Creating a Time Management Solution for an Underserved Market
OnTrack is a time manager designed with distinct features to support people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
New Venture Design Project (Entrepreneurship course at UBC) in a team (3 engineering and 3 business students)
Design Thinking Method
Figma, Microsoft Excel, Qualtrics
8 months (September 2021 - April 2022)
Awards: Selected by DesignRush as the Best Task Management App Designs
A Trailer for Our Solution, OnTrack!
Please note this trailer was a course assignment and we did not fundraise for our project.
The Opportunity: An Underserved Market
Around 4.4% of adults are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). However, less than 20% of adults with ADHD are diagnosed and treated. Therefore, the percentage of adults with diagnosed or undiagnosed ADHD is around 22%. Diagnoses among adults are continuing to grow at an accelerating rate.
Though there are many positive aspects of ADHD, people with ADHD experience unique challenges with executive functioning. Executive function encompasses a variety of mental skills, including working memory, organization, task planning/prioritizing, perceiving time, and self-monitoring, among others. The ADHD community sounds like a group that could greatly benefit from productivity apps.
However, two of my team members with ADHD found that despite trying many different productivity apps for over two years, most apps were designed for neurotypical users and did not match how their brains worked. Thus, our team was compelled to investigate if others in the broader community shared similar challenges.
Why was "Routine" in Quotes Above?
The word "routine" can have a negative connotation for people with ADHD. It can elicit feelings of boredom, monotony, or even anxiety for people who faced struggles with sticking to important routines in the past. Thus, we decided to use the word "flow" to more accurately describe what it's like to have ADHD (feeling like you are flowing between whatever task is most important at the moment).
We used the Design Thinking Methodology that we learned as part of our course to tackle this challenge.
Please feel free to explore all the steps by clicking on the corresponding emoji!
As a designer, I need to understand my users and test my assumptions about the problem space.
Understanding the Problem Space
To further understand the challenge people with ADHD face, our team conducted secondary research by reading research papers and primary research through individual interviews, focus groups, surveys (quantitative and qualitative question), and immersive study. After we collected over 230 survey responses (for our first survey), conducted more than 40 interviews, and spoke to 4 mental health professionals, I analyzed the data for my team as the lead UX researcher.
97% are easily distracted
95% overestimate and/or underestimate time
75% found no suitable solution
Our team conducted a competitive analysis of existing time management solutions using a whitespace diagram.
Features we considered were:
ADHD-Specific: Focuses on the needs of the ADHD population
Time Visualization: Has tools that aids with correctly estimating time
Flexible Design: Approaches time management in a customizable and personal way
Clean UI and Setup: Minimizes distractions and obstacles for users to get started with our app
Gamification: Helps keep routines novel, exciting, and engaging
Personal Tracking: Allows users to see and reflect on progress over time
Our results validated our hypothesis that not only did ADHD individuals struggle with perceiving time accurately and staying on task, but also there are few (if any) solutions on the market that attempt to specifically address the pressing challenges of the ADHD population. In particular, many productivity apps were designed around fixed time blocking and enforcing strict routines, behaviours that are extremely challenging for people with ADHD to adopt.
As much as I want to solve all of users' problems, I need to define the key problem I would like to solve through design.
Defining Our Problem Space
Based on our findings, the team recognized that ADHD is on a spectrum, and people can experience ADHD in different ways. Moreover, it would not be feasible to take on all of ADHD challenges within our minimal viable product.
Thus, we identified 3 possible problem spaces to focus on:
Focus on creating and maintaining personal "routines", such as a morning "routine".
Focus on managing tasks on a daily basis.
Larger Project Manager
Focus on achieving long-term goals and breaking down big projects.
We created a second survey with 50 respondents to examine which scope people struggle with the most.
A Focus on "Routine"/ Flow Management
Based on the two surveys, we decided to focus on routine" management because:
91% of respondents shared that they struggle with daily "routines".
Many pinpointed "routine" management as their biggest pain point
Persona: Meet Emily
To ensure our design is user-centric, we created our persona, Emily.
We decided to focus on younger users as through our research, we found that older respondents who have known of their ADHD for longer have already developed their own management systems.
Emily Adams, OnTrack's Persona
After learning more about our potential customers, I estimated a year 1-3 Serviceable Obtainable Market size of ~20,000 users using the average of the top-down and bottom-up approaches.
For the bottom-up approach, I used the average annual downloads for 10 newly launched routine managers. Then, I used the freemium conversion rate for Evernote, a productivity app, is around 4.1% to estimate the number of paid players.
Factors Considered for Top-Down
Productivity app users worldwide
People with ADHD
IOS and Android users
Willingness to pay
3-year brand awareness
This is the stage where I brainstormed a wide variety of solutions to the users' problem, which is my personal favorite stage!
Our team starts off the ideation process by brainstorming. Here are some themes that were discussed.
Learn With the Users
We want to help users identify what they are struggling with and help them with that. In particular, we want to help users track how long tasks and flows are taking.
We drew inspiration from other focus apps like Forest to make time management more interesting and fun for the users.
Add-On for Existing Apps
For example, as Google Calendar is a common tool shared in our survey, we considered creating an add-on for Google Calendar that help users create sub tasks and help them reflect on better time management
As being easily distracted is the top challenge, we brainstormed ways to minimize distraction, such as locking out all notifications and apps when users are using our app.
One of the main reasons why many productivity apps do not work for people with ADHD is the lack of flexibility. Thus, we want flexibility to be at the center of our solution.
After deciding on a general idea of what we want our solution to be like, we continued the ideation process by C-sketching.
After ideating with the team, I organized our ideas and created the a few initial wireframes.
My Version of OnTrack's Initial Wireframes
To not limit our creativity and possible solutions, other teammates explored what they had in mind.
Teammate 1's Version of OnTrack's Initial Wireframes
Teammate 2's Version of OnTrack's Initial Wireframes
Prototyping allows me to share my ideas and for users to experience my ideas.
Bringing the Idea to Life
Combining our team's ideas, I created version 1 of the app prototype using Figma:
Please feel free to try version 1 of OnTrack below! Please keep in mind this is only version 1. In addition, the app was originally called FLOCUS but we later realized this name is trademarked and changed to OnTrack.
You can find version 4 high-fidelity prototype below after usability testing and iterations!
Testing is another chance to examine my assumptions and more specifically, my assumptions about my solution.
Usability Testing and Iterations
Since we are developing software for a demographic with unique needs, iterations and a close feedback loop are essential. Thus, I maintained consistent communication with our survey respondents and interviewees through an email list (over 200 interested people!). I sent additional surveys and shared updates on the designs to gain feedback.
To engage even more with our customer archetype, we created a Discord Community where we gave project updates and solicited feedback on our UX design, and recruited over 35 members. Throughout the process of creating a high-fidelity prototype, I worked closely with the team members with ADHD and collaborated with our Community Manager to gain feedback from our ADHD Discord Community and do A/B testing. Here is an example!
Our Amazing Discord Community
In addition, we conducted usability testing with over 20 local neurodivergent people on both iPhone and Android phones to collect more detailed feedback. With the feedback, I iterated the app design multiple times.
Major Change #1: Simplistic Design
Many testers shared that having a very simple design is beneficial. Thus, starting with the blobs, I removed non-essential design elements. Compared to version 1, I removed all the drop shadows and the additional rectangular padding on the Your Flows" screen in version 3.
Major Change #2: Placement of Timer
I also changed the placement of the timer. Our team initially assumed that the timer on the top might be distracting and the task cards were more important. However, as can be seen above, testers found that the bottom timer is harder to locate and may be missed, and nearly 87% of our Discord voters preferred the timer on the top. This is one example that really showed the importance of testing our assumptions!
Major Change #3: The Color Palette
One of the key changes that we implemented was the color palette. When we showed our initial designs to our testers, we received comments about making the app look more "mature." Thus, we tried exploring the possibility of a dark mode. Ultimately, we decided on a light mode and a more coherent color palette.
Version 3 Wireframes and Prototype
After usability testing and iterations, here is my version 3 wireframe!
Please feel free to try version 3 of OnTrack below!
The engineering team brought our idea to life!
While the technical team built the app using Flutter (for both iOS and Android), I continued to work with the technical team to discuss design decisions. Although not all features in the Figma prototype were implemented in our MVP, the core functionality of the flexible task queuing system, visual timer, automatic time updates, and wildcard tasks were included.
Our technical team created a functional version of our app (with the dashboard hard coded) within 3 months, and we were able to showcase our app during 2 tradeshow-style demo days. Our solution’s usability was further validated as demo day participants tried completing a short and fun routine using the coded prototype.
OUR SOLUTION, ONTRACK⏱
I am proud to present our final solution, OnTrack!
For busy people with executive function challenges (including ADHD), our flexible time-management app provides an simple, customizable, and visual interface for time management. Unlike our competitors, our platform is designed with neurodiverse perspectives at the center, without sacrificing functionality or the UX.
OnTrack uses visual displays of time so users can easily recognize how long individual tasks take and the length of the overall "flow". We based our design on the Time Timer, a physical product used by people with ADHD and recommended by our professional advisors. This is critical to helping people with ADHD improve their ability to estimate time accurately.
OnTrack uses gamification to engage users as they complete Flows.
Swiping: Similar to Tinder's Swiping, we incorporated a feature that allows users to swipe the items they have listed on their to-do lists.
Wildcard/ Bonus Task: Users can add wildcard tasks for some "surprises" and breaks in their Flows. These are tasks that, when skipped, will not get readded into the overall queue.
Pick Your Own "Adventure": Users can pick which task to do next from 3 options to keep things fun and fresh and provide users a feeling of control.
OnTrack learns from users' previous Flow attempts and automatically updates the routines' estimated times. Users can also learn from this information! This feature helps solve the pain point of over or underestimating time.
Understanding that those with ADHD have difficulty following strict structures, we focused on flexible design. Tasks within a flow can be skipped and completed later. This way, users know that they will eventually complete all tasks by the end of the allocated time while having more control over what they want to be doing at the moment.
Users can start with a minimal setup with the default settings but are given many options in the settings to personalize the app to their unique needs. With most of our competitors, users can turn notifications on or entirely off, which means users may either get overwhelmed by notifications or are not notified at all. We allow users to personalize their notifications by letting our users choose if they want to be notified, at what point of the day, or if they wish to specific sounds. By doing this, we aim to increase the effectiveness of these reminders as users are in control.