Methods: User Interviews, Journey Mapping, Wire-framing, Prototyping, Usability Testing
Note: This was a personal project
Role: UX Research, UX Design, UI Design (sole UX designer)
Duration: 80 hours (Sept 2021)
What is habit tracking?
Habit trackers help users document growth by displaying immediate feedback of progress.
Creating a habit is a long journey. James Clear, habit expert and author of "Atomic Habits" explains, “...while you are waiting for the long-term rewards of your efforts to accumulate, you need a reason to stick with it in the short-term. You need some immediate feedback that shows you are on the right path.”
Habit trackers can help, but the current solutions are not the most enjoyable and some even use punishing methods to get users to stick to habits.
What is the problem?
How can users be empowered and enticed to create long term growth through habit tracking?
The current habit tracking system is mundane or even punishing. People struggle to have consistent ways to form, track and continue carrying out habits.
Day 1: Start your new habit of exercise.
Day 20: You have an impressive streak of habits.
Day 38: You have built up a habit and you now no longer need the tracker. It’s a habit!
Day 1: You decide to start tracking your new exercise habit.
Day 20: The calendar shows you broke your streaks and now start back from 0.
Day 38: The same reminder notifications are boring and discouraging. No habit formed.
Flori is a new way to track habits by visualizing progress through a growth of a virtual plant. The healthier the plant, the more lush and plentiful your garden of growth becomes.
Create a New Habit
Add a new habit and choose what type of nudges you want to receive. Each habit growth is symbolized through the growth of a plant.
Track your progress by watering your virtual garden world of plants. Your growing plants represents your growth of your habits while any wilting plants that needs watering symbolizes a need to get back on track.
Send Friend Encouragement
Send encouragement to a friend who hasn't logged progress in a while
Researching the current market
To understand the landscape of apps, I conducted secondary research and further studied user needs through user interviews.
A SWOT analysis of 6 competitors showed the weaknesses and opportunities that needed to be met. The features of the competitors were also analyzed to assess minimum expectations and features that need to be prioritized when creating the MVP.
Discovering the needs
I synthesized the market research and saw that there were a few opportunities of giving more control, information and focus of direction of change that could be beneficial.
Users liked customization and wanted more control over the way the habit would be tracked.
All apps visualized progress in some way, shape or form, such as in a calendar view.
Some apps included a social component to increase motivation of logging habit.
Subject matter expertise
Most apps do not seek to educate or create a system of growth.
Long Term Change
Evidence-based insights create competitive advantages and ensure long term change, which is a common goal for users.
App reviewers noted that some apps had become inflated with trying to track too many things and felt too overwhelming.
User interviews validate the needs to focus on
“Honestly, I just want the energy to better document my progress.”
- Security Services Analyst
“It’s a habit to even track your habits.”
- Software Engineer
I screened for participants who had done habit tracking in any way before and interviewed 8 users on their behaviors, attitudes and desires in their journey to creating and tracking habits.
The interviews revealed that the habit tracking itself is cumbersome and in addition to completing the habit itself, remembering to record progress made it feel like there were 2 actions that needed to be done. Generally, people felt that it was difficult to continue especially as they saw short-term progress falter.
Understanding the user journey
The target demographic’s top need is to solve an engagement issue. Not only do users stop tracking their habits, they also stop doing their habits in general.
It was crucial to solve the dip in falling off the habit. The problem was to solve the 3 following questions
01 How might we guide users to understand their current habits so that they can change or control these habits?
02 How might we encourage users to feel supported and motivated to continue previous habits?
03 How might we help users have an easier way to log habits?
Brainstorming solutions: inspiration
During my primary research, users shared about a variety of other lateral inspiration on activities and tools that lure them back into applications that they use.
I dug deeper into these applications and realized they employed James Clear’s idea of a system to delight and keep users in coming back.
The ability to grow your own world and create a life within this popular game gave me some ideas on how to possibly gamify and bring users back continuously as many Animal Crossing users frequently played for long periods.
Apple Watch has employed social challenges in which users can invite friends and challenge them to short competitions. The powerful visualization of rings and reminders also empower users to complete their goals for the day.
This app has excellent UX copy that makes it fun to come back to the app. The purpose of the app is to log where you have gone to the bathroom in the world - with a fun social component.
Visualizing growth to engage users
Using my inspiration and research, I decided to create a world of digital growth that would be symbolized through plants.
As users document progress, your plant will grow on its own until you reach the finish line and you’ll also have a beautiful healthy plant that accompanied you on your journey to success. I created lo-fi wireframes to think about layout and possible features to include.
The prioritized designs: features and flows
Since this is a product entering a competitive market, I prioritized based on user need and user delight in order to ensure product success.
I created a sitemap, which then allowed me to create the user flow. Thinking about what might trigger the user to be prompted to come onto the app was important since the key pain point that needed to be revamped was bringing users onto the app in the first place.
First design & test in mid fidelity
I chose to test the designs in mid-fidelity to concept test and allow quick iterations on the idea itself.
I focused on the 3 important flows of creating a new habit, tracking progress and then getting a reminder from a personalized note from a friend.
Concept Testing the Idea to Ensure User Adoption
I tested with 5 users who have done some sort of habit tracking before. Through the moderated interviews, I derived insights from affinity mapping and prioritized the following feedback based on impact and effort.
5/5 users confused on the feature “guidance” and commented it might not belong in the process of “create new habit”
3.8/5 average rating of how likely they would use the encouragement note feature
3/5 wanted notes feature. Although this was original de-prioritized, I included because of evidenced need from users.
High fidelity & testing
After incorporating the needed changes, I focused on a calm and inviting brand. As I defined these visual guidelines, I created a high fidelity prototype to be tested.
Part 2 (High Fid)
This unmoderated usability testing was more focused on task completion to see if I had fixed previous confusion from the mid fidelity and given clear direction. There still was some confusion on how to input habit progress.
14 participants unmoderated Maze usability test
41% misclicks in the “Input Habit” by watering plants.
Final iterations to clarify tracking
Changing the user flow and interaction of tracking habits
Intent: Users would tap on the plant and then see a watering animation with a new leaf grown. The one tap interaction was to make it easy and not cumbersome to input progress.
Problem: Although users liked this interaction, they wanted to input more habit details when inputting progress such as seeing more past progress and notes.
Design Solution: Instead of the tapping the plant, which led to lots of misclicks, I made each habit a separate card with progress shown as an ellipse, which was more intuitive. Although it takes one more tap to input progress, the new interaction is much more simple and allows you to add more information about progress.
Looking back, I would have thought more about onboarding and what it means to introduce not only a new app but a new way of trying to track progress.
Accessibility: yellow is a difficult color to pass WCAG accessibility in color contrast. Although I did the best of my ability to make sure it was visually accessible, next time I might not be able to choose yellow as a primary color if I really want to ensure accessibility.
When testing concepts, going back to the user needs was helpful to clarify what to focus on, but balancing realistic and innovative ideas was crucial to not create a product that would not have any traction.
This was the MVP of an app that, if fully designed, could create a whole online world of growth that users could continuously come back to. The next immediate steps would be to go to the P1 features that included general guidance and education for habits.