A habit-forming app for college students to nail life goals with friends' supervision.
UX Design
User Research
Project Info
Group Project
Human-Computer Interaction and User Experience class
Foundation -- Start from scratch
Deliverable -- Mid-fidelity prototype
Apr - May 2017 | Part-time
Axure, Sketch, Photoshop, SPSS, Invision
My Contribution
Lead User Researcher, Prototyper, Visual Designer (for final hi-fi prototype)
Teammates' contributions
Jingyi Zhou -- Product Manager
Yantao Liu -- Lead Visual Designer (During the process)
Xiaoyu Huang -- Prototyper
Jie Wu -- Lead Prototyper
Yuangui Li -- User Researcher
Habit formation is quite difficult for people in their twenties and early thirties. Moreover, a large portion of young people tends to postpone their tasks until the last minute, which gives them little freedom to persist in new habits if there is no effective motivation. Thus, our primary design question is:  How to help young people to form good habits and carry out plans efficiently?

We designed a mobile application, COGO, which means students with similar goals could work together in carrying out plans. Supervision between friends, as well as punishments and awards, acts as a strong motivation.

Among the major design phases, we attached great importance to the research process. 3 rounds of quantitative and qualitative researches were conducted to discover target users' pain point.

Take a look at the deliverable

COGO is designed for better plan executing and habit forming of college students.

Due to time and scope limit of the course, our group designed a mid-fidelity prototype to illustrate interaction flow. Afterwards, in order to practice visual and motion design skills, I re-designed a visual system and polished the mid-fi prototype by myself.

Finishing Task Efficiently

Long-press on a task or click on the checkbox to finish a daily task. Finished task would sink

Achievement Visualization

Various charts are offered to mark the progress as motivation. Check task tickets to see visualization of achievements.

Tab Navigation

The default tab is Task in order to let users stay focused. Group tab shows contains active and archived habit groups. Achievement tab provides a way to intuitively understand the progress. Me tab allow users to customize notifications and manage wallet.


Over the course of two months, we used both primary and secondary research to understand habit formation strategies and task management tools young people currently use, in order to identify opportunities for improvement.

First Round of Research (Quantitive)​

Preliminary Questionnaire

Our primary goal of the first research is to refine our design question and to choose the target user with the most strong demands in habit formation and plan execution.

Thus, we designed a questionnaire to investigate young generations’ attitude towards relevant issues, such as their daily life difficulties, types of habits they would like to cultivate.

We tried to use various forms of questions and collected large quantities of feedbacks to eliminate errors in analyzing. The research result validated our design question by indicating:​​

Young generations, especially college students, who are faced with huge pressure and numerous tasks within the limited time, have the strongest demand to cultivate good habits.​​

​​Some open question results also suggested that supervision from others is one of the most effective motivations.

In this way, we defined our design question and narrowed down our target user to college students.

Second Round of Research (Quantitive & Secondary)
Backed up by the initial findings, during the second research, we aim to specify their habit-forming demands and dig deeper to discover essential reasons behind their current failures. ​

Comprehensive Questionnaire

Before thorough investigations, we designed several screening questions to filter the results and assure all of the data are from our target users. ​

Learn more about questionnaire design ↓

After screening, we distributed a comprehensive questionnaire mainly containing closed-ended questions to explore college students' need in forming different kinds of habits, reasons of past successful or failed experiences, and their acceptance of supervision. We also included questions about user characteristics like their consumption levels, in order to find out the relation between consumption levels and self-control abilities. We also wanted to learn whether they could accept motivation strategies related to money. ​

When designing the questions, we tried our best to avoid bias. For example, we applied Likert Scale to assess students' self-controlling abilities and their demands in various fields. Moreover, we deliberately reduced tendency questions because questionnaires were much less reliable on these questions than later user interviews. Besides, they were less insightful and could not provide deeper reasons or information about users' mindsets as interviews did.

​By analyzing the 208 effective feedbacks using SPSS, we gained the following insights:​​

See detailed takeaway ↓

- Habits related to healthier lifestyles (such as regularly working out, balanced diet, getting up early) and long-term study plans (such as remembering new words) were in the greatest need for college students.

- About 50% of the successful experiences in habit-forming and plan executing come from supervision from other people.

- Self-indulgence was the biggest challenge of persisting in finishing a long-term task for college students. Failures were most likely to occur when there were insufficient external constraints, such as deadlines.

- The majority of participates is made of students who spent 2000--3000 CNY (52%). Moreover, 85% of the students from all groups showed the willingness to include money-related punishments and awards.

- Around two-thirds of students reported that they were willing to share their plans and habits with acquaintances. The percentage varied according to the type of their plans or the habits they wanted to cultivate.​

Competitive Analysis

In order to better understand the landscape of existing solutions, we conducted a survey of roughly 20 existing products, both directly and tangentially related to the issue of task management and habit formation. We categorized them into four distinct groups based on supervision feature and multi-task functions. Moreover, we also used Radar Chart to evaluate the products in effectiveness, efficiency, learnability, motivation, and aesthetics. According to former research insights, our solution should lie in the first quadrant.

There are lots of ways in which the existing landscape of products was not sufficiently addressing the needs of our target users, but the most obvious failure across a majority of these products is that they didn't effectively exploit the supervision from friends, under which students might feel embarrassed if they could finish daily tasks.

Third Round of Research (Qualitative)

Semi-structured User Interview

After screening, we then interviewed 12 students who could be our target users, including 4 sophomores, 4 juniors, 2 senior and 2 graduate students, using a series of semi-structured questions to explore their preferences and attitudes towards supervising with friends when accomplishing a task or forming habits. The record effectively compensated for data we got from the questionnaires by giving more insightful information about students' mindsets.​

Main take-aways from the Interview

Using information collected above, we refined our target users' profile and made a persona to describe their features. This persona guided us to think and design in the potential user's perspective in order not to get into the wrong direction when we went deeper into more detailed parts.

Key Research Insights
After conducting extensive primary and secondary researches, we analyzed and synthesized our findings into three key insights. These insights, in turn, suggested a set of design principles that guided our way of subsequent ideation and prototyping process.


We aimed to generate as many unique ideas as possible at the first stage of ideation. Over the course of several ideation sessions, we produced nearly 150 ideas. To guide us through this process, we used various ideation methods, such as Individual Ideation, Brainstorming & Flash Cards, Concept Sorting, and Diverging, in order to raise solution about our design question from different perspectives.

Concept Refinement
We conducted two concept refinement sessions in order to select the most promising solutions. The first session resulted in six concepts, while the second round of refinement filtered them until three possible concepts were left.

Remote task supervising application
Using smartphones as devices to record the process of habit forming or plan to execute and inviting friends with similar goals as supervisors. They can remotely examine each other's task records every day to make sure the execution of tasks. Failures of doing daily tasks will result in punishments.
Virtual reality co-operating system
Designing and building a VR society, allowing students to communicate and exchange feelings regularly with their friends who own similar goals. In this way, they may develop an immersive feeling that their friends are doing the same tasks with them. Members could set rules in the VR society, which can serve as punishments and awards.

Online multi-task virtual classroom
Establishing virtual classrooms, with monitors supervising the members of completing their daily tasks. Each classroom focuses on a specific kind of task. The class only consists of members who are familiar with each other.

Final Concept
Having chosen to develop the first idea, we decided to name the product as COGO, which meant partners with similar goals could work together. COGO, as a mobile application, helps college students to form and maintain beneficial habits as well as to better execute their plans.

We exploited friends' supervision and other external mechanisms such as punishments and awards in order to motivate students to perform daily tasks.​ The final design concept borrows the strongest aspects from many of our former concepts and combines them into a solution that uses the group task form, friends' remote daily supervision, and customized punishments to effectively address our design question.​


First Round of Low-Fidelity Prototype
We used paper and markers to make the first several prototypes in order to test the main functions such as initiating new group tasks, sending invitations to friends, recording the finish of daily tasks, monitoring other group members and so on.

Moreover, we designed various kinds of user interfaces about achievements to find the most incentive one.

curious about challenges we faced  ↓

​​The biggest challenge we faced at the first prototyping stage was:​

How to set the strictness about supervision? ​

-If the supervision is too loose, students may forge task-finishing records in order not to be embarrassed or punished. More importantly, if money is introduced as motivations, there has to be more strict supervision to ensure fairness.​

-Otherwise, strict supervision requires a huge amount of time and human devotion, not to mention the possible operating cost if money-related motivations are engaged.  

To address the challenge, we designed three versions of different supervising strictness and conducted interviews to choose the best solution.

Workflow of the low-fidelity prototype

Evaluation Based on User Test
We invited two experts and three target users to give feedbacks towards the evaluation questions raised above. Above all, they acknowledged the effectiveness of this solution in facilitating college students to cultivate beneficial habits and execute plans. According to an interviewed junior student:​

"I will not wanna forge a task record if the group members are all my friends. That's even more embarrassing than occasional failures in finishing a daily task!"​

We also gained practical suggestions such as:​
  • The “punishment” function was attractive, but it lacked powerful supervising mechanisms to assure the punishment execution.
  • The “calendar” function seemed irrelevant to friends' supervision and was not a useful motivation method.
  • The interaction design on the Task page was too complex and a little confusing
  • .......​

Second Round of Low-Fidelity Prototype
Based on the suggestions above, we iterated our solution and revised the prototype. Several important revisions we took during the process were:
  • Adopting punishment evidence and confirmations to assure the execution of punishments ​(see the workflow below).
  • Adding the Ranking function, which could show statistics of all group members' performance at the end of the task period (see workflow below).​
  • Simplifying the interaction on the Task page to make it more natural and accessible.
  • ......

User Test Evaluation
For each iterated feature, we conducted user tests to validate it by interviewing several college students within the target user group.
  • For punishment evidence and confirmation functions, most of the users found it could serve as an effective method to motivate them to perform the punishments. However, they showed confusion about the meaning of some icons and the switching effect between screens.
  • For the ranking function, a student reported that he would more like to see different colors indicating different rankings, which is more encouraging.
  • ......
We analyzed these feedbacks and found that the negative ones, mostly about the UI and interfaces, could be solved by making a high-fidelity prototype. Thus, we decided to move on to the next stage.
HIGH-fidelity prototype (Revised)
Based on previous group project outcome, in order to practice visual and motion design skills, I re-designed a visual system and polished the original mid-fi prototype by myself.

Style Guide

Primary Information Architecture


During the process, I have learned a lot about how to conduct user research, especially about data analyzing. Integrating the information and extracting useful results require us to consider all of the resources we got as a whole. I got a deeper understanding of the UCD methods, too. When there are more than one plans, such as the supervision strength in this project, we should ask the target users for decisions, instead of casually choose one. My proposal of making paper prototype was acknowledged in the team, which encouraged me to explore more creative ways to present ideas in my future design.

Problem & Solution
Pre Questionnaire
C‍om Questionnaire
Competitive Analysis
User Interview
Key Insights
Low-fi I
Evaluation I
Low-fi II
Evaluation II
High-fi Prototype