BRIAN YANG WORK PHOTOGRAPHY ABOUT
REMINDLY JUNE 2015

Remindly is a delayed text message sender app for Android and was built based on a human-computer interaction project during my time at Stanford. Remindly aimed to solve a simple yet sometimes frustrating problem people often experience. Many of us use calendars to plan and guide us through our day. We bring them everywhere in our pockets, letting them ring and buzz us to get things done. Yet even when we give them such deliberate attention, we continue forget things as simple as remembering to return a library book.

This project started with a series of needfinding and observational studies. Over several interviews with busy students and workers, it was clear that people liked to viewed their calendars as a schedule of events, rather than a list of tasks. Seemingly trivial things, like remembering to bring a jacket, didn't feel appropriate as an event in one's calendar. When it came to reminders, people wanted the timeliness of reliable calendars without the formality of a scheduled event.

It became apparent that people needed an informal yet reliable way to create reminders, not only for themselves but also for friends and colleagues. Taking these observations, several ideas of services that helped people remember things were envisioned. Some of the ideas eventually became low-fidelity paper prototypes that were tested with people.

It's clear that reminders are fundementally about notification delivery and reception. Calendar or email notifications simply aren't always an effective and reliable reminders for tasks; people often ignore or procrastinate email and syncing calendar events can be tedious. Thus, Remindly is designed to leverage a simple yet almost universally reliable notification channel. That channel is text messaging.

Remindly works by sending delayed text messages as reminders. A user sets who, when, and what to send. Then at the designated time, Remindly will automatically send the message to the recipients using the sender's own phone number. Because messages are sent via text message, there is low overhead for reminders to be received. Recipients don't need any client apps (email, calendar, etc.), nor do they even need a smartphone or data connection. User interviews reveal that people often feel text message notifications convey more urgency than other notifications such as an email or calendar event. This sense of urgency is one of the primary reasons Remindly leverages text messaging.

While delayed text messaging apps already exist for Android, one of the biggest goals when designing Remindly was to create an exceptional user experience that made setting reminders fast, easy, and even delightful. Setting a Remindly takes three steps: who, when, and what. A user begins by selecting who will receive the message; this can include themselves or anyone in their contacts. Next, the user specifices when to send the message by choosing a date and time or setting a countdown timer. Finally, the user composes the message to send.

Rather than building a cumbersome form, Remindly breaks the creation flow into three discrete steps: who, when, and what. Paginating this flow allows each step to have a richer and more functional user interface. For instance, the Who page is able to display the user's full contact list, including recently used contacts (not shown); this makes selecting contacts faster than typing a name.

Of course, design aesthetics were an important consideration when creating Remindly. A single theme color provides consistency throughout the app. Status colors are used sparingly to emphasize visibility and system state. The dynamically generated calendar and timer icons help intutively represent the time element. Simple graphics and thin-weight icongraphy affords a consistent theme of simplicity and lightness throughout the app.

Remindly uses choreographed transitions and animations to create purposeful motion that convey intent and system visibility to the user. This choreography also helps to provide a delightful experience.

Get it on Google Play

Remindly is available for free on Google Play. This Remindly Android app is based on a human-computer interaction project, Remindly.me, which was done in collaboration with Emily Tang and Jonathan Yan.

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