- My RolesProduct design, user testing and iOS development
- ContextPersonal project
- Timeline2019 / 4 months
Sometime is an iOS app that lets people track and complete recurring tasks in their daily lives. My brother, Jimmy, and I created it because we wanted a way to know when we haven’t done something in a while and keep track of the last time we’ve done it.
In addition, I wanted to challenge myself in building a digital product from concept to launch. Thus, the scope of the project was kept simple so I could experience the full process.
Audience: People who deal with many recurring tasks in their everyday lives. For example: watering the plants every 2 weeks and getting a haircut after a month.
Need: A way to keep track of them and get reminded when they haven’t been done in a while.
Opportunity: How might we help people remember to do the things they’d like to do sometimes?
Validating the problem
Although this is a problem we have, we wanted to know if other people may have it too. I’ve found quotes from users of productivity apps on Reddit that aligned with some initial ideas we’ve had for Sometime:
Building the app iteratively
After establishing our goals, constraints, and principles, the project went through the following milestones:
For the MVP, I designed the app based on what we thought Sometime should be. Once we were happy with the design, I learned how to code in Swift, and collaborated with Jimmy on building the iOS front-end.
With the MVP build on my iPhone, I planned and conducted 5 in-person usability tests. The results informed some significant changes we’ve made for the beta build.
To recruit participants for the beta, I posted a screening survey on Reddit. It garnered over 150 sign-ups within the first few days, which signaled a strong interest from the community. We then used the feedback from TestFlight and a post-test survey to prepare the app for V1.
The rest of this case study will go over some of the key changes made to the product based on my explorations and user feedback.
Goal: Make it easy for the user to create a task with recurring reminders.
People can add a task from the home screen, which takes them to the task creation view. From the start, I wanted the interface to be conversational, so it's easy to understand and gets the user to think about what they want.
An option we’ve added later was the ability to set reminders at a fixed interval (daily and weekly). To differentiate this from setting reminders that only occurred after completion, I used a segmented control.
However, in our MVP user tests, people were confused by Recurring vs. Interval and other variations of the copy. I struggled with this for a while, but I eventually settled on showing a picker to set the reminder type.
I also replaced all number inputs and segmented controls with pickers to create a consistent input experience. Overall, this setup was clearer and more elegant than before.
Goal: Let the user see what’s coming up at a glance to decide which tasks they should do.
In an earlier design, I borrowed Apple’s Activity rings to represent the time until the next reminder. However, the mechanism was difficult to grasp because each progress ring was based on their own reminder duration. Our testers didn’t understand them either, so we scrapped it.
Some participants mentioned that they’d like to see tasks that mattered today. Therefore, I grouped them into Today and Future.
The ring now shows task status, with green meaning it was completed today, and orange meaning that a periodic task has gone past its reminder interval. In the end, this model was well-received by our beta testers.
Goal: Enable people to understand their habits and let them manage completions.
The first version had a timeline that showed completions and the time intervals between theme. However, it didn’t give a sense of how far apart the completions were.
Moreover, our testers couldn't tell the difference between Auto and Manual reminders due to the unintuitive placement of actions on this screen.
Jimmy proposed showing intervals as progress bars like the ones from MacRumors Buyer’s Guide. So, I experimented with the idea and overhauled the screen with better visualizations. I also added a Quick Reminder and an Auto Reminders button to help people distinguish the two.
Goal: Help people understand the value of the app and its core concepts.
Given the straight-forward purpose of the app, I designed the onboarding to be hands-on by getting the user to create a task and learn about app-specific shortcuts.
Furthermore, I wrote the copy to be concise and casual so people can feel that the app has a friendly persona.
On launch day, we had 61.58% conversion rate across our channels, and Sometime was downloaded over 200 times. Moreover, the app had a positive reception from our users.
On usability testing: For the MVP user test, I tested with people I knew to keep costs minimal. However, I didn’t get quality feedback from some participants because they weren’t heavy users of productivity software. If I had more resources, I would put more effort into screening to find those who are most likely to use our app.
On building an app: One thing I need to improve on is to prioritize getting feedback over perfection. I’ve spent a lot of time coding and fixing the UI, thus some tasks took longer than expected. But overall, the project was a success for me because I’ve become more confident in delivering an elegant product from scratch into the world.