ConnectOS

An operating system for those in the global south and rural communities with low literacy, low technological literacy with limited access to power, and connectivity.
Skills

User Research
Persona
Wireframes
UI design

Team

Edward Halim
Mikias Lema
Jennifer Li
Liam Albright
Liam Brozik

Duration

10-week
Class Project
March 2019

Problem Identify

Major audience and pain points are identified in this sprint. User research, Objective and Design principles are defined.

Style Guide

Testing wireframes and build a library including typography, page structure, color palette, icon set, and other components.

Detail Design

Creating core apps based on the design principles defined in the earlier sprints including iteration and testing.

Presentation

In the final sprint, we refine our Apps based on the critiques and finalize it for presentation.

Problem Identify

1. Most electronic mobile devices are not affordable for our targetted users
2. Users have low access to power and data
3. They have few and limited local health facilities

Design Research

Business Opportunity
  • Users in the emerging world are more frequent users of social networks.
  • In the past 10 years Africa and South East Asia have seen a vast increase in percentage of online people per capita. 
  • World Bank estimates the number of unbanked people dropped by 20% from 2011 to 2014 in large part due to mobile money platforms like M-Pesa.
  • Median mobile phone user in Africa spends more than 15% of his or her monthly income on their phone bill and another 20% on power.
Current Limitation in the Market
  • Most electronic devices are not affordable for our targetted users.
  • Users have very low access to power and data.
  • It often takes users a long time to banks and health facilities.
See Full research report

User Persona

Based on our research insights, we created the user persona.

I am a farmer and recently obtained an older smartphone from a local NGO.

Learning to operate the phone took some time as the icons were unfamiliar and the phone didn’t support my native dialect. Additionally because of local infrastructure constraints I only have access to Wi-Fi 3 hours a day. A lot of features won’t work properly wihout connection. What’s more, smart phone is way more power consuming than my feature phone. 

Competitive Analysis

What is wrong with current mobile OSes?

Design Principles

Early Stages

Design

Style Guide

Detail Design

Maps

To keep the application consistency, we add square buttons instead of rounded buttons for navigation. We use the color orange to create high contrast so users are able to navigate even when they are in a low-light environment. 

Clock

World Clock View

Clock-like plate
Misunderstanding as buttons
Basic and intuitive
No personality
Consistent with Health app
Looks like playing too hard on colors

We finally go for the version in the middle because usability is the first priority for our OS. We don’t want our users, who maybe use a smart phone for the very first time, to be confused with the interface. 

The map view on the top, together with color lables, makes time difference much easier to understand. Users won’t have any difficulty telling whether a place is ahead or behind of the current time.

Alarms View

INTUITIVE

I designed a new alarm view inspired by iPhone’s Bedtime feature. Users can easily view every alarm on the timeline-circle, and be clear when to get up to feed the puppy as well as the total sleep hours.

EASY TO USE

Below the circle chart there is a traditional list view, which is a basic and familiar way for our users to read and manage their alarms.

Health

For the health app, we mainly focused on educating and making health resources more accessible for users. In addition to graphs and health data, we added the discover feature to provide training videos, health recipes, and articles for users. It also has a chat function where users can directly communicate with a medical professional.

Music

CONTROL

The music player uses a waveform scrubbing interaction so that users can precisely find a point in a song. The radio tab is for local FM/AM stations. It uses the same scrubbing interaction as the music player screen which allows users to switch between different radio stations.

LAYOUT

Use a grid layout which is consistent throughout the whole OS. The consistency is friendly to first-time smartphone users.

Other Apps

Calculator

Messages

Tasks

Reflection

This project helps me realize that today the technology product developments only focus on a certain group of people which fails to meet the needs of people with different lifestyle and conditions. However, those people shouldn’t be neglected and this project is designed to connect people in rural areas with the rest of the world by focusing on simplicity, accessibility, and functionality. Due to the limited time and resources that we had, some design decisions are based on assumptions without first-hand user interview and test, further research is needed to better understand those people’s lifestyles and reveal their needs.

The experience of designing an operating system is challenging because all apps should excute on the same design principles and guidelines we created based on research. The process of designing a system rather than one single app taught me that design is not about creating beautiful interfaces, but solve problems in a user-centered approach.