Subliminal: The LockScreen Project 

Case Study 2016 - 10 weeks
My Role: Interaction Design & Design Research
How Could We Help College Students Save Time and Feel More Productive?
Subliminal is a lock screen that makes every relevant information instantly accessible, all in one place for college students. It solves time constraint problems with 4 different lock screen modes, morning, personal, study, and night with an intuitive and quick UX.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
Design Process

Our idea takes us back in time to that lecture when we discussed the coffee problem. The root problem was that students weren’t being productive enough, and they weren’t being organized enough. In fact, we live in a day and age where information is everywhere around us. There is so much information being created every day, but all this information can be overwhelming for the user. We tried to create a solution that makes every relevant information instantly accessible all in one place: the lock screen.

User Survey + Interview
We designed and executed a user survey questions to understand patterned academic behaviors and pain points of targeted users. 

Visualized Survey Data
Here is a user survey report you can read for details.

Competitive Analysis
Our next step was to find potential competitors that already tried to tackle the problems we’re trying to solve. We started to look at places like the App Store, Play Store, and UW’s Capstone directory to see if anybody made a good productivity app. 

Pocket Points / 30/30 / Candy Crush / Capstone Project
We went the extra mile to ask ourselves: what made something addicting? what gets people hooked? 
Our solution will be designed to capture the users’ attention and to be addicting, but for the right reason: to make users more productive and accessible.
Here is a competitive analysis document you can read for details.


We identified two main problems that our audience face: 
lack of productivity and efficiency due to the abundance of so many apps and steps required to get the information needed quickly, every day.  
For the first problem, we allow users to be “addictive” to being productive and studying. For the second part of the problem, we decided to divide the day of our users into four categories: Morning, Study, Personal and Night to enable use lock screen as a gateway to various kinds of information depends on time
During the design process, we added much more features than we had previously anticipated. 

Usage Scenario + Storyboard
When designing the usage scenarios, we remembered something we learned in lecture – design solutions for the extreme cases, and everything in the middle will take care of itself. This is exactly what we did. We made scenarios for two of our most extreme personas, one from each stakeholder group – abled and disabled. This was a super challenge because we not only had to design our solution in a way that was very powerful and capable for our average college student, but also remarkably simple to use so that a blind person could use it through accessible design. We went through several design and ideation processes in attempt to find the best possible experience for all of our users.

Here is a usage scenario report you can read for details.
ex) Storyboard for morning mode

Design Brainstorm
Simplicity & Addictiveness
As I mentioned, we wanted to make studying “addictive". What we also kept in mind: We believe, simplicity, our core principle, isn’t just about how something looks, it’s the way something works on every possible level for all our user types. We think the design is the most important part of our work because it defines our experience and interaction with our solution. Simplicity for us also doesn’t mean not showing complexity - it means having all possible complexities and still having a sense of balance and order.
Why did we choose "Circle" shape

 for our design themes: additive & simplistic?

Research finding resources: A B C 

Color Palette

Initial Mid-fi Prototype


UI Improvements After Iterations
After creating the first digital prototype, we iterated the design by receiving feedbacks from user tests with the mid-fi prototype about each element of screens.

Finalized Hi-fi Prototype

What I Learned
There are a couple of things I learned throughout the months of this project:

The collaboration was not always easy, though we were trying to see the same direction. Everyone had a different, unique opinion on whether navigation bar is needed or choosing the right color themes. Gathering team member's thoughts and putting them into one form was the most challenging part of the process.

Secondly, we should've conducted usability tests with wireframes before moving forward to mid-fidelity prototype the includes main interactions with humans. Conducting user tests with more potential users and applying their critiques to final design could have helped us validating the user experience of lock screen solution.  

Thirdly, I believe we did not profoundly consider how feasible our solution will be. Well, not limiting creativity is an excellent way to ideate a solution. However, at the project fair at the end of class, we got a design critique from some engineers: lock screen in the form of the mobile app could be something impossible to implement. As a UX designer, I learned it is critical to balance between designing a solution technically feasible, practical and cherishing for imaginary things.

Next Steps
Even if our work won the best-in-show award at the class project fair, I believe it is crucial to step forward to improving through another design iteration based on usability test.

Explorative Usability Testing with Finalized Prototype​​​​​​​
Recently, I took the time to reflect and criticize the final screens for and sketched ideas in order to initiate my future redesign plan of this project. The main problem was the study mode's design.
The study mode for the college students is designed based on current data sets of Canvas, a UW’s learning management system. My peers and I had used it throughout the entire college life to track the progression of each class and to check what upcoming assignments are. But current design did not fulfill its purpose much in my view. The each circle did not show critical information such as deadline or name of each assignment. 
I understand the number of points each class assignment worths is critical but how does it relate to circle's size? Moreover, what classes do students even prefer to check more often? What does the circular progression bar means? I also started questioning, what kind of profit model will be able to ensure product's longevity. Wouldn't Ads on the side of screen disturb student's disturb focus (productivity)? which is the main goal of this app.

I was glad that I was able to find flaws and rooms to improve. Being open-minded to self-critic is the primary step of iteration. With insights from usability test with final design and my personal assumptions / questions, I will be able to craft and develop the user experience of our lock-product, which is the most fun moment of my design process.


Thanks so much for reading! I'm more than excited to listen to your feedback on my work. Please feel free to leave any comments: suggestion, critiques, etc if you would like to.

Thank you for your valuable feedback and time!

You may also like 🤔

Back to Top