The project goal was to deliver a simple app containing the essential tools office workers and freelancers really want to help them manage their everyday workload. When it comes to designing desktop applications that help users get work done, there are a few key considerations that need to be taken into account. In this case study, we’ll take a look at how the Workflow app takes on the challenge of helping users focus and get organized.
Workflow is a desktop program that helps you manage your day, minimize distractions, and focus while you work. With more and more people working remotely these days, task management apps help maximize output and increase the time available to relax with family and friends.
The software has a straightforward, uncluttered appearance meant to be as unobtrusive as possible. It runs in the background without making any noise, only appearing when required. Workflow is intended to help people make the most of their time by organizing their processes and giving them an easy method to monitor their progress.
If we want to achieve our long-term goals, such as spending more time with family and friends or gaining financial stability, then we need to be productive in our working lives. Repeatedly unproductive days can cause us to fall behind and feel stressed, which only makes it harder to focus. Whether it’s in an office environment or working remotely from home, workers constantly encounter distractions.
These can be broken down into two categories.
Internal & External Distraction
Most people blame external distractions when they can’t focus, but research has shown more than 80% of the time, we distract ourselves internally.
The distraction that is going on in your head. We are over-stimulated by a plethora of choices in today’s environment. Tasks are assigned importance based on our current requirements and satisfaction. In other words, you prioritize according to the short-term benefits or gratification, rather than the long-term advantages.
There are countless sources of distractions, both general and personal. Examples of the former include office noises like conversations and phones ringing; while examples of the latter include worries about a work project or browsing social media sites.
Being a new product, the study techniques employed included desktop research, which included a competitor analysis. User interviews with 10 participants that met the problem criteria were conducted.
The first step was to identify the problem in the current climate, so I drafted questions for the user and conducted interviews with a view to identifying the user’s pain points.
Next, I used affinity mapping to establish the key themes, identifying the essential functions the app needed to provide. Armed with this knowledge, I conducted competitor analysis, discovering a gap in the market between full-blown task management systems and simple timers to track short focus times. The outcome of my research informed the design of the app.
I went on to create a simple, intuitive user journey using low-fidelity wireframes before building a prototype in InVision and conducting user testing before going live.
To deliver a simple and intuitive user journey, I decided to break the app design into four key elements: first-time set-up, daily user flow, in-app alerts, and a dashboard.
First-time set-up enables the user to create an account, and select a session period and a short and long break time. I introduced a simple on/off toggle using airplane mode to block specific notifications or to switch everything off completely. Next, I created a link to sync to Spotify so the user can select playlists from their library.
The daily user flow makes it easy to set up controls at the start of each day. At the same time, the dashboard shows the timer, playlist, do not disturb button, and inspirational quotes, which can also be revealed or hidden on the sidebar of a desktop computer.
During the research phase, I discovered that in-app alerts – particularly end-of-day alerts – help create a sense of achievement, so I built this functionality into the final design.