Accou

Accou is a fictional product created as part of a six-day case study focused on human-centered design. The goal was to create a central place where digital accounts and their remaining data could be controlled by selected individuals and continued to be managed in the event of one’s own demise.

If you were asked right now how many digital accounts you have, could you list them all? I can't. Probably most of us have a huge collection of accounts, and it's getting bigger as life goes on. But have you ever wondered what happens to all those accounts in the event of your death? Or, to put it another way, what happens to your digital footprint?

This question defined our challenge and the way we tried to tackle this problem. Through repeated user testing and a strong focus on human-centered design, we created a concept and high-fidelity prototype.

My Role

  • User Interface Design
  • User Experience Design

What was achieved

  • Concept and low-fidelity prototype
  • Problem identification and resolution through the involvement of users in the design process and various user tests
  • High-fidelity prototype

Research and Competitor analysis

After bringing the ideas down, we started a research phase looking at existing solutions and approaches. We found that many existing solutions are based on a traditional will. Most importantly, they are not based on a true transfer of one's "digital fingerprint" to a selected person in a closed ecosystem.

However, we found some services that took a different approach and offered self-deletion after a certain period of inactivity instead of data transfer.

Ideation

Since this is a university project, it was up to us to decide which direction to go. In a first brainstorming session we worked out different ideas by writing down current and future issues and problems.

With a subsequent Crazy-8-method, we already created first wireframe sketches on paper, which stimulated further discussions and helped us to think about possible ways forward.

The user in focus

User testing

To gain insight into user behavior, we asked students in our school cafeteria to complete several tasks in our low-fidelity prototype. We observed their behavior and found various weaknesses and ambiguities in our concept. After the usability test, we categorized and prioritized the results and integrated them into an improved version of our low-fidelity prototype.

Card-sorting workshop

With the improved version, we moved on to a card-sorting workshop to test our app navigation. For this purpose, we created two categories on post-its, one representing the main navigation structure of our app and the other the respective sub-categories to it. We then had respondents match the subcategories to the correct top categories. Most of our hierarchy was correctly reflected - that was a success.

Insights

As a result of multiple user tests, some things have changed. For a better overview, here is a selection of the most important improvements.

After the improvement: The navigation is extended. This separates profile and estate, which brings more logic into the app and less confusion for the user.
Before the improvement: The navigation is divided into three categories
After: We gave the user the possibility to edit an existing account.
Before: Users were having a hard time to find out how to edit and save changes on an existing account.
After: Solution info and quick access to estate management can optionally be displayed on 
any screen if not filled in.
Before: Old homescreen without information box 
and quick access.
After: The user is now guided through each individual step. A checkbox ensures that the user has read the information.
Before: The sections were overloaded with too much information. These settings are very important and have to be done step by step.

Design

With the design, we wanted to try out the design trend of 2020 - newmorphism. A newer version of skeuomorphism, where we tried to simulate analogue behaviour to a digital interface. During the design process we encountered some difficulties, which are also described in the challenges. Here is a little insight into how we tried to solve them in our prototype:

Two mockups of an iPhone showing the user interface of the Home and estate settings screens.  An iPhone mockup showing the different accounts within the social media category.An iPhone mockup showing the settings for a social media account.

Challenges

Complexity

Problem

One challenge was to explain the complexity of a digital will to the user in a simple understandable way.

How was the problem solved?

By testing with real people in the field, we were able to identify problem areas and get direct feedback from users, which allowed us to reduce complexity by separating the necessary from the unnecessary, thereby eliminating unnecessary elements or steps.

User Interface

Problem

As you can easily see, newmorphism was chosen as a design principle. Since we were in an environment where experiments could be tried without serious consequences, we dared to take this step. Quickly, several problems appeared, such as: contrast problems, lack of distinguishability of elements, low freedom of design, etc.

How was the problem solved?

We tried to counteract the problems with a mixture of newmorphism and individual design elements based on flat design. In conclusion, I would say that it was fun to try the newmorphism, but I would definitely not use it again for a next project.