Optimizing Project Management for Storytellers

Overview

Over the course of eight weeks, I researched and iterated on a mobile application where storytellers could organize character biographies. This independent project represents a portion of coursework required for certification in CalArts' UX/UI Design Specialization.

Problem

Storytellers have no functional, dedicated space to store, organize, and edit character biographies. Competition fails to provide key features like cross-entry linking and field customization, accounting for a large portion of reported user frustrations.

Solution

I designed a mobile application — Story Roster — to mitigate discovered user pain points. Story Roster prioritizes a tagging system to help users navigate quickly between entries and unlimited editable field titles to promote organizational flexibility.

Validation

Preliminary usability tests tasked participants with navigating through the application's red routes. The unmoderated sessions resulted in zero mis-clicks and a successful flow through the clickable prototype's "happy path."

Process

My design approach models Design Council's double diamond, emphasizing the divergent and convergent thinking inherent to design. The deliverables featured in this case study are highlighted in the list below.

Discover

Ethnographic research
Competitor audit

Define

Assumption personas
Content mapping
Paper tests

Develop

Wireframes
Style guide
High fidelity mocks

Deliver

Clickable prototype
Unmoderated validation tests
Retrospective

Where Competition Disappoints

All-purpose software like Microsoft Word, Evernote, or a simple memo application doesn't optimize an experience for storytellers. I wanted to design a tool that would address more specific organizational needs: namely, managing character notes or biographies.

I evaluated existing solutions in the problem space and discovered two mobile applications providing a dedicated experience for storytellers. While auditing each app, I sourced insights directly from their userbases. These insights would inform what mattered most to users and how my solution would exceed competition.

I combed hundreds of user reviews and identified four recurring pain points. See the frequency of each frustration in the graph above. From the audits, I derived key insights that would inform later design decisions:

Features That Make a Difference

Early considerations involved the application scope, specifically, what features prioritize the storyteller experience. My earliest paper prototypes emphasized solutions to the pain points uncovered during the discovery phase. I wanted to address all four primary frustrations, so I included custom fields to address user concerns over flexibility, character "tags" to link related characters, image uploading, and folder organization.

I converged on a design solution following early usability tests. Testing refined key organizational categories and revealed additional user expectations like social media sharing.

User Content is Key

I combatted feature overload in subsequent design iterations. While testing had surfaced other potential features like joint project workspaces which threatened to overwhelm an MVP and distract from the application's red routes.

One primary design goal was to spotlight user content. Users' primary motivation is to keep record of their character biographies and notes. That meant taking care not to stifle that user-generated content with an overabundance of features or a busy interface. At all prototype fidelities, I centered user content inside a functionally minimalist UI.

When All Is Said and Done

Testers explored the final artifact of this project, the clickable prototype, and navigated through red routes like project and character creation with zero mis-clicks. You can interact with the prototype below or open the link to a new tab.

Alternate Link Here

Takeaways

Prioritization of user content and the storyteller-specific experience differentiates this design solution from competitors. User interviews would be a valuable addition to the project by way of gathering information about groups with secondary use cases (e.g. tabletop roleplayers organizing character sheets).

What Next?

If this design were to move into the production stage, collaboration with developers would inform the possibility of auto-saving. Evaluative testing revealed user anxiety surrounding loss of original work, which would designate this as high-priority in subsequent versions.