Designing a mobile app to find an ideal workspace outside of your school, job, or home.
When I was a college student, it was nearly impossible for me to focus at home to study for my classes. I was constantly looking to change my environment to complete my homework and projects. But because library and student lounges at my college were constantly crowded with students, and local coffee shops were always packed with customers, finding a good study spot was like a treasure hunt.
I always wondered if there was an easier, more efficient way to find a space where I can work.
I wanted to explore ways in which I could improve the experience of finding a location that caters to a person’s ideal workspace environment.
Low & High Fidelity Designs
Pen & Paper
How Might We's
To understand the reasons why people would want to study or work outside of their home, school, or normal workplace, I read a lot of articles on this subject. Here are some of the highlights I found within the articles:
Low to moderate noise levels enhanced the participant’s creativity.
Source: Journal of Consumer Research
Mental effort is contagious. When people see others working hard, they are more inclined to work hard as well.
Source: Business Insider
Places like coffee shops offer welcoming environments that not only make a great workspace area but create a place that strengthens relationships and builds communities.
Source: Journal of Interior Design
Changing environments can improve a person’s memory retention.
Source: New York Times
Next, I wanted to learn more about the features that other products used to help people find spaces to work near them. In order to do this, I conducted a heuristic evaluation of 3 competitors Yelp, WorkHardAnywhere (WHA), and WorkFrom. Each app is similar in that they can help a user find workspaces or study spaces in their local area.
Evaluations were based on 3 usability heuristics:
1) Consistency and standards
2) User control and freedom
3) Aesthetic and minimalist design
Heuristic #1: Consistency & Standards
Yelp app maintains consistency between its pages, but having many different icons throughout the mobile app can look busy. WHA also has a consistent style between pages but has uncommon icons that are unlabeled which causes the user to guess what certain buttons mean. WorkFrom does not maintain consistency within the app as their main page sends the user to an external link that has a different aesthetic to the rest of the app.
Simple designs with consistent features throughout all pages of an app make it easier for users to navigate throughout an app.
Heuristic #2: User Control & Freedom
Yelp and WHA do a great job in allowing users to undo and redo their actions and also give them the freedom to personalize their profile seamlessly. There isn’t much personalization on the WorkFrom app, but rather functions as an explore page.
For my design, I would implement a personalization option so that the user can feel as though they have control over what workspaces they like and don't like.
Heuristic #3: Aesthetic and
Yelp does a good job in maintaining a consistent look and feel throughout all the pages of the app, all the information is simple and clear to understand. The aesthetic of WHA is very youthful and modern looking, however the use of many colors can appear busy on the pages. Most of the pages of WorkFrom app maintain a minimal design similar to Yelp.
For the Workspace Finder app, I want to keep a simple yet modern design that doesn't have too many clashing colors within each page.
I sent a screener survey to find people who were 18 and older, and who tend to work outside of their school or workplace at least once a week. Out of the 25 people who responded, I interviewed 6 people to dig deeper and gain a more in-depth perspective on their attitudes and experiences on searching for local workspaces.
Here are the key Insights:
“I’m way more productive when I’m at like a coffee shop or just not in my house because I’m more focused on what I’m doing and not distracted by chores or my cat”
“If I were to go to a new place, a new study spot, if I had pictures of how the place looked like it would give me a gauge if I were actually going to enjoy this place considering that I like a particular lighting and particular seating.”
Next, I created representations of 3 major user types as synthesized versions of the observations and analysis of all the people who took part in the survey and in the user interviews.
The core personas for the Workspace Finder app are:
Mark - The Student
Amelia - The Remote Worker
Dominique - The Creative
How might we help users find local workspaces that have their preferred ambiance?
How might we help users determine if a workspace has the essential features they need to complete their work?
Next, I wanted to start generating ideas for the features and visual design of the main flow. This would show a user creating an account, finding a workspace through the preference page, and finding a workspace through a map feature. The next images display the user flow and sketches that go along with these ideas.
Here are a few concepts which I wanted to explore further.
A map feature allows users to search for places based on a certain location
A preferred features page that allows user to pick and choose the type of ambiance they hope to find in a workspace
The user flows shown here display the MVP of the app which include:
Explore page - Users are able to discover workspaces with selected preferences
Map Page - Users are able to explore workspaces that are in their local area or a separate location
LOW - FIDELITY WIREFRAMES
GUERILLA USABILITY TESTING
Using the wireframe prototype on InVision, I conducted usability tests with 5 participants. We see in the usability test results that 100% of users showed confusion on the use of the Explore page altogether.
Create an onboarding page to help the user guide them through understanding the app
Change wording of 'Explore Page' to 'Preference page'
Make the Preference Page homepage of the app, the user will automatically be sent here once the app opens
Outcomes and Reflection
After implementing the changes into the final designs, I alleviated the problems that users faced within the first usability testing. Users were overall very happy with the final product! If I were to continue this study, I would focus on my Preferences page on the app and see if it could be more customizable for a user or if there could be added features as well.
This was the first UX project that I had ever done, and I learned so much about the UX process along the way. Carrying out the research was something that felt very familiar to me, but learning how to use a design program like Sketch was the most challenging aspect of this project since I don't have experience in design. I am proud of this project and I know I have a lot to learn moving forward.