A new way to “bee” productive, Buzzy Bee is a platform for students to seek accountability from their peers in order to track and reach their goals. In the span of 6 weeks, our team followed a human-centric approach to create an application that encourages student to stay committed to their academic goals and study effectively with social support.
Awarded with Best UX Research
Meet the Team
When faced with limited social support, many college students struggle with time management and staying dedicated to their goals.
How might we help students track their goals and connect with their peers in a way that effectively encourages academic achievement and accountability?
To gain insight on college students’ goals and relationships regarding accountability, we conducted surveys and were able to collect 82 responses in the first round and 27 responses in the second.
First round of survey:
- broad questions to understand college students’ goal habits and how they create and maintain relationships.
35% sought out an accountability buddy to help them achieve academic goals
Second round of survey:
- follow up questions focused on academic and career goals.
57.14% are close friends with their study partners.
The top two challenges college students face in achieving academic goals are time management and procrastination.
We conducted 10 interviews and broke it down into three main sections:
- academic goals and habits
- career goals and habits
- relationship habits
We learned that…
- People only seek help from their peers when they really need to.
- People prefer to study alone due to different class schedules.
- Having a supportive social circle is a prominent factor in productivity and achieving academic goals.
We conducted literature reviews to learn about the topic of our given prompt: accountability and goal-sharing. According to Signature Analytics, “Research shows that when someone publicly shares their goals, they have around a 65% chance of success. However, having a specific accountability partner boosts that chance to 95%.” Meanwhile, “Having someone who you feel can be candid with you and can keep you on track and ultimately make it easier to achieve your goals.”
People’s performance improve when they are aware that they are being held accountable, and having an accountability partner who you trust can increase your success rate and efficiency.
We researched various exisiting academic apps to learn about features that allow users to accomplish their goals and study effectively with social support.
Our original prompt highlighted the social approach to student life but after conducting research we found out that the majority of respondents (35%) have sought out an accountability buddy for academics. This then provided us with a clear direction to focus our solution on.
After gathering our data we decided to synthesize key points and map out patterns and trends among our insights by doing an Affinity map and an empathy map.
- Procrastination and time management impede academic goal achievement
- People prefer to study alone due to different class schedules
- Inadequate social support hinders productivity and academic achievement
- Broken connection of communication between students and their peers
How Might We
Through analyzing our research, we found that many students face challenges in finding study partners who share similar academic goals, schedules, and are located in close proximity to them. This can lead to a lack of motivation, decreased productivity, and isolation. Therefore, there is a need for a solution that can help students easily connect with study partners in their proximity, who share similar schedules and academic objectives.
Thus creating our how might we statement to:
“How might we help students to easily connect with a study partner in their proximity, who shares similar schedules and academic objectives?”
We categorized the main features aligned to solving this how might we into high to low priorities in implementing it into our app.
Lo-fi Wireframe Sketches
Using insights from affinity mapping, empathy map, and feature ideation, we sketched possible solutions to address our HMWs and painpoints.
- Goal creation and tracking while incorporating accountability buddy (AI buddy as an alternative
- Study session chats to improve productivity and academic achievements
- Feed for social support and motivation
- Map to join and create study sessions in person
- Profile for study availability matching to solve scheduling difficulties.
A gamification feature that we brainstormed was celebratory selfie, where users would be prompted to take a selfie upon completing all of their daily tasks or certain long term goals. It would show up on user’s feed to serve as mutual motivation for users and their friends to complete their goals and tasks.
After brainstorming features and determining which ones to prioritize, we further developed our ideas by creating task flows demonstrating how a user would potentially interact with them.
We created an information architecture to organize the content of our app under four main sections.
Students shared that they studied alone due to the hassle of scheduling and coordinating study times together. With features we implemented, we wanted to enhance students’ existing social circle which we found in our data to grow productivity and achieve goals.
We refined our Lo-fi frames to our first version of mid-fidelity frames with the initial features we wanted to implement that would solve our HMW questions.
Feed & Chat Mid-Fidelity
We decided on 26 features we wanted users to sort in four ways, and to title each section. We were able to conduct 7 rounds of card sorting, and gain insights on users’ preference for feature placements.
AB Testing and User Testing
Based on common patterns and suggestions from users we found in 7 rounds of AB Testing and 5 rounds of user testing, we iterated a new version of our prototype, resulting in a significant shift in placements and features.
1. Activity Status
This feature initially was intended for users to update their status accordingly to their current activity (working, studying, sleeping, etc.). However, many users expressed that they found this to be more of a hassle to update than a useful feature. In response, we simplified the activity status to automatically indicate online, offline, and in a study session statuses.
2. Celebratory selfie removal
The celebratory selfie would be a picture taken of the user after they completed their tasks. Many users noted that they would either not be interested in this feature, or saw themselves using it in-frequently. We decided to remove it and focus on a leaderboard instead for gamification.
3. Updated navigation bar
Card sorting testing revealed that users tend to categorize features based on familiarity due to familiarity bias, a cognitive bias where people make decisions while relying on information already familiar to them. Therefore, our second interaction spread the navigation bar to four pages: Home, Social, Map, and Profile, replacing chat to Map. Our findings from A/B testing confirmed that users preferred our second iteration of categorizing our features and navigation.
Design System and Branding
Before moving onto high-fidelity prototyping, we established a design system using the Urbanist font, since minimalistic fonts promote legibility and organization and are suitable for our app’s academic purpose. We also used primarily purple and yellow along with other accent colors to create a lively and inviting atmosphere on our app. We wanted to reduce the daunting feeling often associated with academic goals or tasks, a characteristic we observed in many existing studying apps during competitive analysis.
Why dark mode?
Since students are most likely to use the app when they are studying at night, so to minimize eye strain, we decided to design our app in dark mode.
The name of our app: Buzzy Bee and the bee mascot are meant to represent our target user group, busy and hard working college students. They would use our app to better track their short and long term goals, connect with friends, and study effectively. In addition, we designed icons, badges, as well as 5 avatar bees which users can choose to display for personalization.
Up until now, our prototypes have been presented in grayscale with only a few screens colored. During the hi-fidelity sprint, we implemented our finalized design system to our screens. This included adjusting colors, font sizes, border radiuses, and other visual elements.
Aside from developing a cohesive, finalized appearance to our prototype, we also incorporated further changes based off of insights from usability testing:
1. Removing calendar from home page
Several users reported feeling overwhelmed with the calendar being located within the home page on top of an abundance of other features. We decided to remove this in order to declutter the home page and give priority to other prominent features such as goal creation and preview.
2. Distinguishing folders and classes
There was a recurring confusion around the difference between folders and classes during our usability testings. We redesigned these features in order to clearly distinguish them from one another.
3. Adding a leaderboard
Implementation of a leaderboard was supported by testers frequently expressing that they enjoyed the competitive and social aspect of our app.
After constant iterations and user feedback, the home page includes features like AI Bee Task manager, Classes with Canvas Synchronization, Goal creation and List of different types of goals.
Quick Add vs Create a goal:
Quick add let’s users create a goal without any additional details such as priority and accountability while the detailed goal includes options like priority, assigning an accountability buddy, sub-tasks, and goal importance. This approach is based on our literature review, which highlighted the importance of setting specific, measurable, and time-sensitive goals for goal achievement.
The concept of AI Bee task manager is based on providing support for users to manage and finish their goals on time via ai help. Based on our research insights, there is a handful number of students who still like to study alone. Therefore we decided to implement the aspect of AI to cater to those who study alone. The AI task manager can help students with motivation, task prioritization and even task creation!
Students had also shared that they found it easier to connect with their peers if they were close in proximity and had the same study objectives. Without this connection, there would be a lack of motivation, decreased productivity, and isolation at times.
We created the map to solve this issue by allowing students to share their study locations and the ability to caption it with whatever objectives or focus they have during that study session.
To address time management challenges and conflicting schedules, we’ve developed a shared timer feature for remote collaboration. The focus mode aspect of this feature keeps you focused by minimizing distractions and allowing you to prioritize tasks. You can also enable messaging with your buddy if communication is needed during the session.
Another feature within our chat function to help users seek accountability, Shared Goals allows users to create and accomplish goals together with their buddies. The process for creating shared goals is a lot simpler than a regular goal, with optional sub-tasks and no prioritization tags. Additionally, users can pin important goals, which will appear under the chat header as a reminder.
Study Availability Matching
In order to solve scheduling issues that are a primary obstacle for students when arranging study sessions with friends, we decided to prioritize study availability matching on the profile under friend’s view to promote group studying, social support, and productivity. We don’t intend for users to have to frequently update their study availability to accommodate their changing schedules. It aims to encourage friends and mutuals to reach out to each other using the matched time slots as an opportunity to invite friends to study together and provide support and motivation.
Through card sorting and AB Testing, we found that users prefer a profile that is more functional and personal. So in our final design, users can view, organize, and edit their goals and details in folders within their profile.
Feed + Gamification
An additional feature we created to solve one of our pain points in inadequate social support in productivity, procrastination and time management, was the feed page. Students would be able to view their friend’s progress in completing tasks, incentivizing them to also complete their own personal tasks.
There would be a daily streak feature that would track when they completed all of their goals for the day. The leaderboard would be our main incentive in adding a friendly competitive edge to completing their tasks with their peers.
A monetization feature we want to implement is a subscription plan for those curious students who want to learn more about their personal progress and habits and gain access to more features.
Creating Buzzy Bee was a fun and challenging experience. In reflection, we were challenged in what direction we wanted to focus on after our research. We found that 55% were focused on academic steps, while 37% had extracurricular steps as a priority. Our original prompt was focused on extracurriculars, but our data was showing a different direction. There was temptation in focusing on the fun side of extracurriculars, therefore, initially deciding to focus only academics was a step that helped us narrow our focus on the app.
We also shared that learning the workings of auto-layouts, components, and other features in Figma brought us individual challenges throughout the prototyping phase.
We learned the importance of focusing back on users’ goals and needs, always relying on the data analysis, which outweighs our personal opinions. We also discovered that emphasizing essential features over excessive options is the key to ensure a focused and smooth user experience.
- Onboarding: Creating an introduction to the app that emphasizes the friendly atmosphere of the app and explaining all the features.
- Light mode: Deciding on a new color system that allows users to switch to a light mode on their phones.
- Subscription: Providing a way for users to learn more personal study insights and features that create monetization for our app.
- Coin system: Increasing gamification of the app through making a coin system based on the amount of tasks they complete individually and with others in the time share feature.
- Desktop version of the app, spreading out our features.
- More study features in chat
- More customization in sorting tasks and other features.
- Develop canvas sync feature: Allowing users to connect with their Canvas courses and have their assignments tasks automatically added to the app.
- Social cause — saving bees: Implementing a greater social problem to the app through gamification.