This project uncovered the problems faced by people with ADD/ADHD while managing their daily life and designed a smartwatch to help them work efficiently and achieve their goals. Finally, our team communicated the outcome with a 6-page paper, a poster and a 4-minute video.
- Conducted background research, competitive analysis and affinity analysis
- Recruited interviewees, drafted interview protocols and the testing plan, conducted 3 interviews and 1 user testing
- Built personas and scenario map
- Brainstormed and sketched the solutions
- Wrote a 6-page research paper
- Led, planned and traced the project schedule
Problem: Lack of an internal cue
People with ADD/ADHD need an external cue to keep track of the time and follow plans because they lack internal regulation. However, most tools available are not designed for individuals with ADD/ADHD.
I can’t tune out distracting things or the inside stimuli. If there's a flexible and personalized thing that reminds me of my goals. It will be very helpful.
— interviewee with ADD/ADHD
• • •
What we did in the 4 months
How we got the insights
Goals & Methods
This research aimed to create a deeper understanding of the problems faced by people with ADD/ADHD while managing their daily activities and life. Our primary questions and methods used were:
- Background Research: ADD/ADHD symptoms and statistics, habit-forming, visualizing goal and increasing motivation
- Contextual Inquiry & Affinity Analysis
- Competitive Analysis: digital calendar & sensing the passing of time
Highlight: Contextual inquiry
Contextual inquiry was chosen to help us understand the gaps between what people actually do and what they say they do so as to provide a closer fit to people’s lives, further encouraging its use.
Challenge: No connection with people with ADHD
Participant recruitment is challenging within this population
We finally found participants through 3 recruitment medias:
Local non-profit organization and community
- Attended a Meetup event “Ann Arbor Area ADHD/ADD Support Group”
- Visited “Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living”
- UMSI open mailing list
Referral from interviewee's personal network
- Asked for referral at the end of the interview
Interview Question Examples
From an ambiguous goal to specific questions
- Life change
- How did your lifestyle or working habits change after diagnosed?
- Walk me through the last time you arranged your daily schedule and prioritize tasks?
- How did you motivate yourself to stick to your plan, like rewards or punishment? Why?
- External support
- What are the things that you hope others can support your works and learning?
- How do you feel about the techniques that you currently use on arranging schedule?
Insights, surprises and opportunities
How we translated insights into solutions
These findings suggested that the solution must remind people with ADHD to stick to their plan as an external regulation.
- With minimized distraction
- Suggest users' goals, the importance and urgency of tasks
- Show remaining time of a current task
- Assist in habit-forming and making future planning adjustment
- Integrate with existing tools or follow users' habits
Visual design by Stephanie Kuo
How we evaluated & iterated the solution
These were one-on-one structured, task-oriented user testing. The testing lasted about 30 minutes. For each round, a summarizing findings were reported.
- Can users check the current task, the time left?
- According to the schedule, you synchronized with the app REMINDer, you have an hour writing the final report. You would like to check how long the time left to write the report.
- Will users use "Complete" or "Snooze" features?
- You realized you only have 10 minutes left and speeded up to finish the report. You keep writing it and then the watch vibrates and shows “Time’s up!”
- Do users understand the meaning of the report?
- A week after using this app, you receive a message “Check your phone and see how you perform this week!”
These mockups show the latest changes
The participants appreciated the time visualization feature, and they thought it really helps them to sense the passing of time. The choice of designing on a smartwatch is also a benefit.
I’m often distracted by mobile while checking the time, but this watch can block the distractions and help me focus on the current task.
— interviewee with ADD/ADHD
What I've Learned
Make sure to stick to the goal
Outside of the UX works, as a project manager, I prepared meeting agenda before every meeting to make our meeting productive. I also followed up with members on their tasks and prevent our discussion from going off-the-track. As a result, we took full advantage of the specialized skills of each member to have an outcome greater than the sum of the parts.
- Make backup recruiting plans and be flexible: user recruitment is challenging within this population. We also need to minimize the observer effects by building trust.
- Start small and then apply to the general public: there is no perfect solution for everyone.
What I would do differently
- Use diary studies to investigate processes and activities over time, and how users’ views and use patterns change with experience.
- Further evaluate the efficacy and overhead of full-on scheduling, such as testing with a bunch of people to see how universal our solution "feels" to them.