UX/UI Case Study - REM
Brief: Studies have shown that if you write down your dreams right after you wake up then you are more likely to be able to remember them.
Create a digital solution for easily documenting dreams. Make it possible for the users to record, review, and share their dreams.
This project was inspired by the WeeklyUX design challenge.
Timeline: 3 weeks
Help users to quickly record dreams
Allow users to review and edit dreams
Help users share dreams
**These are the required goals that must be met in order to consider this study a success. While the project can satisfy additional tasks, it must first effectively focus on this list.
Since this problem requires a digital solution, my first thought was to create a smartphone app. Generally, people keep phones charging within arms reach. This would allow for quick and easy access to record their dreams and would be the first part of their morning routine.
Areas of uncertainty
While I have an idea of what my needs as a user would be, it is important to validate these assumptions through testing and research.
How important should the share function be? Should it be the emphasis of the app?
What specifics of a dream should be tracked? Keywords/tags?
How likely are people to share their dreams?
Who is my User?
Since the requirements of this challenge are strict, I needed to find who would most benefit from this app. According to statistics from Pew Research Center, the majority of smartphone users are between the ages of 18 and 49.1
While statistically every demographic dreams in some form, I will be focusing mainly on those between the age of 18 and 40. This is a wide range of the population, but these will be my most likely users and therefore my research will reflect that.
Users might have different methods of using the app, it is important to think of all the ways a potential user could use the app.
John wakes up from a crazy dream and wants to share it with his friends
John wakes up from dream
John wants to remember his dream
John grabs his phone and goes to app
John writes down his dream
John shares his dream with friends
Pam wakes up in the middle of the night and wants to add her dream
Pam wakes up in the middle of the night
She just had a weird dream and wants to remember it later
She opens the dream app and records her dream
Pam goes back to bed
Pam wakes up later and decides to keep her dream private
**Where could potential pain-points arise?
I created a Google Forms survey and distributed it to social media, as well as conducted in-person interviews. The purpose of this survey was to test initial assumptions and learn of any unseen issues that could arise.
Some key takeaways from these user surveys were that:
Most people would have trouble remembering dreams, despite dreaming multiple times a week.
People tend to forget their dreams unless they actively try to remember them first thing after waking up.
Every person I interviewed stated that they tend to share their dreams with other people, especially when that dream was interesting.
**My initial assumption was that people would not be as likely to share their dreams, but the responses stated otherwise
This research was crucial in the early developmental stages and brought up key insights that I had not even thought of!
Given the short timeline of this project, it can be difficult conducting enough user research. Luckily, there are many similar apps that can provide key insights to user behavior and issues.
I chose to look closely at 4 popular apps on the Google Play store.
I took the time to download and test each app for a few days, logging in and completing the corresponding daily task. This was very helpful in understanding the layout I would go with, and deciding how I would stand apart from other apps.
Reading user reviews from each app helped address pain-points and show what other apps did well. Luckily, unhappy users can be vocal about what could be done to improve and where their needs are failed to be met.
The great thing about this prompt was that there is so many bells and whistles that can be added to the dreaming experience. Unfortunately, not everything can be added and certain things must be prioritized above the rest. I used the MoSCoW prioritization method to categorize potential features into Must haves, Should haves, Could haves, and Would like but won’t get.
User Flow Diagram/Sketches
A large topic of debate for the user flow involved the hierarchy between the public content and the user’s own personal dreams. I was torn between a bottom bar navigation similar to Instagram’s, or a simple top bar navigation using a tab system like Venmo.
To quickly test the initial layout I created a mock-up version of the app in Adobe XD adhering to Material Design’s guidelines. These screens are not meant to be finished and are used to create a minimum viable product that could be given to users to test. They would tell me whether or not the apps navigation was intuitive or troublesome.
**While the wireframes were nowhere near finished, these were still too high-fidelity. I could have simplified them even more to streamline the initial testing stages.
Initial User Testing
Armed with a prototype and a series of tasks, I put the app in the hands of potential users to hear their initial reactions. With Adobe XD I was able to create a working prototype that the users could navigate while I recorded their interactions. The purpose of this exercise was to see if the current prototype met the required tasks AND was easy to use.
Users were asked to perform the following tasks:
Create new dream
Add tags to a dream
View existing dream
Edit previous dream
Change date of dream
Change privacy of dream
Delete previous dream
View other person’s dream
Leave comment on another person’s dream
Like someone else's dream
There were a couple pain-points that users experienced:
The calendar button in the top-right corner was not clear enough and slowed down the user journey. To fix this I needed to simply add a signifier.
The privacy and share setting was not clear enough and was not placed according to its importance. The hierarchy needed to be changed.
Besides some small issues, users were able to navigate the app very quickly and commented that it was easy to use!
**While it is nice to have all functions shown on a mock-up, it is important to only include buttons/functions that are working correctly. Make sure to leave out any buttons that are not working as users were frustrated when clicking an icon that did nothing!
I chose to call the app ‘REMember’, or REM for short. The name REM is taken from rem sleep, the time of night where dreams occur most often. I played with combining the words rem and the word remember, while making both distinct.
The color scheme pairs a deep purple palette with a cheery aquamarine and some basic gray accents. The purple inspires imagination and has a nice dreamy characteristic that encourages reflection. The buttons and highlights throughout the app feature this wonderful green aquamarine that helps users feel revitalize. This is a nice pairing that helps reflect and reawaken after a groggy morning.
Roboto is the standard typeface when used in Material Design and works really well in the app. I followed the standard guidelines when applying sizing and fonts throughout REM.
After the feedback from the initial user testing, I worked on correcting any glaring issues of usability. There were many iterations between the initial prototype and the final, especially on the add dream and dream log pages. These were the most important screens and required fine tuning.
What did I learn?
This was a really fun project that seemed really simple, but actually brought up many interesting ways of approaching the problem. One of the biggest questions I asked myself was on the importance of the social aspect of the app. While one of the requirements was to be able to share dreams, it did not specify how they should be shared or if it should be native to the app itself. I decided to include a shared dreams section that users could easily reference and enjoy, but it was still kept as a secondary function of the app. The focus of REM is to log a user’s dreams while still being able to share with other users in a simple feed system. If I were to do this challenge again, it would be very interesting to see what I could have done with making this mainly a social platform. I would have probably gone with a bottom navigation bar and a more rigid separation of a user’s personal log and the main feed of mixed user information.
What are the next steps?
I would love to continue working on this project and bringing it to a further stage of development. REM could definitely offer a unique approach to dream-related apps with a little refinement. Some features that could be implemented might include:
Unique graphics for dream log entries
Night-mode theme based off time of day or toggle function
An analytics page that tracks tag usage and recurring dreams
According to my research and multiple tests, users were able to effectively navigate and complete all the requirements that I was given. There are still many steps that could be taken in improving upon the app and areas left untested. However, given the time frame, I am quite happy with how REM turned out. I am confident in calling this challenge a success and would love to hear any feedback from those who read this far!
Thank you for reading!