iOS app that incentivizes healthy habit building
CarrotCoach is a mobile app that motivates people to create healthy habits by giving financial incentives.
The app helps the users accomplish their health goals by suggesting ideal schedule for their activities, giving timely reminders, and rewarding points which could be used to redeem health-related prizes.
My Role: Research, Concept Generation, Interface Design, Prototyping, Video Production
Timeframe: Aug 2017 - Dec 2017 (5 months)
Project Type: Design and prototyping project for Intro to HCI class
To build empathy for the users and gain understanding of the current health app market, our team conducted two design research activities.
How might we enable people to build and maintain healthy habits in order to lead a healthier lifestyle?
We created a set of goals to help us stay focused on the research question and guide us in our research activities.
Find out what activities people do to maintain health.
Identify barriers to performing healthy activities.
Identify the factors that enable completion of healthy activities.
Learn what solutions people currently employ.
Cursory Survey of App Market
Conducting a cursory survey of the app market was very useful to identify the types of solutions currently on the market to help people maintain their fitness. Through this review we learned the different types of apps, diet/fitness tracking apps and habit tracking apps, and the aspects of these apps that make them effective. Some of the apps we benchmarked were also used as inspiration for visual design.
Connivence sample of college and graduate-level aged people, primarily students.
Semi-structured interviews helped our team understand the contexts in which people attempt to maintain their health. We learned about what they do to keep fit and how they track their progress toward health goals. We also identified the factors that prevent and enable people to stay on track with their health routines.
Jonathan Higgins is a 27 year old web developer at a Software company in Annapolis. He is pursuing a part-time Master’s degree at University of Maryland and commutes to college twice a week. He eats reasonably healthy, though he does eat out most of the week. He likes an active lifestyle and tries plays soccer with his friends when he can. He works out a few times a week, and wears a Fitbit to track his activity. He has a family history of heart disease and high blood pressure, causing him to be more conscious of his health.
Jonathan leaves for work early in the morning, takes a break during the day to study and comes back home late. He struggles to find time to commit towards fitness due to his busy schedule. He also wants to engage in healthy eating habits to complement his workout routine. Many times he finds that he doesn’t have enough time to dedicate to work, school, fitness, and social obligations, causing him to feel an imbalance.
Manasa Gupta is a second-year graduate student at the University of Maryland. She lives a sedentary lifestyle and doesn’t give a lot of importance to tracking her exercise and food intake. She likes to look good and invests time and money on salons and beauty products. Her understanding of a healthy lifestyle is to have good food and regularly walk or jog to keep herself active. She recently discovered that her body fat percentage is high during a regular health check up and realized that she needs to spend more time on fitness.
Manasa wants to be healthy and started working out and cooking healthy food regularly at home. She wants something to motivate her to hit the gym and eat good food regularly. For this, she tried using food tracking and workout apps but was tired of inputting numbers into each of them manually. Although she liked the digital accolades the apps give when she inputs her activities, she feels that they are not enough motivation to keep exercising regularly.
To organize all of our insights from our research, our team created an affinity diagram. We outlined many themes, which we sorted into issues and ‘hot ideas’ that could address these issues.
Identifiying the Problem
One of the myriad of problems that many young adults face is finding the time, energy, and motivation to start and maintain healthy habits. Motivation is crucial to successfully building and maintaining healthy habits, without proper motivation, healthy habits will not become routine.
Finding the time to complete healthy habits is also decisive, even well motivated individuals can struggle to find the time to complete their habits due to busy schedules and abundant obligations. While there are a host of additional factors that make starting and maintaining healthy habits difficult, our team is focusing on two of the most important factors, time and motivation.
How can we help people find the time and motivation to build and maintain healthy habits in order to lead a healthier lifestyle?
We generated a divergent set of over 150 concepts in order to translate our research findings into meaingful design concepts.
After multiple rounds of review and voting, we narrowed down to one primary concept.
The busy professional trying fit health habits into his schedule
Jonathan has a clear idea on how to maintain his fitness but he struggles to find time to be active because of his busy schedule. He tries to balance his work, school, health, and social activities, often one of these areas suffers. While Jonathan uses a Fitbit to track his activity, he does not see this as a motivating tool. Jonathan is wondering if he can find a tool that helps him find time to complete his healthy habits and provide motivation to complete his habits, even when things get busy.
The sedentary student trying to stay motivated to maintain health
After Manasa found out from her recent health check up that she needs to eat better and get more exercise she has been trying to do just that. Although she has been motivated to increase her health due to her doctors visit, she is slowly but surely reverting back to her sedentary lifestyle as her motivation wanes. She is trying to use diet/fitness tracking apps, but they do not provide her with enough motivation to keep her on track.
At this stage we sketched and designed concepts that fit with our overall concept and addressed our design problems. After iterating, combining, and evaluating concepts, we selected our two best design concepts.
After reviewing the team’s concept sketches, we refined these concepts in order to develop two cohesive designs. The result was two unique wireframes of mobile apps.
In order to asses the usability of our designs and identify one design concept to move forward with, we decided to create a low-fidelity paper prototype for each of the two wireframes. We chose to use paper prototypes so that we could focus and receive feedback on the overall concept of our design, rather than the aesthetics. Paper prototypes are also cheap and easy to create, which made it an easy choice as a medium for our low-fidelity prototypes.
Our first prototype is a mobile application in which users can track healthy habits and are rewarded for completion consistency via an incentives system. Stars are rewarded when habits are completed, after accumulating enough stars, users can redeem them for a selection of prizes.
Our second prototype follows the same concept as the first prototype with a different visual design and conceptual model. The homepage is the hub of the app and navigation is accessible through this screen via buttons.
Usability + A/B Testing
Our team conducted usability and A/B testing on our two low-fidelity prototypes. The goals of these tests were to identify usability issues, to gain user feedback on each design, and get a sense of which prototype should be advanced to higher fidelity.
We had participants complete three typical user tasks which were analogous across the two prototypes.
Mark a task as complete
Redeem a reward from the marketplace
Check progress for a habit
Connivence sample of four graduate students that matched our user profile.
Each participant was introduced to one of the prototypes by the moderator and was instructed to think aloud everything while interacting with the prototype. Participants were instructed to interact with the prototypes as if they were real apps. Interactive components of the prototypes were labeled with color coding. Participants completed the three tasks, which was followed by a post-test questionnaire. Observers took detailed field notes and the testing was filmed.
"Computer" - simulated user interaction via prototype
Confusion with task completion
Progress stats were not clearly enough for the user to see readily, confusing on how to change timescale and switch between tasks
Users wanted to know more details pertaining to their progress
Increased focus on social engagement and competition
Home screen seemed too busy and crowded
Labeling problem of buttons/icons and navigations
Confusion with rewards syste
High Fidelity Mockups
For a more detailed breakdown of our design process and design rationale, please download our design specification.
The Team: Pranathi Mylavarapu, Christine Vaing, Jack Graney, Matthew Mozeleski