Auto Respond

An app to help mitigate distractions and stress

How it started

A client reached out with a mobile app idea that he was quite passionate about.

The idea

Imagine an app that automatically responds to congratulatory texts, whether it’s your birthday or any other special occasion or holiday.  Simply enter all your special occasion dates or holidays and the app will respond with a “thank you” note. 

You can set a custom response with emojis animated gifs or pics to respond with. You can also set the app to alert you when its someone else’s special occasion and tap “OK” to send them a text as well! 

Product: Mobile app concept
Target audience: iOS users in United States.
Problem to solve: Feeling overwhelmed with amount of incoming messages while trying to focus on work or current matters.
The challenge: Is this something that consumers would actually be interested in using?

The Process

Competitive analysis

Reviewed current market for this type of product.

While nothing was available for iOS, i found multiple requests for it in iOS forums some even on apple.com. I also uncovered multiple apps available for Android with over >100K and >1M downloads on GogglePlay.

 Additional possible features were
realized during this analysis, such as:

  • Ask me before sending: Get a reminder notification to edit or send manually. Leave OFF to respond automatically.
  • Lists: Create lists of cateogires
  • Keywords: Select keywords to prompt AutoResponse.
    Leave empty to respond to all.
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market-research

Survey

To gauge interest of the overall concept, I set up a 10 question online survey and sent it out to 100 participants.

Results showed a positive reaction of 60% and need of 42% among the target audience.

User Flow

I mapped out the users’ steps to see how I could simplify their journey to help them reach their most important goals with the product.

  • Setting up an AutoRespond to a text message was chosen since this was the original ask and main feature of the app.
  • The number of steps were refined while designing the interface.
  • Wanted to keep in mind "How do the users feel and what do they think at each step of the user journey?"
  • The Idea of a confirmation view came while going through the prototype.
  • How did the user journey mapping helps me organize and plan both the prototype and usability testing.
Add-New-Event-AutoRespond

UI Design

  • Followed current iOS frameworks and patterns to leverage existing inherent usability with iOS users.
  • This also help expediate the design process so we could get a prototype up for market research and usability testing ASAP.

Market research survey

A market research survey was then sent to 100 participants, listing the description, its features and interface designs.

Results closely matched previous survey reinforcing the market interest.

MarketResearchImage-1
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Decisions made form research and testing

Decisions made based on results from research and testing.

  • Add an AutoSend feature with reminders
  • Add a daily schedule for AutoRespond
  • Add a help overlay to explain features like the"New even" button
  • Add keywords to capture incoming messages more specifically
  • Add a whitelist so automatic responses aren't sent to certain people
  • Some participants asked for more emojis and gifs, so the opportunity for monetization strategies like “freemium” my be an option.
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Business Requirements and Goals

A list of requirements were created to help garner accurate estimates from iOS developers.

AutoRespond:

  • Setup multiple text auto replies for incoming SMS
  • Customize auto reply messages
  • Keywords: Word that will prompt an AutosResponse
  • Exempt list - A list of people whose texts / sms, you won’t respond to
  • Recurring auto reply text activated at a specific day and time on a scheduled basis.
  • Option to set time, weekdays, repeat weekly
  • Ability to deep-link into message to view AutoRespond messages
  • Ask before sending: Reminder notification to Edit, Send or Cancel AutoResponse.

 
New Event:

  • Create a new event from Home, Today’s Schedule and
  • Calendar views
  • Create title
  • Select type (Respond or Send)
  • Select list (Daily Schedule, Special Occasion)
  • Add a New List Category
  • Select Day, Month, Time (in not All Day)
  • Select Keywords
  • Ask before sending
  • Confirmation
     

AutoSend:

  • Setup multiple text AutoSends for outgoing SMS
    Customize AutoSend messages
    Keywords: Word that will prompt an AutosResponse
    Exempt list - A list of people you won’t AutoSend to
    Option to set time, weekdays, repeat weekly
    Ability to deep-link into message to view AutoSend messages
    Ask before sending: Reminder notification to Edit, Send or Cancel AutoSend.
    View all events active (and inactive) for a specific date. 
    Option to view as list
    View todays schedule

Help:

  • Tap “Help” button on home screen to activate a help overlay explaining whats available.

Learnings

Review with development sooner!
While the initial goal was to refine the concept for a more thorough list of requirements, this process backfired.

Feedback from my mobile engineering:

  • This cannot be done since iOS blocks access to incoming messages due to security concerns. 
  • The only way this could be done is through a partnership with apple or from Apple themselves. 

 

Time spent: 3 weeks
3 Iterations, 16 Screens, 3 Rounds of Research, 1 Prototype

 

Quotes from research:
"I love the idea! I'm horrible about responding so this would work great for me!"
- Quote from market research, 35-44 Female iOS user.


"I love this as I do get anxiety and depression a lot and it can overwhelm me, and this would be amazing to have."
- Quote from market research, 35-44 Male iOS user
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Additional information with links to the prototype and user testing videos:

Selected Works

Virtual AdvisorMobile app design

AutoRespondMobile App Design