Product Designer (Team of 4)
Whimiscal, Figma, Illustration
3 months (Oct-Dec 2019)
Research, Ideation, Storyboarding, Prototyping, Usability testing
Students usually have procrastination problems...
“80 percent to 95 percent of college students procrastinate, particularly when it comes to doing their coursework.” —— American Psychological Association
Procrastination is an old friend as well as an enemy to many college students. Students become less confident about their academic performance, miss deadlines and feel more anxious because of procrastination.
How might we enhance the situation and help college students
combat academic procrastination?
Upon the purpose above, we hope to design
a gamified experience that motivates students to complete academic tasks by increasing pleasure and expectation.
We attach social and emotional values to task completion, providing surprises and rewards for students once they get things done within the time constraints.
Junto - an app that introduces rewards to users when they accomplish academic tasks. Rather than focusing on simply getting tasks done, this app makes the environment surrounding the task more enjoyable.
1. Understand users
2. What makes students procrastinate?
Question 1: Understand users
We basically asked participants to share their last experience about procrastination.
Questions are unfolded around three main topics:
how do you feel about procrastination;
in your opinion, what's the reason behind it;
what eventually get you back to work.
Based on interview results, we summarized the typical user persona for our product.
Question 2: What makes people procrastinate?
>> Insight 1
Procrastination mainly happened before starting the task, invoked by misregulation caused by negative emotions.
Our team interviewed target users about why they procrastinate. The most common answers we hear are related to emotions: for example, fear, anxiety, stress, boring... Mental resistance and misregulation then lead to procrastination behaviors which make them feel comfortable.
>> Insight 2
Sometimes students fail to realize the necessity of taking actions right now.
Task without time constraints cannot call for full attention to its importance. Students can be distracted by other entertaining activities or occupied with other urgent tasks. Under such cases, students procrastinate a lot.
>> Insight 3
Creating an atmosphere of learning together can increase students’ autonomy in a mild and comfortable way.
Peer learning can increase both pressure and motivation. From the interviews, we knew that some participants felt stressful about exposing their academic performance and achievements with peers, while some other students were reminded of their coursework to be done after seeing their roommates working on it.
Compared to sharing result-related information such as achievements, creating a positive and supportive surrounding can promote students to take actions and avoid procrastination.
Synthesis: How can we help students combat procrastination?
We read psychology papers and visited applied theories on the website NudgeLibrary. Based on literature review and interview insights, we found the following ideas are effective for our final solution.
Because the formation of negative emotions is complicated, we decided to focus on increasing motivation and joy along the task-completion experience. Thus, we cast our eyes on increasing joys and pleasure so that their motivation will be enhanced.
I drew a user flow that mapped out key functions we needed to create. It contains five main sections and we focused on Onboarding, Home, My Virtual Space and parts of Task Management and My Friends.
We conducted ~ 8 user testings and revised our prototype from multiple aspects including icon usage, layout design, and information hierarchy...
Test Finding 1: Users prefer less steps to edit or add tasks
Initially users are asked to add tasks before starting a challenge, and need to access the task management page by clicking two buttons: “menu - tasks”. However, some participants mentioned that they often have the need to make changes on tasks, which would be time-consuming in this app.
Test Finding 2: Mystery objects are not surprising enough
We initially used shadow shapes to represent the mystery objects. However, some participants felt like it was not surprising because they can guess by its shape. To solve this problem, we used sealed gift boxes which will be opened step by step.
Test Finding 3: Icons are somewhat confusing
We found that users cannot interpret the meaning of each icon as we expected. Thus, we made more intuitive icons for users.
Test Finding 4: Loose time constraints may cause cheating behaviors
The initial design there’s no requirements for checking-off a task. Some participants said they might lose motivation if they can freely “complete” a task and get rewards. Besides, people may also cheat to reveal objects.
Test Finding 5: Contact card didn’t tell others’ progress
The initial design aimed to display the ongoing status of each friend by showing the number of remaining tasks. Since people can choose different time frames for their challenges, the number of tasks cannot tell a full story. Our participants failed to determine which friend needs him/her to send a reminder.
Design more effective constraints to avoid cheating and improve engagement
Complete the Task Management section
Design to improve users retention rate
( For example: add a point system in which users can redeem other rewards)
4. Add more interactions with buddies to enhance companion experience
Procrastination is a huge topic, because there are thousands of possibilities for the reason behind it. I was ambitious to explore an effective solution for the general population at the beginning, but turned out to only consider the students who had negative emotions towards tasks. From interviews and user testings, I realized that I cannot make everyone happy. If the scope is smaller, we can spend more efforts on designing a targeted solution.
Therefore, it’s better to just focus on a small user group at first. Think about what type of users is most common, or we value most. Then design a tailored solution for them. After that, consider how to scale the solution for the general population.
I also had some effort-allocation issues during this project. Next time, I’ll listen more to users and then decide to focus on which features.