Be better together with Habi

How might we help a busy-doing-nothing Bob stick to a habit?
User Research, Wireframing, Prototyping, Pitching
November 2023
A partner habit app with co-ownership, nudges, and gamification
Jhon Kim, Levith Andrade Cuellar, Panithan Kasinphila

Students want better habits, but they're too distracted.

90% of university students say they'd like to be better at a regular habit, whether going to the gym, learning a new language, or studying more consistently. Unfortunately, most of them don't succeed. Why? 

Meet Busy Doing Nothing Bob

We interviewed 10 students who identified as "wanting to get better at a habit" but "disorganized". Their problem? a lack of accountability, a distracted approach with too many goals and not enough visibility, and the desire for instant gratification.

With that, we identified our persona: Busy-Doing-Nothing Bob, an ambitious college student who usually gets his work done, but not his habits.
We quickly realized why current habit solutions just don't work for Bob
Bob didn't need a habit tracker. He needed a powerful force to ensure he did what he said he would, instead of slacking off. How might we help Bob, the average lazy college student, build long-term, consistent habits?
What if two Bobs shared a habit (like a pet)?
Bob always forgets to go to the gym, but he never forgets to feed his dog. Why? Because the dog is active and visible, and Bob takes pride in its well-being and appearance.

That insight led us to Habi V1: what if Bobs were paired up to co-parent a pet habit?

Our first vision for Habi let Bob start a shared habit with a friend, customize a pet (called a "Habi"), and get reminded to check off the habit / feed the pet daily.
Our users loved having partners, not tamagotchis
When we took our designs back to our users, they had a lot of feedback.
Our Bobs all found value in partner accountability, aka seeing whether your friend had done the habit yet. This led us to explore a more BeReal-for-habits angle to the app.

On the other hand, Bobs doubted the value of gamification. Bob might remember to feed the dog, but on a busy day, he often forgets to play with it.

Despite this, our team decided not to remove gamification, which was our key market differentiator, but to scale it down to a quick log rather than a chore.
These critical insights helped us refine a more high-fidelity iteration for our pitch.
Be better together with Habi!
With all that feedback, we pitched our solution alongside 25 other teams. We focused on the urgency of the unmet market, why we need to cue and motivate Bobs socially rather than track forgettable goals, and the many critical changes Bob could achieve with Habi.

Check out our prototype here!
We got excellent feedback on how to proceed!


Focus is key

Having a general habit solution was a good, but some habits are way more painful and costly. What kinds of habits are Bobs most desperate to build?


Tell a stronger story

We could have invested more time into the pitch itself. How frustrated was Bob he about his habits, really? How did that pain manifest, and could he really imagine using Habi? 


Don't constrain yourself to an app, or just Bob

Could an AA-style habit cohort, or a paid school program work better than an app? Beyond that, were there users with bigger habit pains than Bob-- maybe executives trying to practice networking, or people attending therapy trying to manage follow-up work?
With these insights, I'm keen to explore further iterations of this concept (Habit BeReal? Habit School?).

Thanks to my brilliant team (Jhon, Levith, Penny!) and the NYU Berkley Center for Entrepreneurship for hosting the Designpreneurs Hackathon! Spot me in the crowd :)