Worked on a team of three designers on an engagement with a Boston startup, Pavlok.
The challenge was to re-design the Pavlok Chrome extension. The Chrome extension is designed to increase a user's productivity in conjunction with a Pavlok wearable device, which can vibrate or apply an electronic stimulus, in order to alter a user's behavior. The mission quickly became: reimagine how a user would use and interact with the Pavlok Chrome extension.
Original Pavlok Chrome Extension
The Pavlok Chrome extension consists of a small drop-down window built into the Chrome web browser and a full-page window that is viewed as a webpage. Both are shown below, respectively.
We conducted competitive research by looking at other Chrome extensions that focused on productivity, as well as general competitors in the wearable device space.
A simple look and feel is evident
Analytics are provided
A full background image engages the user
Support is easily accessible
Various integrations are offered - mostly Google account
User research began with a contextual inquiry, followed by a survey of Pavlok Chrome extension users, answered by 52 respondents. We then selected six of those respondents for more in depth, one-on-one interviews.
We conducted a contextual inquiry with a user who had previously used productivity software. The following was observed:
User was confused by the term pomodoro
Blacklist instructions were unclear on how to enter a site
User was confused by the term frequency on Blacklist was related to zapping
The user could benefit greatly from better instructions
We conducted a survey of current Pavlok Chrome extension users. One of our burning questions was if people used the small window or full-page more often. The survey results showed an even split for both. We would have to wait until user interviews to find out the reason for this.
The research process continued with user interviews. We interviewed six users of the Pavlok Chrome extension. The participants were asked twelve questions, in order to identify how they felt about the extension and using productivity software.
Small window is mostly used for "on/off" functionality - a simpler design is desired
Blacklist, To-Do and Pomodoro all require better explanations on how to use
Many users "set it and forget it"
More integrations would be beneficial
All users would be open to paying a monthly fee for premium features
"I want more control over when I get zapped."
After interviews we crafted an Affinity Diagram which yielded six themes:
I am results focused
I want control
I want simplicity
I want improved productivity
I want it to work like it's supposed to
I am excited about potential improvements
"Synching with Google Calendar would be great!"
After finishing the interview process, we crafted user personas. We chose to create primary and secondary personas, to illustrate how the Pavlok Chrome extension will be used differently.
Our primary persona owns a Pavlok device; he will use the extension to increase productivity and better manage his work life.
Our secondary persona does not own a Pavlok device; she will use the extension to stay focused while researching and manage assignments.
For those who are looking to maximize productivity, the Pavlok Chrome extension is a central resource to manage your day-to-day activities - from web browser controls to powerful app integrations.
Ideation & Sketching
With user research completed, we began to ideate and sketch. We sketched multiple versions of the small summary window, full-page window and a feature window.
Paper Prototyping & Usability Testing
With a paper prototype in hand, we conducted our first instance of usability testing, in order to validate the design concept.
Results: Small Window
Participants were confused by the power button, used to sign out of the Chrome extension
It was replace by a standard sign out button, to clearly communicate it's function
Participants felt that the space below To-Do could be better utilized with additional information
Calendar was added showing a schedule of the day's events, in order to provide more value to the user
Results: Full Window
Participants felt that having easy access to Blacklist and Max Tabs is important
Icons were added for Blacklist and Max Tabs, to ensure ease of access
Participants did not notice the settings icon on the bottom-left of the screen
The settings icon was moved up top where all of the other icons are
Results: To-Do Window
Participants thought that having a drop-down window would appear cluttered and take away from the full-page background image
The window was changed to be floating mid-screen, like a pop-up, to provide a cleaner appearance
Wireframes & Usability Testing
After making adjustments to our initial design, we embarked on building medium-fidelity wireframes and conducted two rounds or usability testing.
Small Window: Test Results
The date was removed, as it was viewed as superfluous by users
A notifications icon was added, fulfilling the business goal of being able to push content to the user, and the user goal of obtaining timely notifications about software and product updates
An icon was added to test the bluetooth pairing of the Pavlok device, which was requested by users and part of the original design; however, the previous check mark icon was replaced with a standard bluetooth icon, in order to removed the confusion that existed in the original design
Based on continued user feedback that the small window was used primarily for the "on/off" (sign out) function, toggle switches were added for Max Tabs and Blacklist, in order to provide quick access to turning those features on and off, without having to sign out and back in
The Remote Control feature was added back in from the original design, after users indicated its value; however, the collapsable menu from the original design was jettisoned in favor or controls that are activated by a hover, in order to conserve space and provide ease of use
Users found the wording on the button to be unclear, as to where they would be taken; the wording was changed from "Full Menu" to "Go to Main Window" in order to provide more clarity on the destination
Main Window: Test Results
Users found the icons to be too small; icon size was increased to more prominently display each feature
Though positive user feedback was obtained with respect to the Mail feature, Pavlok indicated that it was not in a position to build the feature at this time; the feature was removed
Users indicated that they wanted easy access to support, while in the Chrome extension; a support icon was added to launch Pavlok's chat support function
When users shared their thoughts during testing, it became clear that they wanted more information about their progress while using the extension; an analytics section was added on the Main Window to provide daily insights - when each area is clicked, a graph illustrating the week's progress appears
To-Do Window: Test Results
Users felt that the Set Priority function should be grouped with all of the other functions; the set priority function was moved below, with the other functions, to create a central area in which a to-do can be manipulated
Users were confused as to why most functions were accessed by a button, while Set Priority was accessed by a drop-down; all functions were made drop-downs to provide consistency and ease of use, without having an additional box pop up
On the list of pending to-dos, the only available sort function was by Priority, which frustrated users; to-dos were also made sortable by Deadline and Focus Session, to provide users with increased convenience
Max Tabs: Test Results
Users found the Everyday option to be convenient, but felt that it should occupy a higher position on the list; the Everyday option was moved to the first position, as to provide a quicker way to set Max Tabs for the entire week.
There was some confusion about the term Create, on the call-to-action button; the wording was changed to Set Tabs, in order to clearly describe the purpose of the button.
Although some users really liked the two-column format, many felt that it was a bit superfluous; one column was utilized instead, with the number of desired tabs being directly entered and saved by clicking the Set Tabs button, thereby streamlining the process and providing a cleaner look and feel.
Redesigning the Blacklist proved to be a major undertaking, with a curve ball thrown in at the end. With only a week left in the engagement, Pavlok management provided us with additional information with respect to where they wanted to see the Blacklist head. They were interested in building the Blacklist around the idea of "productivity sessions." Further, they wanted users to be able to easily build these sessions with pre-defined groups, similar to the ones used in the RescueTime productivity software. After many sleepless night filled with learning about RescueTime and more wireframing, we had a new design in place. The Blacklist now contained four distinct elements and much more functionality:
Productivity Groups: Theme-based groups that easily allow users to create productivity sessions. Though groups are pre-defined by Pavlok, users can customize whether the group is categorized as productive, neutral or distracting
My Group: What was in essence, the original Blacklist. A way for the user to create a completely customizable group of blocked websites, regardless of whether Productivity Groups are used or not
Exception List: A central piece of the original Blacklist, allowing a user to make an exception for a particular part of a website that has been blocked
Productivity Sessions: Allows the user to schedule by day and time, when the Blacklist is on
With such a small window of time left in the engagement, usability testing was limited. However, the testing that was conducted yielded positive user feedback, as they were delighted with the more robust and customizable functionality of the Blacklist. The new designs are shown below.
Redesigning the Pavlok Chrome extension was a major challenge. That challenge was made greater by the late-stage requests made by Pavlok management. However, it was a great opportunity for our team to come together and produce something that the client requested. I'm proud that we did that. Although we did receive positive user feedback on the new Blacklist, usability testing was limited and I believe that additional testing is needed. With so much increased customization and functionality, there are surely areas of the product that can be improved if an appropriate amount of usability testing is conducted.