Rough Cuts

This week’s highlights:

  • Rough cuts for demo videos!

This week was all about the videos. I’m creating 4 short videos, instead of 1 long one to showcase the different concepts that I have.


Some stills from them:

Overall video that ties showcases concepts together

Short snippets of common interruptions around the house – doorbells, kettle whistling, outside noise etc. Cuts in to solution ideas.

Desktop HD Copy

Notification Limits

Phone keeps vibrating while woman is meditating. The clip will be heavily reliant on thoughts during meditation and being disturbed.

Desktop HD Copy 2

Do Not Disturb

Snippets of “Do not disturb” signs in real life. Copy says, “When they can’t read the signs, show them”.

Desktop HD

I’ll focused on crafting a nicely put together story about my journey, and working towards a highly polished demo video for the presentation next week!

Where Did Time Go…

This week’s highlights:

  • Prep for Rubric 3 Review
  • Researched about Videos

This week hasn’t been the most productive for my senior project to be honest, as I was caught up with other school projects and also prepping for a job interview. I haven’t been able to focus, or come up with breakthroughs with regards to the video and how it could be presented 😦

But one thing that became clear, was how I would need multiple videos — one that just generally explains and ties all my concepts together. And then 3 individual ones that showcase each of the concepts.

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Planning to just be heads-down on this for the upcoming week!


Drafting Stories

This week’s highlights:

  • Completed all screens and animations!
  • Researched on videos for Final Demo
  • Pored through dozens of Apple videos

Almost at the tail end of this project – I can’t believe it’s so near the end! I’ve completed all the screens and animations for the design solutions that I’m proposing. However, I anticipate that after getting to a final version of the video script, I might need to add in a couple for fillers.

I also watched a ton of Apple promo videos and noticed there are 3 main types going on:

1. More narrative and shows how the product is integrated into a person’s life. (Below, one of my favorites because it’s succinct, but conveys the point well).

2. How-to, more like guides.



I’m leaning towards the first, but also feel constrained because I can’t shoot footages. But have also discovered some great stock footages I could use (albeit, expensive :/). What I realize though, is that a lot of Apple’s videos don’t have a before / after — it’s fairly subtle, and only focuses on the ‘after’. I wonder if that’s also a direction I should pursue if I want to adhere to the brand voice.

Video Script Drafts

  1. Do Not Disturb.  My main idea here is to allude to the text bubble anxiety, and how one won’t need to feel anxious anymore with this.

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2. Notification Limits. Show a person starting the day “right”, or doing whatever they want to versus being forced to check their mail because it’s on their notification center.

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3. App Limits. Show the typical familiar scene – a person keeps scrolling and then lose track of time, versus with App Limit, they are aware of time and go on to sleep.

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Next week:

I’m hoping to have a finalized script and a first draft of the video. And figure out the story for the final presentation!

Nitty Gritty

This week’s highlights:

  • Get into the nitty gritty of the screens to make sure I have all the screens I need
  • Explored animating tools like Principle and Flinto to decide which to move forward with
  • Flow chart that outlines the rules/logic for all interactions

I’m kicking off my last phase, it’s all about design polish from here on. This week, I was mainly focused on making sure I have all the screens I need (turns out, I’m still missing a few states of things — oops!). I’ve also started animating, both on Principle and Flinto, to see which I should use for the rest of my screens.

Principle > Flinto

In terms of importing stuff, I think Principle does a better job at it. Flinto only retains basic shapes when exported from Sketch — otherwise, it flattens it; which is annoying if you want to edit specific portions of the component!

Flinto > Principle

But overall, I prefer Flinto to Principle because of its ease of use, and how I can do very detailed micro-interactions with the “Behavior Designer” tool. I also hate how you have to be hyper-organized about your layer names on Principle. Flinto is also $50 cheaper 😉

There’s really not much difference in the output though.







I also made high fidelity flowcharts because I figured this would be an important that showcases how I have thought of each micro-interaction, and why.

Next week, I want to try and finish all the animations, so I can use what remaining time I have to craft a strong narrative for both the video and presentation.

The Last Mile

To say that the past few weeks have been crazy is trite, but also quite an understatement. From having so much to look forward to—people I’ve missed that I was finally able to see and spend time with, starting a new job… to canceled everything. It has honestly been challenging to focus on doing work, but I realized that I needed to confront these disappointments and anxieties before I can focus on doing work. Happy to say that I’ve made my peace with things lost, with not knowing, with things not being within my control — with doing my best with the cards that I have right now.

Highlights of these two weeks:

  • Conducted usability/concept testings via Zoom (only managed to record one)
  • Iterated based on their feedback
  • Started high-fidelity screens


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Usability Testing via Zoom


1. Do Not Disturb status

Previous version:

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  • Turn on Do Not Disturb
  • Select Messages to snooze

Feedback — People were confused at what ‘Turn on Do Not Disturb’ would do, and was confusing it with the ‘Do Not Disturb’ function that Apple already has. (ie, Turning this on here, turns on Do Not Disturb for the phone, not just messages).

They also thought that the person at the receiving end of the snoozed messages might feel bad, or offended if found that their messages were being snoozed.


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This setting can be adjusted in ‘Do Not Disturb’ in Settings. When turned on, other people can see a little moon ‘current Apple symbol for Do Not Disturb’, and a status message when one is trying to send a text to that person.


2. Timer for App Limit


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  • A timer that tells people how long they have left when they’re in an application before the app limit is reached.

Feedback – people were talking about how they keep pressing the  ‘Remind me in 15 minutes’ when their app limit is up, and wish they have this so they’re more intentional about how they use the remaining time they have.

“If I know I have 20 more minutes on Instagram, I would be more mindful about how I want to spend my time there. Do I want to spend time scrolling on this random person’s feed?”


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Fleshed it out so people can see how they’re able to do it (Settings), and how the timer will visually present itself.


3. Notification Limits


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  • Set when and what notifications you want to receive

Feedback — The responses that I’ve gotten from these were either “I already do some form of this” or “OMG I want this now”. Concept and usability-wise, people knew what it did and how it worked. But upon studying Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines, I realize that the name ‘Time Box’ doesn’t really feel very on-brand.


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So instead of Time Box, I changed it to Notification Limits, as it felt more clear, concise and understandable.

On top of that, I’m also playing around with an idea about showing you how you’re doing with your app limits:

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Based on my conversations with people, the thing that Screen Time isn’t doing right now is helping them understand their behavior. A 30% increase in screen time usage might not be bad because they might be doing something meaningful. The statistics that ST is currently giving them is either too broad, or not pointed enough that they can understand what the problem is.

So based on that, I wonder if putting an infographic of sorts like this, that tracks the “health” of your app limits, will help people understand what they’re doing that’s causing them to exceed the app limit — helping them gain awareness of their own behaviors but letting them have control on what action they want to take next with that given information.

With this, I have decided to wrap up my project and focus on packaging it — focusing my efforts on creating a highly polished prototype, and maybe a video of sorts that demonstrates everything.

Taking Time

This week’s highlights:

  • Synthesize primary research interviews
  • Developed the third iteration for my ideas


This week, I made sure not to schedule any interview sessions because I felt like that was taking a lot from me. Additionally, I also felt like I haven’t had time to just dive in on the work and findings itself.

I’m glad I did because it felt really good to just sit with my thoughts and see where I am, evaluate where I want to go and how to get there.

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Thank God for studio space!

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Key Insights

Some of my key insights were:

  1. First and foremost—We all have limited bandwidth, because life.
  2. Responding (and especially doing it meaningfully) to people requires time and attention. (Whether it’s in-person or in the virtual space).
  3. The apps and our devices are not helping us prioritize our time to things we truly care about.

There’s a strong tension between these 3 points.

That’s the reason why, when some people go on Instagram/Twitter and they fall into the rabbit hole and spend 4 hours on it—they feel like shit. Because what started as us wanting to connect with people we care about (in a low-energy, maintenance way) turned into this giant ball of time wasted on the content we didn’t care for.


Our Smartphones Suck at Being our P.A.s

It made me think of the role of our devices, specifically our smartphones. If it were supposed to be our personal assistants, then it has massively failed at being a personal assistant. What it does now is, tell us every single thing, asking us for our attention all the time. I asked myself then, what makes a great personal assistant? I’ve never had a personal assistant before, but have observed a few to get a general sense.

But what’s key is that great P.A.s know what’s important to you—so they know when to leave you alone, and when to get your attention (something our smartphones suck at doing). Great P.A.s also know what you would like to focus on, and helps you do or field off the things that are not important to you.

With that, how might our smartphones respect our time and values, like great personal assistants do?



I’ve narrowed down the intent of this whole project to these three points:

  1. Helping people be more aware of their time—what they’re spending time on, and how much time they’re spending on it.
  2. Create mutual understanding of bandwidth—so senders can have more time crafting thoughtful replies, and receivers will be less anxious when they’re not responded to yet.
  3. Encourage 1-1 or small group conversations—creating stronger bonds, and decreasing performative interactions (like Likes, public commenting etc).


Below are some of my previous ideas and how I have changed it.


Idea 1

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  • Decided not to move forward with this idea. Even though this idea had the most traction, and positive reviews from people (and even though these are conceptual ideas), I think the harms that might arise out of linking behavioural and bio data between apps is potentially greater than the good it will bring (a new avenue for marketers to tap into, and possibly exploit; another form of behavior change that we will assimilate to). This was a rather difficult decision for me, as this was the idea that people were most excited about. But at the end of the day, I needed to weigh the pros and cons, and be reminded that what I’m designing for should be aligned with the values of people using it.


Idea 2

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  • Tweaked/iterated this idea. I had initially wanted to emulate or recreate an intimate space for people to chat in the virtual space. However, the feedback I got informed me that people’s headspace when they are physically with someone and when they are holding their phone differs. We’re so used to multitasking on our devices, so a feature that disrupts that behavior is counterintuitive.

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  • Instead of creating a distraction-free messaging feature, I tweaked this to have a ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature (which Apple kind of already has). But what’s different is, if you turn this on, the other person will see that you have this turned on. This is based on the feedback that often times, not getting replies or not replying right away (that waiting space) can be anxiety-inducing. With this, I hope to help both the sender and receiver create a mutual understanding of each other’s bandwidth.


Idea 3

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  • Since I got positive feedback from the above Adaptive Notifications idea, I decided to get into the nitty-gritty of how it might actually work (flow-wise.


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In the meantime, this idea will be named Time Box. The flow is as follows:

  1. Add Time Box
  2. Create a Label and select when you want this to occur. Select apps.
  3. Notifications displayed on the home screen will be ones you selected.


Idea 4

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People responded positively to the above idea as well, however, since my focus is on designing within the realms of Screen Time iOS—I decided to tweak this idea so it’s in scope.

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Image result for screen time ios

  • Instead of using categories to help people be more aware of what they’re looking at, I tweaked it to adding countdown timer at the top. So, instead of the device abruptly stopping you from seeing what you’re seeing, there’s a transition in between when you want to stop, and when it actually stops—helping you raise awareness of the time.


Idea 5

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  • This last idea is new, but derived from what I hear is valuable for people—interactions with close, inner circle. What I’m trying to do here is basically Find My Friends but an app version of that. So if both you and your friend are on the same app, for a period of time, this will notify you and hopefully be a facilitator for conversation.


Next 2 Weeks

All about getting those feedback from people and iterating! I hope to be able to wrap up and have a concrete plan for what I’m going to for the final version of my project.


Interacting Interactions

This week was packed with talking to people about their social behaviors online. By Tuesday, I was already spent from talking. It’s kind of interesting how I’m learning about my own behavior and relationship to virtual interactions with my close-ties, and strangers through this thesis project.

One thing that stood out for me this week is that feeling someone’s presence need not be something only exclusive to the physical. 

At first, I thought (and many people also told me) that their interactions were meaningful because they were in real life, and that moment was shared, and they were also able to see that the other party was emotionally present. However, the people I talked to this week shared with me a lot of instances when they felt like the other party was present, and it was purely online. Therefore, synchronicity is key to feeling someone’s presence digitally.

I made a presentation deck where I went more in-depth about my insights and project update so far here.

Prototype to Progress

I’m in that place.

That icky, in-between mess before the creation and after the research and talking to people. I know this is the place where ideas are born, where insights are uncovered, but being in this place makes me feel like I’m not progressing, or not doing so as quickly as I want to. I’m realizing how inevitable it is to relate productivity to the amount of output.

Nonetheless! I forced myself to make stuff and put it out there so I can get feedback from real people.

1. Biometric Monitoring

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Linking Health device information with social activities, and intervening when there is a spike in heart rate or other irregularities detected.


I’ve been getting really positive feedback with this one, ever since the scrappy sketch version I did previously. My next step for this would probably be to refine the UI or language, so it’s more polished. And also explore other emotions that might also be good for moments like these. (Right now, only anger is detected).


2. Focused Chat Conversations

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One of my key insights so far is how undivided attention is crucial to a meaningful experience—whether it’s offline or online. The asynchronicity that online messaging provides induce anxiety for some, but reduces pressure for others. Despite these contrasting reactions, almost all my interview participants tell me how real-life interactions are meaningful for them—because they’re able to see that others are only paying attention to them, and sharing that moment together.

This second concept explores how to emulate that sense of presence in a digital world. Focal is a chat room (think “Secret Chat” room functions) that’s only activated when both parties activate it. By entering this separate chatroom, all other notifications are muted momentarily.


I’ve gotten mixed feedback about this. Some people think that it might cause more problems or friction because there might be misaligned expectations. (If one person wants to be in this mode, but the other doesn’t).

I might ask more people about their thoughts on this so I can get a better idea on how to proceed with this.


3. Clustering Views

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What many love about social media is how it allows them to:

  1. Be updated with friends or family news.
  2. Discover new things.

But, what they hate it how they will get sucked into it, and form a false sense of achievement (from bored, to not bored) and validation (how many views or likes, or direct messages did I get). This idea is around clustering posts into groups, so they can view it by priorities (In this case, we assume updates from ‘Close Friends’ is more important than ‘Design Inspiration’).


An interview participant told me how she loves this idea and would use Instagram more if it was organized this way. It reminded her of TweetDeck and how it helped her organize her tweets. But she also mentions that this probably isn’t something that Instagram would roll out, because it might mean a shorter engagement time.


My gut tells me that I should look into notifications—because notifications actually tap into Time, Attention, and Validation. It is also how we fall into these attention-grabbing traps. (What if we could have adaptive notifications—notifications that alert us not when something is happening, but when we want to react to it?)

On top of continually talking to people and getting their feedback, I will also develop concepts around how to create more meaningful notifications.

Behind the ‘Like’

This week, I’ve been mostly immersed in speaking with experts and just putting scrappy ideas that are in my head, out in a sketch form. I’ve read several articles just on the implications of the ‘Like’ button alone. I’m getting a full picture on why people, especially teenagers, are vulnerable to a distorted self-image because of social media. If we just plainly look at the Like button on Instagram—it’s in the shape of a heart.

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More likes, more heart?


In a face to face interaction, we have phatic, non-verbal cues to help aid communication and are crucial to conveying what we really want to. Things like hugs, kisses, a pat on the back—those things are important and crucial in helping us determine acceptance and a sense of belonging. Now with that all being scraped away, we’re only left with emojis and buttons as our only indicative cues to help us understand our place and how we belong in our community. Studies also mention how a lack of Likes on people’s posts can also lead to one feeling ostracized or disconnected. On top of that, these are all controlled by algorithms, by people and organizations who want to profit off our engagements with one another.

I can’t even.

A couple of heavy questions that’s been steeping in my mind after:

  1. What does a meaningful online interaction actually look like? (in what context, with who, etc).
  2. How or what makes people feel connected online?
  3. How can we create systems that make everyone feel like they are included? Helps them gather the information they need for meaningful interaction? 

This will be my next phase as I talk to users of social media or communication/community platforms.

I also managed to show my early ideas to the experts or thinkers in the field, and got valuable feedback.

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People told me that this was a good approach, but that giving users control will be most important. So instead of disallowing them to proceed with the knee-jerk reactionary comment, the app or thing will just alert them that their heartbeat has gone up, and question if they’re still sure of posting the comment. This is also a growing field, called Adaptive Interfaces.


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The hypothesis I have behind this next idea is that since we cannot control how positive or negative other people’s interactions are, we should reflect on our own—making ourselves more aware of things we are exposing ourselves to and how that makes us feel. However, many people had a hard time understanding the intent. One person also suggested showing a consumption side—not just the reactions. In her own words, “what you eat is what you grow.” I agree.

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The hypothesis behind this idea is that we spend too much time mindlessly interacting, without understanding how our frivolous interaction can be perceived by someone else. If we can force people to leave a comment, then maybe we can have more meaningful engagements on social media. But one person says that, sometimes she likes thing just because she wants to send our good vibes. By forcing her to leave comments, she might reduce her interactions and therefore, reduce the good vibes she wants to give out.

These are all great feedback, but all these ideas actually point at different intentions. My focus for the next coming week and week after, is to talk to as many non-experts, and get their perspective on what they want social media to be place for; how it has worked/not worked for them, so I can scope this project (this can of worms!!!) even more.

Link to Rubric 1 presentation.

What’s in a ‘Like’?

This week, I mainly immersed myself in the subject, through secondary research that’s been previously done and finding out about other digital products that might be in the same space as what I’m exploring.

To my surprise, there are actually quite a number of people and communities that are concerned, and therefore, creating products that aim at alleviating or combating the negative effects of addictive technology. There are also movements, like National Day of Unplugging and communities like the Center of Humane Technology. It makes me relieved because at least it means I’m not alone!

I also took some time to dissect what forms of social interactions are available online.

I looked into different domains first. Pictured below — Orange is Twitter, Pink is Instagram and Blue is Facebook.

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Then I proceeded to categorize them based on how similar they are with each other. Similar in that they mean similarly.

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After that, I noticed that they all differ in depth. Some are more engaging, might take a longer time, while some others are only momentary (Like buttons, for example). So I put them linearly, according to how deep each interaction would go.

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I paused and thought about each interaction, and pondered and how we do each of this in real life. It is actually no wonder that our digital platforms or technology is causing all these negative behaviors. Twitter’s prompt used to be “What’s on your mind?” for the longest time. In real life, we don’t always speak our mind – and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It gives us time to ponder how it might come across to others. By prompting us to speak our mind so freely, and without consequences, I get why there’s so much rage on Twitter now. I was also thinking about the Facebook Like button or Instagram’s heart. Those innocent icons are representations of approval in real life. It’s no wonder people’s self-esteem can be affected, especially for teens or people who are more vulnerable to these types of interactions.

I got plugged in to the Humane Tech Community, and found many wonderful people who were willing to chat with me about their work. That will be my focus for the upcoming week, and will also work towards gathering stories from users about positive/negative behaviors they had online.