The SlackLess App
SlackLess is a productivity app that helps you to become more prolific in whatever you are doing by cutting off distractions from social media and other applications. It helps you create time schedules called study schedules for which the apps that you wish to not get notifications from would be blocked and will not distract you for that period of time. It is an all in one app using which you can set reminders and view upcoming schedules.
Product Design, UI/UX
Context of the existing problem
In today’s global world, more and more people are constantly finding ways to stay connected with current events and with each other. Technology, especially in the mobile and networking world, is constantly on the rise to help provide people with access to information and resources, that would help them stay connected, as well as increase the ease and efficiency at which they do things. Various social media sites and applications such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and lots more, are being embedded in our daily lives in a ploy to provide fun and creative ways for us to communicate in an instant, and maintain the flow of information. The grey area is that we are constantly being bombarded by different notifications from messages, spam mails, phone calls and many more, which can be distracting, especially when we are doing something important like studying, or in a meeting. One physiological factor is that people are often tempted to pick up their mobile devices to check for notifications or browse through various social media sites, even while they are doing something important.
Dependency is the preeminent problem
Most people, especially the younger generation, cannot live a day without tweeting their thoughts, or updating their Facebook status, or posting a picture on Instagram etc. Even when they don’t actively participate in any live feed events, they still passively check for messages, and things posted by other people. This building addiction, as some studies show, have had adverse effects on academic performance, job performance, and even on safety, as a lot still focus on these social media platforms while driving. This has lead our team to propose a design for an app called “The Slack-less app”, which will help you isolate yourself from all of these distractions, especially while you are studying, driving, in a classroom or in a meeting.
Goals of the app
After doing a contextual inquiry and filtering down to the most important problems, our team is focused on assisting users to overcome distractions, and making most of the task automated, so as not to burden the user with having to remember every task, and thus, provide the best user experience. The user interface would be made simple to prevent confusion and cognitive burden, and it would also be first use intuitive, for anyone to be able to easily use it. As a general rule, the privacy and security of our users’ information would be of utmost concern, in order to keep users at ease while using the app. The Purpose of our team is to develop a prototype that imparts the application’s highlighting features through information gathering, knowledge mining, brainstorming, cross-referencing problems and solutions and coming up with a convenient solution to every possible problem.
Direction for solution (Introduction to "Study Mode" and "Break Mode")
- The proposed application will stem from the popular Pomodoro time-management technique, “which uses a timer to break down task into 25 minutes intervals, separated by short breaks”. The application will extend this technique by including a social media blocking feature.
- The application will have two modes, the “Study mode”, which would be 25 minutes long and the “Break mode” which would be 5 minutes long.
- During Study Mode, all calls, text messages, social media apps and websites will be blocked temporarily. All notifications would be stored in the app’s memory, and users will be given an option to select contacts from their contact list, that would be allowed to contact them during the study time. If a particular phone number that wasn’t selected tries to contact the user repeatedly (ideally more than 3 times), the app would flag the number as an emergency and allow the call to go through.
- During the Break Mode, all the functionalities will be restored and the user will be notified about any stored notifications. After the 5 minutes break, the app would switch back to the study mode and continue with the cycle. After four study modes, the break time will be increased to 15-20 minutes to give users more time to rest. In addition, the users would be able to customize their own study time and break time, with the only restriction being that the break time has to be at most half of the study time. Users will also have the option of pre-setting the days and times they want the app to automatically go into study mode.
- There was one other functionality that we added that could almost take care of almost all the problems combined. We named this functionality “Complete productivity”. It is a toggle that we included in the side drawer navigation that can puts the phone into a complete silence mode for an indefinite time. This is particularly useful when you are in an emergency and don’t have time to set the study modes.
Some extra Features that can take productivity one step further
As an added feature, we intend to include a calendar schedule tracker, which would work in two ways. First, it would ask the users to input their school’s user name and password (example:- xyz123.rit.edu), it would then automatically synchronize with their class schedule (from RIT’s myCourses or any other school’s website) and remind them of deadlines, quiz times etc. It would be able to automatically put the user’s phones on silent, within the hours of their class time. Secondly, users would be able to input their schedules manually, and they would be reminded of their set deadlines accordingly. Try the interactive prototype below :
Each team member will be responsible for gathering information required to not only maintain security, but also to gather the necessary information about our users. These will be used to tackle major problems, which will arise overtime in the project development process. In order to ensure successful completion of the project, each task will be split among the team, all members will be required to complete their individual tasks before the deadline set by the team. The cognitions acquired by each team member is exchanged amongst other fellow members of the team so that everyone is on the same page. These are the set of covenants that we have agreed upon.
Who can use this app
Of course, everybody can use this app in their own way but our main audience would be all middle school to college level students, who have access to cell phones, social media or computers. We feel they are the most susceptible to the effects of social media, and most likely have trouble with schedules and remembering deadlines. Although we are targeting students, this app can also be useful to business owners, employees, and basically anyone that needs to block out distractions from their lives for a period of time, so they can focus on their task. By constantly researching, observing users, and collecting feedback from conducted surveys, we hope to gain a better understanding about some of the problems users face with social media distractions, and scheduling. These, in turn, would allow the team to use the problems in improving on the design, so as to adequately match the needs of the users. After gathering information to develop a working prototype, a task walk-through will be conducted at several stages of the design, firstly to measure the intuitive look and feel of the user interface and then the actual functionality. We believe that by observing users at various design stages, we can get firsthand insight about how well they respond to the design. We will need assistance from school institutions that have course scheduling websites (like RIT’s myCourses), to help provide the adequate security clearance (at the students’ request), so that access can be granted for synchronization of the class schedule onto the application.