COLAB6 - Mobile App

AccountaPal

AccountaPal is a mobile app that helps tech workers be more productive by pairing them with other self-driven techies.

Product Process

AccountaPal is a mobile app that helps tech workers be more productive by pairing them with other self-driven techies.

Problem Space Background

Let’s face it; the Internet can be a very distracting place. Whether you’re a new remote worker or seasoned tech professional trying to complete your latest project, all productivity efforts can fly out the door, especially with Netflix and Facebook only one click away. Although the Internet is an invaluable resource containing more information than any other resource ever to exist, it can be a significant distraction and blocker when it is time to complete online work.

Citrix, a multinational software development company, predicts 75 percent of workers will identify as digital natives by 2025. We’re all heading to more work-life online, and many of us will struggle to stay accountable with all the distractions.

Online distraction is a complex issue, but Team AccountaPal discovered the Internet to be an unbearably distracting place to do professional work simply through our first-hand experiences! We're tech workers, and we struggle daily with online distractions. We agreed to be held accountable for our goals during the initial stages of our project's conception and market research. Our commitment leads us to talk to other tech workers and learn more about other tech workers and their struggles with online distractions.

User Pain Point + Feedback

In our first study, we surveyed 44 digital workers, and while only 12 identified as tech professionals, 100% confessed to being regularly distracted online while working. Our user research shows that most people distract themselves from their professional work using online content. It was a shared feeling to be anxious about one’s task and cope with distractions.

Our users admit that the beginning stages of a project were often the most overwhelming, remarking that adopting a focused mindset was a challenge in the face of online distractions. Our users listed several avoidance strategies, like turning towards dopamine-producing activities, like social media “doom-scrolling,” “Netflix-binging,” and excessive gaming. For example, our users’ top digital distractions are video platforms (92%), social media (67% use), and email (50%).

Our user research shows that while technological distractions provide temporary comfort, they ultimately leave many users feeling dissatisfied and “behind” on productivity. They also voiced frustrations with backlogs, work-life balance, project management, pausing projects mid-way, blending home environment with digital work, disconnection from teammates, losing track of time, and mental health.

Working online is also lonely, so it was no surprise that 83.3% of our users expressed a need for accountability and desired a partner to help them navigate the demands and distractions of online work.

We asked our users if they ever used focused apps. These tools monitor and block digital distractions. Our results indicated that many had tried using focus apps, but their willingness to use these tools was low. The reason being, we concluded, is that these apps don’t address accountability! Our research shows that people don’t like apps that monitor or block their distractive sites and view it as only one step of many towards becoming fully distraction-free. Our product addresses the lack of accountability and encourages our users to seek the support of an accountability partner to kick their bad habits for good.

Landing on the Solution

Our combination of market research, user research, and first-hand experience guided us towards landing on AccountaPal as our final solution.

We know that the attention economy is big business. There are millions of online items that are fishing for user attention. And in response, recently, there has been a need to counter these aggressive tactics. Within the past several years, developers have produced focus apps. These tools have different aims, but the majority of them either block websites entirely, monitor hours spent on particular websites or set productivity goals with the users. The intent of focus apps is noteworthy; however, we know that these products are more powerful when coupled with a live accountability partner. 

We also know that it is challenging to make it whenever we try to change a bad habit. After all, there is a reason why coaching, teaching, mentorship, and other forms of guidance is a multi-billion-dollar industry. Think about it: there are plenty of mindfulness, diet, and other habit-changing apps, but we all know accountability is the secret ingredient to success. Trainers, teachers, mentors, partners, and guides offer accountability. Accountability up-levels the habit-changing process– plus, it adds an element of fun!

Explanation of Solution

The AccountaPal team defines accountability as taking ownership for decisions made, actions taken, and tasks completed. Accountability improves productivity by eliminating the time and effort one spends on distracting activities and other unproductive behavior. Ultimately, prioritizing accountability and seeking support from a partner gives fire and ammunition to one’s ability to change bad online habits. 

The AccountaPal team defines accountability as taking ownership for decisions made, actions taken, and tasks completed. Accountability improves productivity by eliminating the time and effort one spends on distracting activities and other unproductive behavior. Ultimately, prioritizing accountability and seeking support from a partner gives fire and ammunition to one’s ability to change bad online habits. 

AccountaPal has 4 core features: 


  • SHARE - Share your interests, biggest distractions, and work goals. Users can create and share their profiles with others. Each profile describes the user’s interests, significant distractions, and professional goals.
  • PAIR - Get partnered with another user who will help you overcome your distractions and keep you accountable! For now, Team AccountaPal manually matches users based on their preferences. One thing to note: it was essential to pair our users with others who share similar goals, because our user research shows this as the most preferred matching criterion.
  • CHAT - Get talking with your Accountapal and form a productive relationship. After our users are matched, they can communicate via chat with their AccountaPal. They can identify their online distractions and discuss steps towards a shared goal. [Product Name] is a mobile app where remote workers can beat distractions and chat with other remote workers about their professional goals. Our solution is building a network of tech professionals– who help you stay accountable. 
  • ACCOMPLISH - Add subtasks, edit goals and achieve your highest objectives. Our users can go back to their profile and add subtasks and edit their goals. These details can change as their progress changes!

Next Steps

Our second product roadmap includes automatic matching and a digital co-working space with video enablement. 

We also plan to conduct user testing after the release of our live product. We hope 75% of users experience a decrease in time spent doing their distraction activity after a month of use. We also hope 75% of users share feelings of satisfaction with their experience with their AccountaPal.

Learnings

PM's Learnings:

Tania Doles

Took a deep dive into SCRUM, sprint velocities, and Agile best practices. She also learned how to create effective product specs, work back schedules, user surveys, and user tests. She also loved fiddling with maze.co, video production, and marketing assets!

Designer's Learnings:

Destiny Williams

Learned to save time by seeking feedback earlier in the process. For example, she practiced navigating various affordances and remembered to make a visual distinction between buttons and input fields to create optimal user recognition. She also learned how to create a design system and became familiar with react-native UI frameworks. She practiced working with a cross-functional product team and learned how to prioritize features with the "jobs to be done" model.

Developer's Learnings:

Aidan Torrence

Built his first mobile app! He learned how to use the firebase database, user authentication, and redux toolkit for global state management.

Developer's Learnings:

Mike Attara

Learned that having a collaborative team is necessary for building any product. He also learned to keep constant communication with his teammates to help to avoid deadlocks.

Full Team Learning

  • While we each had meaningful individual learnings, collaboration and conscious communication were our primary team learnings. We discovered how to have difficult conversations and shared our growing pains. We also learned how to voice disagreement respectfully and effectively. We envisioned a sustainable, win-for-all product that prioritized radical responsibility, curiosity, authenticity, integrity, and ease.
  • We shared resources that uplifted us and brought our team closer together. As our developer, Mike, so eloquently expressed during our Product Showcase, "we became each others, accountability buddies."

    Building AccountaPal was an unforgettable Co.Laboration!