A digital workspace for organizing browser tabs
UXD/ UXR Contributor
Head: Dr. Niki Kittur
Supervisor: Dr. Yongsung Kim
Skeema is a digital workspace with the mission to help users accomplish their complex digital tasks faster, easier, and stress-free. Skeema comes out of the Knowledge Accelerator at Carnegie Mellon University, headed by Dr. Niki Kittur. As a recently-formed startup, Skeema grows rapidly and more features and functionalities will be added to the app as the app matures.
Since Skeema was growing rapidly, my main task was to work on the development of new features that are aligned with Skeema's mission and goals.
I have worked on several common use cases including trip planning and online shopping to brainstorm and design features that can help users do their online tasks involving opening and comparing multiple tabs faster.
Aug 2021 -Jan 2022
Over a decade of user-focused research has been poured into Skeema since its conception at Knowledge Accelerator of Carnegie Mellon University. At Knowledge Accelerator, online sensemaking tasks are studied. Research shows users open browser tabs to facilitate complex sensemaking tasks that required users to consider multiple webpages in parallel.
Summary of key findings* :
(* for more information please refer to the published work at DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3411764.3445585 )
When users have a manageable number of browser tabs, they feel in control and productive about using them.
When the number of tabs becomes unmanageable, users experience negative emotions and pressure.
When users start feeling attached and invested into the information saved in tabs, it becomes difficult for them to reduce the number of open tabs.
There are two fundamentally opposite pressures for users– to close tabs vs. to keep them open – that lead to opportunities for new interface paradigms to explore.
1.2 Introduction to Skeema
Skeema is a digital workspace that operates under three principles:
1. Organizing tabs should be easy. Group, subgroup, the sub-sub group as you see fit.
2. Copying & pasting data from web pages should be a thing of the past. We pull together the information you want to see.
3. You shouldn’t have to start from scratch every time. Use work from similarly interested people to kickstart your task.
During the research phase, a list of common use cases for Skeema was made (e.g. trip planning & product purchases were among the use cases that I worked on).
For trip planning, we started by brainstorming what kind of workspaces/templates (and different views associated with them) can help with the user journey.
I analyzed tools like Google Docs and Notion which are handy for some users to do trip planning. For example, Notion does provide some generic templates and views (e.g. list view, table view, etc), but we believed that we need to go beyond what existing tools provide to make user tasks really seamless and easy.
2.1 Mixed Method Research
Research Questions: How do users use existing tools for their needs? What are the pain points? In what part of the trip planning process, do users have to keep multiple tabs open?
Interviews with 2 participants who are planning trips frequently with their friends and use Google Docs
Analyzing the Google Docs documents made and shared by these participants for 4 different trips with different groups of people
Using Notion for planning a hypothetical trip to see where we can push the boundary of existing tools forward.
For users who are in the process of trip planning, they are searching for places of attractions and things to do. This can cause many open tabs on the browser. if we make an itinerary planning tool for the users, they can start decluttering their tabs and process the information more efficiently.
4.0 Ideate with high-fidelity wireframes
Step by step progression of the screens for Skeema Itinerary feature (The images can be enlarged and the Sticky Notes and arrows are meant to explain the interaction flow and not part of the UI.)
This was one of the several features that I designed for Skeema, to be added to the existing Skeema workspace as the potential features. Most of my design ideas fell through in the next phases of development although were relevant. In the process, I learned to not give up, and just because we are not going to move forward with an idea, this does not mean that those ideas are worthless.
Through my weekly meetings with my mentor and supervisor, Dr. Yongsung Kim, I learned a lot about sense-making paradigms and how to balance the "textbook" UX Design process with the real-world realities of a fast-paced startup.
The most interesting part of the design process was integrating new features with an existing set of interactions that are complex yet very intuitive to use.