Also meet one of the newest members Ben!
August 6, 2021
I started working at Brand New Box this summer as a UI/UX (User-Interface and User Experience) Design Apprentice. The position was first introduced to me by Matt Kirkland after I took his Foundations of UI/UX course last fall. At this time I was a Sophomore going through the Industrial Design program at the University of Kansas. Most of the projects I was working through school at the time dealt with the design of physical products, especially consumer electronics. Studying industrial design was definitely engaging, but I found myself wanting more.
As I was applying for internships this Spring I remembered the UI/UX Design Apprentice position at Brand New Box and decided to give it a go. UI and UX felt so new to me. I had never dealt with the design of digital projects before and that initially made me hesitant. Although, the opportunity of applying was also extremely exciting for me. I would be able to spend my summer diving into an area of design that was new and refreshing. Fast forward two months and I’ve been able to meet Brand New Box’s awesome team while going through a self-guided project that has increased my understanding of UI and UX significantly.
For my self-guided project at Brand New Box, I was tasked with designing a simple digital tool that fits the needs of a specific user group. While brainstorming, I came up with a lengthy list of ideas. The greatest challenge seemed to be justifying the need for the tool I was designing, while also keeping it specific enough to meet the needs of a certain niche. From the beginning, I knew that I wanted to design an app for a mobile device. It seemed obvious because they are one of the most convenient and frequently used tools we, as users, own. My ideas were eventually condensed down into an app that would function as a task-management and organizational tool.
There were already countless different to-do lists and habit trackers on the IOS app store, but I noticed a pattern. Despite how simple and intuitive the user interface of these apps was, they still seemed to be designed for a broad user group. I started thinking about parents with kids. There are surely plenty of children who have daily and weekly tasks assigned by their parents as chores etc. I remembered how difficult it was for me to keep track of my chores and homework as a kid, leaving my parents with the frustration of constantly reminding me. Through research, I discovered an upward trend in the number of kids with access to a mobile device or tablet. Finally, everything clicked and I realized I could design a tool where kids would use their mobile devices to keep their week on track.
My idea was DinoHabit: A habit-tracker app for 8-12 year-olds to help them sort through daily tasks and activities including homework, chores, practice, etc. The initial goal was for the application to draw in users of a relatively young age group by creating a sense of reward or achievement for good actions (this could be administered by parental controls/preferences). I spent a few weeks researching the behavior and preferences of kids, and I quickly realized that the only way I was going to get kids to actually use this app was through a rewards system that had real-world significance.
The solution I came up with was for the app to meet the needs of two user groups instead: the parents and their kids. Beyond basic login features, the app would have a parent and child login portal. Parents would be given access to a control center where they could view the habit tracking progress of each of their children by week/month. Additionally, parents could set new custom habits for their kids with three different tiers of rewards for habit tracking streaks. For example, a parent could administer a pool party reward that could be marked as complete if their child successfully completed a 14-day streak of marking all daily habits as complete. On the child portion of the app, I simplified the design to keep them focused on the two most important features: checking off daily habits and viewing progress on various rewards.
The task of creating DinoHabit seemed fairly simple at first, but through the various stages of the design process, I quickly realized how complex UI and UX design can be. After months of sketching out ideas, creating wireframes, and experimenting with navigation flows using a design prototyping tool called Figma, I finally came up with a version of DinoHabit I was happy with. You can view the interactive prototype for my app here.
Looking back, I think the greatest challenge was taking the long list of initial plans I had for the app and condensing them down into a simple tool that actually worked for both users (the parents and their kids). There were countless times when I found myself stuck and unsure of how to solve a problem, fortunately, I was able to push forward after receiving helpful advice from some of my peers at Brand New Box.
I am proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish at Brand New Box this Summer. Especially considering where I started and where I am now in terms of my understanding of UI/UX. Working through my self-guided project presented challenges that have helped me so much as a designer. I’ve had a great time getting to know the BNB team over the last few months and I’m extremely grateful for the learning opportunity I’ve been provided. Now all that’s left is the future, and I’m looking forward to it!