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  • UC San Diego Interaction Design Specialization Capstone | Needfinding | Donovan Magryta | September 15th 2016

    My observations focused mainly on the “Time” design brief, although I additionally swayed slightly into the “Glance” design brief. I observed the users in their environments naturally using their scheduling tools. I also asked them later on to walk me through how they were interacting with their calendar apps/timing devices and schedule earlier in the day to recapitulate. My goal was to learn about their interactions with their scheduling tools and how those interactions effected and related to their behavior. Breakdowns* occurred with their scheduling tools. They each had to adapt and find workarounds. I spotted design opportunities throughout the observations and interviewing, and observed some common behavioral trends.

    Jacob Jacob is a 15 year old student, and is high functioning on the Autism spectrum. He needs gentle reminders to keep on task. He is sometimes overwhelmed, in a sensory way when dealing with too many notifications. He dislikes sudden changes, and thrives in a well organized schedule. Unfortunately, it is unrealistic to have a strict schedule work 100% of the time, unless it is adaptive when things come up. He relies on his scheduling tools heavily! When he is in the middle of using a computer deeply, he gets "wired in" or “in the zone”, and has trouble snapping out of it without a countdown. At the same time, he has the habit of dismissing calendar notifications while in the middle of something, and then accidently misses the event or the task. He often loses track of time, and wants to know what he has time to squeeze in to his schedule.

    Observations When Jacob spotted an assignment deadline notice on his school’s web portal, he began to add a reminder to his phone by manually memorizing the date and information, and switching to his calendar app to type in a reminder. He went back to double check his information, and realized he had made an error. He then copied and pasted each section of information one at a time into each cell of the calendar entry, and hit save. He then manually downloaded the files from the assignment into his cloud file app, renamed them, and then he put them into a folder for that specific assignment. He then pasted the link to the cloud file folder into that same calendar reminder entry. He was then supposed to be eating lunch at this time. Distractedly, he grabbed his thermos of coffee and drank. Jacob sat down to do a coding project just for fun, forgetting to eat. Later, his reminder notification to work on that assignment beeped loudly. He was in the middle of deep thinking, solving a coding problem, “wired in to the computer”, seeming to be hypo focused. He clicked snooze on the notification, delaying the alarm for 10 minutes. When the notification beeped again, he was still “wired to the computer” or “in the zone”, doing the coding problem. He looked irritated by the beeping notification, and hit snooze again. He received a message from a friend, and swiped dismiss. When he swiped dismiss, it accidentally shut off his calendar reminder. Realizing this and seeming to look distraught by the sudden change, he had to adapt his schedule rapidly, reactivating and rescheduling the reminder again. Then he abruptly switched to working on the soon-to-be-due class assignment, forgetting to eat his now long overdue lunch. The lunch break time window had already passed.

  • Recapitulation Questions When Jacob was asked “If there was anything you could change regarding your scheduling experience, what would you change?” Jacob said, “I need the calendar to be more streamlined, less overwhelming, and less frustrating. I need the app to actually work for me.” He also mentioned that he wishes there was a vastly easier way to attach files, communications, and web links from his classes to specific events on his calendar centrally instead of needing to multitask between several apps on his phone.

    Initial Thoughts I was surprised by his highly methodical way of organizing his schedule, but I was not surprised when he expressed how frustrating the scheduling tool interaction experience was for him, regarding both the breakdown* of how long it took to schedule a reminder, and how quickly the reminder usefulness breakdown* occurred. Other breakdowns* during data entry were observed. There may be design opportunities in making the calendar app more streamlined, less frustrating, less overwhelming, and more usable, with a more aware transition when exiting a task, yet with a means to lock into a task better, and to avoid swaying off task. Another design opportunity could be adding more integration between what the user interacts with that is relevant to his schedule, and the schedule itself. The “tuning out the alarm sounds” breakdown ought to be fixed. It would be better for Jacob to be given an estimate of time amount required for each task.

  • Photo of Breakdown: Jacob “in the zone” deep into his computer project after he accidentally swiped dismiss reminder but before he realized he had made an error.

  • Jill Jill is a 47 year old bank worker. She relies on physical, tangible scheduling and notation tools such as a paper calendar, sticky notes, print outs, and a telephone voicemail. She has trouble staying on task, starting task habits, and knowing how to quickly alleviate schedule conflicts. The employees at her office use a shared computerized calendar. Because she prefers tangible interfaces and learns best kinesthetically, the electronic calendar interface can cause scheduling conflicts with her personal scheduling system, which she needs.

    Observations Jill received an electronic document which she needed to process later. She printed it out,

    copied it onto a piece of sticky note by hand, and set the original printout in a paper folder. She

    pinned the sticky note onto her office wall. I was curious why she hadn’t simply printed out two

    copies and pinned one onto her wall, instead of copying it by hand onto a sticky note. A

    moment later, a coworker higher up told her that she needed to do a task, it wasn’t due until

    sometime the next month, and it required homework. I observed her calling someone, she left a

    voicemail saying “Ok Me, don’t forget to do (homework task lengthy instructions) before the

    deadline on October 5. Her boss later walked up to her and told her to do an assignment right

    then, and she replied, “But I’m in the middle right now working on assignment X that you put in

    the e-calendar.” He replied, “The e-calendar says you have an open time block right now

    though.” She replied, “Sorry, I forgot to mark myself what task I was doing.” The boss replied

    back, “You really need to use the e -calendar for everything, and stop using you paper

    calendar.” She replied, “Sorry!” and seemed frustrated. She scrambled to adapt her schedule.

    She crossed off something on her paper calendar and jotted something down, and edited the e-

    calendar on her computer all abruptly, on the fly. She muttered, “I wish I had my secretary

    back.”

    Recapitulation Questions:

    Jill was eager to give feedback without a prompt.

    She said, “When I arrive at work in the morning, I’m flying by the seat of my pants, and I forget

    to check the e-calendar that we share. I use my paper calendar because it helps me to be able

    to glance briefly when I arrive to know my schedule without having to manually check on outlook

    e-calendar. It’s hard to make a habit of checking the shared electronic calendar. Because I

    don’t use the shared electronic calendar as much as everyone else does, I don’t hit confirm

    every time, and this causes it to mark my schedule on there as open. Then my boss gives me

    more assignments because he thinks my schedule is open at that time, but I’m actually in the

    middle of an assignment at that same time. This makes me feel overwhelmed, which makes it

    even more difficulty staying on task. Our computer system is old, and sometimes it fails to

    accept input, this causes our e-calendar (which we would normally use to log filings) to stop

    counting all that we’ve actually completed. This causes trouble when if we get audited and can’t

    show documents to back us up. So that’s my excuse why I tell everyone to print everything off. I

    guess my real reason for printing everything off personally is that it doesn’t click in my mind

    unless a can write it out. It has to be tangible. I don’t know why, but writing things out help me

    to remember them. We are supposed to conserve paper to be going Green, so we get in

    trouble for using too much paper.”

  • When I asked her “if you could change anything about your scheduling experience, what would

    you change?” She told me, “I need a way to stay on tasks, and when I have an open time

    block; I wish my calendar would give me suggestion of what to do next. I need the e-calendar to

    stop marking my time blocks as open when I forget to click confirm! On the other hand, I would

    much rather keep using a paper calendar because I need to feel it in my hands to help

    understand it and lock it into memory.”

    Initial Thoughts

    There may be several design opportunities here. For starters, there seems to be a need to

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