• Rajshekar Reddy

Productiv, a product of a course on Interaction Design.

To-do apps are in abundance on the App Store right now and will be for a while. Although all these apps have the same core concept and are driven by the same principles. Schedule a task in the app, the app reminds you, finish the chore, strike off the task. There’s no greater feeling than ticking off a completed task, right? Scientifically, its due to the neurotransmitter dopamine, released by the Hypothalamus in your brain.

Okay, point being, with all the advancements in AI and “Machine Learning” going on, no one has implemented these buzz words in the context of a To-Do app. Here are the reasons why. Before I list them, you should know that these reasons were formulated from a Needfinding study I conducted with people on the internet (could’ve been bots).

  1. Users need a way to be able to make up more space in their schedule.

  2. Users need a way to estimate how much time will be required for a specific task.

  3. Users need a way to be able to automatically adjust their schedules if they start their day later than planned.

  4. Users need to be able to make lesser decisions and rely more on the system.

All this is possible by studying the user’s behavior and training an ML model. Hence my point of view while designing Productiv was as follows.

A Scheduling/To-do application allows users to write down agendas for the day. Still, it does not mean the user has to make all the decisions about their agenda. The app can implement autonomy to make the user’s life simpler and more comfortable, allowing them to concentrate on essential things and not exhaust their decision capabilities in setting up an agenda alone.

Enter Productiv.

Productiv is a scheduling app that implements autonomy through machine learning. Over the course of a week, it will learn from your scheduling and task completion behavior and provide you with suggestions on how you can improve your productivity.If you’re finishing a particular task earlier than expected, Productiv will let you know so you can fit in another task you’ve been wanting to do, like play tennis.

Storyboard #1:

Thats not all. If you have a packed day and end up waking up later than planned, Productiv will shave off equal time from all your tasks intelligently, so you don’t have to fret about rushing into that first task. This is no excuse to wake up late though.

Storyboard #2:

I started with a simple hand-drawn paper prototype, through which I could iterate quickly. I drew a couple of inspirations from existing apps, and I was able to merge the key features of all these apps into Productiv.

A Heuristic Evaluation, quickly pointed out all the design flaws in my app, and along with that also pointed out how much I underestimated prototyping. Design Heuristics are a useful tool for a quick evaluation of your prototype, here are the top ten heuristics from Jakob Nielsen, every design student should know about.

After fixing these changes, I set about to make an actual, fully-fledged, functional prototype, again. There’s a catch, this time it wasn’t on paper. I used Adobe XD to design Productiv pixel by pixel and get a feel of how the actual app would look.

I went with a white background with orange accents to make the user feel energetic and lively when they look at the app (my Sigmund Freud moment). I also included detailed shadows and loads of whitespace to give it a modern, trendy look.

Thanks toCoursera, I was able to test the prototype with real users viaUserTesting, who revealed a lot of interesting insights which I didn’t think of. Some were obvious ones and others, not so much. For example, a user thought it would be better to include a suggestion card, which would display things you could do at that moment to improve your productivity. I also created an A/B testing where half the users were shown one alternative of the app’s design, and the other half were shown the other option. I learned that users were more likely to schedule a task with the second design (one on the right).

I have to say I learnt a lot of new things and new ways of doing things during this design project, and hopefully, one-day Productiv would see the light of day.

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© 2020 by Rajshekar Reddy