Over the summer of 2018 I had the opportunity to work overseas in South Korea with Naver Corporation. Naver Corp. provides web services, mobile apps, and physical smart devices* to South Korea and beyond. Their main web platform, Naver.com is often referred to as the google of South Korea, and their subsidiary company, Line is the most popular messaging mobile app in Japan. While at Naver Corp. I worked on the Incubation Studio, a studio within Naver that identifies emerging technology and new opportunity spaces for the company to explore.
Over the course of the internship, I worked on a team of five interns to identify a problem space and solution for early twenties users in order to design a digital service that utilizes emerging technology. The summer consisted of in-depth concept ideation, user research, design sprints, and mobile product design.
From Identifying a Problem Space to Creating a Solution
Over the course of the summer, my intern team and I worked through multiple rounds of intense concept design, affinity exercises, and design sprints; we explored various problem spaces and narrowed our scope to come to a single mobile application service and user workflow; then we designed an interface to complement our concept. Much like any design process, we did not move in one concise, straight path, but back and forth between different concepts and key features.
Our team began the process by first identifying problem spaces to delve deep into; we did this through mind-mapping exercises about possible problem spaces in different age groups. We identified various problem spaces and concept ideas and narrowed them down to a single concept statement. We identified pain points and areas where possible solutions could be introduced in different problem spaces. Some of these problem spaces included social impact, low self esteem, passion-seeking, and networking.
Next, we began to create proposition statements in the form of “How Might We…” statements. We identified six possible problem spaces and formed proposition statements for each problem space. By crit from mentors and basic competitive research, the team decided to focus on the problem space, low self esteem in young adults.
By user research, competitive analysis, and research about college aged people, we began to identify key root causes to low self esteem. This research helped guide our concept-ing and ways we envisioned possible solutions. We identified indicators of low self esteem and in what ways low self esteem can be combatted. Three root causes emerged again and again through our research exploration: 1) low motivation, 2) unbalanced lifestyle, and 3) unrealistic goals.
Through a two day design sprint, the team came up with three possible solutions moving forward; specifically, we focused on solutions that may not address self esteem directly, but through the solution, ones self esteem is raised “in the background.” These three possible veins of solutions were: 1) skill sharing, 2) sharing/releasing ones feelings, and 3) teamwork through gamification and community. This step led us to two key product concepts: developing ones strength and combatting an unbalanced lifestyle.
With these guiding principles, we began to form a more concrete idea of our solution and how it might be developed into a fully functioning product. We realized that these two concepts were related through the development and practice of healthy habits, and moved forward developing a solution around combatting low self esteem by creating healthy habits.
We began to explore and ideate on ways to help users develop habits that would develop strengths and combat unbalanced lifestyles. The team had numerous discussions, mini design sprints, and rapid ideation exercises to form workflows and key feature ideas. We thought a lot about rewards and how to hook a user. By this point in the process, we also paid close attention to competitive products – what they did well and not so well.
Finally with a concrete user workflow, ample competitive analysis, and developed key features, we began to iterate and prototype on user interface.
After the long journey of identifying a problem space and finding a solution that accurately fit our audience and desired mobile medium, we began the interface design. We identified areas where the app would form an engaging experiences, while also encouraging the users to raise their own self esteem. By competitive analysis, user research, and research on habits and self esteem, we identified three guiding features that the the product would follow: habit discovery, habit practice, and motivation.
We did extensive research and ideation on ways to motivate users to participate in habit-making. We thought about rewards through observed growth, gained skill, and entertainment, but none of these solutions seemed to fit our audience and our final goal. With young adults in mind, we began to re-work in previous ideas about gamification through challenges and tokens along with ideas about helping users experience more outside of their immediate location. This is where geo-location, emojis, and completing challenges to collect tokens all came together to form the BreakMake App.
A motivating app that provides small and engaging challenges for breaking bad habits and making good habits.
We used the idea of incentive and rewards to come up with a concept behind breaking and making habits. How might we motivate our user to engage with the app through encouraging them to simultaneously break a bad habit and make a good habit? We set out to answer this question by rapid prototyping and regular crits with mentors and fellow interns.
Feature 1: Habit Pairing
When the user first enters the app experience, they are prompted to pair two habits: one habit to break and one habit to make. This feature is the foundation by which the whole experience works as the “break habit” and “make habit” work hand in hand to motivate and reward the user.
Feature 2: Achievable Challenges
Through research we realized that habit formation works best when introduced with small achievable steps. Thus, BreakMake suggests small challenges to help the user break her bad habit.
Each of these challenges are directly related to their overarching break habit and are designed to empower the user to make progress on their “make habit.”
Feature 3: Rewarding the User
Collecting emojis as rewards is an important part of our app as emojis are a playful and fun way for college to students to visualize their progress. Every time the user commits to completing a challenge, they must prove or validate their completion through image recognition. Then they will receive an emoji, which turns into a “break token.” Break tokens give the user more abilities to complete their “make habit.” This is why the user is motivated to complete more challenges that break their bad habit, so that they are enabled to make good habits.