COLAB27 - Mobile App


Zengenda: a to-do list app that not only streamlines your tasks but also fuels your drive to conquer them

Problem Space 

The problem statement we are addressing is: How might we design a solution that enhances to-do list tracking for people struggling with stress caused by task prioritization, time management, and a lack of motivation to enhance their productivity and overall mood? 

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults aged 18 and older, which often includes college students. Professional workloads and academic stress are common stressors that initiate the onset of this anxiety.

In a study conducted by the American Psychological Association, 62% of respondents reported that they felt that their workloads were overwhelming, indicating a widespread need for better task management strategies. In addition, a survey by the American College Health Association found that 60% of college students reported feeling overwhelming anxiety, and 40% experienced depression so severe that it was interfering with their daily responsibilities. Although our users’ daily responsibilities and tasks are rigid, we believe their productivity systems can be restructured to provide better coping mechanisms for them. 

The customer base consists of individuals aged 18-34, primarily employed full-time, seeking an effective solution for task management. The need stems from an overwhelming 89% dissatisfaction with current task management methods, highlighting a gap in the market for a tool that aligns with their productivity and well-being needs. This problem is urgent as it directly impacts daily efficiency and stress levels.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that workplace stress costs US employers an estimated $300 billion annually in absenteeism, turnover, decreased productivity, and medical costs. Evidence from surveys and interviews confirms the issue, with only 11% satisfaction reported among users regarding their existing task management systems.

User Pain Points

Using individuals in our close circles, we identified a few different categories of prospective users and did 26  user interviews. These individuals came from various demographic backgrounds and age groups.

These were individuals actively seeking relief from the burden of overwhelming tasks in their daily lives, making them prime candidates for a task management solution.

Upon aggregating their feedback onto a dedicated Mural board for User Research Analysis, three predominant pain points emerged consistently across all 26 participants:

  • Feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of tasks
  • Struggling with sustained motivation
  • Battling procrastination tendencies

Solution Explanation

Target Persona:
User Stories

Our user research allowed us to develop the three following user stories, which also highlight three of the most common roles that we encountered during our user interviews:

  1. As a student struggling with motivation, I want to see inspiring content and motivational quotes within the app, so that I can feel encouraged and uplifted to start my tasks and maintain positive momentum throughout my day.
  2. As a busy professional, I want an app that breaks down my extensive to-do list into manageable tasks and provides contextual reminders, so that I can approach my workload with less stress and a clearer mind, allowing for a more productive and calm day.
  3. As a freelancer who procrastinates often, I want an app that visually distinguishes urgent tasks from the less critical ones, so that I can easily prioritize my daily activities and manage my time more efficiently.

Lofi & Hifi Mockups

Iterative Design Learnings

Throughout the development journey of Zengenda, embracing the concept of Iterative Design Learning has been paramount. As we delved deeper into the design process, continual iterations on the home screen were crucial. User feedback was a guiding light, advocating for simplicity and reduced clutter. Consequently, adjustments were made to streamline the interface, ensuring a seamless user experience.

Moreover, attention was directed towards enhancing buttons and icons, infusing the app with vibrant colors and character, enriching its visual appeal.

Along this path, Jorda, the Designer, embarked on learning within Figma, gradually mastering advanced prototyping techniques. Each iteration refined the app's aesthetics and deepened his understanding of user-centered design principles, propelling Zengenda’s usability and charm.

Following the implementation of our iterative designs as depicted in the mockups above, we conducted additional user interviews to gather feedback. Here's a succinct summary of the insights we garnered:

  • Intuitive Navigation: Users found our features easy to navigate, seamlessly progressing through the app with clarity.
  • Positive Reception: Overall, the app design received commendations, particularly for elements like the inspirational quotes page and tranquil cloud background.
  • Retention Considerations: While users appreciated the app initially, some expressed uncertainty about returning to it consistently over time. They acknowledged potential short-term usage but questioned sustained engagement over months or years.
  • Subtask Utilization: Feedback suggested that breaking tasks into subtasks might not be a frequently utilized feature among users.
  • User Experience Refinement: Suggestions were made to improve the accessibility of features such as the "Zen" button for accessing additional quotes and to prioritize the integration of a calendar view for enhanced task management in future updates.

Implementation Details

Technical Implementation
  • Hosted on Expo Go via Expo Application Services (EAS)
  • Tech Stack: TypeScript, React-Native, Expo, Firebase
  • Our two main collections on Firebase were Tasks and Categories, which is all we really needed database-wise for the platform

Technical Challenges
  • The most challenging part of the development was configuring different algorithms on the dashboard to display tasks and their respective categories; after figuring this out, many other things came together for the app
  • The app is on the free plan of Firebase, so it would likely not be able to support a large number of users as the database size grows
  • React-Native is very similar to React, and its component-style architecture made it easier to develop the app in some ways and harder in other ways

Future Steps + Feature Development Roadmap

Our journey with Zengenda doesn't end with this bootcamp – it's just the beginning! We're thrilled to unveil our ambitious plans for enhancing user experience and delivering even more value. Here's a sneak peek into what's in store:

Feature Expansion:
  • Pomodoro Timer: Boost productivity with structured work intervals and breaks.
  • Personalized Breathing Exercises: Tailored relaxation techniques to soothe your mind and body.
  • Gamification: Transform tasks into engaging challenges to keep you motivated and focused.
  • Integration of ChatGPT: Harness the power of AI for personalized app interactions and recommendations.

Development Phases:

Phase 1: Laying the Foundation

  • Calendar View: Organize tasks and appointments seamlessly.
  • Inbox: Centralize communication and notifications for streamlined management.
Phase 2: Prioritizing Well-being
  • Breathing Exercises: Cultivate mindfulness with customizable relaxation techniques.
  • Personalized Wellness Recommendations: Leverage ChatGPT API for personalized advice and suggestions tailored to your needs.
Phase 3: Catering to Study Needs
  • Pomodoro Timer: Optimize study sessions with structured time management techniques.

Exciting times lie ahead as we continue to evolve Zengenda into a comprehensive tool for productivity, well-being, and academic success. Stay tuned for updates as we embark on this exciting journey together!


Product Manager Learnings:

Manshi Baskaran

This experience has been incredibly enlightening, offering a wealth of invaluable lessons that have profoundly shaped my approach to product management. Working collaboratively within a team comprising diverse talents has enriched our collective skill set and instilled a sense of fulfillment in delivering a product our users will truly cherish.

One of the most significant takeaways has been the application of agile methodologies to swiftly deliver a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) within a constrained time frame. Balancing considerations of scope, user insights, and the anticipated impact of features has been pivotal in ensuring the success of our project.  

Embracing a user-centric approach has been incredibly important. Understanding the importance of validating feature requests and remaining adaptable to user needs and preferences has guided us consistently.

After all, no product can thrive without addressing the genuine needs and desires of its end-users. Moreover, I've come to appreciate the strategic importance of prioritization and the profound impact of effective decision-making. Being able to discern between essential and non-essential features, and making informed choices accordingly, is indispensable in steering the product towards success.  

Lastly, I've learned firsthand the value of adaptability in the face of technical challenges. Being able to pivot swiftly and efficiently when obstacles arise is essential for maintaining momentum and ensuring project success.

I’ve learned this skill primarily through my wonderful team members below, who all have shown how adaptable and dependable they are throughout this experience 🙂  Overall, this bootcamp experience has equipped me with a toolkit of skills and insights that I will take with me to my future endeavors in product management.

Designer Learnings:

Jordan Tempro

This 8-week design sprint for Zengenda has been a whirlwind of growth!  To start, I delved into the intricacies of handing off design assets to developers for the first time, which was a top goal of mine when joining Co.Lab. Additionally, delving deep into Figma, I unlocked the realm of advanced prototyping techniques, equipping myself with powerful tools to bring designs to life.

The most valuable lesson, however, was collaborating with a team to launch an MVP.  Working collaboratively within a team to launch Zengenda was an eye-opening experience, highlighting the importance of communication, coordination, and shared vision.  

As the sprint concludes, I emerge with a refined design for Zengenda and a profound sense of achievement and growth, poised to tackle future endeavors with newfound confidence and expertise.

Developer Learnings:

Jesse De La Rose

Working on a legitimate product team to create an MVP has been a fantastic experience overall. Learning React-Native, Firebase, and Expo Go has been an absolute blast,

I’m proud to say that these technologies are now firmly a part of my arsenal. Working with this team, it felt like the sky's the limit. We communicated, collaborated, and synced together so perfectly.

As soon as we found our groove as a team, our productivity exploded, eventually leading us to creating this amazing product. I am completely thrilled with how well this bootcamp has gone, and look forward to referencing this experience in my future developer endeavors.

Developers Learnings:

Andrew Capaldo


This experience has opened my eyes to the dynamics of working with a team on a project.  Collaborating with this talented group of people has challenged me to rise to match their feats.  

During this process, I have learned how to code in React Native and, most importantly, what it takes to problem solve and perfect my craft by practicing many methods to achieve my goal.  This bootcamp will definitely be a great learning experience and I recommend it to all beginners in the tech world!

Full Team Learning

Creating this mobile app was a great learning experience for all of us. We hadn’t done any prior design hand-offs or sprints before this bootcamp and we’ve all become extremely efficient with it. Our PM learned a lot about effective decision making and running successful sprints. Our designer became extraordinarily efficient at conducting design asset handoffs.

Lastly, our developers were both unfamiliar with mobile development. This experience opened their eyes to React-Native and Expo Go, two fantastic technologies that made building a mobile app from the ground-up a breeze.

Furthermore, neither of them had received designer hand-offs before, and we got the amazing opportunity of bringing our designer and overall team’s vision to life. Overall, this bootcamp taught us a lot about our interests and allowed us to pursue new passions together.