Solo (Senior Thesis Project)
User Research, Experience Design &
Visual Design
15 weeks
Interviews, rapid prototyping, concept testing,
remote usability testings
Interviews with 20 participants
They fall into 2 camps:
1. People who use their phone and social media regularly; for entertainment and to keep in touch with friends. 

2. People who have a strict plan for phones and apps usages and use it very selectively.
Key Insights
Apps and devices are not helping us prioritize our time to things we truly care about.
We’re inundated by notifications that either overwhelm or derail us to a rabbit hole.
Connecting with people requires being mutually present.
People can sense when the other party in the conversation is distracted, and it impedes them from going deeper.
Responding meaningfully requires time, care and attention.
An intentional response would require one to stop what they are doing, in order to craft it.
How might our devices support us in being more intentional about how we spend our time?
Facilitate mutual understanding of bandwidth to make space for quality responses
“If it needs 2 people to opt-in, people might not be used to it. If one party doesn’t want to opt in, it might also cause tension.”

“What if you’re talking to two people at once?”

“This seems more for people in long distance relationships. They can set aside 20-30mins of time for just focused conversation.”

In face-to-face conversations, eye contact is a strong indicator and social etiquette that indicates someone is listening. We don’t have an equivalent for digital interactions (the closest is an ‘online’ status). 

Trying to emulate an eye contact equivalent in the digital space seems like a forceful point of entry.
Utilize notifications as a way to guide people to pay attention to things that matter to them most.
“This is my favorite idea. It’s setting aside a recurring, predictable rhythm to notifications. Assigning disruptions to only specific times of my day.

“I think I already do this on a certain degree… follow cycles and routines. Morning I use certain apps, and in the evenings I use certain apps too.”

This feature was the most well-received, and it went through the least amount of iterations because it was based on most people's existing behavior.
Being aware of what we see gives us more control allows us to be intentional about what we view and how long we do it for. 

“I like that this is a small tweak that can reflect our priorities.”

“Yes! I wish Instagram had a grid of categories that allows me to intentionally think and pick what I wanted to view.
Adding a layer of awareness allows people to feel more urgent; thus allowing them to think what and how they want to use their remaining time.
Rules and Logic of each microinteraction
This project opened my eyes to the harmful, addictive mechanisms that are embedded in certain applications. Hearing first-hand how some of the interview participants are affected was heartbreaking, but reaffirmed my belief in this project more.

If I had more time, I would want to try and test some of these concepts over a period of time. A lot of the solutions that I propose isn't really about "is this usable?" but more about "is this going to help you with your habit?" which takes more time than I had for the project.

Complete process journal here.
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