App Design
Summer 2017

Goalful: A Productivity App

I designed a mobile productivity app that aims to help people set goals with clear tasks, schedule tasks, and track progress.

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The Challenge

“A GOAL WITHOUT A PLAN IS JUST WISHFUL THINKING.”

There are plenty of goal-setting and task management approaches and methods, from bullet journaling on paper to sophisticated software, and many tools in between. Despite this — or perhaps because of this — people tend to cobble together a combination of tools and devise makeshift systems of task management to “make it work” for them. This results in inefficient use of time and loss of information across tools, which ultimately defeats the purpose of the tools to begin with.

There are a number of popular, well-designed products, including Trello, Asana, Toodledo, and Any.do that offer people with unique approaches to managing goals and tasks. At the same time, there doesn’t seem to be a single tool that helps people to manage goals and tasks such that people first identify and set goals, then set and tasks explicitly linked to goals, and schedule time to complete specific tasks to reach a goal.

Goalful sought to solve this problem by providing people with a set goals with clear tasks, schedule tasks, and track their progress, so that ultimately, people can be more productive as they work towards accomplishing their dreams.

Goals

  • Develop a research-informed understanding of when, how, and why people set goals and manage tasks.
  • Understand the current challenges people face with setting goals and managing tasks.
  • Design a product that improves the user experience of setting goals and managing tasks, specifically with respect to (1) clearly defining and prioritizing goals, (2) developing concrete, time-sensitive plans of action to accomplish their goals, and (3) identifying the chronological order of activities in order to work towards achieving goals.

Project Outcomes

This project is only the beginning of a larger, longer design process, and there is plenty of further research, iteration, and design to improve the usability and viability of Goalful. It would be important to design the screens or multiple user states and journeys in order to better understand the quality of interactions that people might have with the product, and to further evaluate how well the product meets user goals and needs. While this initial design process focused specifically on the flow of a new user who was creating a goal and task for the first time, it would be critical to design screens that show multiple combinations of goals and tasks. It would also be critical to design onboarding screens to represent the ways that the product helps people learn its features and functions.

Future iterations of Goalful also need to include the additional features proposed in the initial application map, including the standalone Calendar feature, the My Tasks screens, the Trash and Archives, and the Settings.

Furthermore, it would be important to consider the design of Goalful’s desktop-based counterpart app. Although this project was scoped to mobile app design, the majority of respondents of the initial user surveys had reported that they specifically seek goal setting and task management products that can be synced across devices and work fluidly on both desktop and mobile devices. Thus, in order for Goalful to meet a core user priority, it would be necessary to design a desktop version in the future as well.

One lingering question for future exploration is the question: Can a digital task management product replace, or otherwise emulate, the satisfaction that people report experiencing when physically crossing off items on a paper to-do list? While many people in the research phase had reported using apps and other digital tools to keep track of goals and tasks, others reported that their preferred modes were analog, including sticky notes and bulleted lists. As Goalful evolves, it seems critical to further explore the reasons people continue to prefer analog task management methods, and to develop a clearer understanding of how a product like Goalful can complement, if not take the place of, more “traditional” goal setting and task management on pen and paper.

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