WeWake helps people wake up by applying the concept of a "wake-up call”, commonly used in hotels. When users set an alarm time, they are required to also wake up other users.
UX Design, Research
Note: This was a personal project.
Planning & Discovery
Framing the problem
This was a side-project I envisioned while staying at a hotel in Washington D.C. I found it interesting that the "wake-up call" service had not really spread out of the hotel industry, so wanted to design an app to conceptualize my idea. I began my design process by drafting a UX plan to guide my project.
I started by conducting a UX Questionnaire to establish my assumptions about the product (wake-up call service) and the user experience that it is trying to provide. I aimed to answer the question: "What do you plan to improve through user experience design?" To effectively answer this, I focused on brainstorming potential strategies and making assumptions about users. These assumptions were tested during future user-interviews.
Where is the opportunity?
Waking up is an issue that many people face every morning. Regular alarm clocks do nothing to help them feel motivated to start their day.
Empathizing with users
To better understand people, I conducted online interviews with students from the University of Rochester and Rutgers University, as well as random volunteers from Twitter. I put an emphasis on learning about their sleep schedule and how they usually wake up in the morning. Before talking to people, I drew a mind-map to prioritize which research questions to ask.
User Problem: "I'm always hitting the snooze button."
My Solution: WeWake will not have an option to "snooze" the alarm.
User Problem: "I'm pretty groggy and not very motivated in the morning."
My Solution: Introduce an "ice-breaker" setting that focuses on motivating users.
User Problem: "My phone's alarm often glitches and doesn't ring!"
My Solution: WeWake can use standard VOIP software to ensure calls get through.
User Problem: "I've missed so many morning classes because of my alarm issues!"
My Solution: Include a feature that allows users to receive follow-up wake-up calls.
Modeling user needs
What are the accepted market standards?
I conducted a comparative assessment by installing popular alarm apps to analyze what features I could incorporate into WeWake. I used each one as my primary alarm clock for a few days to be as objective as possible.
Apple uses a circular display to help users visualize the amount of sleep they can get each night. Also has sleep analysis.
Alarmy places alarms on the home screen, making them the star of the show. It uses a switch to display enabled alarms.
Mathe requires users to solve various math problems to turn off the alarm. A unique solution to the snooze button problem.
I found Apple's circular display to be quite visually appealing. What I learned from Alarmy's UX was the importance of placing alarms front-and-center. Finally, I found Mathe to be a unique [and frustrating] experience, but solving math problems did indeed help me get up!
Prioritizing Design Features
My design goal was to create a mobile app that was extremely quick and intuitive to use. In this regard, I decided to limit the affordances given to users and only used essential features. I also chose to emulate Apple's alarm settings so that it would feel intuitive for iPhone users. Overall, the comparative assessment and user-interviews guided my decision making when prioritizing WeWake's features.
1-minute call limit to reduce chance of user exploitation.
Database of all users to optimize matching algorithm.
VOIP Calls for user privacy.
Alarm clock with standard settings, except snooze.
Motivational ice-breaker prompt during all calls.
"Follow-up call" option
Evolution of design solutions
Transitioning into the design phase, I began conceptualizing ideas for solutions to the problems discovered throughout my research. I used Balsamiq to create wireframes and dived right into early-stage user testing to identify improvements I could make to the design. I discovered a few usability issues from these early user tests but was able to rapidly iterate the design into a high fidelity prototype.
Scenario-based tests, iterating to success
Guided by early user feedback, I converted my wireframes into a high-fidelity prototype using Adobe XD. During user testing, I told volunteers to perform specific tasks and noted any usability issues that came up. These tasks included assignments such as "Set a new alarm", "Disable an alarm", and "Give a user a wake-up call".
During my first few tests, users told me they disliked my initial mockup for setting an alarm time [you can see this in my wireframe above]. The main concern was that it looked bulky and unappealing. This feedback led me to redesign the screen's UI into what it is now. In general, feedback from each round of usability tests was extremely helpful in guiding future iterations.
Reflecting on the design
I surprisingly went through only a few rounds of usability testing and iterating before new participants began completing assigned tasks in a reasonable time. I was thrilled to see that participants actually enjoyed interacting with the prototype, even though some expressed doubts about trusting strangers to wake them up! If I ever develop this app, I'll definitely need to add an option for an automated alarm as a backup scenario.