Case study, Mobile App

Framework : Designing a Mobile Application to Help Those with Dyspraxia

The Story before Framework

Within the last decades, mobile phones have evolved from solely being used as a communication device into a tool that can be used for a variety of tasks: such as listening to music, browsing the Internet and shopping.  This expansion in mobile phone utility led to the creation of mobile applications, as they provide solutions that specifically meet the user’s needs. More specifically, the growth in mobile applications has encouraged areas such as Assistive Technology to instigate a novel method of connecting effective tools with individuals who would benefit from the support. Currently, there appears to be a disproportionate amount of AT available across varying disabilities. Moreover, there are assistive technologies that target certain aspects of an individual’s disability/disorder; however, many disabilities/disorders are multifaceted. An example of this is with Dyspraxia, where there less assistive technologies developed/adapted compared to other Specific Learning Differences such as Dyslexia. Further research indicated that the lack of applications for adults with dyspraxia, and therefore the use of many mobiles application as a replacement, causes problem leading to confusion and stress.

Aim of the Project

The main aim of this project was: to eliminate the gap within the assistive technology market by designing an application that assists adults with dyspraxia,providing all the necessary tools that can help them to organize, navigate and co-ordinate their day. The application focused on the needs of adults who have problems with: planning, organisation, memory, getting to sleep and coordination. Focusing on these aspects could support adults with dyspraxia who experience problems around scheduling, time management, remembering tasks, lists or other pieces of information, following directions/navigation, stress, and insomnia. The application specifically targets areas that individuals with dyspraxia could find problematic and/or that impacts their ease of living within their home, work and leisure time e.g. remembering routines, cleaning/maintaining their homes, making and keeping appointments or other arrangements. The application allows the different categories of issues that individuals are facing to connect with one, avoiding any confusion, allowing them to synchronise their goals for the day. This means that users would no longer have to use many different applications to schedule their day.

The project approach was based on a user-centered methodology and followed essential activities including requirement gathering, requirement specification, designing prototypes (low to high fidelity) and user experience testing, which was conducted intermittently throughout the project to understand potential working issues that could arise.

Data Gathering

Participants were recruited by the University of Dundee and the Dyspraxia Support Group of New Zealand, who both shared the questionnaire. Also, the forum DyspraxiaAdults.org.uk accepted to share the questionnaire with their members. It included: closed questions to specifically gather demographic information and technological aptitude; open questions to allow participants to write their own opinions and experiences regarding dyspraxia, particularly about applications that helped them with their daily routine, and if they could describe a fictional application that would help them; and multiple-choice questions. Being mindful that some individuals may have difficulties writing open questions, the majority of questions were multiple questions and the overall questionnaire was kept short and concise.

Results

It became apparent from the results that there is an overall need for an application that could recognise the users’ voice and automatically save notes or events. Also, participants recurrently mentioned that they preferred an application without a password at login, as they expressed that it can be difficult to remember passwords. In general, there appeared to be a need for an application to combine all the applications that were currently used. Within the participants, eight mentioned that they were using three to four different mobile applications to complete their daily tasks successfully. For example, a participant mentioned that they were using: an alarm application to help with time management e.g. to remember appointments;  Wunderlist app for lists and to-dos; satnav to go to work or to the location of other weekly activities; and the WhiteNoise application to help them sleep. This situation was typical for many participants and further supports the need of an application that contains a calendar, to-do lists, relaxed music and navigation, to help them manage their day. In addition, many respondents referred to the fact that they were struggling to remember to pick up their personal items before leaving their house, such as wallet, car keys or mobile phone.

Used Applications

Design Thinking

User Journey Mapping

To ensure that Framework met users’ expectations, identifying pain points and opportunities in a systematic and straightforward way, was important. Therefore, the production of a canvas and the user journey mapping were necessary.

lean_UX_Canvas

Then a journey map was used to predict what a user would do when using the application. A prospective map also helped to highlight user’s expectations from using a novel application that offered a variety of features.

user_mapping

User Personas & Scenarios

Four personas and corresponding scenarios have been adapted from the research gathered by the questionnaire to capture potential user’s motivations, frustrations and the essence of who they would be.

Design Production and Used Tools

After the collection and sketching of basic ideas, low fidelity wireframes were created for the conceptual design using Balsamiq. Then Marvel was also used to add an interaction within the created low fidelity wireframes from the Balsamiq tool. This was because Marvel is a web-based app that can turn sketches, images and mock-ups into realistic mobile and web prototypes.

Design Concept

Homepage

Following the analysis made from researching similar applications and the questionnaire, it was apparent that there was a need for the application to be simple and accessible, while fulfilling the needs of the target group.

Heuristic Evaluation 

Within this project, 10 heuristics  were used, focusing on the functionalities of the Framework’s low fidelity prototype, which includes: adding lists, organizing and maintaining pages of the application.

Iteration of design

Mid-Fidelity Prototype

The choosen colours of the application included a dark background and light colour icons and fonts, because according to Uxpins’ book, this can create pleasurable ‘feelings’ for the user if designed properly.  Similarly, the fonts were specifically chosen to provide visual clarity. The fonts for headings included light San Francisco, sized 32 display.  The registration process gives users the opportunity to choose fingerprint at login, although they still have the option to have a password if they prefer. Following this, a window appears on the screen asking the users if they wish to active voice recognition. Once they have decided to either accept or decline voice activation, the users are given questions that are shown on consecutive windows. These questions allow the system to analyse and understand the user’s voice setting them up for voice recognition.

homepage_mid_fidelity        Extra_features        To-Do_List_Mid-FidelityCalendar_Mid_Fidelity

 

Final Prototype

Following the feedback received by the participants, the application had to be redesigned and continue with the design of new pages. The new design can be found here 

Changes based on the testing :

  • Changed background colour to lighter
  • The calendar background colour was replaced by a light colour of pink and blue, which was selected based on the psychology of colours
  • As participants mentioned from the first prototype, it would be beneficial if the interface had more information and incorporated less clicks

Gamification

In order to continuously inform the users about their progress, the daily tasks were divided to Completed Daily Tasks and Remaining. In that way, they could see the completed tasks and feel proud that they have achieved them. This positive feeling can also lead to users becoming more comfortable and confident in their own selfesteem in regards to the development of their organisation skills. Users can also be informed about the remaining tasks and interact with them.

Features

Framework’s homepage was designed to focus users on the important aspects. As a result, the homepage contains four links; Completed Daily tasks, Remaining Daily Tasks, Important Tasks and Add your Quick task. The interactive buttons below the tasks that correspond to the upcoming task i.e. “make a phone call” and “start my route” sends the users to the particular page, allowing them to proceed with additional commands that correspond to fulfilling their tasks. This allows users to be reminded of their upcoming task and allows them to engage with the task. Depending on the task, participants can choose what icons to connect the task to e.g. if the task is to send an e-mail, then they can choose to add ‘create an e-mail’ to their interactive button that would send them to the new e-mail window with the person already addressed (provided that they are in their contact list).

Framework gives users the opportunity to save their favourite places in order for them to be able to just command the system to start the navigation in “my Route“. Also, participants suggested that it would be nice to see the next “Route” on the map in order for the application to have some elements of gamification.

Quick lists  is an important feature because it gives the opportunity to users to add important lists at the interface by selecting the name that they want to see. This space within the application gave users the freedom to put whatever they think is important or currently on their mind.

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