How can YOMA provide a flexible solution to support users through wellness routines that ebb and flow with their individual lives?
I worked as the UX/UI designer on this project for three months between April and June 2021. User stories and feature requests were predetermined as part of a project brief for a responsive web app.
In this project I was presented with a project brief for the design of a yoga and meditation app called Yoma. Through user stories and a couple of feature requests determined by the project brief, I was able to create a deeper understanding of the user and create an MVP user persona. This enabled me to analyze user goals and identify pain points and external constraints to supply users with a flexible tool that could support them through their wellness journey with daily routines for every lifestyle.
The framework for this design process began with understanding the problem by defining the challenge, exploring the context in users lives and understanding why it was important. After gaining a greater understanding of the user and their needs and expectations, I moved toward ideation and creation where I brainstormed solutions and used wireframe iterations to communicate these design solutions through a prototype. Usability testing was then used to pinpoint any flaws and refine the design.
Exercise should be stress-relieving and suited to the needs of individual users. To improve overall wellness and mindset, Yoma should provide users with a tool that helps them find, personalize, and schedule wellness routines that actually fit their schedules and support their daily needs.
DEFINING THE PROBLEM
How can Yoma provide a flexible solution to support users through wellness routines that ebb and flow with their individual lives?
It can be difficult to find the right yoga exercises for your personal needs and skill level. Users need to be able to find the right exercise whether they want to improve on their all-over wellness, introduce meditation practices into their routine, and target or even avoid certain areas of exercise depending on their personal needs. Each personalized exercise selection should also provide users with an overview of equipment used and the duration of the exercise so they can plan their wellness habits based on their own schedules and what equipment they have at home. This project proposes a tool to encourage people who want to get into an easy routine by providing multi-level exercise options that can be filtered to accommodate individual equipment and duration expectations.
In this phase of the project I focused on understanding the user. The challenge and user stories provided by the project brief were analyzed to form a deeper understanding of the users’ needs and frustrations. This helped me to create an MVP user persona that was used to promote a user-centered, goal oriented approach to design solutions.
The Yoma project brief provided the following user stories that were intended to drive the focus for project requirements and measurable outcomes:
THE VALUE OF STORYTELLING
The user stories were a great start in understanding basic user needs and expectations. Before diving right into problem solving, I wanted to take this a step further by imagining how the Yoma app would fit into users’ lives.
Without having been given much user research in the project brief, I tied the user stories to individual pain points mentioned in the challenge brief to create a stronger bond with users. The goal was to spend a little time in the user’s shoes to gain a functional and emotional perspective before making any design decisions.
The project challenge asks how Yoma can provide a flexible solution to support users through wellness routines that ebb and flow with their individual lives. Reflecting on the challenge brief and user stories alongside these questions, two distinct user situations were emerging. Usually, this is when I would create separate user personas to match each of the situations. However, this time, each situation seemed to more accurately represent the natural pattern of one person’s experiences – or one individual’s ebbs and flows. This became an opportunity to tell the story of one MPV user persona that would represent both ends of the user spectrum for the project.
THE STORY OF JO
Jo is a 32-year-old mother working part-time as a tech recruiter to help support her young family. Like many young mothers, Jo has quite a few things to juggle on any given day. Between work and family life she has a hard time finding an exercise and wellness routing she can stick to. It’s not as easy as it used to be – just hopping over to an after-work session at the yoga studio downtown before heading home for a good, clean meal and sitting down to finish the last chapter of her latest read.
These days, Jo needs an exercise routine that she can do at home while her kids are playing in the next room. She needs short exercises that she can squeeze in through the day when it’s her turn to run carpool and longer, more focused exercises when it’s not. Some days she may want to target her arms and others she wants to avoid them completely because carrying a toddler through the grocery store for an hour is enough of a workout. Jo has been using YouTube exercise videos to try to get back into the swing of things but sometimes scrolling through pages and pages of videos to find one that supports her day can take longer than the exercise itself.
Jo needs a routine that is flexible enough to mold to even her busiest days – that means options. But she needs these options delivered to her in a stress-free way that helps her find exactly what she needs every day.
MVP USER PERSONA RATIONALE
The decision to create one MVP user persona was rationalized because of its ability to relate to both ends of the user spectrum for Yoma. It is assumed that all Yoma users want to incorporate a daily wellness routine into their lives, the question is, what do those lives look like? In many cases, the answer to that question can change on a daily basis. Jo’s persona prioritizes this need for flexibility and customization within the app and caters to each of the user stories and addresses each of the pain points discussed in the challenge brief.
Another rationalization for a single MVP user persona is the lack of user research provided in the project brief. In an effort to stay true to the user information that was provided, the decision to create this user persona provided a deeper understanding of the user stories and context without undue influence that might lead the project away from the intended user.
In this phase of the project I analyzed the users goals to determine task flows and individual task requirements provide simple and intuitive paths for users to achieve their goals. Considering external constraints users may face allowed me to establish a hierarchy and prioritize certain aspects of the design to provide users with a malleable tool supportive of their individual daily needs.
A GOAL ORIENTED APPROACH
Reflecting back on the user stories with understanding of motivations and frustrations provided by the MVP user persona, I took a goal oriented approach to imagine the paths that would steer users toward success. By identifying and exploring individual goals, I was able to put together a strong foundation for task requirements and user flows.
PLANNING FOR EXTERNAL CONSTRAINTS
In order to set the user up for success, I referred to the user information to pinpoint any potential roadblocks that might prevent them from accomplishing these goals. The external constraints that a user experiences can have a major effect on how they interact with the app. Determining possible constraints played a large role in maximizing efficiency and customization for users from the very beginning of their experience.
The most immovable constraint for the user was time. How much time they had for their wellness routine would determine how they used the app each day. To accommodate the user on days that they had very limited time, the search and suggestions features needed to be simple and direct while also providing enough options for a more leisurely browsing approach. The time constraint can be further eased for returning users because of the option to save routines to a list of favorites.
Another serious constraint is motivation. The daily challenge feature is meant to be engaging and motivating but even that requires prior motivation from the user. How can Yoma motivate users from outside of the app itself? Daily reminder notifications with personalization options can be a great way to nudge and motivate users to login for their wellness routine.
ESTABLISHING A HIERARCHY
The analysis of user goals and constraints and the tasks required to accommodate them have provided a detailed vision of what to include in the Yoma app shifting the focus to deciding how to present it to the user. As stated in the project objective, the app is intended to improve the overall wellness and mindset of its users. This was an important reminder to focus on simplicity while exploring the possible structure and task flow for this design.
Because time is the most immovable of the user constraints, the solutions to work around that were considered a major priority. These solutions were embedded in the search, suggestions, and favorites features which needed to provide quick and easy deliverables as well as providing for the more leisurely browsing situation mentioned in the constraints. This approach would optimize the app’s flexibility to provide users with a tool that truly supports their daily needs.
Beginning with the task requirements and user task flows, I started sketching basic outlines and experimenting with different navigation patterns focusing on small cognitive loads for each screen to keep the flow simple and direct.
Once I had a rough visual of the app’s basic features, I used Figma to create a clickable prototype that was tested by fellow designers within my network. This allowed me to correct minor hiccups before moving on to visual design.
Keeping in theme with the yoga and meditation mindset, I wanted the visual design for the app to promote movement, decompression, and stress-relief. This intention led me away from any bright colors or harsh components to avoid overwhelming users. All design assets and UI elements share soft edges and slightly muted colors for a clean and airy flow. Images used throughout the app share the same studio background and feature calm and inviting colors to help the users feel at ease through their wellness routine.
MEASURE OF SUCCESS
While user testing was useful for identifying design flaws and fixing usability errors, it was helpful to recognize the successes of the design. One major success recognized by testers was the scheduling feature that allowed users to add desired practices to their calendars to plan their wellness routines ahead of time.
The main challenge I faced during this project was creating a deeper understanding of the user with a lack of user research. When I first approached the user analysis it felt like I didn’t have enough information to pull from. I wondered how much I could understand about the user through a few user stories and just a couple of feature requests. This really tested my ability to empathize with the user as I examined every clue left in the information I was provided. This forced me to really submerge myself in the context and take on the user stories as my own. Imagining specific scenarios and taking on each goal as a personal challenge to identify pain points and external constraints helped me to understand the thoughts and emotions of potential users on a diverse spectrum.
I can honestly say that I am grateful for having this challenge because it was a great exercise in the ability to connect with users on a very personal level and really take ownership of proposed solutions and their implementation in real life scenarios.