An application could really change the way we think about time and life? This is the new borderline in design and mobile stores are plenty of applications for time management. Most of them are really good, especially for the business target. Free time is still an unknown land and even mainstream agenda applications, like Google Calendar or Apple Calendar, fail in some aspects related to the social sphere. Why not try to close this gap? If a man is a social animal, his time is necessarily social time!
As my final project in the Interaction Design Specialization I tried to develop this concept. The result is a prototype for a sharing calendar application, based on two months of research and study. Although I know the project is still incomplete and needs improvement, I think it’s a good example of which functionalities we can expect nowadays from a digital agenda.
As a mother I was, and still am, often struggling with the daily organization: I have a freelance job, my husband a full-time job as employee and my two kids have a lot of appointments (school, sports and friends). Sometimes my Agenda is full of events/notes and at a first glance there’s no white space to add a coffee with friends. Sometimes I feel like in a cage. Incredible? No, I think it’s quite common among mothers. Therefore I focused on a specific aspect: improve the traditional digital calendar to highlight your own free time, to allow a better organization of your own appointments and finally to change the feeling about your own life. I started asking other mothers how they use their own current agenda and how they feel about their own free time. Do you believe it? Every mother I asked to answered me she had no free time! But then, during our interviews, it turned out that they actually had free time, but not at all organized because the priorities are always on obligations and kids. Beside that I realized that the time schedule in a family is quite different than for a single person: in a family time and tasks have to be shared/arranged/notified to the other family members. Furthermore an appointment often involves more people in the family from different point of views. After crunching those thoughts I came up with my first prototype:
Normally appointments are marked without distinctive marks or, at most, highlighted with different colors depending on which calendar you set. From my research I learned that most of the people do not set any color to distinguish the different appointments and that too much colors at the end means no distinction at all. So, I allowed only three colors: red, yellow and green, as a traffic light, to distinguish how is the user involved into the event. If I have to go to the doctor, I’m for sure busy during that time and in this case I would set a red light. That means also “don’t call me” to other family members, if you notify them. If I have to bring and later pick up my kid from a sport activity, that means I’m only partially involved, because (hopefully!) I have time for an in-between coffee or shopping, so: yellow light. If my husband goes out with friends, I’m not directly involved but I have to remember his appointment because I have to stay with kids and I cannot set other appointments in the same time slot, so: green light.
Another target was to give the whole family an overview of incoming events but at the same time preserving a little bit of privacy. It’s not always necessary to share all appointments’ details, at least not with all the family members. When necessary an appointment is visible to all family members; you can notify them and the appointment will be added automatically to their calendar. This is the same routine people have in the physical world.
Events should have space enough for a little description and at the same time the user shall see the event’s time and location together with the family members involved in the same appointment. I took inspiration from the traditional wall family calendar we’re still using despite the nowadays digital world supremacy. Colors for the activity status are combined with the image profile, so that it’s immediately clear, for example, who brings Peter to the Iceskating training. For each user selected in the above navigation bar, events have a colored left border referring as well to the user activity status. The online testing confirmed that the design is intuitive and clear and brought advantages that I didn’t expect, icons for example. Most of user during the in-person testing appreciated the events icons’ customization. Personally I find them more useful than colors to categorize events: icons are immediately recognizable, colors have a conceptual association with categories that have to be remembered, so they need much more working memory.
Would you like to take a look to my application? It’s shared on Invision https://invis.io/9PA7OY3AV
My article on Medium: https://firstname.lastname@example.org/fun-4-family-660ad862463#.7pawifnaq
Do you think a similar application can help in family management? Leave me your impression in comments, Thanks 🙂
If someone is interested in developing my idea, I would be happy to share interviews, mockups and research data.