Parental control is a product that helps parents with controlling/overwatching their children and their activity mainly on the internet, but also in real life. During the internship project, I focused mainly on the children app of the parental control product.
I seemed to be a great fit for Avast parental control product because of my age, as I was the same age as the target group. The design team wanted me to see the problem and think about the problem for my perspective.
We identified that the children get a little value out of the product, as the main focus was placed on parent’s needs only causing that parental control was based only on monitoring children.
My key role was representing the child side while designing. The goal was to design an ideal concept of the product for children, that would bring them the value they really perceive.
— Increasment of NPS score / % of positive reviews.
— Family retention rate improvement.
The purpose of the project was for me to handle all the steps of product development process, starting with a problem definition all the way to the final design.
The project was initially planned for two months before we decided to extend it to four months (2 months full-time on site + 2 months remotly as a side project).
— Research (Market Analysis, User Interviews)
— Information Architecture
— User Testing (1 on 1 Usability Testing)
— Presentation for the Design Director and Design Team
We have identified the ideal target group as children between 10 and 18 years of age. I combined own insights with data collected by Avast during previous research sessions. The primary outcome of a value proposition canvas was that children want to feel safe while maintaining their privacy, retaining trust of their parents and having good digital well-being.
Competitors seemed to be oriented the same way. Most of them haven’t provided much value to children either. However it was a great way how to gather some inspiration and see how they think and communicate with the target group.
Direct competitors are Safe Kids by Kasperky, LifeLock by Norton, Circle by Disney and Google Family Link.
Looking at the market provided me with some interesting insights, but everything has its drawbacks I have adopted some features from the market research without thinking twice about the value they bring to the user. This turned out to be a mistake, however I was able to fix it in the following phase.
After user and market research, and a couple of iterations based on the feedback of mentors, I started thinking about potential features of the product using information architecture.
— Recommended Activities: Recommending children activities to do instead of using a mobile phone.
— Screen Time: Children being able to start internet rest time anytime and see screen time limits set by their parents.
— Family Location Sharing: New privacy-friendly system how to share location between all members of the family through set locations and viewing members locations together with sending them a notification.
— Omni Game: Game motivating family members to spend less time on screen through rewards by time not spent on phone and social ranking aspect. As less time you spend as many gifts you get.
Wireframes helped me with thinking about the layout of the product and help me to fine-tune all the features.
I started with sketching on paper, which allowed me to express the ideas quickly and then continued with low-fidelity wireframes in Sketch.
For the design purposes I used the Avast Design Library, supplemented by custom elements whenever I needed to create something specific to my case.
Unfortunately, I spent too much time on the design phase. The reason is that I moved on to the actual design before properly finishing my wireframes. This resulted in me having to go back and forth between these two phases multiple times to fix various issues that could’ve been quickly addressed during the wireframing period.
To validate the concept, I have prepared a clickable prototype in InVision.
My main focus was to prepare the prototype feel like a real app as much as possible, to ensure children would feel like in a real situation.
I have tested the prototype with 5 children, between 10 and 15 years of age, who are active mobile users.
I have prepared my own session guide for it. It was really enjoyable working with this type of target group. The main challenge was that some children weren’t much talkative.
— Testing the prototype with Elen(11) and Tobias(12).
1. Pick me up feature sounds like an order and wouldn't bring that much value beside SMS or phone call. Check-in feature doesn't make sense with the new location system.
I have removed pick me up feature.
Check-in feature doesn’t seem useful for children, and also when I was thinking about this feature it doesn’t make much sense for me because parents can anytime show the current location of their children, so why would children have to send them the location.
2. Location system is not understandable.
I have added children themselves to the list to help them to imagine the situation better by enabling them to see their status/how their parents see them.
3. Children didn’t understand why Eliška (family member of a user) is not visible on the map.
The word “unknown” wasn’t specific enough for them. So I exchanged the “unknown location” for “outside of set location”, which accurately described what does the state mean.
4. Bad UX of the filter in recommended activities.
I have added arrows to hint that it is a dropdown.
5. Rest time format is incomprehensible and turn on/off button not valuable for the target group.
I have removed the button for turning the rest time on because it, even more, complicated the tab and have modified the upcoming rest time indicator to a more understandable format. Children didn’t know if 3h 5m means 3 hours of using the mobile or 3 hours of real-time.
6. Omnie Game was difficult to understand and against the overall vision of the product.
After a few conversations with my mentors, we have decided to remove the feature of Omnie game. The main goal of the app is to decrease screen time of children, not to give them even more space to spend the time on screen by giving them a game. I have also changed the whole hierarchy of the app. I have moved recommended activities to the main tab instead of Omnie game.
The final design was the simplest version out of all previous iterations and was more focused on good visual appealing.
Actually the final product never exists, the concept would still probably need some more iterations, but it wasn’t planned, so this is the final version I was presenting to design director of Avast and the design team.
Allowing children to focus better through internet rest time and motivating them to spend even less time through smile indicators.
Parents can set periods during which children can’t use their mobile phone. I think one of the biggest problems at the moment around young people is their focus. Children are constantly disturbed by notifications, etc. So here, the Rest Time feature helps. Parents are allowed to set children "rest times" during days.
Children should see how much time they have already spent using a mobile phone and how much is recommended for them at their age. As found out in the research, children don’t know how much they should and shouldn’t spend using their devices. This feature will give them an overview of these things and help them with reducing it through smiles, indicating how bad or good is their screen time.
Pulling children from their mobile phones by recommending them better activities to do.
The main problem I have identified during my research with long time spent using the device is boredom. When children have something to do, when they have some free-time activities, hobbies, sports, they are not used to be using their devices that often because they have something else to do.
I wanted to achieve this by offering them alternative activities they could do and help them build good habits or find a new passion. Children have access to different categories of activities, and for every activity, they have resources needed for starting with them and getting better.
Location system keeping family members connected while keeping their privacy needs all the time in mind.
Location was a tricky thing. I wanted to come up with something that would still keep children’s privacy while parents would know their children are safe. I came up with a concept which has the potential to satisfy both needs. Parents determine specific areas, which work like main points, where all members of a family can see each other, but when someone is outside of a set area (home, school,..), nobody can see him/her. They can view their location by clicking on a button, but the person will get a notification, that someone has viewed their location. I think the notification will ensure that no one will abuse this location feature, while if there would be a need, they can view it anytime, without the need to have some kind confirmation of the other side.
Is there any actual value for children?
I was told that the app is missing something like recommended action and goal. Children can see how much they have spent on the mobile, but is this information of any value to them? It would be good to somehow connect it to recommended activities, show children the overall idea/goal of the product.
App design is not visually appealing for children.
Designing a visually appealing app for the whole target group between 10–18 years old can be tricky. If we would focus on children, who are 10, it most likely won’t be good, however 18 years old kids might love it. Is it right to have such a big target group, can we satisfy most of the target group? That’s the question.
Why have I removed the button for starting the rest time? Were the questions in user research asked the right way and with the right context?
The truth is I would find the button myself useful because I know how difficult it is, for example, to study while your Snapchat notifications are beeping. I have removed it because of user testing and children which wouldn’t find it useful and that’s the question, can we say that they would find or wouldn’t find something useful without them trying to use it in a real app? Maybe some of the fixes after user testing weren’t necessary and it should stay in the product for real development, which would give us real data and then we could conduct possible iterations.
Focus, dealing with distractions and work prioritisation.
My main problem during the internship was focus. It was my first time working 8 hours full-time, 2 months straight, and I didn’t really know how to deal with it. Avast office had a lot of places where to procrastinate and not spend time working. It was also my first time for a longer time in Prague, so I had a lot of meetings and was not 100% focused on the internship. That was a big mistake, which I realised after the internship. I will keep it in mind next time., I will prioritise the work better, trying to avoid distractions, such as playing ping-pong, or chat with colleagues.
Document as much of the work process as possible.
During the internship, I wasn’t documenting my process so much, which made working on the final presentation, and this case study more difficult.
Choosing the right target group and knowing their needs.
I think this was the biggest problem of the whole project. Yes, we have determined the target group at the beginning of the project, but I was also working with my needs because I am a target group too. Finally, I tested the prototype on a different group of people. I didn’t know which way to go, there were my insights, insights from the people, who I tested, insights from American research, it was a mess… I also think it wasn’t good to set the target group as people from 10 to 18. I think we couldn’t satisfy this big target group. We had to spend more time on determining the target group.
It is important to prepare for meetings beforehand.
For the first meeting where I should present my work on information architecture and possible features I came with a bunch of papers, which didn’t really make sense and my speech was chaotic, I didn’t even know where to start. My manager told me that it shouldn’t happen.
We have determined the target group but haven’t determined the location of the target group.
As I said, I think the target group wasn’t settled the right way and also what came up as a problem during working on a concept was not determined location of the target group. I have been working with Avast research data from America market + working with my own insights + testing the prototype on Czech children. We found out that American and Czech markets have slightly different needs, causing incorrect selection of features during the user testing with Czech children.
It wasn’t good to stretch the project from 2 months to 4 months.
I have been working on the project 2 months full-time and then had to go back to school after the summer holiday. I decided to finish the project from home because I didn’t want to end the internship with an unfinished concept. It wasn’t probably the right choice to work on it from home because I wasn’t at Prague and couldn’t be in touch that much with people at Avast. I probably should have finished the internship with the progress I had after 2 months or assign 2 full weeks to it after the summer, but I was slowly working on it for additional 2 months which wasn’t good neither for me nor Avast.
I tried and learned many new things and gained understanding of working full-time. It is not as easy as it looks like. It changed my way of thinking, not just about the design industry, but in many other ways. I have experienced living 2 months alone in Prague without my family. Overall the internship was a fantastic and a really useful opportunity for me, and I am thankful for it. Biggest thanks go to my mentor Tran, who spent the most of the time with me and prepared the whole internship for me.