Reminders - A User Research Study
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Reminders - A User Research Study

Do Reminder Apps ever Remind you? Highlighting the inherent problem with reminder apps & providing a solution.

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The Existing Issue 😔

I prefer to be organized. Even though it always falls apart, having a routine makes me feel like I am in control of that day, especially in recent times, when I hardly realize what day it is. So I thought reminders will help me in these ‘unprecedented times’.

It didn’t.

So the curious me started thinking, why. It’s supposed to work. I get notifications, but I don’t feel ‘reminded’ at all. So instead of blaming me for being lazy, I dug deeper.

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I analyzed the apps to see how they work and noted some immediate impressions, how the notifications and the widgets work…

1. All the reminder notifications were very soft & can be swiped easily.

2. The widgets were not a big part of the app.

3. Not all the apps had a calendar included.

4. My phone is mostly in silent mode.

This is my study table now.
This is my study table now.

But this wasn't enough and I wanted to research more. What is research without surveying some friends and colleagues?

Survey Time🧾

It's a reminder in itself.
It's a reminder in itself.

Setting up and conducting the survey and collecting responses, in itself, was something I had to remind myself and others of.I conducted my survey on 3 platforms & collated the data which I got. One on Instagram stories (Which is actually a great place to get good data), and then on LinkedIn & lastly, an in-depth Google Survey, which I conducted among my classmates and friends, which forms a crucial part of this research.

Here is the representation of the survey I conducted.

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Insights🧐

I have only shared some of the questions, which I felt, were important. But the main inferences which supported my argument that “The UX of reminders is also at fault” are…

  1. People still prefer physical post its, even though they almost always have mobile phones with them than a piece of paper.
  2. Reminders are very easy to ignore and swipe-off, which makes it easy to be neglected.
  3. Even if people don’t agree, we are constantly reminded by others to complete tasks & that makes us answerable to them, whereas reminders are just apps which we can ignore.
  4. Sometimes reminders are just unnecessarily complicated and tiresome.
  5. There must be a surprise element that shatters the current activity we are working on, else it piles up with the rest of the notifications.

After this, I formulated some ideas based on the info I got from the survey.

Some Wild Ideas 🥳

It's how ideas are made.
It's how ideas are made.

These wild ideas can be a useful kickstart for anyone interested in making a new product or redesigning an existing one.

  1. Making the Widget in Home Screens more Interactive and Editable.Widgets have always been a space that has been left unexplored for a long time. Now that Apple has widgets, something new can be expected.
  2. Make Voice Assistants remind you more.This is something that already exists, just not to the extent of say ‘Jarvis’ in Iron Man or like in the movie ‘Her’.
  3. Designing a routine and assess the progress.For people who are working, sticking to a routine can be hard. So along with the reminder, keeping streaks can help them adhere to the routine and they can see the progress as they get better.
  4. Making Reminders more responsive to devices.Everyone has mobiles and laptops now. And they are ‘smart’. There are also smartwatches, smart speakers, smart TVs, and Tablets. Reminders should take advantage of this and try to scale their mediums to notify.
  5. Making Reminders responsive to appsApps are like cafes. We just hang out on Instagram, Reddit, and Youtube, for way too long, and they want you to stay there for as long as possible. So someone should come and tell, “aren’t you supposed work”. Reminders can be that someone.
  6. Broadcast the Reminder.People think a lot before sharing a picture because this online identity we have has to be better than what we are. Thus sharing reminders on social media (Ones which aren’t private) is a more reward-based idea which can be effective & motivating, but also toxic.
  7. Placebo effect.Instead of reminding ourselves about things that have to be done, there should be reminders of things that we have completed or accomplished. That provides motivation and a positive vibe.

The Conclusion 🎤

Realistic conversation with a reminder.
Realistic conversation with a reminder.

So, Do Reminder apps Remind you?

They do their best. But do we get reminded? It depends. Some are motivated but many aren’t.

But there is always scope for improvement in these applications, which could play an important role in this tech-driven era, where multitasking and hustling are becoming the norm.

Are Reminders healthy?

Not always. It is better to remember things ourselves and not completely relying on tech too much. But with so much to do nowadays, especially during these times where the concept of time is diminishing, it's needed.

So which is the best method?

My favorite app among the reminders is Google Calendar, though I also prefer Post-it notes which I stick on my laptop. For more long time goals and lists, I like Notion, but it doesn’t really remind.

So I think it depends on one’s needs and preferences. Of course, someone can think of an idea to create a product that can incorporate the ideas we discussed. That someone can also be me.

Oh, By the way...

My article actually ends there in Medium. But I am actually working on a reminder app. But since I have just started my journey in the Interaction Design/Experience Design/Product Design field, I feel I need more fine tuning and experience to design a full fledged product.

But that didn't stop me from conceptualising some ideas.

I kind of designed a small brand and a concept behind this reminder app. Just a logo right out of my first thought, a name, and few wireframes and user flows just to kick start it. After this only I realised I need time and knowledge to do this. But I'll share the excerpt of that work.

Prompt!

So, This reminder app is called Prompt, promptly.

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The idea for the logo came from the aspect of exclamation and the post-it note-ish colours.

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I thought of rough Navigation Map for this

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Again, these are highly rough concepts I had, consider them like the concept art for cars. I just wanted to see what the scope of this project can be. It is, So i'll me taking my time to complete the project as I thought of it to be.

Thank you.