More feedback….

which means more re-designing inevitably.

After taking in feedback of our alpha, we learned that it was important to make our app more social, fully understand the game mechanics and address unfair competition within it, addressing loop-holes that allowed users to cheat, and consider other ways to motivate users to complete a challenge (besides merely gaining points). Virtual points mean nothing from many users. Virtual prizes could be better? We have some design choices to reconsider.

Naturally, different people have different goals with different ‘goal-achieving’ capacity — how do they compete with each other for different goals? It’s not really just to challenge someone to stop drinking coffee for 6 weeks, if they don’t even drink coffee to begin with. We had to find a way to get around users finding/using these loopholes in our game system. Ultimately, we realized that it was time to think about other ways to motivate users to participate the way we intended them to.


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For our alpha prototype, we made a project that incorporated a points system, although the game mechanics were not fully worked out yet. This prototype allowed users to challenge other users to accomplish task within three days. We found that after studying similar websites that help people complete goals, like, along with user interviews, that goals of shorter time length tend to get completed more often. Short-term goals also allow for us developers and creators more time to focus on other things and quicker design iterations, so that was another incentive.

In addition, we incorporated a scarcity feature into the app. This feature made goals scarce, so that only one person was able to be declared as the person to complete a challenge. This added to the game mechanics in that it would cause users to race to finish a challenge, thus adding competition. Additionally, we discussed an idea of making it possible for users to bust one another, by uploading photos of someone not holding true to a challenge. We thought the ‘bust’ idea would be very helpful because sometimes people respond better (faster) to negative reinforcement than positive reinforcement. It is an interesting phenomenon, but not necessarily a surprising one.

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Think Social

Ed Chi was pretty helpful and honest in his feedback, which is exactly what we needed.

Thinking social is so important — not just enlisting friends in the design process and game is important, but doing it in an effective and fun way is critical. It is possible that many great ideas miss the social aspect and so do not become great ideas. We had to keep thinking about this for a long time before we knew for sure how we wanted to integrate the user’s friends into this process.

We also got helpful feedback from Neema –> don’t try to do ‘too’ difficult technology, keep it simple and think about how users would interact — think especially about “aspects of motivation” — the what, when, where, how, why, and to what extent of how people get motivated to do the things that they do everyday. Living in a results-oriented world and marketplace, motives may not seem that important when people are so concentrated on the end goal — but when it comes to design, knowing why people do/need/want things is the first step to efficient and keen brainstorming.

Neema’s Presentation on this in class

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Sketches and Ed Chi

These were our first design sketches — we were fighting over 3 ideas as to which one we would implement. Here they are — with accompanying photos (how nice!)…

1. Course Evaluation Stream

Customarily students do a course evaluation at the end of the quarter, but oftentimes this evaluation is inaccurate because the student has forgotten many things about the class and lectures and the professor. We thought it would be cool to have an ongoing course evaluation throughout the quarter (on a weekly/daily basis) that would evaluate each lecture or discussion section based on some criteria. An ongoing evaluation sequence would be more useful to the professor because it is likely to offer him more detailed feedback and constructive criticism. At Stanford, administration coerces students to complete a course evaluation by delaying access to grades in that course. This would not only allow professors to adjust their teaching throughout the quarter, but also provides a way students can reflect on their progress throughout the class.
The primary problem we have of this design is that it does not seem to offer creative solutions.

Course Evaluation Stream

2. Anonymous Chat

Sometimes people have something to say, but they don’t have anyone in particular that they want to talk to about that thing. This would be a location-based chat system that would find other persons in a certain area that would also like to chat anonymously.
We are not sure about if this has enough value-added to existing chat rooms, (micro-)blogging, or Twitter.

Anonymous Chat

3. Breaking Bad Habits

Sometimes people want to break bad habits (or start good habits) but don’t know exactly how to start doing so. Maybe they need a support group of several friends as accountability partners in their struggle(s). Perhaps it could also provide statistics to help pinpoint the time/location where bad habits occur.
The problem of this design is we are not sure what kind of habit people would actually use this for.

We met up with our coach for the class Ed Chi and he was able to give us some invaluable design insight and advice to push forward with:

1. Spend some time on motivational psychology. Think about extrinsic vs. intrinsic motivation.
2. Think about how to connect people with similar goals.
3. How can you get people to deliver real-time help to break habits when the addictive tendencies rise? What solutions might work, and how can you build a system for that? Read up on what might have been done here in terms of social support and devices.
4. Simple UI.
5. Game aspect is paramount.

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Design Inspiration

The main inspiration for our project is Intel’s UbiFit Garden. The basic idea for this garden is that it can grow or shrink based on your progress toward your fitness goal. We thought it was really cool that you can have a visual scenery of sorts such as a garden to represent something meaningful in your life such as progress towards a goal other than a number or a progress bar — we were really excited about this. Intel’s UbiFit Garden Research Moreover, it shows that users are ready to let technology influence and encourage a positive lifestyle.

Incidentally, we also found that Intel had a community garden, much like the co-op houses here on campus, so that all the employees can work together on this company-wide project. Intel’s Community Garden

We decided that it would be a cool way to extend this into our idea of social accountability. After all, maybe your friends can  “contribute” to your garden — or if they see you slacking off on your progress towards your goal, they can detract from your garden or give you a warning of sorts. However, we wanted to keep the interaction on this interface as positive as possible. So we wanted to avoid too much cutting down of gardens — even though we wanted people to successfully break bad habits or start good ones, we wanted to be careful about incentives and motives and what direction we were headed in.

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Initial Brainstorming Sessions

Our initial idea was that we wanted an application that would help people break bad habits in “real-life” scenarios. Right now, people these days are so absorbed in their smartphones and games on these phones and text each other — which can inhibit real-life interaction and real problem-solving.  We want to make use of this by trying to get people to play a personally constructive game/application on their mobile devices. We are trying to get people to interact in a more holistic and personal way. We had an idea for a serious application — one that could (and maybe would) actually implement real change in people’s lives on a personal level.

So the question that we wanted to answer to “how might we help people break bad habits?” Then the question extended to “how might we help people enlist their [online] social circle to break bad habits?” Social accountability is a powerful tool, and we thought it was a no-brainer for us to enlist people’s friends.

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