StudyBuddy
A mobile app that helps to find a place to focus and boost your productivity, in addition to finding people with the same interests and goals to meet up with.
Type
Conceptual project
Role
Research
Interaction design
Branding
Tool
Sketch
InVision
SUMMARY
This is a project that I worked from ideation to creation. I want to create a solution that helps people find a place where they can focus. This application provides useful information specific to finding workspace, it comes with add-on social features to gather people the same interests and goals.
PROBLEM
Google and Yelp are the go-to searching tools for venues and services. However, they mainly serve the needs of restaurants. While Silicon Valley people often work and study with their laptops in coffee shops and libraries, there is no solution available to find a place to work/study.
What do we need when finding a place to work/study?
PROCESS
User Research
Before diving into the design process, I launched a user survey to find out the primary users and study their fundamental needs.
Demand for study places
66%
work outside of school/office
3 days a week
88.9%
work at coffee shops or libraries
Searching Tools
44.4%
Yelp
33.3%
Google
Any frustrations?
61.1%
Unknown internet speed
50%
Unknown noise level
33.3%
No specific searching tools
for study places
What is helpful?
83.3%
Charging outlets
72.2%
Free Wifi
55.6%
Opening hours
55.6%
Noise level
Competitive Analysis
Besides the top two searching tools, Yelp and Google, I put Facebook Local into the competitive analysis, as Facebook is one of the most popular social networking platforms and Local is integrated with the Facebook app.
Yelp is a go-to recommendations searching tool for local business, and it focuses on restaurants and other food and beverage providers. Google has a powerful global database but the massive information can be overwhelming. Facebook Local’s personalized suggestions and integration with the social networking platform is handful and accessible. However, Local mainly focuses on special events and lacks active reviews for business.
Personas
With the insights from user surveys and competitive analysis, I was able to create user personas to elaborate on the needs of the primary users.
Adeline K.
22, Design Student
New York
"The best place to get inspirations and ideas is outside of the house."
ABOUT
Adeline is a college student majoring in graphic design. She has a heavy workload on design projects with a very tight schedule. Adeline has a problem of working at home, productivity usually drops to zero while she is at home. Also, the workspace at school is limited. She often needs to find a coffee shop or library to work on her projects.

Due to limited resources specific on study place/workspace, Adaline only can search for keywords 'coffee shop' or 'library'. Some times she doesn't like going to libraries because they are always full. However, she doesn't get enough information to know if the coffee shop is suitable for study since some of the coffee shops are always crowded and loud.
GOALS
  • Get a seat before the busy hour
  • Obtain a go-to searching tool like 'Yelp' but specific for study place/workspace
  • Able to search for locations by opening hour
FRUSTRATIONS
  • Running out of ideas for a place to work/study
  • Need accountability to show up at a workspace
  • Noise level sometimes can be overwhelming
Jimmy T.
29, Software Engineer
San Jose
"I code all day every day, and the environment matters to my productivity."
ABOUT
Jimmy is a Software Engineer based in the Bay Area. Due to the Bay Area traffic and the flexibility of his job, he doesn't go to the office every day. Even though not going to the office, Jimmy still works hard on coding. Instead of blocking himself at home, he likes to step out soaking up the sun and take a sip of good coffee while he works.

Jimmy's work requires the internet a lot. If the network of a cafe is not stable or the speed is too slow, he would be disappointed since he couldn't stay any longer to enjoy the pleasant environment and coffee. Remark: Jimmy is a workaholic; he never lets himself to slack off from the work schedule even though he doesn't go into the office.
GOALS
  • Remain productivity while enjoying coffee
  • Able to work at one place from it open to close
  • Not to suffer from internet issue any more
FRUSTRATIONS
  • Unable to get a seat when it happens to go in during the busy hour
  • Has to leave without the work done due to the internet issues
  • Unable to get suggestions on 'good workplace'
User Stories
In order to structure the minimum valuable product, I came up with a list of user stories and assigned priority to them according to the conducted research.

User Stories for MVP
  • perform a search
  • check out the details for a study place
  • bookmark a place
  • leave a comment
  • post pictures with comment
  • sign up/login to my account
User Flows
Visualized user flows helps to simplify the process of users completing each task. Here are the major user flows for the MVP.
Wireframe
Sketching out the ideas.
Connecting the dots, creating wireframes and clickable prototype on Sketch for a preview of the product function.
Branding
The name StudyBuddy was an instinctual idea, as it is helpful and available like a real life study buddy might be. It can be applied for the further expansion to organize gatherings of people with similar interests, form study sessions, and help users to connect with study buddies.
Logo was made with calligraphy and simple shape to deliver a neat and professional image, along with the mint color which maintains a refreshing atmosphere.
Final branding design was changed to a darker teal color for readability, but added burnt orange to the accent for energetic vibe since the refreshing mint color was replcaed.
The choice of typography is Montserrat & Open Sans, using San Serif fonts to reduce the feelings of tedious or exhausting. The wide letter-spacing of Montserrat helps to catch attention for titles and headlines; Open Sans maintains the readable wide-tracking but saving space for long body context.
Prototype
Putting all pre-set elements together, finally moving onto the prototype. Sampled some screens to showcase the major iterations.
Other iterations:
  • Replace ‘logout’ icon with text ‘Logout’
  • Revise the workflow: return to the previous page after Registration (remove additional sign-in step)
User Testing
In addition to gathering feedback via Usabilityhub surveys from the Internet, I performed some in-person user tests.

Regarding feedback from user testing, users mentioned that it would be nice to join study sessions to encourage them to study. Therefore, I added 'Event' selection in the Explore tab and response section in the Detail page.
Adding Event tab to the main screen
Adding Event section to the Detail page
Changes happened in the iterations:
  • Enhanced the accent colors to avoid misunderstanding of disabled buttons.
  • Enlarged the size of buttons and font, increasing the ease of use.
CONCLUSION
The major takeaway of this project is finding the subtle balance of experimental and traditional. I tried to use different presentations of tabs and indicators, and found users had a hard time understanding the usages and meanings behind them.

It is always good to take a step forward and try something new, it could become an innovation if it works; otherwise coming back to the traditional design would not hurt too much. With that said, user testing is an essential step as we are designing user experience.
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