YOU NEED RIGHT NOW?
a case study
August 2020, Camp Figma
Use Figma to create a product that will
bring more joy into the world
A 24 hour time period, collaborating remotely with a team of three other first-time hackathon participants (and complete strangers) with a 12 hour time difference
"What Do You Need Right Now" : a streamlined app that guides users through a journey of questions and actions to use when they're feeling down and aren't sure why, empowering them to reconnect with their physical and emotional needs and take steps towards joy.
Individual: Handlettering & Typography, Copywriting, Flow Design, User Research
Collaborative: Ideation & Development, Prototyping, Inspiration Research
MY BRAINSTORMING NOTES
Individually, we each brainstormed ideas for projects we could create to bring more joy into the world. I started with a list of things that brought me joy, then used them to generate possible product ideas. We shared our favorites with each other.
Some common threads emerged between our ideas: storytelling, navigation, and a user-centered journey. We combined my idea of an experience-focused mental health tool that helps users figure out what's affecting their mood with a teammate's idea of a navigable choose your own adventure map.
MY TOP FIVE IDEAS
• a DIY font maker to easily mix and match letter elements to create your own simple font
• a shared inside joke and memory "scrapbook" for friendships
• a 5-minute daily learning experience that teaches skills & facts with short videos & exercises
• a mental health experience for when you're not feeling great that helps you figure out what's wrong and how to help yourself feel better
• a community file with elements of classic board games that can be mixed & matched to create new games to play remotely with friends
Feelings of generalized stress, sadness, or low energy can often make it hard to recognize what you need in order to feel better and improve your mood. We decided to create an experience to benefit users' mental health by taking them on an adventure-like journey to empower them with tangible action steps to increase both happiness and self-awareness of their needs.
The ultimate aspiration of this app is to no longer be necessary. Our hope is that as people interact with it on a regular basis, they will become more in tune with the needs of their bodies and minds, and be empowered to ask themselves these questions and take action without an app whenever they’d like to feel better.
USER RESEARCH & FINDINGS
I created a survey to get a better sense of the emotions that people feel most often, the causes of those negative feelings, and their usual solutions to coping or boosting their moods. Out of the 20 responses we received, the majority of responders experience emotions that negatively affect their moods at least once a week. 90% indicated that this was due in part to having too much going on; over half indicated that lack of sleep, exercise, and social connection were factors; and all but one participant picked multiple contributing factors. Common fixes to these emotions included spending time with friends or family, being creative, watching shows, eating, and waiting it out.
A typical user of our app is someone like Tess. She's a young professional who's been unemployed for the last several months because of COVID-19. Tess typically has an active social life and a positive outlook, but with so much changing around her, some days she finds herself in a bit of a funk and she's not sure exactly why or what to do about it. Tess doesn't have clinical depression but on the days she feels lonely and unsure about the future, her low mood makes her unlikely to spend energy taking care of herself in healthy ways, and she often resorts to eating junk food on her couch. Tess is an active iPhone user and wants an app that is low-effort, aesthetically pleasing, very structured, and can walk her through options of things she can try to boost her mood herself based on how her day has gone.
INITIAL CONCEPT SKETCH
I created this sample illustration to visualize our concept. Originally, we were planning to make the app like a treasure hunt that required users to swipe around the landscape in all directions, picking up badges for completing actions and adding or subtracting from a happiness score. I advocated to change this: since decision-making is stressful on our brains, keeping the journey streamlined in one direction would make the experience more relaxing and easy to use. In addition, the concept of badges or an overall happiness score could lead to self-judgment and comparison against an "ideal" and thus doesn't fit with our goal to support and empower users from where they are on their own personal journeys. The team agreed, and we adapted our plan.
FLOW MAPS & DRAFTED COPY
I created these flow maps with the intention of keeping their overall structure visible to the user as they follow their journey, to give them more peace of mind through a stronger sense of place and a greater sense of control over their experience.
I drafted copy for the app's questions and action ideas by drawing on my Psychology background, as well as research insights. I purposefully chose phrasing such as "Have you eaten well in the past few hours" over "Are you hungry" to make questions more straightforward to answer, and because people with low moods may not be as successful at recognizing their bodies' signals.
I handlettered each question and major element for a stylized, slightly quirky, and humanized feel. I chose to balance it out with Avenir's clean lines for the action text.
As someone who has been impacted by a friend's suicide, it was extremely important to me that we acknowledge upfront the limits of our app's ability to support people with serious needs, and to provide our users with high-quality resources if they are in danger.
Our original plan had been for users to move through the landscape by tapping "yes" or "no" to each question, sending them either to the next question or to an action suggestion. In addition to running into technical challenges with this method because of our long horizontal continuous background, I ultimately felt the app would be most effective primarily scrolled-through. Not only would this empower users with complete autonomy over their experience, which falls in line with our mission, they would also be able to easily see every suggestion and action item, many of which could be helpful regardless of which answer they chose. I chose to retain the tapping function for the title screens to guide users into the experience and prepare them for the more autonomous scrolling.
Slowly changing natural landscapes provide a calming backdrop to the guided questions, and little visual surprises add a sense of anticipation, encouraging users to continue scrolling along the journey
I wasn't sure what to expect going into my first hackathon with a group of strangers,
but looking back, I had an incredible experience. To be completely honest, I was fully prepared for our team to crumple under the pressure and not come up with anything at all, as it was everyone's first time and we were strangers that found each other through a day-of message I sent out asking for other teammates.
By the end of the 24 hours, however, I was so proud of what we had created, so excited to submit it to the judges, and so invested in both our collaborative process as a team and the mission behind our product. The experience reminded me that the best way to learn is by actually doing, that asking questions and sharing ideas are crucial to a team's success, and that having other backgrounds (such as my Psychology major) are valuable and important for creative work, not things to hide or look down on myself for.
The challenges inherent to design sprints, working with strangers, and doing something for the first time made this project far from easy for me and our team, but I'm grateful to have gotten to stretch myself so far creatively and as a leader and teammate, and to have used my strengths and ambition to support my team.