DOKI is a robot pet that helps young adults stay focused and productive after social media breaks by eliciting joy and using persuasive strategies.

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My Role
UX Research Lead
Sep - Dec 2022
12 weeks
Literature review,
Focus group,
User & Expert Interview, Survey,
Usability Testing, Between-Subject Study
1 Researcher (me)
1 Developer
4 Designers
Have you ever set up a social media intervention only to find that your screen time is still sky-high?
I know I have.
My social media time is about as healthy as my coffee obsession

51% of people reported reduced productivity due to excessive procrastination on social media. Previous interventions have been ineffective for many individuals. This project aims to investigate alternative approaches to improve emotional readiness after using social media.


DOKI is a robot pet that helps heavy social media users reduce procrastination and increase their emotional readiness for work. It activates when the user docks their phone on DOKI's cube, creating a physical barrier between the user and their phone.


As the UX Research Lead, I was responsible for overseeing and guiding other 5 designers in the research tasks identified in the red box.

My personal approach to the topic of "reducing online behavior" was to focusing more on discovering problems so that we can ask better "how might we" questions, as many aspects of this area have already been thoroughly explored.

Identifying People's Top Internet Frustrations
Generate ideas and broaden perspective on the prompt "changing toxic online behavior"
5 focus group sessions
using New Metaphors toolkits
• prompt participants to discuss metaphors related to their internet use
12 participants
(mixed gender, aged 22-30)

✨ Participants were concerned about their excessive procrastination on social media,
they were aware that this behaviour had negative impacts on their attention and productivity
✨ Participants were unable to effectively address it through various intervention

We narrowed down the focus to 'mitigating the negative effects of social media usage'.

Exploring Challenges Through Multiple Perspectives
Investigate the specific challenges that heavy social media users may face
Expert Interview
6 adults - heavy Instagram users
3 experts - in the field of attention, procrastination, and social media

✨ People reported difficulty breaking away from endless social media scrolling, leading to difficulty focusing on subsequent tasks
✨ Social media use can become habit-forming, with users becoming 'hooked' on the rewarding experience of infinite scrolling
✨ To address this issue, provide a similar rewarding experience in a healthier way

With the intention of tackling procrastination, we have chosen to focus on enhancing emotional and cognitive readiness as the desired outcome, as stated in our "how might we" question.


We used Tarot Cards of Tech and The Thing from the Future, followed by a focused ideation session using persuasion strategies, to generate and select concepts for prototype development. I also participated in this ideation process. The chosen concepts, Beep Boop and Delight Dose, received positive feedback and Beep Boop (late renamed as DOKI) was further developed incorporating elements from Delight Dose.

Prototype Testing
Improving onboarding success through research
To quickly gather feedback and identify redesign opportunities in the low-fi prototype
3 think-aloud testing sessions
- participants were people who used social media >1.5 hours per day
Onboarding process was unclear: users didn't know they needed to dock their phones on the cube
Enhancing User Experience With Conversational Signifier
Evaluate the interaction flow of a realistic scenario involving DOKI.
System usability scale questionnaire
- 5 participants were adults who used social media >1.5 hours per day (mixed gender and race) 
Onboarding was successful but the user experience had friction. The main problem was participants not knowing when it was their turn to respond.
Final Design

The final design includes an app with onboarding and personalization prompts, a physical robot with interactive features to increase joy and readiness, and a dynamic widget for presence and breaks.

During onboarding, users set DOKI's preferences and engage in interactive activities. DOKI prompts users to start a working session by connecting their phone to the cube. After the session, users may take a break, disconnect their phone from the cube, and be reminded of the break time with an embedded dynamic widget (acting as a social surveillance feature). DOKI's new interactions are unlocked as the phone's docking time increases.

Final Testing
Measure Design Effectiveness Using Empirical Approach
Confirm the design addressed our "how might we" problem statement -
we conducted a between-subject lab study to determine the impact of DOKI
Between-subject study, interview, survey
10 participants were randomly assigned to either control group (without DOKI) or the experimental group (with DOKI) 
- all participants were adults who used social media >1.5 hours per day (mixed gender and race) 
80% of participants felt ready to return to work with DOKI

We found not only were the experimental group significantly more satisfied, but an overwhelming 80% felt ready to return to work. Moreover, participants reported an average of 4.0 out of 5.0 in terms of the joy they felt when interacting with Doki, and a resounding 80% would recommend the Doki program to their friends. It's clear that Doki was not only effective in reducing social media overuse, but also in fostering positive emotions and productivity.


Influence 5+ design decisions
The design process included user research, low-fidelity prototype testing to identify usability issues, mid-fidelity prototype testing to inform adjustments, and high-fidelity prototype testing to validate the solution's effectiveness.

Research shared in communications
We presented user study and interview evidence at a poster session to demonstrate the efficacy of our design solution. This strengthened our story and showed the potential of our design to the audience.


Maximize Research Within Constraints
To maintain focus, we established specific goals for each testing round, which narrowed our scope. Mid-fidelity testing centered on the dynamic island, while high-fidelity testing prioritized user-robot interaction to gauge emotional readiness. Time constraints and the need to answer our 'how might we' question influenced this decision. Although we didn't conduct full testing, we tracked metrics that addressed our question.

Moving Forward

Implement Research Democratization
To encourage inclusivity and democracy in UX research, I propose hosting workshops or discussions during project downtime to share insights and involve the team in the research process. This benefits designers by providing context and collaboration for UX research.

Feedback from the persuasive expert
"Your prototyping and testing process is, to me, a gold standard to which students in the class should aspire to achieve: your progress from conceptual to experiential prototyping was well-planned, and you took particular care to create testing materials and activities that would get as close as possible to the authentic experience of your app. The fact that you conducted a mini experiment as part of your process was the icing on the cake; even though you weren’t required to conduct a test of efficacy, your dedication to your concept and eagerness to provide evidence of impact were exceptional. In full honesty, I can’t find any area to critique with your work on the project: you’ve hit every aspect covered by my grading criteria, and your final prototype includes such a rich plethora of interlocked features.

- Geoff Kaufman (Associated professor @ CMU Human Computer Interaction Institute)