Reflections

This project has been particularly difficult not from the technology standpoint, but from the social and psychological aspect. Persuasive technology is difficult because each user is motivated differently; moreover, the same user can be motivated differently over different tasks.

Mobile technology has been very integrated into our lives, but we feel it is not so integrated to be able to easily change our users’ long term behavior (as they can always turn it off or never look at it again). Figuring out the motivation for the users to stay was the hardest part.

It was also hard to find a balance between seriousness and more fun design. As we want to help the users in a “real” way, but also want to keep it fun enough for them to use it. In the end we decided to go with something that was rather ambiguous — it would ultimately be up to the users to decide.

We also decided to let the users handle the verification and motivation themselves, but simply provides a platform for them to discover their friends’ endeavors but leave the initiatives to themselves.

It is possible that we could make a more powerful app by narrowing both the targeted user pool and the problem scope.

Overall, we learned a lot about users, technology and motivation, and design iterations through the many design iterations we have done.

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Presentation

presentation poster

Or download the pdf here!

And in case you did not make it to the presentation pitch, you can also download the slides. (but of course it will not be nearly as cool).

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Final Prototype!

As the quarter comes to an end~ here’s the final prototype for CEL!

Try it out! http://www.stanford.edu/~jasonch/cgi-bin/cel/

final design screenshot

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User Test Post-Final Iteration

We’re glad that our users liked the idea much more.
They did expressed a few concerns, the main thing involves what drives people back to the app after the “matching.” (since this is essentially a matching app for people with similar goals.) Without the game mechanics, this could be a real concern.

To address that, we adjust the design just slightly (seeing it is the last iteration we can fit into the quarter).  We limit the users to only set up short-term goals. Additionally, we put an emphasis on the history/visualization for “startup cost” : the value for the first user.

Additionally, there were concerns that some people are not comfortable in broadcasting a personal goal. After all, would you really want everyone to know you have problem with alcoholism or pornography?

This is certainly a great point that we did not consider! We quickly added the “private” option to the goal pools. But we hit a design decision for these private pools: (1) participants’ names are not viewable, but people can still know the goal is going on and send encouragement to these anonymous peers; (2) the pools themselves are not viewable or searchable.

We feel that there are pros and cons for each of these choices, and it is hard to decide which is best without further studies. While we could implement both with distinction, we don’t want to clutter the interface for the time being. We decide to keep the implementation out but leave the wire-frame option.

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Final Design and Iteration

This is it! the final design iteration — We changed much — which is to be expected, I guess.

Our final design consists of a platform for sharing current projects and goals for friends to work on. This is strongly based on the mentality of “I would do something if they do it” — social accountability. We realized that utilizing the strength of social circles was very important to a goal’s success. Who is motivating that person and why they are motivating him are both important. We eliminated the competition in this way to make our application more collaborative. Users have access to shared goals now, instead of the hyper-competitive wager system. Most people don’t like to go the hard path alone. So let’s help them out.

One goal can have multiple pools. A pool is just a group of users attempting to achieve that goal, albeit collaborating on it. Having access to your friend’s ongoing goals, you can join a pool currently trying to achieve that goal or start a new pool trying to achieve that goal. Even better, you can start your own goal and own pool for yourself. Each user can have their own success/failure rate, but in working together they can message each other about their progress.

Assuming friends are working together, they are likely not to be dishonest — so no need to worry about cheating. Also, there is no need to verify the goal anymore because the element of competition is gone. We just provide the platform for users to find each other.

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User Test Pre-Final Iteration

It is rather enlightening how many things you can find wrong with your application when doing user testing. Here are a couple of things that people were concerned about:

1. User wanted to challenge other people to goals broader than quitting something. They basically wanted to the goal or challenge part to be way more open-ended.

2. The virtual points system was meaningless, thus there was less of an incentive to “see through a challenge”. Virtual prizes maybe? Someone suggested actual money, but someone else said that actual money might deter people.

3. They usually wouldn’t “dare” or challenge people to do anything constructive or productive. It would just be a silly daring game to see who can do the stupidest or most non-productive stuff — which is exactly what we planned against.

4. User didn’t like being the only one doing something, wanted more of a group aspect

5. Likes the idea of a hall of fame/shame to keep users accountable and as an incentive to complete challenges. Hall of shame is an especially powerful incentive, negative reinforcement.

We would take these into account when implementing our final design iteration — well, some of them.

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Beta!

In our beta version we made several changes that built upon our alpha. We removed the scarcity feature and incorporated a system where users could wager other users in a challenge to complete a task. In other words, a friend would wager against another friend by betting *against* him completing that goal. These challenges were one-to-one. With this new system, users are motivated to keep the friends in check — by winning the bet.

We hoped this new system would motivate users to keep their friends in check, in hopes of winning the bet. This payoff matrix would encourage mutual challenging and succeeding. We decided to keep the days it took to complete a challenge to a standard short time for the same reasons we did so in our alpha. We narrowed the scope of our app by only focusing on challenges that required a user to quit something, because it was easier to verify these kinds of goals than others.  Also, this makes it easier to verify “busts”. If no one busts that person, then he/she must have succeeded at quitting that bad habit.

By the way, cél is Hungarian for goal/purpose. FYI

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