The goal of our app is to encourage a more productive use of screen time because we found that many people tend to get caught in “doom-scrolling” cycles on social media that leave them feeling unfulfilled and like they wasted their time. Our platform helps users mitigate their scrolling habit by offering more intellectually stimulating content as an alternative to the content offered on social media.
Research and Baseline Study
We began by doing secondary research on apps such as Calm, Forest, and Space. We then conducted user research on ten participants (mostly college students), asking about their current screen-use habits and whether they had attempted any change in the past. We then performed a baseline study for which we asked participants to track their screen time habits for five days. During this period they sent us daily screenshots of their phone and laptop screen-time statistics and answered a few questions about their screen use that day. After this we conducted post-interviews where we asked participants follow-up questions based on the answers they provided as well as overall questions about their experience during the study. The following journey map represents common daily patterns we found in our participants, who often had major scrolling spikes at wake-up time, meals, class, and before bed:
We came up with two personas representing common trends that we found in our users:
The main insights from our baseline study were:
- There are no natural, healthy breaks during COVID, resulting in more ‘dead time’ that gets automatically filled with the easy act of opening social media and scrolling
- Due to the addictive nature of social media apps (due to both content and design), users find themselves getting stuck for hours
- The current under-stimulating environment, both online and offline, causes people to look for other (often unhealthy) ways to keep themselves stimulated.
Next we conducted an intervention study with the same participants as before in addition to some new participants. The participants were required to set a ten minute timer whenever they began to scroll through a social media application. At the end of ten minutes they were required to either stop scrolling or to call a friend or family member. We asked them to report their experience every day for five days and send us daily screenshots of their smartphone’s screen-time statistics. From these reports we found that simply setting a timer was helpful and that setting session limits for scrolling was more effective than setting daily limits. We also found that calling a friend was often too inconvenient due to the time of day or to the participant’s reluctance to bother a busy friend.
After synthesizing the results of our baseline and intervention studies, we ideated on potential prototype ideas. The results of our ideation are shown below:
We chose eight of these ideas to flesh out with sketches and from there narrowed down to our top three ideas, shown below:
- Challenge-based goal setting
- Personalized “worth your time” media
- Recommended offline alternatives
The sketches of each of these are shown below (outlined in purple):
We voted again on these top three ideas and narrowed down to our top choice, shown below:
- Personalized “worth your time” media
Storyboard and Wireflows
Once our idea was chosen, we each created a storyboard for the main idea and a wireflow for a particular task. A few of these are shown below:
Next we created a mockup for usability testing (in Figma), shown below:
From this mockup we create a clickable prototype with the following main elements:
- Pop-Up Interaction
- Choosing media recommendation
- Swipe to replace
- Saved for later
- Rate and review
A couple of screens from the clickable prototype are shown below:
We tested our clickable prototype on three different students from our class. We asked them to step through all the core features and vocalize their thoughts as they explored the interface. They only received guidance to get them back on track when they were lost. Afterwards we asked them questions about the experience. The major feedback we got is summarized below:
- Testers liked the core features of the app and idea behind them
- Testers liked the simplicity of design (though some issues were noted)
- Testers agreed that a timer would be more useful than a daily limit, which they would likely just ignore if there were only a few minutes left and they wanted to start scrolling.
- Testers disliked the unintuitive presentation of app (navigation, controls, colors)
- Testers disliked the lack of options / personalization in how the intervention works
- Testers expressed some confusion about which recommendations are available, how many things are available, how they can skip recommendations, switch between recommendations, etc.
- Testers expressed some frustration about the recommendation ratings being a mandatory part of the process
- Testers suggested customizing the timer settings
- Testers wanted a more fleshed out analytics page (similar to iPhone’s)