UXD: Week 3

Reflecting back on readings, as well as our Pinterest discussion and assignment, I have been thinking a lot about what it means to meet users where they are. After testing the “Breathe” browser extension over the last week, I have been frustrated by its functionality. The breathing exercise takes over your entire screen for an entire minute without warning. Despite being interested in this topic, I have found it annoying and inconvenient. Usually, I am writing an email and I am forced to wait an entire minute before I can return to my task. There is no way to close the exercise—unless I close the window. Doing that would mean I would love all of my work. I am forced to wait. Don Norman talks about not “impeding the user” through constraints, this one acting as a physical constraint. The design of a breathing tool needs to cause less stress rather than more. Taking over a user’s screen without their control is a negative in terms of user experience. Is there a way to remind users to breathe without stressing them out? How can I remind people without interrupting them? Do all notifications cause stress? What is the best way for users to interact with the notification to launch the breathing exercise? Will a user ever be comfortable with an application/extension taking over their screen? I seem to have more questions than answers at this point in my research.

Designing with the Mind in Mind (ch.8) mentions using external aids to keep track of what we are doing. These tools can be helpful because our attention is limited. There is a need for reminders when our attention is spread across too many tasks. The book also points out that users prefer familiar, faster, easier paths. For a user to user a breath awareness tool, it must make their life easier in the process. It might not be enough for promises of a future state of well-being after extended practice.

The question that came up recently was does this tool need to live on a screen, if the goal is to help users that work on screens for long periods of time? Another student posted a pin of the Moodstone by AQ design agency. This tool mimics a smooth stone and focuses on haptic sensory experiences to monitor a user’s emotions. What I like about this tool is your mind can feel unimpeded while your hand can calming rub a tool. Keeping this nearby can serve as a reminder without being forceful. It can create relief, rather than interruption, for the user. My only hesitation with designing an external tool is that I did not want users to have to purchase a tool. I wanted to make it easy to download and install—similar to a browser extension.

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