Case Study: Swellist

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Visual design, UX/UI



As busy professionals, we often prioritize our careers over living a fully balanced life. Whether it's planning a vacation, exercising more, or finding the perfect present for Mother’s Day, something always seems to fall through the cracks. Despite the availability of resources at our disposal, the lack of time, energy, or information gets in the way of being able to accomplish all the things we want to do. 



Working with a small team of engineers and a product manager, we created Swellist, a digital service and tool that works in the background to plan and research all of life's want-to-dos by understanding the user background and preferences and then providing personalized tips to inspire action.



We love our careers are are lucky to do great things professionally, however, we often find ourselves failing to take care of our personal things. We find it difficult to balance work and life but buying a gift for Mother’s Day shouldn’t take the backseat to being successful at our careers. 

As a team, we realized that this sentiment of feeling “behind” on our personal lives is widely shared amongst many of our family and friends. We decided to explore a solution to enable people to get back control of their lives.




To begin, we conducted a general background interview with 52 family and friends who are busy professionals. We asked questions identifying work habits, lifestyle decisions, free time organization, goal setting and general pain points of organizing and completing things they want to do.   

Out of those interviewed, 79% stated that they do not feel as if they are making the most of their time. The top reason, with 69%, was simply a lack of time. 


From the surveys, a few patterns emerged:

Most of those who relate to the problem are more than capable of figuring it out on their own. The main obstacle is lack of time, specifically time needed to research preliminary information. For example, planning a weekend trip can take hours and even days of searching for ideas, coordinating logistics, and planning activities; a lot of work for anyone much less someone who barely has time to sit down for dinner. 

From the surveys, the team noticed a few trends: Although majority of the interviewees have mental of physical notes of things they want to do, there is no uniformed method of keeping this list. People use various different but concurrent methods. For example, one interviewee, Steven, uses Wunderlist for home improvement ideas, email for movies to watch, and iOS Notes random things that come up during the day. All these various inputs become segmented and hard to keep track of.



With the results at hand, the team spent a few days dissecting where we believe the pain points and opportunities are with people's current work flows. A few long discussions and brainstorming exercises later, we came up with a few solid solutions.

We ran these proposed solutions through Steve Blank's product market fit exercise and presented the solutions to some potential users who are consistent to our demographic. Based on that feedback, we narrowed the options down to one.



Proposed Solution:

We predicted that by creating a centralized platform for all of life's want-to-dos and offering helpful research, ideas,and personalized recommendations for each tasks, we can increase people's ability to live a more balanced life.

Our objective was to provide a platform that functions as both a centralized storage space for want-to-dos but also as a personal concierge that provides useful tips and resources for the want-to-dos on the list.  

The product would involve two major parts:

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First, we mapped out the current flow of completing want-to-dos and identified both the pain points and the opportunities. Taking these insights, we proposed a solution that aims to simplify the process by eliminating the lack of ideas and knowledge around want-to-dos. 

Based off of our demographic research into list making behavior, the team refined our target population and created our main persona, Kristine. 


The biggest question left was how to present  the user-facing tip view. 

For version one, I attempted a dashboard format, giving the user a general overview of their productivity habits while surfacing the newest tips. After running some user tests, we realized that while some users were intrigued by productivity trends, most were unable to effectively use that information. I had failed to effectively provide the core promise of our product, which was to provide helpful information at the right time.

As I iterated, I focused on the new goal: an easier and more intuitive way to glean information. 

In order to achieve this, I turned the dashboard format into a something most people are very familiar with nowadays, a feed format. This format allows for not only easy scrolling and digesting but also paying attention to one single piece of information at a time. 





An external facing profile for users to provide useful information and improve the quality of their tips. This page allows for editing the basic information users gave in the FTUE but also the option to further personalize their account by answering questions specific to their habits and preferences. 

This section also allows users the option to further integrate their to-dos by uploading photos of their physical to-do lists and/or connect accounts from other platforms like Wunderlist and Evernote.



An internal facing dashboard for Swellist editors to gather information and deliver tips. The dashboard allows editors to quickly see the user’s past interactions with Swellist, basic background information, preferences, entered notes, uploaded lists, and connected accounts, all of which help create personalized and helpful tips.



A freeform notepad for entering to-dos and any other tasks users would like help with. The freeform format, similar to the Notes app on iPhone, allows users the flexibility to shape their lists based on their own preferences. 



A feed with relevant and helpful tips, articles, and ideas to help users get more of their want-to-dos done. Each tip corresponds with either an interest that the user has identified or a specific want-to-do from their list. Users can directly book and buy from the tiles and can save by rating or bookmarking the ones they want to see again.