During my stay as an intern at OOG, part of our program was to create a personal UX Project that applies all the steps in the UX research and design process— from initial user interviews, to low and high fidelity prototyping, and eventually conducting usability testing for the product. In choosing a topic for my project, I wanted to venture into problems that were very relevant to me, which is how I ended up on the topic of Task Management for Individuals with ADHD as this had been something that I personally struggled with, made even more difficult in the quarantine setup, and I assume other people with the condition may have similar experiences.
As we mark one year in quarantine last March, life as we know it continues, but this time remotely. And with most work having to be done at home, this has exposed new difficulties in managing our everyday lives. Despite having this setup for more than a year, it doesn’t seem to be getting any easier for anyone as the online setup continues to present challenges that affect both our physical and mental well-being.
As someone who’s been living with ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder all her life, the online setup has not exactly been the kindest to me. And I’d like to learn if other people with the condition have similar experiences with me as well as this has magnified the struggles I experience such as distractibility and the lack of time awareness . While I couldn’t just magically bring the world back to normal, I would like to be able to help those with ADHD in managing their tasks in this setup.
Once I established this for my problem, I reframed it in the form of a How Might We statement:
In looking into possible solutions for this problem, I wanted to focus not only on task organization but in finding more avenues to help the users with other aspects of their ADHD that may be affecting their everyday performance whether in school or in the workplace.
With this in mind, I identified three (3) main objectives for this study:
In order to validate my initial problem, I conducted interviews with eight (8) individuals with ADHD to learn more about their experience in the online setup and how they manage their tasks both before and during quarantine.
To screen my participants, all of them must fit the following criteria:
My final pool of participants consisted of seven students and one professional with ADHD who all worked or studied remotely for the time being. The interviews were conducted through a one-hour zoom call with each participant. Having a diverse group of participants allowed for me to have a wide range of perspectives on the problem as ADHD manifests differently for every person.
From the user interviews, I was able to gather my baseline findings and identify key insights and opportunities across participants.
Figure 1. Baseline Interview Findings on Miro
From here, I was able to group my data into an affinity diagram.
Figure 2. Affinity Diagram on Miro
Being able to stick to a routine seemed to be a common problem faced by most participants as the whole online setup has caused their lives to be less structured. The interviews revealed that most participants had only gotten clinically diagnosed with ADHD during their early to late teens which was around 5 years ago, with four (4) participants only getting diagnosed last 2020. Participants who were diagnosed recently mentioned that the online setup had been taking a toll on them and they were prompted to start seeing their psychiatrist again, who after running a few tests, diagnosed them with ADHD. Despite the recent diagnosis, participants expressed that they have been showing signs of it in earlier years but assumed it was normal.
Delving more into how the online setup has affected their daily routine, most participants mention having a set routine before the pandemic, however, with everything having to be moved at home, this routine was quickly dissolved.
One participant mentioned that:
They explain that there are a lot of distractions at home that make it much more difficult to function as this has also made them lose motivation in doing things they used to find joy in such as extracurricular activities. Despite this struggle, they still try to find methods to be more productive such as keeping planners and calendaring. However, they find it difficult to stick to these methods.
When asked about the common problems they experience, participants mention four (4) things they struggle with the most:
Overall, the participants would like to have a more efficient way of planning their day-to-day tasks and responsibilities, as well as, to be able to have better focus when working on them.
Given these interview findings, I was able to come up with three personas that each represent a different manifestation of ADHD in people and how they have tried to adapt to the online setup.
Firstly, we have Distracted Dani who lives by the saying that, “Time is a construct.” Dani is a workaholic and is motivated by being able to finish all her tasks in a day, yet at the same time, she struggles with keeping track of time and maintaining her focus when working on something.
Figure 3. Persona: Distracted Dani
Next, we have Energetic Emma who falls under the more Hyperactive aspect of ADHD. Emma often feels restless and that she always has to be occupied. She struggles with taking breaks but also can be easily overwhelmed by cognitive overload.
Figure 4. Persona: Energetic Emma
Lastly, we have Happy-Go-Lucky Holly who views her ADHD as superpowers. Holly is very carefree and doesn’t pressure herself too much when she’s not able to accomplish all her tasks. She likes to keep a very positive attitude but finds difficulty in regulating her emotions.
Figure 5. Persona: Happy-Go-Lucky Holly
From these personas, I began to ideate on a solution. Upon reviewing the insights I’ve collected, I decided to focus my solution on Distracted Dani as this persona appeared to be the most common among all participants.
Based on my findings from my interviews, I started ideating the product for my solution. The biggest insight that I’ve gathered from my interviews was that:
Most participants are not able to stay on track and accomplish everything they planned in a day due to lack of energy from having to plan out and organize their day and getting overwhelmed by the things they have to do.
This is what made me come up with the first main feature of the app: A schedule planner that helps them calendar their day. With this planner, the app picks up on your routine and makes suggestions on what you should or can do at a certain time. It allows you to input events and tasks for the day and organizes this for you based on the information you provide and picking up on your habits and routine as you use it. Participants also mention that they get too tired to work on something after spending a good amount of their energy just trying to organize and make it more understandable for them.
Being at home all the time makes it much more difficult for the participants to be productive since “All your lives are clashing at home.” Unlike when you are able to be in environments where you are expected to do specific things at a certain time such as being in the classroom or working in an office, when you’re at home, you are expected to do everything within the same space which is what makes accomplishing tasks much more difficult. This also led to my second biggest insight which is that:
There are a lot of distractions at home that could make them lose their focus. And once they lose it, there’s a tendency to forget about what they were doing or it puts them completely off track.
This led me to come up with the second main feature: A focus feature that helps users maintain their focus for certain periods of time by putting them in a state of flow away from distractions. Since the participants also mentioned lacking a sense of time awareness, I found it would be helpful to incorporate the pomodoro method by having them focus for a certain amount of time before having to take a break. At the same time, a deep focus feature is available to keep users in the app during their focusing time to assure that they are not distracted by other things on their phone.
Another insight I’ve gotten is that in relation to distractibility is that:
Besides the external distractions, participants felt like they had a million thoughts running at a very fast pace in their head and they’re just trying their best to catch each one without getting distracted by the rest.
This gave me the idea to add a feature that a participant mentioned they find helpful for this which is a meditation feature that has a good selection of mindfulness exercises that users can choose from depending on how they are feeling at a certain time.
The last common insight that seemed to be have come up a lot is that:
Participants are more unmotivated to do things in an online setup.
With the whole online setup and just being at home, participants find that they are less motivated to do even the things that they used to find enjoyment in. It was mentioned often in our interviews that they find visuals to be very helpful, so I thought it would be a good idea to have something that shows them their progress throughout the day in order to keep them motivated to do everything else.
I was able to gather quite a few suggestions from the interviews with regards to what users would need or find useful for their case. In order to determine which user-generated suggestions would be best to include, I used the red routes analysis to identify which features would have the most value for my users.
Figure 6. Red Routes Analysis for my solution’s features
This method helped me determine the minimum viable product for my solution which became my starting point in building my prototype.
After identifying my personas and conceptualizing my solution, it was time to develop my prototype. For this, I used Figma to design my application prototype and create interactions.
Upon opening the app, you’ll be directed to the landing page before registration. After signing up, the app gives a brief overview of what you can do with it. The app then asks a few questions to gather data on how it could help the user better.
After finishing this initial process, it leads you to the home page where you get to see all the features the app has to offer. The upper part contains the main features of the app such as making a plan, adding a task, focus, and meditate. The same features can also be found on the navigation bar at the bottom of the page. In the middle section, users can find their progress for the day based on how much of their plans and tasks they’ve accomplished. Below that is a glimpse of their schedule which shows what they should currently be doing and what’s next on their schedule for the day.
After creating a plan or adding a task, the app redirects you to the schedule page that contains your daily schedule, as well as the tasks and subtasks that you have.
You can then check out the focus page by clicking the button on the home page or the brain icon in the nav bar. The main feature of this page are the focus spaces, which are pre-set spaces that you can create and reuse for focusing. The feature allows you to set a time and add sounds that could help your focus better when working on a task. The app provides a wide selection of sounds for the user to choose from, but should they want a particular sound to focus with that is not available in the app, they may also connect it to spotify. A deep focus feature that does not allow you to leave the screen may also be activated to limit distractions on your device.
Finally, if a user would like to do some mindfulness exercises, they can go to the last icon on the navigation bar which leads them to the meditate page. Here they’ll be able to find meditations tailored specifically for each user.
In order to validate and test out my prototype, I invited four (4) of my initial participants to a series of usability tests. Each participant represented at least one of my three personas, with two participants being Distracted Dani as this persona was the focus of my solution. Nonetheless, I still wanted to gather insights as to how the other personas would find the product.
The tests were conducted over a video call either through Gmeets or Zoom depending on the user’s preference. Each participant was sent a link to the prototype at the beginning of the session to assure that they don’t look through it beforehand.
Figure 7. Figma Prototype for user testing
The usability tests consisted of a few simple tasks for the participants to accomplish using the app, all the while testing if they are able to easily navigate through it. Essentially, I wanted to know:
From the usability tests, I gathered that participants generally liked what they could do with the app and that they were able to set their goals and tailor the features of the app according to these. However, there were a few main points of confusion that were raised on:
Regardless of these, participants expressed excitement about the app with one participant saying, “I’d definitely wanna get this when it's out.”
The app garnered an average satisfaction rate of 8.12 out of 10 among the participants. They find that the app is “pretty straightforward and easy to use”, apart from the pain points initially mentioned. Two participants suggested to have some sort of mini tutorial after registration to give users a better idea of what each feature can do.
Overall, the usability tests were able to bring me more insight as to how the app could be of value to its users in addressing their problems. I found it interesting that users who fell under the other personas that I wasn’t necessarily targeting also found the app to be useful for their everyday lives.
There were quite a few suggestions made in improving the app. Taking these into account, I gathered which suggestions were mentioned most often across all participants and decided to prioritize these in my initial iteration.
You can view the full prototype here.
With the user feedback I gathered from the Usability Tests, I decided to implement the following changes to my prototype:
The new version of the prototype where these changes were reflected is shown below:
A one stop-app for ADHD productivity.
The name, Heyday (he·day) refers to the period of one's greatest vigor, or prosperity, which I believe is what users can achieve by using the app.
For future iterations of the app, I’d like to look into integrating a feature where users can connect with other users and even share focus spaces together as one participant also mentioned that co-working with their friends makes them feel more motivated and accountable for the things they have to do.
Perhaps having more diverse participants for user interviews as well could generate more insights as I was only able to interview one professional while the rest were mostly students due to time constraints. More diversity with gender might also be useful since some studies show that ADHD may manifest differently across genders.
During the duration of my internship, I was exposed to the fundamentals of UX and UI. This allowed me to learn about the different concepts and theories that make up this process and understand better the potential of UX in solving real-life situations such as what I tried to do with this product. With this experience, I hope to continue learning more about user experience and the whole design thinking process in the hopes of being able to create value through products that solve real world problems.
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