10-week academic project (individual)
POC: User research, interaction design, visual design
Sponges is intended as a mobile application that provides people with quick, easy-to-find guidance on the best ways to clean and maintain things around their home, including objects and spaces they never even knew they should be looking after.
I created a POC for Sponges as my capstone project when I studied UX Design at BrainStation Toronto.
As much as my parents tried to "train" me (as my mother liked to say) to do these things before I moved out, I dismissed the idea, confident that I'd figure it all out when the time came to do so. While I wish I had listened to my parents, I thought there was no way I could be the only one struggling with this. So, I did some research…
To truly understand the underlying issues behind my generation's relatively poorer cleaning and maintenance habits/skills, I needed to talk to people. So, I developed a research plan to supplement what I found online.
Doing so allowed me to profile my primary users as: young adults who live away from their parents and want to adopt better cleaning and maintenance habits/skills.
In doing so, I learnt that Olivia's experience could have been less painful if she:
1️⃣ Had a more dedicated means than social media to learn about household objects/spaces she should be looking after
“How might we provide young adults with the knowledge and support they need to more efficiently and effectively clean and maintain their home?”
As I could not prototype an entire app within the timelines of this project, I needed to prioritize features that I believed would most effectively deliver on my solution’s value proposition.
But what was my value proposition? To figure it out, I had to ask myself:
“A mobile application that shows young adults the best ways to clean and perform basic maintenance around their home”
With my app’s value proposition at the core, the user stories were driven by the needs and ideas I heard from my interviewees, as well as the opportunity areas uncovered in Olivia's experience map.
My product backlog included the following features for my app:
*These features would at the very least be visible, but not clickable, in the prototype.
To create a skeleton for my app's UX, I then developed a flow diagram for what I determined as my app's primary feature (as per my value proposition): learning how to clean a household object or space. (Click on the images to expand)
As I progressed through this project, I realized that to include both cleaning and maintenance in my prototype would be too ambitious with the time I had, so I chose to prioritize cleaning for the following reasons:
▫️Many of my target users rent, rather than own, their dwelling, and therefore aren't responsible for maintenance.
▫️As I found through my questionnaire, my target users are generally less capable of cleaning, compared to maintenance.
▫️Some of my female interviewees expressed that they expect a man to take care of maintenance tasks for them.
▫️Cleaning is a routine task that brings about more daily challenges, compared to maintenance which usually occurs ad hoc.
With my task flow diagram developed, I populated a design inspiration board and made a number of sketches to decide on the patterns my app would adopt. I contemplated navigation methods, button formats, container layouts and potential adjustments to my task flow before landing on what I felt was the most promising design.
I conducted two rounds of desirability and usability testing with five unique test users per round to uncover gaps and opportunity areas in my solution. Below are the top issues my test users pointed out to me:
As part of a one-day challenge my BrainStation cohort did in class, I reimagined Sponges as a voice-only interface that could operate on an Amazon Alexa-enabled device. This accounted for a new variation of my persona's current-state experience as well as an expanded set of user stories.
View my design process here
As I close off my project, I considered the potential impact and future of my design based on some questions I drew from the Tarot Cards of Tech.
As the focus of the program was to practice core HCD skills, my project did not include comprehensive assessments of business viability or technical feasibility. However, I did give some thought to what would need to happen, from a business standpoint, in order to move Sponges into production.
2️⃣ Inspiration-finding is time well invested
3️⃣ Test your test scripts
4️⃣ "Cool" doesn't always mean "great"
5️⃣ Onboard your users
As my time at BrainStation and capstone project came to an end, I owed thanks to so many people for their contributions to my success during the program: