A fun way to start and maintain a good habit
1 in 2 adults starts a new year with some form of resolution but almost 80% fail . The goal of this project is to help young adults to start and maintain their resolution in a fun and engaging way. How? By focusing on the process (trust the process vs. end-goal-oriented). Secondary research like literature research and market research was done to learn existing strategies and explore some ideas. The focus and theme were narrowed down by primary research. Also, the process includes methods like user story and user flow. The result is an app that has several pre-designed habit plans that the user can choose. These plans can be customized to match the user's personal goal. The app will challenge the user to complete several tasks every week, in which quantity and difficulties will incrementally increase to reach the user's full potential. The user can track their progress and journey and share their successes.
1 in 2 adults starts a new year with some form of resolution but almost 80% fail 
New Year’s resolutions have proven somewhat ineffective in solving this problem and we as human beings need a bit more help to solve this problem.
Why do people fail?
Expectations often exceed what is feasible which lead people to reject more modest and achievable goals 
Main sources of failure 
Young adults (Age 18-30)
These target users are typically in university and in their early- to mid-stage of their careers.
To build good habits or quit bad ones
- Helping the users to focus on the process of building realistic good habits or quitting bad ones instead of the results (trust the process vs. result-oriented)
- Starting resolution motivated and encouraged
- Maintaining resolution as a long term habit
Quantitative and qualitative measures
- Using the app regularly for > 3 months
- The rate of “miss” (vs. success)
- The user will feel the journey to reach their goal to be enjoyable (Not dreading, the user associates the Rabit app to be something positive)
- The user will feel less overwhelmed with their goal (The user still feel challenged to complete smaller goals but with ease)
- The user will feel encouraged to keep going with their goal (The user feels the need to continue on their journey, but not forced)
Scientific Strategies (SS)
The objective is to find scientific strategies and findings that are related to habit.
- Focusing on superordinate and subordinate goals increased the amount of effort invested in goal pursuit 
- Self-modification would succeed more often if it is framed more positively instead of focusing negatively on instances of disinhibition (Start vs. Stop) 
- Instead of counting each instance of old habit as an instance of failure, failure would be acknowledged only if some longer-term (say, monthly) goal was not achieved 
- Focus less on the shortcomings of the person and more on the difficulty of the goals 
- Occasional lapses should be acceptable, and indeed, they might not even be considered as lapses 
- Sharing about the self is intrinsically rewarding 
- IKEA effect - The effect small amounts of effort have on the way people value various products. Studies have shown that things we put labour into, become worth more to us 
Market Research (MR)
The objective is to evaluate (divergently) products and services that have successfully created habit-forming features. Three apps that were known to successfully help users to start and maintain a positive habit were evaluated. Here are the main insights:
- YouVersion Bible App: Plans provide structure to the difficult task. Chunks and sequences the text by separating it into bite-size pieces focus the reader’s brain on the small task at hand, while avoiding the intimidation of reading the entire book. The unknown, which verse will be chosen for the reader and how it relates to their personal struggle, becomes an important driver of the reading habit .
- Reflectly: Using very positive and encouraging languages (greetings, quotes) can uplift the user’s mood. Using adorable imageries like dog pictures can improve the user’s mood as well.
- Strava: Providing a sense of social accountability between your friends in the app. Easy to share personal activities to other platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (optional sharing).
Market research: YouVersion Bible App, Reflectly, Strava
The objective of this primary research is to understand the common self-changes or resolutions that target users may have.
- Method: Survey-questionnaires (https://forms.gle/ny5dGWkwGZmnb8Ce7).
- Participants: n=24, Age 18-30
Once the data is collected, I used the thematic analysis method to categorize the answers and find common themes. Here are the insights:
- Very common resolutions that the participants want to start and stop are generally physical health-related (start exercise, start eating healthy, stop eating junk food)
- Participants also want to start on better sleep-related habits (wake up early, sleep early, better sleep)
- Participants also want to stop laziness related habit (procrastinate, laziness, wasting time)
From the problems deep-dive, primary and secondary research, I took the insights and translate it into opportunities.
- Breaking down bigger goals to more achievable, realistic, and actionable goals (SS, MR)
- Focus on one big goal at a time (P: Amount)
- Start with easier and more bite-size small goals (MR)
- Try to frame “stop“ to “start” when possible (SS)
- Don’t focus on failures but the effort. Occasional “lapses” are okay. (SS)
- Start with physical health-related goals then branches to other areas like stopping laziness, more socializing (PR)
- Mystery can be an exciting drive (MR)
- Help the user invests in the app but more importantly invests in their journey (MR)
- Making it easy to share progress and milestones (SS, MR)
- Structured plans with a wide range of options (MR)
From the research, it allows me to diverge and converge ideas, then tying it down with the problems and goals resulted in these ideas:
- Tracking how much money you’d save from not doing a bad habit (drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes)
- Streaks score. “endowed progress effect” -- a tactic also used by video game designers to encourage progression. Start easy and then it gets harder
- 2 different approaches: Extreme or incremental changes
- Mini challenges
- Pre-programmed plan and/or custom plan
- Social accountability. Make it easy to share like Strava, but optional
- Buddy system
Looking from the eyes of the user
From Unsplash by Ana-Maria Nichita
Creating a user story has helped me to empathize and create a logical solution that is based on a use case. This has helped me to create a cohesive experience for the target user. Below is the user story I used:
Brad is a third-year university student. He used to be an athlete in high school but he barely exercises once he started university. Entering the year 2020, he set a goal of exercising again as to how he used to in high school.
Brad wants to have an accountable tool that can help him to keep him on track with his exercise journey. He wants a solution that makes the journey more enjoyable rather than dreadful and intimidating.
The onboarding user flow has helped me to identify what information needs to be included at certain touchpoints and provided a logical flow for the app when prototyping it. Especially for onboarding, which is the first impression for the user, showing the values early is important because you want to hook the user early. I needed to make sure that the onboarding is as few barriers as possible, yet still, require necessary information from the user.
Onboarding user flow
The 1-month-use user flow has helped me to identify what information needs to be included at certain touchpoints and provided a logical flow for the app when prototyping it. Mainly, this is useful to help me to visualize the daily use logic from the user point of view.
1 month of use user flow
From what was defined in the user flows, the information and features were organized systematically.
Rabit information architecture
Exploring wireframes with pen and paper
Wireframe sketches for plan options
Wireframe sketches for the challenge/tasks screen
Personalizing the experience
Helping the user to invest in their habit journey starts with them investing in personalizing their experience early. It can be as easy as asking their name to provide a personalized habit journey plan. Also, from the get-go, positive and friendly language is used to set a positive mood.
Rabit welcome screens
Choose and adjust a pre-designed plan
As discussed in the problem deep-dive, people fail because they try to do more than they can realistically do , thus limiting the user to one big goal at a time. The user will need to choose a pre-designed plan that breaks down a big goal (habit) to actionable mini-goals (challenges). Also, it makes sense to start with plans that are around physical health based on primary research. Eventually, custom plan features in which the user can add their own big goal would be a great addition as it increases the flexibility of the app thus reach. However, this consideration should be balanced with a wider variety of plans.
The use of animal imageries is intended to inspire good positive feelings. Using animal imageries is common in advertising to inspire good feelings about the advertisement and the brand .
Once a plan is selected, the user can adjust the plan they choose to their personal goal.
Rabit choosing and tweaking a plan screens
Remind me please
The user is encouraged to agree on the reminder/notification as accountability is one of the main issue of maintaining resolutions/habits. Thus by agreeing to be reminded, the app will make sure that the user is always reminded when necessary, giving encouragement and compliments.
Rabit reminder screen and logic
Complete a weekly challenge
Each challenge has its unique tasks to be done based on the period the user set up. Once the user is done with a task, the user can tap on the empty checkbox and the text beside the box will be crossed (that feel-good feeling of completing a task).
Challenges are incrementally harder as the number goes up. It’s built to reach the user’s full potential. Daily quotes are generated as positive and inspiring encouragements.
Rabit Challenge screens
Track your journey
The Journey tab is to show the user's progress and previous accomplishments. It is chronologically ordered with the latest progress at the top. The locked challenges are intentionally shown as a sneak peek and so that it increases the user's anticipation, thus motivation to finish the current challenge and unlock it.
Streak point feature adds gamification to the solution, making it more fun and helping the user to invest more in their habit journey. Adding streak points will encourage the user to be consistent and be on track on their habit journey. The logic behind streak points will be detailed later but not within the scope project.
Rabit Journey screens
Share it (or not)
From secondary research, I found that sharing about the self is intrinsically rewarding . Thus, the app was designed to be optimized for sharing. Sharing is encouraged and can be seen as a "bragging" right. As mentioned before, the app tries to focus on the progress and sharing progress is one of the ways for the user to focus on incremental positive change.
Rabit sharing screens
Manage your profile and journey
During the onboarding the user was not asked to create an account (not asked for an email address and password), so to complete creating their account, the user needs to go to this tab. Other than that, the user can edit their email and password here as well as the notification frequency. The user can also view their achievements (badges) which are given when the user successes in doing "external" challenges. If the user wants to edit or change their plan, they can do it here too.
Rabit profile screens
Interactions of the app
A Figma prototype was also made to understand the logical flow better and making sense of the interaction. Feel free to play around! I also included a video of the prototype. Disclaimer: due to the limitations of the prototyping tool, the animation can appear to be a little laggy. Figma prototype
Breaking goals into a more granular actionable goals
- Making habit goals as tangible as possible has a higher success rate
- Breaking goals into a more granular actionable goals makes it less intimidating for people
- Using animal imageries can prime the user to have positive feelings
Manage your profile and journey
- Verification and validation (User testing, data): Do people want to use this app? Do people get any value by using this app? Is the app usable?
- How can we monetize this?
- Exploring the buddy system, in which a user would have another user as a buddy that is also in a similar habit journey