PlanUs

A Research and Design project to understand user needs on collaborative working and ideate a digital solution

THE PROBLEM

Sharing a home with someone else results in planning events, organizing schedules and assigning lots of to-dos. To organize things they usually use different apps and services, like messaging apps, calendar, some project management tool and maybe others. This project is the result of observing this situation and wonder whether a better solution could be designed or not.

RESEARCH QUESTIONS

- Who are the people who collaborate on everyday projects, and what are their needs?

- Is it possible to design a digital product that integrates and solves the many different aspects of the problem?

APPROACH

  • Informal Interviews

  • Sketches

  • Personas and Scenarios

  • Lo-Fi Wireframing and Prototyping

  • User Testing

KEY GOALS

Get to know users, understand their needs and design the first attempt of a solution.

MY ROLE

  • Conducted 4 informal interviews.

  • Created Personas and Scenarios to visualize interviews' findings.

  • Sketched ideas, refined them and created Wireframes.

  • Designed a paper Prototype and tested it with users. 

UNDERSTANDING THE USER

Creating Personas and Scenarios to visualize the interviews' findings was a great way to make user needs, realities and expectations more concrete. These tools improve my understanding of the problem and allow me to keep users and their contexts in mind while ideating.

Personas-CarolinaBianco.pptx (1).png

Take part in the whole process

Wireframes allowed me to take a broader perspective on the problem I was trying to solve. There is no clear line between where Research ends and Design begins and I think results improve when Researchers participate in different steps of the creation process.

CHALLENGES

I feel more comfortable thinking and communicating ideas using words, so sketching is challenging for me. After trying different strategies to keep ideas flowing, I discovered that sketches allowed me to explore plenty of different approaches in a little time. They are also an excellent complement for words when sharing ideas with someone else. 

RESULTS

Users mostly approach the organization of shared responsibilities by talking and use digital tools only to log what they decided. It's frustrating when they feel they are spending more time planning things than actually doing them. There is a need for a product that is easy to learn and use and reduces the shared time they consume only organizing things.

Make dead time useful

Users feel that if dead time could turn useful, it would leave them with more free quality time. Using dead time to plan collaborative work would make available more time to do other things. 

 

Recommendations:

- Allow users to input information while offline, so they can use the app when they have no internet connection (like during commuting).

- Support voice input, so people that have their hands busy (for example while cooking) can multi-task and use the app at the same time. 

Support the whole process

People don't find one single solution that supports the coming and going​ of collaborative decision making. They spend a lot of time talking to each other about everyday tasks and end up using digital tools only to log decisions and not to make them. 

Recommendations: 

- Provide users with a way to be in the loop of the other person's tasks, so they don't have to ask for updates.

- Sync personal and shared calendars, so availability is always visible.

- Set a due time for responding to invitations to encourage the use of the app instead of waiting to meet the other person to answer.

Move fast

A paper prototype was the perfect way to validate an idea with users early in the design process. It allowed me to get feedback, identify problems, discard what wasn't working and make improvements according to what users did. Also, this prototype was super fun to create. 

TITLE OF THE CALLOUT BLOCK

LESSONS LEARNT

  • Be open to the unexpected: We can't anticipate everything. During the interviews, I discovered that this kind of app would also be useful for roommates, a population I hadn't initially contemplated.

  • A Lot can be done with a Little: When there is no time or budget for taking weeks to recruit and interview people, some quick, inexpensive guerrilla research can be a helpful start and provide valuable findings. 

Want to learn more?

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