Dcluttr is the result of my 12 week journey learning UX Design fundamentals during the bootcamp program at BrainStation. I was drawn into the problem space of "digital hoarding", and designed a mobile app that makes decluttering your media gallery into an efficient and easy practice, encouraging you to make it a regular habit.

Team:
Timeline:
Context:
Roles:

Tools:

Solo
10 weeks
Academic
UX Research, UX Designer, Visual Designer, Prototyping, Branding
Figma, InVision

The Problem

Digital hoarding: the accumulation of digital files to the point of loss of perspective which eventually results in stress and disorganization

For my capstone project, I wanted to lean into the problem space of "digital hoarding", or "the accumulation of digital files to the point of loss of perspective which eventually results in stress and disorganization. As our lives continually become digitized, something that gets overlooked is how our tendencies to hoard data and files can affect us. Despite it being more convenient to store photos onto our phones or onto the cloud, I wondered what the potential consequences are for continually saving our data without a second thought could be.

Secondary Research

After sifting through scholarly research, online articles, and various media, I found that:

From my secondary research, I learned that not only a significant portion of people feel bothered by their heaps of digital content, but that there is a growing need to address this problem space. Knowing this, I moved onto user interviews to find out where people struggle in their digital spaces.

User Interviews

When recruiting for interviews, I focused on Millennials that have experienced data storage issues in the past, and would consider themselves to be a digital hoarder to some extent. This group appeared to be a good starting point for a target audience and were easily accessible for me given the time constraints.

Interview Goals

Assumptions to get validated

Key Interview Insights

After organizing data into themes based on motivations, behaviors, and goals, I synthesized three key insights:

  1. Devices often feel cluttered. Interviewees often struggled with organizing their files, leaving their devices feeling cluttered. A great deal of this comes with “temporary files” such as screenshots that are meant to be shared or photos used for projects that end up remaining on devices.
  2. Legacy files are highly values. Old, “legacy” files are highly valued and people want them to be accessible. However, people would overestimate the value of them and they would rarely, if ever, access them again.
  3. Storage limits are a minor issue. Interviewees reported that while they were occasionally bothered by notifications of storage running low, many simply found ways around it through nearly limitless cloud storage or external hard drives.

Of these insights, I decided to focus on the the first insight of devices feeling cluttered. Taking these insights, I developed the following question to frame the problem:

How might we make it easier for digital hoarders to make more informed decisions in order to reduce the amount of digital storage being utilized and reduce clutter?

User Persona

I created the persona of Ashley, "The Collector", based on my user interviews.

Defining Our Goal

With our target user in mind, it was time to formulate a goal for users like Ashley. For this project, I wanted to leverage digital technology to help digital hoarders feel less friction when it comes to managing the files they own.

Overall, I hope to see a 20% decrease in the amount of digital storage being used on devices, and a see that users report to be more in control of their digital files without feeling cluttered.

Experience Map

Through the use of an experience map, I was able to identify the following opportunities for intervention along a common experience Ashley might have. While this experience was a speculative one, it helped me ideate on the following opportunities:

  1. Creating better organization for projects, albums, and other media
  2. Creating a way to prevent making multiple copies of the same or similar files
  3. Exploring better ways to visualize what files could be discarded along with the space it can take up
  4. Creating a more efficient way to delete temporary files

User Stories

As a way to ideate and focus the core functionality for the design solution, I created user stories and grouped them into epics based on overarching purposes for different functions:

  1. Reducing the amount of space occupied on a device
  2. Reviewing existing media
  3. Managing and organizing digital files

Task Flow

Using the above User Stories, I focused on implementing one that would become a key task flow for the solution:

As a collector, I want to sort through media on my phone in order to become more organized and aware of the files I own.

Designing for Ashley

For Ashley, I imagined the ideal solution should be quick, simple, and fun. Additionally, I had to think about how to first deal with a singular photo, and then think about how that would extend to multiple. This led me to incorporate Tinder-inspired swiping as the main interaction for this app.

Based on my interview findings, I also thought that a pain point was spending significant amounts of time cleaning up, so I aimed to incorporate quick but habitual interactions to address Ashley’s goals. With these considerations made for my design, I sketched out different layouts of the main screens until a final task flow was sketched out.

Sketching different layouts for a main "swiping" screen

Low Fidelity Wireframes

Before moving onto high fidelity elements, the next step would be to test the concept through usability testing.

User Testing

I conducted two rounds of usability testing to gather feedback and discover usability issues. Each round had 5 different individuals, and were given identical scenarios and sets of tasks to accomplish.

Task 0: Read the instructions on the instruction screen
Task 1: Save & delete a photo
Task 2: Delete photos that are similar to the one with the neutral face
Task 3: Recover one of the photos you deleted
Task 4: Read the total amount of photos and videos you’ve cleaned

Usability Testing: Round 1 Results

Overall, participants enjoyed using the interface and found the interaction to be solid. However, all participants failed to accomplish task 2, deleting similar photos. This was shown to be the biggest usability issue, and I iterated on the prototype before having my second round of testing. Usability issues were prioritized in relation to the effort needed to fix it and the impact it had on the design. Below is a summary of the changes I made before starting my second round of testing.

Usability Testing: Round 2 Results

For my second round of testing, usability had already greatly improved. Nearly all tasks were completed successfully, and only minor usability issues remained. Once again, I prioritized issues based on the impact and effort that was required to fix it, and created a third iteration of the low fidelity prototype

Introducing Dcluttr.


Finally, a minimum viable product high fidelity prototype was developed. Dcluttr is a mobile app to help you clean, organize, and free up your cluttered media gallery through the use of easy swiping and encourages you to make decluttering a daily practice.

Reflection

What I'd Do Differently

Explore more design concepts. Due to time constraints, I often felt pressured to stick with the first idea I came up with to make sure I am progressing. This was especially strong in the ideation phase, settling on quick swiping interactions to get sort through media. One idea I wanted to explore was looking at how mobile devices and desktops/laptops can interact with each other to more easily manage data on your heavier devices from your phone.

Consider a different range of users. While Millennials and young working professionals made up my primary audience, it would be interesting to explore Gen Z groups, or see how Gen Xers treat their digital storage.

Spend more time with visual design & branding. With time constraints in mind, branding and high-fidelity elements fell short and could have used more ideation to create a more engaging product for the primary users.

Consider business value and real-world constraints. Because this project was done without constraints other than time, factors such as external stakeholders, budget, or company goals were not considered for the final product.

Key Learnings

Done is better than perfect. There will always be improvements that can be made, and potential changes to dwell on. However, if I waited until things felt "perfect", nothing would ever get done. The great thing about accepting your work is "good enough" gives you the opportunity to get feedback, ensuring that you are improving in the right direction.

Refer back to your research. Similar to the first point, I've found that it's easy to get lost in your ideas and be tempted to veer things off into a whole different set of directions. However, by taking a step back and remembering who you're designing for and what job you are trying to perform, it'll help you stay on track to creating something useful.

Trust the process and have fun. When I decided to tackle this problem space, I had little idea of where it would go, and that made me nervous. As I did more research, talked to people, ideated, and ran tests, slowly things began to become more clear. Seeing my digital solution become more tangible and seeing how people reacted to using it made me feel that I could provide significant value to their day to day lives and makes me that much more excited to continue on this path as a designer.

Next Steps

Determine if my assumption is correct: will continuous use of an app actually lead to better decluttering habits? I'd want to explore what kind of information would be best to showcase in order to invoke decluttering habits and influence users to make better decisions about how much data they decide to utilize

I'd like to prototype and test additional user flows. One limitation to the prototype I built was that it lacked a proper onboarding flow, which would be important in determining how people react to having their files accessed. Another flow that is a crucial part to this app would be with saving and organizing photos after they have been swiped right.

Explore ways to visualize data. Some interviewees and testers reported that while it was nice to see how much storage they were saving, it would help to make this data more relatable (e.g describing what 30 mb can equate to)