Facilitating childcare scheduling for working single parents.
Georgia Tech Design Project
Aug 2020 - Dec 2020 (4 months)
Design: Figma, Balsamiq, Illustrator
Research: Miro, Qualtrics, Analytics
Lead UX Designer: Sketching, Wireframing, Prototyping, Visual Design
UX Researcher: User Interviews, Affinity Diagraming, Usability Testing
Working single parents compose around 20% of all American households. That is around 66 million households that go unaccounted for (Pew Research Center, 2020).
Tasked with both the responsibility of earning a living as well as taking care of their children, this group of people is often socially shunned, financially burdened, and consequently psychologically burdened. While the needs of single parents as caretakers are significantly different from those of nuclear parents, there is a lack of emphasis on their differing capabilities and financial, emotional, and physical situations, resulting in high levels of stress.
This lack of awareness unfortunately reflects itself within the technological world, where applications designed to help parents navigate parenthood and ensure their well-being such as self-help, financial, scheduling, and stress applications come short of doing the same for single parents. Even when single parents attempt to utilize applications designed for parents, they often feel that their specific needs within these systems are not addressed as most of these applications are geared toward the situations of two-parent households.
How might we create a system that addresses stress in single parents and increases their well-being?
To combat this problem, our team conducted research to identify the biggest area of stress in single parents' lives and found this to be the process of ensuring sufficient childcare.
Consequently, we designed FamBam, a scheduling application that facilitates the time-consuming task of scheduling childcare for single parent households.
Choose from list of contacts when in need of caretaking
Request date, time, and location
Receive notifications when caretakers are available
Edit/delete requests based on schedule changes
View scheduled caretakers through an in-app calendar
Access past, present, and future records
Keep track of caretaker appointments via notifications
Add caretakers to list of in-app contacts
Favorite family members and close friends for easy access
View caretaker profiles containing contact information and past history
Allow caretakers to upload pictures from each scheduled childcare visit
Update single parents on children via photo memories
Sort pictures by caretaker, date, and favorites
First, we endeavored upon an in-depth exploration of our problem space and user context via a literature review and competitive analysis. Secondly, we implemented an exploratory survey and conducted semi-structured user interviews.
Survey (150 responses)
Interviews (5 participants)
In order to fully understand our user group, it was necessary to first conduct preliminary research to uncover user needs, as well as identify shortcomings with existing applications within this problem space.
We implemented this research by reading and analyzing scholarly articles, as well as extracting major findings to subsequently perform a competitive analysis.
Identify user needs and characteristics as a whole.
Understand sociotechnical context of user group.
Critique existing technologies targeting problem space.
Many self-help applications require a costly monthly subscription.
Most applications are not specifically geared toward the needs of single parents.
Applications require too much learning -- a waste of time for single parents.
In order to gain preliminary, first-hand knowledge of our users, we utilized our initial research findings to craft a Qualtrics-based survey composed of 20 binary, Likert scale, and short answer questions.
Using Reddit, Facebook, and other social media applications, we were able to recruit 170 participants to engage in our questionnaire. Following our survey, we utilized Google Analytics to analyze the results.
Identify biggest stressors for single parents.
Examine how single parents seek external support.
Understand single parents' tech use to deal with stress.
Investigate time constraints within single parents' lives.
have fewer than 2 hours of free/leisure time.
primarily seek out family and friends to alleviate stress.
are inclined to use technological systems to help manage their time.
feel lack of childcare to be their biggest area of stress in their lives.
We used our survey results to craft an interview protocol in order to focus on the why and the how as opposed to the what that had previously been explored with our survey. This would subsequently allow us to narrow down our problem space and target specific user needs.
Using similar recruiting techniques to the survey, we were able to conduct 5, 1-hour long Zoom semi-structured interviews composed of open-ended questions with single parents of various ages and backgrounds. Each interview gave us a different perspective into this wide problem space, providing us with insight on various areas of stress in single parents' lives.
Investigate pain points with current technological systems.
Inquire about single parents' specific stressors/reasoning.
Determine biggest problem area in working single parents' lives/how we can help
Findings & Insights
So as to fully synthesize the large amount of user data we had gathered from our interviews, my team and I endeavored upon using Miro to build an affinity diagram.
We were able to extract several research findings, validated by our survey analysis and affinity diagramming. Using these research findings, we compiled subsequent design requirements for our eventual design, both functional and non-functional in nature.
Family support is the most significant area of external support single parents rely on. Therefore, the eventual design should allow single parents to connect with external support systems (family, parents, therapists, other single parents).
#2 Efficacy of Tech
For participants that use applications to help them navigate parenthood, only some of them believe tech systems help. Therefore, the future product should be simple to learn and navigate.
#3 Sole Caretaker
Single parents find it difficult to make time for themselves as the sole caretakers of their children.
Therefore, the eventual product should help single parents effectively plan and manage their time.
#4 Mental Health
Single parents would like to see more mental health support. Therefore, the eventual design should provide a calming experience for the user.
Single parents feel stigmatized and judged by non-single parents. Therefore, the future design should allow for privacy settings and guaranteed confidentiality of the information provided.
#6 Lack of Role Model
Single parents often worry about their children, especially only having one role model. Therefore, the eventual product should allow single parents to safely monitor their children while not physically with them.
#1 Family Support
Using our research findings and insights, we conducted a task analysis for the following task: Acquire external support as a single parent." This step was vital in our process of research because it would later help us ideate upon ways to use technology to help single parents accomplish this task.
Following our research phase, we ideated upon divergent designs that addressed different stressors in single parents' lives. Upon choosing our top design, we created a final prototype using visual and interaction design principles.
To begin the process of ideation, we strove to use our research findings to come up with methodical solutions to the pain points of our user group at hand.
Looking deeper into our previous insight, we decided that only two of our ten divergent designs could realistically be implemented while at the same time adhering to all six of our design requirements.
To consolidate the two application ideas, we ultimately produced wireframes and storyboards for each.
Given our time constraints, we were not able to conduct formal user testing to decide upon which idea to move forward with. Instead of doing so, we came together as a team and provided pros and cons on each idea, striving to choose the product that would better fulfill our design requirements and serve to be a more innovative application for the single parent community. Ultimately, we chose to go with FamBam.
Final Prototype & Design Decisions
Users would unlikely be familiar with the integrated functionalities and features of FamBam and also expressed their lack of time for novel applications. FamBam remedies this by providing an onboarding experience in which single parents can learn the 3 most significant functionalities available within the application. With a small icon and snippets of text for each one, it is much easier for single parents to become familiar with the application while simultaneously not expending a large amount of time/effort into the process.
Users expressed that the process of keeping track of all of their childcare appointments was confusing, timely, and overall hard to consolidate. FamBam's calendar functionality remedies this concern by consolidating all appointments into a calendar using color coding and easily accessible information on any day of the year. Instead of manually adding in each appointment, it will automatically be added into this virtual calendar. Thus, it saves them the time and energy of going through several applications to achieve the task of scheduling childcare.
Past & Future
Allows single parents to access future appointments to keep lives intact and manage busy schedules.
Single parents have busy timelines--it is important to keep necessary information in an easily accessible area.
Date Information Hierarchy
Highlighted dates indicate a scheduled caretaking appointment. Dashed circle indicates current date.
Notifies single parent of status of a request--no request, pending, or scheduled.
Users were concerned over the process of asking their loved ones to care for their children. It is timely and difficult to keep track of, and single parents expressed often feeling embarrassed. With this request functionality, single parents already have a preset list of contacts who have agreed to offer their free time when they are in need of caretaking. This functionality also reduces the timely step of messaging individuals by creating an in-app, two-step process in which any person who is available can accept an invitation to care for the children.
From quick glance, single parents can see who/when they have requested due to the gray typography of necessary details. Requested date shows up at top of screen to indicate greatest important as to reduce chance of error.
Single parents expressed the need for confirmation when receiving childcare. This serves as feedback that gives single parents peace of mind.
Garbage icon follows the user's mental model of a delete functionality. Allowing single parents to delete events that they no longer need ensures this flexibility. The application also relays a message to the caretaker in order to avoid confusion.
Increments of 15 minutes allows enough customizability while also ensuring fewer mistakes that a fill-in time slot might lead to.
Single parents expressed concern over not wanting to physically separate themselves from their children due to a lack of a second role model. Not only would the gallery functionality provide a sense of relief for the single parents and knowledge about the situation of their children, it would also provoke positive emotions for the single parents to feel more connected to their children and close ones. Because the addition of photos is in-app, it is easier for single parents to keep the gallery organized rather than jumbling it within their mobile device's camera roll.
Single parents may go looking for albums of photos according to date, caretaker, or perhaps favorited pictures, and these screens provide easy access to all.
The round, purple shape around the category of photos universally implies a selected section.
The album icon and map icon under the caretaker's name respectively signify that the user will be redirected to an assortment of pictures.
The heart icon affords itself to a "love" or "favorite" action, so single parents, while viewing albums, can tap on this button to add specific photos to their favorites.
Contact Info Functionality
Single parents expressed concern over their children's safety while not physically with them, and FamBam addresses this problem by storing all of the contact information of each caretaker in an easily accessible manner. If a single parent would like to get in touch with his/her caretaker for that day, it is a simple process of accessing this part of the application.
Consistent Visual Design
Top section of the screen follows a similar visual design to the calendar. This includes the rounded edges, blue/purple color scheme, and buttonography.
4 most used functionalities/pages prominently displayed at bottom for easy retrieval. The current one is highlighted in purple for visibility reasons.
In order to test our product, our team conducted four remote moderated discount evaluation studies. Given the time constraints of the project, it was difficult to recruit actual users, so we instead worked with HCI classmates to evaluate our application.
Task Scenarios (3)
Rating Tasks (3)
Assess how well our product adhered to our functional and non-functional design requirements.
Examine the ease with which participants were able to conduct specific benchmark tasks
Understand their overall thoughts on the product and necessity of each feature.
In order to analyze our results, our team decided to use a Miro board to consolidate our findings.
Because our sample size was quite small and average ratings would be statistically insignificant, we deemed it invaluable to quantitatively assess our ratings and instead focused on the users' reasonings for each rating.
"The time for an event should be any time, like what Apple does. I should be able to customize the start time and end time any way I like."
“I feel like I might want to see family or friends in a different color to categorize them better.”
“The notifications are too small, but well-organized.”
“It doesn’t follow my mental model that the profile information would not be able to be edited (such as on the iPhone).”
“One thing is that I expect to see the caretaker’s information page instead of this (the event’s information page). Especially since the information about the events is already listed on the previous page.”
“I feel like as a single parent I might want to know where my children are when they are not with me.”
“It is not clear which albums are pictures or albums and vice versa.”
“I did not notice the task bars initially.”
Design Recs & Results
Below are just a few of the many design changes we would have made to our next iteration of the application. While time did not permit for a second iteration, this would have been the next step in our process of refining FamBam.
Add more customization abilities, including distinguishing family, friends, and other people within the caretakers section, selecting a more specific time for appointments, a search bar in the “messages” tab to more easily find caretakers , and location tracking in order to provide more peace of mind for the single parent.
Place a greater level of emphasis on confirmation in the form of colors and typography, for example of childcare appointment status or message received.
Make buttons and text, such as the "add" button, notifications, and task bar more easily recognizable.
Instill a greater level of editability in the application, for example, "caretaker" information or an event time.