provide the necessary context about the usability tests.
I’d review the findings and suggest recommendations based on the feedback from users and what I observed during the usability tests.
The recommendations not only served to improve existing features on the app but also generate discussions for developing new ideas and product features. The usability tests also helped to narrow the scope of the efforts for building the Minimum Viable Product (MVP).
App Positioning and On-boarding Sequence:
When the app was originally conceptualized, the JOOL team was fascinated by the possibility of providing a forecast of a user's energy and willpower based on analytical data provided by a partner.
From initial usability tests, we found out that this idea did not sit well with the users who had questions such as:
Would everyone in the same zip code get the same forecast?
How are you able to predict my energy and willpower?
I recommended collecting additional pieces of information of user information - their age and gender in the next iteration to address these concerns and improve user trust.
Still, users seemed confused and skeptical. The users also felt that the term forecast was in some sense fatalistic. The design was also very difficult to interpret. This introduction was also not in alignment with the app's core positioning as a tool to help them align with their purpose and live a healthier life.
I proposed two major recommendations that led the team to shift their thinking on how the app would be positioned and introduced to the user:
1. To give the forecast section a more friendlier label, we decided to call it 'Outlook,' and to make it available to users only after they had used the app actively for 15 or more days and there was enough data about them to make a prediction of their energy or willpower.
2. To make the sections where the users would identify their purpose and values front and center and introduce it as a part of the initial onboarding sequence thereby altering the app's positioning in the user's mind.
Although these sections took a significant chunk of time, during the usability tests, I observed that the users connected very well with these two sections on the app.
These finding was also validated by the usage pattern of pilot users of the app.
Daily Charting Experience
On the JOOL app, the users chart their Sleep, Presence, Activity, Creativity and Eating (S.P.A.C.E) everyday. During tests, I found that users failed to noticed the title on the top and also the labels for the individual sections.
Based on my findings, the title for the factor they were charting was made bold, Sleep in this case. The labels on the top and bottom were also highlighted by adding a background to make them more prominent.
Some users still had trouble understanding terms such as presence, creativity. So the current version includes questions that guide the user about the factor they are charting .
Did I chart? For Which Day?
When the users opened the app after the initial setup, they would be taken to this page to chart different factors to indicate how the day is going.
The curved sliding scale used in the initial design was not apparent to users and so we moved to a straight line.
It was still not completely clear to users if they were charting for yesterday or today and so we introduced a overlay screen to let users explicitly choose if they were charting for yesterday or today and to see if they had already charted.
PROCESS IN DETAIL
The first step in the design process was to create personas that defined the user group who would be using the mobile app. Sample personas were created based on a target user's values, motivation, needs, technical competency and keenness to improve health behavior.
BRAINSTORMING & SKETCHING
We discussed the user journey and mapped out the different stages of the app that a user would walkthrough starting with the on-boarding process.
We brainstormed different sequences and options and mapped out the first-time user flow before building the wireframes.
WIREFRAMES & INTERACTIVE PROTOTYPES
We created wireframes on Axure and kept refining them to simulate the actual experience of using different sections on the mobile app. These prototypes were designed to fit the dimensions of an iPhone as they app was initially built for the iOS platform.
Apart from helping understand and clarify questions surrounding the product, the hi-fidelity interactive prototypes were used to showcase the app concept to potential clients.
After creating the interactive prototype for each section, we conducted usability tests to get feedback from representative users.
We did multiple usability tests that spanned over 50 hours, across the summer. We brought back findings from the usability test and shared it with the entire team and recommended changes based on the feedback we received.
The usability tests played a significant role in shaping how the app has turned out in its current form. View sample test protocol.
Check out my blog post on JOOL Health's official website about how usability testing helped shape the design and development of the JOOL app.
The app is currently being made available by invitation only. Get in touch if you are interested in checking out the app.
Interactive prototypes serve as near realistic representations of the mobile app and help get feedback from target users before the actual app is fully developed.
Usability testing and the feedback generated from these tests are critical to steering a product in the right direction.
It was a great learning experience to work in an agile environment an see how the whole team was nimble enough to rapidly respond to feedback from the usability tests.
Mobile App development brings it's own set of challenges and forces you think long and hard and simplify each interaction and element on the app to its core essence.