A gamified visual calendar designed to help autistic students organize their daily life.
Role: Gamification, UI/UX Designer
Timeline: 4 Months
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects about 1 in 66 people in Canada and the United States. Currently, only 15% of people under the spectrum are employed with full-time jobs.
Younger students with ASD can take advantage of using a variety of tools and support systems to foster growth and success. However, there is a major lack of tools that support adults transitioning to higher education or the workplace.
To fix this, I was brought on to design a gamified app that would help empower ASD students and organize their daily life, while making a transition to either post-secondary or the workplace.
Understanding Target Users
Academic research papers helped me understand the needs of the target user, as well as the accessibility options that are required.
Extensive research of apps such as Google Calendar and Habitica were done to assess their usefulness and accessibility options.
Initial design sketches were done in order to iterate on ideas and test concepts very cheapy/rapidly.
An auto-generated visual schedule that will organize school and home related tasks.
Passively teach players essential social skills that can used for personal growth.
Completing challenges and tasks unlocks pet customization such as items, accessories, etc.
Paper prototyping was used to visualize the flow of the UI. It was also an integral part of rapidly testing ideas before making the transition into the digital space.
Using low fidelity paper prototypes, usability testing was done with participants to test the readability, accessibility, and functionality of the UI wireframe.
What is it?
It is an organized schedule that uses images to break down tasks that are going to happen throughout the day.
Why is it useful?
Break down complex tasks into visually readable steps
Useful for people who have trouble understanding verbal instructions
Reduces anxiety, provides a structured schedule
Why use Gamification in a productivity app?
Boosting a Users Motivation
The app provides an incentive to do tasks and achieve goals using intrinsic and extrinsic motivators:
Points are tangible rewards that can be spent to buy items, customizations, etc.
Badges are long term motivators that a user can attain in order to have a virtual status symbol
Progression bars & graphs are used for data visualization that gives context to the user of how much they have achieved (i.e. skill categories, etc).
Final Outcome: Digital Wireframe
Designing Mini-Games That Teach Social Skills
Mini-games were integrated into the app, as a form of passively teaching ASD individuals practical social skills, that they can apply in the real world.
Emotion Crafter: Understanding Emotions
Individuals under the spectrum have difficulties in recognizing and responding to emotional states/facial expressions of other people. Using some prior academic research, it was found that using visual events and connecting them to real human facial expressions allowed ASD individuals to increase emotional recognition and comprehension.
Using this model, a player is tasked to make the character on the screen express a specific emotion (i.e. happy). To create an emotion, the player is given an arrangement of event tiles.
What did I learn?
Applying user-centered design (UDD) principles to create a product designed for a targeted audience
Following a iterative design process: taking a low-fidelity paper prototypes into a functional digital wireframe
Maintained technical design documents which outline the proposed features of the application, user flow, style guides, etc
Applying academic research done on autistic individuals and creating mini-games that can offer social impact
Using gamification principles to boost motivation and increase engagement among the users