“Living as a couple is a great and unique experience, but the organization and partner communication should be much simpler than it really is.”
Together is an app for couples that helps them to improve communication, house chores organization, or just, makes their life easy when someone is living with their significant other. Inside of the app, the couple shares a calendar with their partner, now they can't ever miss important dates, never forget a planned event. They can share a shopping list of their favorite grocery store (or wholesale store!), create “to do” tasks to never forget any little things they need to do sometime.
Everything started in a chat with my friend Humberto; he told me to help him to design a dashboard for his “display” that he has in his kitchen, I asked him: “A display?”, He answered: “yeah! it’s a monitor connected to a raspberry…” [blah blah blah blah (technical stuff)], he continued “I want to display a dashboard, that contains a calendar and other stuff that I can share with my wife, our calendar with events because we always forget about important dates, maybe we can add photos, to do tasks and things like that, take advantage of the technology, what do you think?”, of course, I told Humberto that I'd help him, but with a good design process, his “display” needs a proper way to be filled with information, an app should help to do this, and I took advantage of the capstone project from the Interaction Design Specialization from UCSD.
One of the first assignments was doing my research, I interviewed four couples, and they guided me through their daily routine, how they plan house activities, hobbies, social events, how they communicate and how they plan trips, events, vacations, etc. A funny thing I found was that in most of the couples, the man is not on the same channel as the woman, she always remember everything (or most of the time), and for both, at the beginning of this life stage they didn’t know how hard it is to live with another person, everything changes because of the responsibilities. Another thing we noticed was that there’s always one place in their houses that is accessible and spotable for both. After that research we had an ideation session where we brainstormed the user needs, great ideas came up, but we had to keep just a few ones in our scope.
A “whiteboard” and a key holder from a couple who I interviewed. A place where they write messages, things to do and have stuff that both are aware of where it is (tickets, papers, etc).
The scope we took was simple, manage the shared calendar, the shopping list (for grocery and wholesale store) and the “to do” tasks.
The idea was to have a straightforward app, where the user can navigate and have the important information on his hand.
The image is an example of one use case, Adrian creates an event and notifies Blanca about it, both receive a notification about it, and both can be on the same channel.
In one assignment we had a Heuristic evaluation of our paper prototype, I had the opportunity to work with Silvia from Switzerland and Owen from Wales (I’m from Tijuana México, so, this activity was awesome!). They gave me excellent feedback, in the case where the user adds items to the shopping list and some big details on the calendar screen. After this, I iterated the design using this feedback.
Some of the screens for the paper prototype.
There were a few changes to the design, let me list some of them:
On this phase, I made a digital prototype using InVision and did a testing with real users. My target users were young couples that are married or simply living freely with their significant other, as simple as that. I tested the prototype with five users, and again I received great feedback, it was awesome to see how the users were interacting with the prototype and how everyone had different experiences with it; but overall and most importantly, when & where the design failed.
Users testing the digital prototype.
After this, I did a few changes to the prototype, I changed labels, messages to give feedback to the user, and updated the UI to provide more space to the users so they can be able to see more and well-organized options. After this iteration, I had two versions of the design. I did an A/B test with the help of 4 users, not a significant number to decide which version is better but I was trying to see which design was faster to complete the tasks.
In a few words, always do research and test! Test as much as possible, then iterate the design. There is nothing more valuable when we are validating the design with the user than just assuming ideas.
What’s next? We left out of the scope some features, such as plan an activity, create love notes and attach items to the “to do” task. One big feature to have in mind is “planning an activity,” this can be from planning vacations to painting the house, or something in the future where the couple needs a shared space to share ideas, images, links, something, then decide and execute. Maybe we can start prototyping and test these new features, or perhaps we can redesign the layout of the app.
I want to thank Humberto who helped me a lot with this project, my girlfriend who was patient about my assignments each weekend, Zuzzette (we did it Zuz! after ten months!) who also finished the specialization. To all the users who helped me to test the prototypes, to Luis and Anayeli, Pichis and Jose Luis, Blanca and Adrian, Luis and Esmeralda, who helped me to understand how it is to live with your significant other, and of course to all the Coursera staff.