Remind UI Design
May - June 2018;
Completed for concepts in HCI class (HCDE 419), and self driven project
Role: Researcher & Designer
Individuals with intellectual disabilities can have difficulties with learning practical skills like activities of daily living, safety, and schedules or routines. It often falls on the family or caretakers to be responsible for reminding these individuals to complete tasks and how to complete tasks.
Those with disabilities often try to pass as “normal” so they can avoid the stigma of having a disabilities. Those individuals may dislike or decide not to use technologies that make them stick out.
I created a mobile phone app that partners with smart home systems to remind users when and how to complete everyday tasks. These tasks can include brushing one's teeth, or making the bed.
The app allows users to set up events and tasks and link those to smart home devices in specific rooms that can remind them of those events and tasks. The app can be used by the individual with intellectual disabilities, their family members, or their caretakers. An account can also be linked to others so events and tasks can be shared.
This project happened in two separate phases. I first conducted ideation and research for one month (May - June). I then created wireframes and a high fidelity prototype for 2 months (June - August).
This idea came about while taking a Concepts in Human Computer Interaction class. As a class, we talked about technology for those with disabilities, but only touched on physical disabilities. I was interested in how technology might affect those with mental disabilities. I also thought that combining ideas like ubiquitous computing (the idea that technology is everywhere so it fades into the background and is just a part of the environment), and the AMBIENTroom project would enhance technologies for those with mental disabilities.
These two concepts led me to smart home technologies because they are becoming increasingly popular and they are integrated into the homes or environments of individuals.
I wanted to focus on using technology to help those with disabilities gain more autonomy. Or the ability to gain independence from the environment around them.
I conducted literature research to support my idea. My research includes sources that talk about;
- What intellectual disabilities are
- Technology and those with intellectual disabilities
- Ubiquitous computing
I then looked at other apps for inspiration. I looked at many calendar and task apps for inspiration on how to lay out the information. My main inspiration was google calendars because I enjoyed the visual style of the app and thought that it was simple and straightforward, yet maintained some sense of style.
I created wireframes, or very low fidelity screens, to illustrate what I wanted the app to contain and how I wanted it to work. I created the screens in adobe XD. You can see the low fidelity mockup here.
I also sketched out what the smart home technologies would look like. Some interfaces that I imagined reminders would be on included;
- Bathroom Mirror
High Fidelity Prototype
I then created high fidelity screens. I started by designing the logo because I wanted to understand what feeling I wanted the app to have.
One thing that was important to me was that the overall feeling of the app was calming. This resulted in the main colors being blues and purples.
I also wanted to focus on the app being accessible to everyone. This included checking the color contrast for those with color blindness, making sure the actionable items are large enough and spaced out enough. Marissa, a co-worker at Lowe’s for the summer, helped me through this process. It was helpful because I did not know many of the ADA guidelines for app design, while she did because she had worked on the Lowe’s consumer app.
Marissa also helped me in terms of providing critiques and pushing me to go further with my app design. In the end, I created screens for the login and sign-up process, the main list home screen, and event and task detail pages.
I also focused on the error states, which is not something I had done before. This was interesting and brought up new problems that I hadn’t experienced before. For example, how do I visually display what went wrong so the user isn’t confused.
I’m very proud of the project that I made, because of its potential impact for those with intellectual disabilities. I think that this project has a lot of potential to be something that is actually useful for users.
In the future I'd like to user test with people who have intellectual disabilities, to better understand their needs and concerns. One downfall of this design is that it was not based off of user research. It was instead, based off of written research and studies that others had done previously. Doing usability tests in the future would help to correct any mistakes that were carried over from the research phase.