Skeye is a mobile app that invites users to put away their phones for some time and check out the sky instead. The users get Skeye alerts if they use their phones more than a certain time. These alerts are not automatically generated but are sent in real time by local community members in the area, making the platform dependent on social engagement.
00 Project Overview
Project: Concept for Product Design
Timeline: Nov - Dec 2021
Role: Product Design, UI, UX Design, UX Research
Design an app that disrupts digital addiction in smartphone users and redirects them to the natural surroundings instead.
Avid smartphone users who suffer from social-media addiction and nature disconnection, and want to balance their digital lifestyle.
01 Project Background
Digital technology, and social media in particular, have arguably further divided people from their physical surroundings and nature by trapping them in their screens. This addiction to digital devices has made some groups of people boycott smartphones, or social online platforms, and minimize their online presence. However, for some it is not a viable option to completely cross off this tool as its benefits weigh out the cons in general; either because of work or educational purposes, or as a tool that keeps them connected with their social circles or loved ones.
By being stuck on the screens, we are instantly separated from our physical surroundings. This reliance and targeted attention in the first place make us miss out on what is happening beyond us and our devices. Researchers have determined excess use of electronic media as one of the causes of nature disconnection. Putting a sudden pause on this lifestyle would not shape a long-lasting result. However, it might be possible to use the tools provided in the same platform to nudge people or remind them that there are alternative ways to spend their time. Skeye attempts to remind people to take that break from their screens and invites them to take the first step into breaking their habits of infinite scroll and refreshes, and look up instead.
Can we make a digital platform that encourage less screen time?
Can we use it to advocate for reconnecting with nature and physical experiences?
02 Research & Findings
To asses my assumptions, I conducted a comprehensive research with a human-centered approach to understand the needs of my targeted audience and also to cover scientific research on social media addiction and nature disconnection.
Through online surveys and user interviews, I gathered information on how the users would approach the idea. A primary user group was identified who liked getting reminded to put away their phones by being called out by another person (and not a generated notification). The research also revealed that people also enjoy seeing images of the sky as well as verbal description.
More than 200 million people worldwide are estimated to suffer from addiction to social media and the internet. (Mediakix)
40.6% of young adults complain their sleep has been affected by social media. (CBS)
Researchers have determined excess use of electronic media as one of the causes of nature disconnection. (Pergams & Zaradic, 2006)
Sky Call Challenge
To gain more insight on the influence of a digital distraction for a physical action, I decided to create a challenge on my Instagram account and invite people to check out the sky whenever the see the “Sky Call challenge” story on my feed. (Summer 2021) I chose Instagram intentionally as a platform that is rather popular and people tend to spend more time than they may intend to. After 7 days, I asked about their experience throughout this challenge which provided me with much valuable feedback.
While many participants enjoyed taking part in this challenge a couple of pain points were were driven from their feedbacks.
Not having immediate access to the sky. (Window being faraway, view being blocked)
Pain Point 01
Lack of motivation to leave their phone and check out the sky.
Pain Point 02
To address these pain points, these design principle were set to guide the design phase:
The design will be intentionally minimal and simplified to not encourage more screen time.
This will be a social platform, but not a social media; the ultimate goal is to help people limit screen time and the KPI is not measured with user's participation in the app.
The experience will be gamified and personalized to further encourage users to take part.
I analyzed a few products that have similar goals such as reducing screen time or facilitating mindfulness. Having gone over them, I found out that none of them encourage paying attention to natural surroundings and also they prioritize productivity, or staying on the app which contradicts the initial goal.
03 Design Process
I began to design for Skeye with a user-centered approach. Based on the research insights and user interviews, I created personas, user journey maps, story boards, sketches and low-fid wireframe.
The digital wireframe and mid-fid prototype were created to be used for usability study.
Making & Receiving a Skeye Alert
Findings from the usability study and peer review helped guide the designs in terms of preferences, accessibility issues and features. Using affinity diagramming, I identified key insights for future design iterations.
e.g. users wanted more features for creating a Skeye alert, such as adding media and they also wanted improved accessibility.(e.g., Speech-to-text)
After usability study, I reiterated the design to address the key insights driven from users' feedback.
Changed the layout of the homepage so the users better recognize the call-to-action button.
The navigation bar was added for a smoother transition.
Stats were also added to showcase user’s contribution in the community.
As the users demanded a more social platform, the logs became more personalized and interactive.
Location services became optional rather than being a mandatory sign up step.
High contrast color palette
Text-to-speech audible feature
Outcome & Learnings
This app introduces an uncommon approach to digital products that mainly want to increase screen time and dependency on smartphones.
During this project, I learned that usability studies and peer feedback can turn the design around and hugely impact how usable the product will be.
I also learned to do user research via existing platforms and use their tools to prototype and test design ideas to save time.
“This week, whenever I checked my phone, I remembered to check out the sky!”
- quote from peer feedback