Rethinking the way university students organise their lives.

UX & UI Design
Brand Identity
Mobile App Design

The Brief

This project arised, like all great things, from a need for change. The brief for this project was not to come up with an issue and fix it, but to understand through interviews with students the types of issues they have on campus and subsequently design to solve those specific problems. Taking a user-centred approach has allowed continuous improvement through interviews, usability testing and developing prototypes in response to findings, making for a much more valuable experience where real issues and users are being considered throughout the design process.

Muddled came from a personal struggle I understood very well, the pressure that comes with organising your life. Designing to alleviate some of that pressure was the measurement of success that came with this project and thoroughly understanding what creates that pressure was the key to reducing it. Differentiating from all the other self-help apps that look sterile and demotivating, the direction of the app was to empathise with the user and help them stay organised at the same time.

The Design

University challenges students to balance study, work and their social lives all at once. With so many variables, it can be a difficult task to know when and what to study, and how it will fit into a schedule that appears to have no free time. For this reason, I proposed an app that helps students improve their time management by acting as a scheduling tool for classes, assignments and study alongside other commitments.

As research suggests, students struggle to manage their time effectively, so by providing an effective platform that enables students to customise reminders in a streamline way and schedule each part of their life, I attempted to solve a primary issue that students face.

As the first time designing an app, this project involved a lot of learning opportunities. Designing for such small screens is a major one and the importance of considering the user experience with every decision has continued on in every project I’ve done since. Asking ‘why?’ is something cemented into my brain, as understanding the reason behind every feature, colour, button and prompt makes for purposeful experiences, less visual noise and intuitive design.

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The Process

The app’s icon needed to be a recognisable symbol that communicated with the audience on an emotional level. Establishing sketches of the more generic symbols for calendars, schedulers and organisation, I was steered towards having fun with the concept and emphasising the app’s use for students in particular. As such I experimented with the mortarboard, connecting it with a brain to put together two simple, easily recognisable symbols that represent the feelings of those looking to use the app.

I was encouraged to take the sketching process less seriously which I think helped to establish ideas that were less obvious. The brain symbolises the app’s name, muddled, referring to the opposite of organised, whilst the mortarboard connects with students who are the target audience, and the face communicates there’s a more personal experience in store.

The colours of the app took a number of tries to get right, but once they did, the direction of the project became much clearer. In doing 60:30:10 colour exercises, I initially made the mistake of going for bold, distracting colours. It took me some time to realise that users of the app will want calm sombre tones, a feeling of declutter and minimalism which doesn’t distract them. Using more pastel colours, the identity of the app came together. Blues evoke a sense of calmness and stability, whilst the pink offsets the coldness with warmth and feelings of a fresh start. The dusk blue colour is a good colour contrast which draws attention to actionable buttons or fields, whilst the soft peach is used for in-app notifications that require direct attention.

Time contraints meant the app architecture could only go so far. If given more time I would add more features such as data insights, a study timer and expand the task flows to include more critical paths that typical users would need to take, such as event creation outside of standard university classes. An iPad version would have stretched the project even further, providing the space to experiment with larger dashboard designs and a different context to the app’s functionality.

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Based in Perth, Western Australia.

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