I worked with Incipia to develop a light weight productivity app to track and organize goals with the help of a friendly character, Goalie.
Timeline: 3 months (V1 + V2)
Role: Interaction, UX, UI
Incipia came to me with the goal (no pun intended) of developing a simple, task-based app. Unlike a typical project, the primary objective here was to arm this aspiring company with an example, a finished app they could use to really get their business up and running when talking with new clients. User adoption was obviously a goal, but in many ways I was designing an application I would like to use rather than focussing on spending time on market validation or user research. Time was the constraint.
Now I, a devout Text Edit fan for all things list, sought out the simpler methods. So many apps focused on deadlines, and date driven tasks. While they often had a lot of power, they also had a lot of complexity. In contrast, my Monday mornings usually started out with something like this: Write a dead simple list in the order of whatever pops into my head first. Then, rearrange list in the order I need to get things done.
I already had plenty of calendar apps to notify me of meetings and schedules, but this little square at the corner of my desktop was my driving force for the week. Priority was really the only thing that mattered, so I knew I needed to make it easy for users to prioritize their lists as well.
The other thing that was going to be tough about a list or task app would be user retention. What’s to keep users from giving up, or using something else, like a notebook or a sheet of paper? How could we keep users motivated without blasting them with push notifications or sending email alerts? And with less focus on due dates, how could we still hold users accountable?
We agreed as a team that Goalie should be light and playful, but still give some sort of drive and sense of accomplishment to the user for putting in the time in the first place. Often I think we make the mistake of front-loading users with the exciting handholding goodness at the beginning, and then just leave them hanging after they get through all of it. In a user story, that’s where the almighty cliffhanger begins to creep in. We needed something that would be present throughout.
From the productivity app Forest, to The Sims, to beloved childhood Tamagotchi pets, there’s something to be said about our desire and fascination with nurturing. I find it’s an easier thing to grasp, as a physical or emotional state of something is quite relatable to us as humans. Empathy, pathos, appealing to emotion... It’s why you cry watching an Extra gum commercial. I'm not crying, you're crying. But I didn’t want to just guilt users to take care of young Goalie, I wanted them to be able to get a status update of their tasks at a glance, without having to rely on numbers or stats. Why tell them that five tasks were nearly due, when you could show them? So I got to work on all of Goalie's physical states, and fun positive messages he could throw out for encouragement.
So therein lies the basic premise of Goalie. A user adds tasks, that will by default be given the latest priority. Notice I didn’t say date, because technically the priority level acts as more of a state than anything. Tasks move from green, to blue, to yellow, to red. The longer you take to finish a task, the hotter the task would get, and the hotter Goalie would get. The list mimics a thermometer, as color helps provide a simplistic sense of time. Whether glancing at your phone or your watch, you get a general sense of how you're doing at any given moment based on Goalie’s state.
Simple, quirky, and adorable, we wanted to release version 1.0 in the hopes of providing a solution that wasn’t overbearing or overwhelming, but simply helped you get things done. At the end of a long work day, watching Goalie cool back down to a calming shade of green, rock his tiny shades, and tell me I was a rockstar was way more satisfying than crossing off items in a list. Is it crazy to befriend a tiny droplet with a sweatband? I hope so.
When we launched v2, we focussed on purchase opportunities and more incentives for sustained adoption. In addition to Goalie, I got to work on three new characters. We recognized that users would have a variety of desired personalities when it comes to receiving feedback and encouragement, so we made sure each character was different and unique.
As always, there was your classic pal Goalie. Silly, kind, and ready for adventure, Goalie would always be available to users. Next, we added Bizeebee. Inspired somewhat by myself, we wrote her phrases to be slightly dramatic and a bit passive aggressive (I'm from the Midwest after all). Third, there was Sir Jobton, formal and refined. Lastly, there was Listor, an adorable and clumsy goof.
Along with the release of the new characters, we also launched accessory packs. The concept behind the accessories was to inspire and reflect more specific user goals, whether that be gym/health resolutions or work to-dos. Users could unlock some of these new rewards simply by using the app and completing their goals, but there as an opportunity to pay as well. This launch was a big step towards allowing more end user customization.