THE KERNEL OF THE IDEA
The genesis of PocketDad began with a desire to create a “Survive-All” handbook served up in an app. Although my team adored the potential for humor (e.g. “how to survive an attack by penguins”), we knew that we needed to concentrate our app’s scope for the sake of time and resources, as well as satisfy our desire to create something of practical use.
Data from initial interviews with potential users combined with our own experiences of calling up parents for how-to help on fix-it projects laid the foundation for the creation of PocketDad!
In collaboration with my two teammates Cece Talbot and Kent Bogdan, I worked on this project from inception to the creation of a clickable low-fi prototype.
- defining the problem -
- emotion-centered solutions -
- iteration -
- lasting impressions -
MY UNIQUE AREAS OF CONTRIBUTION:
My sketched wireframes served as the main base for designing the low-fi prototype.
I conducted many of our user-testing interviews of the low-fi prototype.
I unified the formatting of much of the final low-fi prototype.
Many individuals, especially those in their 20s-30s and are new homeowners, feel ill-equipped to handle basic home maintenance tasks.
Classes like “home economics” and “shop” are no longer ubiquitous in K-12 education. Many people must take it upon themselves to acquire these skills.
The internet is full of resources, but it can be challenging to wade through long videos, intricate text, and contradicting comments.
Children (no matter the age) often rely on “Dad” (or any parental figure) to help them with basic home-maintenance tasks. They lack, therefore, skills to give them self-reliance.
The PocketDad app is the go-to “pocket” manual for when “real Dad” isn’t there!
promotes self-confidence and self-reliance by making that knowledge you “feel like you should have learned already” easily accessible.
designed for all age groups, experience levels, and multiple learning styles through written instructions, accompanying visuals, and video visual aids.
gives users straightforward tutorials on a curated list of basic home maintenance tasks and good-practice knowledge.
We conducted research by interviewing a targeted set of individuals. We selected 5 interviewees to interview, which naturally yielded a sample set ranging in age from early 20s to late 50s. Our questions were fairly open-ended, which allowed interviewees to unbiasedly tell us what topics they wanted how-to knowledge in (rather than us predefining a category for them).
Responses indicated that we needed to create an app interface that curated the “best” information, that simplified the sifting through of internet resources, and that invited users by offering a variety of learning methods into one, simple, uniform design.
What practical skills do you wish you had?
What how-to skill do you find yourself frequently google searching?
What kind of learner are you?
Do you feel prepared in unexpected emergency situations? What would help you in those scenarios?
What is something you wish you knew how to do?
When you need help, do you ask for help? Who or what do you think of first?
I want to learn the Basics of electrical and plumbing.
I don’t trust blog posts, because they feel too "commercialized"; too much "copy-and-pasted" advice.
I’m frustrated that online knowledge is either very basic or written for the expert.
I want to know more about house repairs, like how to fix a leaky faucet.
We researched a variety of competitors-- books, web pages, and other apps. Websites like wikiHow were extensive, but could veer on being overwhelming. Apps we found focused more on DIY home reno projects or are solely focused on home safety by alerting you to when certain items in your house should be replaced, for example. They did not focus on the education of our user in basic home tasks. Books were the closest in content and layout of what we wanted to include in PocketDad.
Creating PocketDad became a mixture of the best of all three types of sources to make classic information accessible to a contemporary user.
While there are available apps that focus on home fix-it information and instructions, many do not include:
information localized to the app
curated instructions targeted at equipping users with basic home-care knowledge
Key features that we were interested in adopting:
Community-feel: users can upload their own comments, advice, and tutorials
Diagrams and video explanations
“humorous”/“cute” tone of voice (and therefore accessible even to a beginner)
USER PERSONA & EMPATHY MAP
Synthesizing our findings, we created Chloe to represent our typical user:
She is an eager new homeowner who often relies on Dad for help. Despite having received a higher-education degree, she lacks certain "basic" practical knowledge in categories such as "home fix-it projects," and "emergencies.”
As a young adult transitioning into adulthood, she seeks help to increase her own self-sufficiency and expedite her ability to resolve life's practical anomalies.
To further empathize with Chloe, we created a short storyboard to depict an actual situation she might encounter. This process illuminated a basic flow for how Chloe would search for her desired information and therefore how we, as designers, might prioritize and organize PocketDad’s main categories.
Chloe is so excited to become a new first time home-owner, she got all moved in a few days ago.
Chloe's father reminded her to change the air filter even if the previous owners swore they did it.
She asked him for help, but he told her "time to do this on your own."
Chloe jumped on youtube, but that only stressed her out more! She was overwhelmed by the wording and did not have time to sift through each how-to videos. FINALLY she found the PocketDad app!
Through imagining our users' affinities and desires, we brainstormed statements that could come from them and transformed these statements into practical features PocketDad could include.
FEATURE PRIORITIZATION MATRIX
Our matrix of possible features to integrate boiled down to two main features:
1. instruction tutorials: visuals, words, step-by-step; uniform format; a place to store personal notes and photos from projects; "remember to do" calendar/notifications; beginning/intermediate/advanced project rating meter
2. random "tip of the day"
With this user flow, we rough-outlined the app, focusing on the flow of adding and saving a note to a specific task. Later, in the development stage, we would make revisions: for example, how to deliver the "Tip of the Day" feature.
Although the first iteration of the sketched clickable prototype contained all of our prioritized features, the design of the interface, however, gave users more of a website experience than an app experience.
Options on the home screen were identical to those available in the hamburger menu. Comments from users of this prototype caused my team to discuss how we could simplify the interface even more.
Solution Option 1: keep the hamburger menu and allow users to customize their home screen buttons.
Solution Option 2 (CHOSEN): eliminate the hamburger menu altogether, and offer likely-desired quick access buttons directly on the home screen, which could easily be accessed via the home icon located on every page. We also eliminated the search bar, opting for a more curated content.
In the sketched version, individual tutorial pages contained a lot of content: words, images, options. Informationally, everything we wanted was there, but stylistically user feedback urged us to eliminate the clutter. Text was too small to read. Users also did not immediately know that certain buttons were clickable.
Solution: For the final prototype, we decided to rely more on icons and pop-out windows rather than worded buttons. This helped users more easily navigate each page. Icons eliminated the amount of text on the page and more white space added a sense of “calm” to the design. We also added drop shadows to buttons to increase the understandability of their function.
While the interface of the app may be simple, aggregating the information for PocketDad’s next stage of development is an expansive process. To fully develop PocketDad, we would need to conduct research on who to choose as qualified to provide the tutorial content, imagery and videos as well as define the most important skills to provide tutorials for.
PocketDad has many paths for expansion. Here are several ideas:
PocketDad Camping & Wilderness
Customize your community:
Filter comments to people in your area only
Filter business recommendations near you
Integrate PocketDad with other default apps:
Connect directly to local businesses:
Businesses may provide “Service plus assistance”
PocketDad can help you connect directly to your provider
Even in its low-fi state, many users of PocketDad independently expressed enthusiasm for such an app and lighted up when presented information they wanted but didn’t make time to learn. This shows us that PocketDad has practical use, and gives us confidence that our initial proto persona Chole is well defined as someone representative of a large swath of the population. In a world inundated by apps, this discovery is especially exciting!