A fictitious email application I created and designed for my classmate and primary user, Marlon. This project explores his email habits and my solution — an app to help him better manage his email by encouraging him to unsubscribe and delete old emails.
Assigned a classmate as a primary user, the goal of the project was to conduct interviews to identify a problem in the user’s life and create an app which solves it. Both the app and brand were to be designed for the primary user.
2 week sprint. One week to interview, develop concept, prototype and iterate. The second week to develop brand identity, logo, hi-fi prototype, test and iterate.
This was an individual project.
I was paired with my classmate Marlon, and conducted several interviews with him. During our discussion, I noticed a notification for over 10,000 unread emails on his phone.
We began discussing his email habits, and mapped out his email routine and experience:
1 — Deleting
Marlon doesn’t delete emails; read or unread. He doesn’t feel that there is any reason to delete emails in which he has no interest in reading, and does’t take time to go through old emails.
“I ignore a lot of my emails.”
“I don’t delete the emails... it’s my bad.”
“I see the number and notification [for 10,848 unread emails] but I don’t care.”
2 — Subscriptions
He is subscribed to many newsletters and doesn’t unsubscribe. Although there are a few subscriptions which he does read, he doesn’t look at most and they accumulate in his inbox.
“I get so many notification emails [for promotions and newsletters] and I don’t check any of them. I don’t unsubscribe.”
3 — Aware of the problem
Marlon created a second email account about 5 months ago. He noticed his email piling up with junk and spam mail and was overwhelmed by the number of emails received on a daily basis. This however did not fix the problem and he is now starting to get junk mail sent to his new email and the unread number is on the rise!
Marlon needs a way to manage his email because it's being clogged by junk and spam mail.
The challenge faced was two pronged. Firstly, Marlon needs to address the backlog of unread emails in his inbox so that he is only notified when he has new emails come in. Secondly, he needs a system to help keep his email account clean and to easily unsubscribe and delete unwanted emails.
The opportunity was to create an app which:
1. Doesn’t require any effort from Marlon
2. Helps him to unsubscribe from unwanted newsletters
3. Encourages him to delete the old emails sitting in his inbox
I brainstormed to see how some of the opportunities could take shape:
I focused on an idea that would address what I felt were the two largest problems: unsubscribing and deleting. With Marlon’s email habits in mind, the call to action would have to be in the email and wouldn’t require many steps and actions.
Paper Prototype — App Development
I was able to rely on the current design system of the Mail app for most of the layout and functionality, since this is what Marlon currently uses and likes. I focused on creating nudges in the app with the mission to help him clear up his inbox.
After testing with Marlon and others, I iterated on the flow and the wording:
More testing help to shape the workflow of the app, you can see one of the earlier prototypes bellow:
Following the app development, I needed to build a brand that Marlon would like and trust. When speaking with him about the colours, tone of voice and design, he said, “email is kind of boring.” He liked that the Apple Mail didn't grab his attention or have much colour. He wanted his email app to maintain an image of trust and security.
I reviewed some of the competitors to get an idea of their colour palate and brand positioning. I felt there was an opportunity to create a fun and energetic brand, whilst still conveying trust and security.
Hey Mail is a secure place for your messages and we are here to help you manage your inbox better. Organisation can be boring, which is why we have a playful attitude and colourful approach to the process.
I moved forward with creating a logo and colour palate. The starting point was with a dark blue, as Marlon mentioned this was a colour which he liked and wanted to keep. It came to life a little more with the dark purple gradient added.
Marlon is a very talented illustrator, therefore for the logo, I created a typeface inspired by folded paper, to tie in the pen-to-paper aspect of letter writing.
Following this, I creating a style guide and design system, to assist in the creation of the final product.
Hey Mail is an email app created to help Marlon better manage his inbox. Its goal is to delete all unread and unwanted emails so that a notification only appears when he receives an email. It helps him to unsubscribe so that he is only receives emails which he reads.
I rolled the design system out across the app and bellow is the final unsubscribing and deleting workflows:
In testing the final prototype, everyone was able to successfully unsubscribe and delete old emails. Some of the feedback I received was:
“This App is great! I would use this!” — KJ, 10K+ unread emails
“If only I could have this on my phone!” — Fiona, 20K+ unread emails
And last, but certainly not least, from my user Marlon:
“Really cool app! Love it!”
A few weeks after presenting this project Marlon and I were talking and he said that since working on this project he has started to delete and unsubscribe. Even though this is a fictitious app, it has had an effect on his behaviour and is therefore a success!
The next steps would be to focus on other ways to help Marlon’s inbox be organised once it has been cleaned.
1. Flesh out the tags system further. I envisioned the ability to customize the tags, and to apply tags to emails, depending on who they were from. Marlon could categorise his emails, and prioritise important ones.
2. Another feature that hadn’t been incorporated in this user flow was the ability to manage subscriptions. To see all of the companies that send you emails and unsubscribe from one central location.