With zoom call after zoom call to recorded class after recorded class, keeping track of all our events and responsibilities can be daunting. In fact having to keep track of applications that also keep track of you is another added stress. What can be done to streamline our workflow allowing us to be inspired and encouraged to finish our work everyday?
Scheduling and Task management are streamlined ways of organizing our daily lives and tasks, benefitting our productivity. Properly organizing required tasks and responsibilities provides stress relief and an understanding of how to approach huge deadlines and personal problems or tasks.
Current online platforms contain scheduling and task management independently, although they are crucial for being used together, allowing for a perfectly planned out workflow. Being able to manage your tasks and schedule calendar events in one place streamlines this entire process allowing users to plan out tasks by timing.
As a team, we surveyed over 80 individuals to understand users’ current methods of organizing their workflow. Using that data as a standard, we conducted in-person in-depth user interviews via online conferencing.
From the 88 users that participated in our survey, we were able to ensure the importance of customization, especially the accessibility of that customization.
Taking into account our diverse population surveyed, we determined how important it was to implement these changes. Even though current platforms may suffice the minimum needs of scheduling and task management, this is not enough to serve every unique user.
To determine the specific needs of this diverse population, we conducted in-depth interviews with 10 users.
Explain your step-by-step process of how you would typically plan/schedule events, etc?
What types of events are you typically scheduling and how do you distinguish them from one another?
Describe your task management process? Do you use checkboxes, notifications, color to indicate, by date/day/time, or any unique metrics?
60% users report that colors or visual indications are imperative for categorizing and distinguishing various events and tasks and 40% of users report current platforms are unable to fully customize these options.
55% users report struggling with current calendar and task management applications' view options and their inability to customize view windows and combinations.
95% users report using separate applications to manage tasks and schedule events. The majority of users report the inability to view them together as being the main reason for this.
Of the 10 participants we interviewed, I spoke to 4 individuals. One user stated how a specific font was not available to be customized on each platform and interface she uses. This font has personal and crucial meaning to her as it allows her to pay attention and focus on her work. Another user brought up how none of the scheduling or task management platforms can ever live up to her physical planner that allows her to view all she needs at once.
With limited options in customizing and changing current scheduling and task management platforms to individual preferences, it limits users' ability to efficiently, effectively, and fully achieve their best work as it forces them to use more time to adjust to the platform and adjust their work style to a technological platform.
Various issues shown. For example on the right, overlapping events cause events to take up have the width of the column. There are restricted colors and font display on the interface. The user on the right was forced to create an "event" as a task to allow her to plan out for the day.
Based on research, we sketched out possible solutions to pain points brought up by users. Below are the initial ideas we suggested.
We knew early on our main goal for this platform was customization of visuals as well as specific user interface options like view options.
WEB APPLICATION VS. WEBSITE
In discussing with our teammates we envisioned our platform as being mainly a web application that also could be accessed as a website.
Since one of our main goals for the platform was ease of access and use, it had to serve users who preferred to use websites as well as users who preferred to use web applications.
Something that inhibits tasks from being viewed along with events on calendars is its lack of ability to be visualized with current task view options. For example, a to-do list is simply a list with checkboxes. There is no visualization of the task like how an event exists as a box within a calendar.
Another aspect of tasks that stops it from going hand and hand with calendar events is its lack of time. Tasks are not usually on a time restraint as events are however, we thought about how important it was to add this metric.
Being able to plan out tasks like events in a day will allow users to plan their workflow hour by hour, minute by minute, and day by day.
This inspired me to come up with this new design of two circles to indicate the start and endpoints of a task with a line connecting the two.
SCHEDULE + TASKS
For schedule and event design, I wanted to create visuals that were cohesive and focused more on big picture views of users' schedules. With this, I wanted to remove the divides between day-to-day and add opacity which would correlate to the importance of events that could be viewed when events overlap.
To allow tasks to be viewed along with daily schedules, tasks would be placed on the side of each day so users can correspond to the time of the day and what they have to do for the day.
BUILD + DESIGN
Using our proposed solution, we utilized Figma to wireframe our intended user journey. We kept in mind the simple intention for its use and how it would benefit the users' everyday lifestyle.
From there we honed in on my intended visual design: color, font, logo, etc.
Our key solutions for the platform are user customization, revised scheduling features, and the new task visualization feature.
We mapped out various interface organization options and screens to brainstorm the most useful organization as well as a way to demonstrate its customizable abilities.
Mapped out ideas for scheduling, task management flow. We made sure to include add-ons to tasks/events so users can customize everything to their preferences. The add-ons included filters or tags so users can sort through various events. As well as instances for link additions, location, as well as importance rankings.
As a way to serve the tastes of all users, color schemes will have the ability to be altered to whatever color they chose. We chose light pastel colors and white background as a default to keep clean and organized emotions. These simple and subtle colors and designs will allow the user to be encouraged and de-stressed while working.
We chose the fonts of Bellota Text and Public Sans as they are clean, readable, and warm also encouraging productivity and usage.
UI Designs were designed with rounded edges, faint shadows to keep it as minimalistic and clean to calm the mind in a perhaps stressful week/workday.
We also chose on creating separate windows or panels to display different aspects on the platforms that can be customized and altered to their preferences.
Implemented visual design into layout while adjusting and adding additional elements like the brain spill to display other customizable elements that can be used through the platform.
Scheduling view options included weekly, monthly, and daily. I thought about how taking away the line divisions between day to day allowed users to focus on big picture tasks as well as keep in mind what to expect for the upcoming days.
Opacity was implemented to allow users to focus on the most important events while still being able to view all overlapped events. When hovering on a specific event it will come to the front of the order and allowed to be viewed in full opacity regardless of importance.
The task visualization of the line and two circles were added alongside our scheduling windows. We also included different view options, as well as an interactive element of hovering over tasks to allow more information to be shown - still focused on events/scheduling but can change view options.
This new visualization of a task solved issues of the divided workflow of task management and scheduling. Having tasks displayed together with events combines the two flows allowing for a more efficient and streamlined organization of users' lives.
Nested to-do lists
While talking to our users, our biggest takeaway was that every user is unique. How do we create a platform that serves all unique needs? It is by offering diverse interactive components.
The additions like the "Brain Spill" may not be necessary to one person but imperative to another, so having that flexibility was important. Another addition is the classic to-do list view that allows users to make use of layering to provide hierarchy to tasks that often have tasks. It also serves as the acknowledgment that not all tasks may have timed elements.
We spoke to 3 users to test out our product and platform screens. We wanted to see if its customization made sense and would fit into their workflow and lifestyle.
Interviews were conducted over video conferencing and the user was sent a link to the current prototype and shared their screen as they went through it.
Before: Saturday & Sunday highlighted
After: No difference in color tone with weekends
The first thing one user asked was why did we choose to fade out the weekend days of Saturday and Sunday. I quickly realize we were assuming all our users had a typical 5 day work week and their 2 day weekends were always Saturday and Sunday.
Response: We took away that default setting of fading out the days of Saturday and Sunday and made it customizable so the user could set it how they wanted. For example for the user who mentioned this, she noted how in Israel, the weekends are Friday and Saturday.
IS IT TRULY CUSTOMIZABLE?
While visualizing the possibilities of customizable window layouts, we forgot to add the simple indication to the user how they would go about adding another window or display box. Also how it would look, when users exceed the standard view on the window - Would it be scrollable? Zoomable? Expandable?
Future additions will require more prototype testing with these customizable options. In the time restraints, we focused on how adding and removing one window would look like.
Before: white text - poor contrast
After: dark test - appropriate contrast
With the addition of opacity as the way to indicate importance, the text becomes hard to read. Some of the colors we chose do not offer an appropriate contrast amount to be clearly read by all users.
Response: Changing the text color with a combination of levels of opacities used. Everything on the platform should be clear, visible, and easy to read.