Almanac is a minimal digital adaptation of famous 5-minute journal (5MJ). It’s a form of daily journaling where you answer a few questions daily instead of open-ended journal writing. I have personally used 5MJ for a few months now & I believe that it can bring magical changes to one’s life.
The project began when I got contacted by a client who wanted to build an app around the 5MJ. The initial plan was to build a simple MVP where user maintains their daily journal, but it became more than that as the project progressed.
After doing some market research and competitive studies we found that there are a few apps which provide the same functionality, but they were often buggy or were complicated to use. The main problem, in this case, was to create a mobile/web solution which sticks to the simplicity of the concept itself. Most of the current solutions were just making it more complex.
Since there were many constraints on us (smaller team, tighter budgets, timelines) we decided to keep focus using short and concise research methods. We started with gathering as much data on the concept as possible. This included – scanned copies of various journals, user talks & even a TED talk about 5 Minute Journal. This helped us understand and prioritize the requirements of the project. In addition, we also studied technical reports, user feedback data (both individual & app store feedbacks), and surveys.
Epics & Design Stories
Epics are stories that cover a single feature of the entire app. We developed epics keeping the core functionalities in the mind. It was supposed to be a very minimal app – however, covering all the important aspects of an app is equally important. Epics also helped us prioritizing the list of all the flows. Design stories are similar to epics, but they were more focused towards activities that can be done in each of the flow.
Analysis & Persona Creation
Our main goal was to create a user experience that will be simple, effective and only provides pieces of information that user would need for an upcoming event. We created some online surveys and interviewed users on the street. Even though the concept of 5-minute journaling is not new, a lot of people are actually unaware of it. We turned to Reddit’s /r/5minutejournal/ to find a group of people who were actually using similar products. We discovered some very useful insights like:
- A lot of users prefer using a writing pad/any notepad app and implement the 5MJ format manually. The main reason being the ease of access.
- Most apps provide a plethora of options like images, audio notes and much more. A vast majority of users felt that these additional features make the whole point of 5MJ pointless as it distracts from the purpose.
- One key feature all the users wanted was the ability to set custom reminders.
In order to test our ideas and hypotheses, I created some fictional persona’s based on the user research & targeted audience. These personas, later attached with each epic helped us understand possible scenarios and to see which functions could be useful.
User Talk Flow
Task flows helped us to think through the design before a feature is actually developed. It helped us to interject the user into the flow of the application, and determine if the conceptual model agrees with the user model.
The journey started from background research, followed by epics and persona’s is developed into individual flows now. User task flow allowed me to visualize each user story in term of flow of information.
The next step was to visualize the user task flows. At this point of time, we had a lot more clarity about the requirements, users, objectives & flow. So we went ahead and started visualizing the flows using simple pen-paper wireframes.
Once we were done with the brainstorming, we had a clear picture in mind about what the flow in the app will be like. Then we created the final version of the wireframes, but this time using Sketch to design and filled with actual data.
The main objective behind creating better wireframes was to be able to test out various options with real users. Upon testing, we found some really interesting insights and used to make sure that our concept was data-tested.
On the basis of feedback, we made several improvements in the wireframes until we found a balanced product.
Once our hypothesis about all the different points was tested with reading data and real people (users) I went ahead and created the final full detailed Interface. This time the detailing in the design was the focus.
In addition to the full scaled designs, I also created a small and re-usable style guide for the project with a bunch of re-usable sketch components. Creating style guides right after the first High fidelity design assures consistency for all upcoming features and updates.
//Image of the style-guide created at the end of the process
Stay tuned, this project is still in progress.
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