Contextual Inquiry-Group Your Life
Team Members (followed by their respective contributions)
- Hannah Liumeisen Hu: 2nd Interview, Target Users, Problem and Solution Overview, Interface Design
- Cole Jeremy Lodge: 3rd interview, Target Users, misc, Interface Design
- Max Alexander Preston: 1st Interview, Target Users, Interface Design, misc additions
- Gerard Makabali Sunga: Task Analysis, Analysis of Tasks, Analysis of Approach, Problem and Solution Overview, Interface Design
For our interviews, we sought out college students on the Berkeley campus, of different majors and years, with different workloads and organizational skills. This is to understand who could most appreciate our scheduler application and to see how to tune to their needs.
In general, our target user group is college students with too much work and too little time, who wants a fast, automatic method of organizing their time outside of class for necessities, academic work, and social outings, to name a few.
Max - Peter is a 4th year Chemistry major at UC Berkeley. He has a lot of schoolwork and is often very busy. He often works out at the gym and he also has a girlfriend who consumes whatever remaining free time he has. Peter owns a PC laptop, but is not great at computers. He likes playing computer games, but doesn't use many applications other than internet explorer, powerpoint, word, and excel. He uses a cell phone which he only uses for communication and saving people’s numbers. His phone doesn't have text messaging because it would cost more. Other than an ipod and his laptop, he doesn't have very many electronic devices. He doesn't feel like he really needs a lot of extra features in his devices, but it could just be that they are very expensive. He doesn’t want to have to spend a lot of money to get these features. At least, they're not worth the cost.
Hannah - "Jay" is an MCB major in his senior year, with a CDB concentration ("vanilla concentration", he calls it). He currently does volunteer work in an MCB lab, which isn't tough but is time-consuming. His schoolwork isn't too much; for the most part, he has a lot of free time. His technical expertise consists of a bit of knowledge of Scheme (from CS61A) and a bit of Java, but other than programming "Hello World", he can't do much else programming. He is adept at using mobile devices; although his knowledge of them isn't too low-level, it is enough to use his device with ease.
Cole - Celeste is a first year college student at a nearby community college; she is busy with school and has a very active social life. Her major is still undecided. As for her technical skills, she is an apt user of both a computer and cell phone. She has no skill beyond user level, as in, she has never programmed or attempted to debug a computer problem. But overall, her technical skill is high enough to be able to navigate her way around any device she is presented with.
Problem and Solution Overview
Some people never learn to manage time efficently and worst, have to deal with forces beyond their control. This might lead to missing meetings and classes, falling behind on schoolwork and professional duties, and bad moods. Your Life acts as a panacea to solve these problems, offering a solution that consists of a automatic scheduler to schedule one's activities and offers the possibility of planning events with others as well as an all-in-one source of reviews, information, and directions to restaurants, movies, clubs, and any other options for entertainment or service.
For this project, we will focus on the scheduler as the main feature. Other features such as locators and reviews for entertainment or services will be peripheral to the main feature and may be implemented if we have enough time. We will, however, describe the whole application in the following sections, rather than just the scheduler.
Contextual Inquiry - Interview Descriptions
INTERVIEW ONE (Max Preston):
I first explained the context of our product and asked Peter whether he would want a scheduler for his cell phone. He said that he would definitely want one. He would like it to ring when he needs to do something and he mentioned that it could be useful for cooking too.
When he has to schedule something, Peter normally writes down a note in his daily planner, which is a physical, paper-based notebook. He uses his cell phone as an alarm clock since waking up on time is important. The rest he does in his head.
I asked Peter to set his alarm with his cell phone (Motorola Razor) for me: He pressed the middle button to open the menu, navigated to settings, navigated to tools, navigated to alarm clock, and that brought up the alarm menu. There are several times saved in a list. He can navigate up/down to a time and press the right shoulder 'enable' button to activate/deactivate that alarm or press enter, then edit and go to a menu where he can change the settings for that alarm. He can enable multiple alarms at once. When on the edit screen to change an alarm, he navigates to the time box and uses the up and down arrows to set the hour/minute/am-pm and then presses done. He can only save a total of five alarm times, otherwise the 'Alarm Clock full' message appears. Peter thinks that five alarms probably wouldn’t be enough if you are a busy CEO, but for him, it’s enough. He can delete a single alarm or all of them. When making or setting an alarm, he can also set the volume by navigating to volume on the edit screen and using the up/down arrows. He can also change the alarm sound from the edit screen, which leads to a list that he navigates with the up/down arrows. One of the sounds is 'vibrate', and his phone vibrates when he scrolls to that one. However, none of the other sounds can be previewed. with a list that he navigates with up/down arrows. One of the sounds is vibrate. But can’t preview the sound for anything but vibrate. Alarms can only be enabled/disabled; they can't be set to go off on certain days of the week. Since Peter doesn't really understand how snooze works, he usually disables all his alarms in the morning so that they won't go off later. But then he needs to set them all again every night. Peter would prefer if he could set his alarm once and have it go off at the right time every day. The alarm hasn’t failed yet. It always wakes him up.
If Peter had a scheduler/calendar, I asked him what he would want it to do: He said that it would be good to remind him to go to classes on time, since he sometimes forgets. It would also be useful when he needs to meet with people for general appointments, like going to dinner or watching a movie. It wouldn't be useful when he eats out by himself, since he just goes out when he's hungry in that case. But it would be really useful for going out with other people at a certain time. For example, if he wants to meet a friend for dinner at 7:00, he would want it to ring at 6:50 to remind him.
I asked Peter why doesn’t he have a scheduler/calendar on his computer: He doesn’t know. He just never thought about it. However, now that he knows about our product, he thinks that he would use it if he had it.
INTERVIEW TWO (Hannah Hu):
I had Jay show me the calendar application on his Motorola SLVR. Upon opening the application, the monthly screen showed up, and he chose a date via the directional pad on the phone. On the following weekly screen, the application showed "occupied" blocks at certain times, though they lack description; they were too small. By choosing a day, he can view partial descriptions of the occupied blocks, with time and name. Choosing an event/task leads to a details screen, where the name, duration, alarm status, and task repetition are shown.
I asked him to show me how to add a new event, "Shopping". He chose a date on the monthly screen, then a time for the start of the task (4:00pm) via a drop-down menu. In choosing duration, the option defaults to 1 hour, but he can make it longer by another drop-down menu. Repetition comes in: none; daily; weekly; monthly on day; monthly on date; and yearly. (He didn't know there were two different options for the monthly choice.) Alarm came in off, 5 minutes before, and 10 minutes before.
Despite the straight-forward execution of this task, Jay doesn't use the application that often, if any. For the most part, he doesn't organize his tasks into specific time slots; he usually does them on impulse, such as "Hmm, it's due tomorrow. Time to work on this reading" or "Ehh... this can wait until Friday". In cases of urgency, he would pull all-nighters. He used to use the calendar app to keep his class schedule at the beginning of the semester so he can see when his classes will commence. Later, after his familiarity with his classes grew enough, he would use the calendar as a prompt to go to class. Now, however, he never looks at it.
Moreover, he finds it unwieldy. While his desktop calendar application, Rainlendar, adds tasks by double-clicking, a familar motion, he has to select and wade through many screens to access the phone calendar - too many button-pushing for him. There is an option for shortcuts, but given his infrequent use of the calendar, the shortcut is useless. Jay wishes the calendar can be a top-level application on phones, for easy access.
When I asked whether he would use the calendar more often to be more organized, he wanted to say yes, but instead took the opposite stance. He is able to ignore his calendar, and besides, he is "self-prompting". A prompt from a program every day would only become annoying. For Jay, organization matters less than simply getting work done before the due date, although he mentioned in passing that later on, he might use a calendar for professional purposes.
He did mention something which I'm making a note here. He wouldn't appreciate a program that keeps scheduling on a rigid standard. For example, he wouldn't like it for a program "penalizes" him for missing a task to do at a scheduled time. I replied that our application could, on demand, adjust for missed time and reorganize task duration, and he said that would be a great flexible feature. But for the most part, he wouldn't follow a scheduler that could end up being too stringent.
Admittedly, he and I both agree that he isn't quite the person to ask about calendaring habits. However, he can see the practical potential of our project for less-self-prompting people.
INTERVIEW THREE (Cole Lodge):
I started by having Celeste show me what she is currently using as her scheduling tool; she showed me her day planner that she has been using for the past two years. Knowing what the interview was about, she went on to explain that she does not like using her phone scheduler because it took to long to add even a basic event and if she did add an event she could add any sort of information. She went on to explain that she does use her phones scheduler for alarms but that is about it. I then asked Celeste to show me how she does three different tasks:
- Task 1: Schedule an event: I asked Celeste to schedule a meeting with her english teacher at 7:30 pm on February 20th in the teachers office.
She started by opening her day planner to todays date (marked by a paper clip) and flipping forwards to the 20th; she then proceeded to write "7:30pm meeting w/ eng. teacher @ office" After writing the note she produced a set of highlighters from her backpack and highlighted "7:30pm" in green. After I prompted her, she explained that she marks all events that do not have anything due in green, that way, she can look at the next day and easily see what classes have work to finish. I asked her why she chose green, she explained that it was a "happy" color and it meant everything was good. She also mentioned that: yellow meant an event had reading due, orange meant that something needed to be handed in, and blue meant it was a non-school event.
One other important thing I noted from this task was that she did not put the meeting in the 7:30 slot on her day planner, when asked, she explained that the slots were to small to fit an event so she instead puts the events in a slot close to the time and allows it to spill into other slots. She went one to explain that she cares that the events are in the correct order not that they are in a particular slot.
- Task 2: Setting an alarm: I asked Celeste to set an alarm telling her that it was time to meet with her english teacher.
Her initial reaction was frustration; she explained that this meant she had to add it to her phone. She pulled out her LG phone and fumbled through several menus to get to the calendar; upon reaching the calendar. she navigated to February 20th and clicked add event. She created the event, but forgot how to set an alarm base on the event. She continually tried to do this from the calendar screen instead of editing the event. She eventually stumbled into the edit menu and set the alarm.
The main thing I noticed from this task was Celeste's continual frustration while attempting to set the alarm. She told me several times that if this event would have been less than a day away, she would have been able to just set an alarm with the "alarm clock" tool and would not have had to deal with the calendar. She also explained that besides waking up in the morning, she normally does not use alarms; everything that she needs to be reminded of is inside her day planner, which she checks hourly.
- Task 3: Group event: I asked Celeste to create an event and to invite several friends along.
She decided to invite several friends to a movie the next day; she started by marking the event in her day planner, the same way she did in task 1. She wrote all of the friends that she wanted to invite under the event. After calling each of her friends, Celeste checked the ones that were coming, crossed off the ones who couldn't, and left the ones that didn't answer alone.
She then marked the event with both a blue and a yellow highlighter, she explained that the yellow was because not everyone had been reached so there was work to be done before the movie. The yellow would remind her to call her other friends again.
- Task 4: Scheduling reading: I asked Celeste to schedule reading for a class.
She went to the day that the reading was due and wrote down the assignment, marking it in yellow. I asked her how she would decided when to do the reading; she explained that the next time she had free time, she would look forward in her day planner to the next yellow or orange highlight and do that assignment.
After completing the interview, I asked Celeste what it would take to get her to switch from her day planner to and electronic equivalent. She had a few specific requests; be able to add notes to any event, be able to "highlight" events, and be as fast or faster to use than her day planner.
Task Analysis Questions
1. Who is going to use the system?
- Our target users are college students, 18-25 years old, with their constantly changing lifestyle and their decent level of technological experience. However, anyone who wants to organize their life, fill their schedules, or find something to do in their free time can use our product.
2. What tasks do they perform now?
- Currently the users must use a variety of resources to plan their schedules or find what to do with one's free time. For example, for creating a schedule, people use iCal, Google Calendar, or a basic planner. As for driving directions, people usually need to visit sites like Mapquest or Google Maps, use in-vehicle GPSes, or simply use a map. As forentertainment and other services, people usually use sites such as Fandango for movies, Yelp! for restaurants and many other services, or recomendations from friends or other sources.
3. What tasks are desired?
- The ability to make a schedule of one's activites and plans.
- The ability to share one's schedule with others (via the application itself as well as other means, i.e. text messages).
- The ability to find free time in one's schedule as well as the ability to synchronize one's schedule with others who use the same application.
- The ability to find entertainment, dining, and service options, their reviews, and their directions on a map.
- Location-based scheduling, with the schedule able to interact with the map and vice versa.
- Alarms as reminders for upcoming events and activities.
4. How are the tasks learned?
- Experience with the cell phone and the cell phone menus.
- Ability to enter data (i.e. names of friends, etc.)
- Ability to use a basic map online interface (similar to Google maps).
- The interface for the entire application should be intuitive enough to not require the need for any extra training.
5. Where are the tasks performed?
- Anywhere a cell phone is permitted and socially acceptable (preferably with access to a cell phone's respective internet network and an area with good reception to maximize the amount of usable features).
- Examples: home, car, path to school, side of the road, Strip Mall
- Non-advisable locations: airplane in flight (against federal law), a movie theatre during playing a movie
6. What's the relationship between user and data?
- The users will be organizing their lives and schedules onto their cell phones, so the data is quite private and the schedule should only be privy to those the user desires the data be given access to.
7. What other tools does the user have?
- paper-based planners
- software-based and web-based scheduling such as iCal, Oracle Calendar, and Google Calendar
- Fandango to find movie times
- Calling the Theatre to find movie or play times
- Rotten Tomatoes Website to find movie ratings
- Websites like weather.com to find the current weather
- Yelp to find entertainment and service options and ratings
- Maps to find directions
- Online map services to find directions such as Mapquest, Yahoo maps, or Google Maps
8. How do users communicate with each other?
- Users can invite other users through the scheduler part of the application. Users can see each other's schedules, but details (and possibly parts or all of the schedule itself) will not be revealed unless the users in question are permitted to do so by the schedule's owner. Otherwise, people can communicate the usual methods of e-mail, text messages, phone calls, or normal conversation to show the results of other aspects of the application (such as finding a restauarant for dinner).
9. How often are the tasks performed?
- The tasks are performed whenever one's schedule changes (additions, modifications, or removals of events or activities) or whenever one simply wants to find something to do.
10. What are the time constraints on the tasks?
- The time constraints are dependent on the activity in question: how much advanced notification is required, time of travel, and the actual time and date of the event in question.
11. What happens when things go wrong?
- Users can uninvite unwanted people from events.
- Users can cancel events they scheduled themselves from their schedules.
- Users can schedule events at the wrong time.
- Users can change the status for whether or not they are attending an event or activity at any time.
- Users can change privacy settings for events.
- Users can return to previous menus by choosing the "back" option.
Analysis of Tasks
- Filling out one's own schedule.
- Finding movie times at one's local theatre.
- Finding a good Mexican restaurant to eat at in a nearby city.
- Finding the driving directions for the club that a close friend invited you to.
- Scheduling an activity-filled weekend roadtrip to Stanford for the Big Game with a couple of friends.
This would involve finding a place to stay and some entertainment during the time period before and after the game. This would include clubs, restaurants, theatres, and other forms of entertainment.
- Planning a reception for the renewal of vows for a family friend.
This would involve choosing a hotel that has a good reception area or a restaurant that is able to hold such large scale events. If it is a hotel, one would need to contact catering services. Decorating services might also be an option as well as the hiring of a photographer to record the event.
Your Life is an automatic scheduler, in which one lets the program allocate time for events based on certain parameters. For example, given a reading of hard difficulty, 80 pages, and due date in two days, how much time is needed? When is the best time to deal with it? How would the duration for other tasks change? This and similar questions will be addressed by the scheduler.
On the outset, the scheduler looks like a normal calendar application.
The user can set classes and other events that happen at set times onto the scheduler.
Not every minute of the day is taken up by lectures and meetings. Given downtime hours, when is the best time to do certain readings? How much time is needed for them? Homework, projects, and other academic work go through a similar process.
To do this, the user enters a new task to do, and sets certain parameters.
These parameters may include difficulty of assignment, number of pages to read, and due date. Other parameters may be included, but for the time being, we will concentrate on these. Depending on the type of assignment chosen (reading, homework, project, entertainment, and possibly others), the application will provide different parameters to set.
Once these parameters are set, and other tasks are entered, the application will look over the downtime available, and allocate the tasks to the downtime, optimizing task duration so as to give each task as much time as possible and needed.
If a new task emerges, the user may enter that new task, and the program will reallocate the downtime.
If we get around to integrating the peripheral features such as the restaurant finder and movie reviews, one could also choose an entertainment event on his/her calendar and search for the nearest theater/restaurant/club that hosts that event. This will make use of a map application. Reviews can also be retrieved.
From the main calendar screen, you would be able to open up a menu from which these features could be accessed:
Take, for example, the following scenarios:
You have to fill out your schedule for the week. It's Sunday. You have a 50-page reading due in two days, Math 104 (one of the more tedious upper-div math courses here) homework due on Friday, and an assignment for CS184 due on Tuesday. Your classes are set out like this:
German 157A: TuTh 11:00 - 12:30 in Dwinelle Math 104: MWF 3:00 - 4:00 in Evans CS184: Lec MW 1:00 - 2:30, Dis F 2:00 - 3:00 both in Soda CS160: Lec TuTh 3:30 - 5, Dis TuTh 2 - 3 both in Soda
Other than classes, you have no other obligations (no job, no volunteer work, etc.)
With our application..."
Let's say you're going to host a party at your house from 10pm to 1am on Friday night and you have a couple dozen friends you want to invite.
First you would add the event to your schedule. Then click invite friends. Then select the friends you want to invite from your phone's contact list. and invite!
Scenario 3: An old friend, who hasn't seen you in a year or two, invites you for some dinner at a restaurant in a nearby city through the application.
First you would accept the invitation and check directions through the scheduler. If desired, you can check reviews of the restaurant.
Analysis of Approach
Our application takes advantage of the Android SDK's affordances through the utility of its unique features. For example, Android has an API, MapView, that allows heavy integration with Google Maps; this allows easier development of all the other features which rely on maps to display information for one's schedule, such as the displaying location and time of an upcoming party or other social event while viewing the map of the region in question. Another example is the limitless possiblities that Android offers as result of its various features. For example, Your Life uses the ability of Android to connect with the internet through EDGE, WiFi, and other means to provide the latest, up-to-the-date reviews for a restaurant one may be eyeing or to setup an event with friends that are fellow users. Furthermore, if GPS is present, it could be integrated with the map aspect of the software to provide better directions. Nevertheless, there are other technologies that perform the same function. PDAs and personal organizers have their own scheduling software and many phones can access the online equivalents of the rest of the features (such as Google Maps and Yelp), GPS devices that offer directions, all of which in tandem probably cost considerably less than the cell phones that actually support Android. However, there is no all-inclusive solution present at the moment that performs all of these functions, so Your Life is the optimal solution for any of these problems.