The development of technology that has led to artificial intelligence has grown exponentially over that past 5 decades in a way that it has completely shaped and directed human life. With artificial intelligence observing humans, they learn and grow in order to become more effective and align with the needs that they are designed for.
A lot of the initial research was already done before I came onto the project as part of the thesis study, but I conducted my own research as well that would be more relevant towards the design aspects. Using empathetic mapping to understand pain points in existing apps and high priority features, I interpreted the results of all the data compiled in order to develop wireframes. I conducted user interviews with people who have used existing mental wellness apps, and determined what lead to fall off in usage. I also pulled from my personal experiences with mental illnesses and used that to influence a more raw and emotional experience that targeted our users.
Studies show that practice through repetition can help users form habits with the tools that they learn to apply to their daily lives. Contrary to existing apps that provide different tools to address mental illnesses, this app uses repetition of the same guided practice to create habits with the same aid provided.
We also utilized classic tools of engagement such as empathy, custom input and gamification in order to create sticky relationships with our users. This ensured that users would continue to use the app to reach the optimal number of repetitions to be able to form habits and continue to apply those tools in their lives.
When branding the product as well as naming it, it was important to empathize with people who have anxiety disorders by developing a soft colour palette with subtle tones and affectionate imagery.
The name was inspired by Xiaoyu, which translates into little rain from mandarin, but it also was inspired by the phrase " a little rain will shine a brighter day". This translated into the rest of the experience, in gamifying certain elements and relating back to the research, to providing hope for our users.
As we want users to use this app as a practice and learning tool, going through sessions is the primary function. I used a simplified UI and other visual elements to set the environment of calm rain and create a smooth flow from practicing to logging feelings and levelling up.
A vital element of the app is the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) to allow users to record anxiety levels, 1. prior to using the app, and 2. after sessions and during using the app. As the app tracks anxiety levels, it will fuel the research to understand whether or not this type of repetitive practice is effective.
Research showed that gamification was a good habit forming tool and that was an element that the client wanted to incorporate into that app. Going off of the little rain theme, I used a growing plant concept where the user can earn raindrops to grow their plant. Using empathy for our target audience, which are people with anxiety, I didn't want to create an experience that punishes users and losing progress/streaks if they missed a day of practice. We didn't find it productive to have streaks that a user could lose so my proposed idea was to use positive reinforcement by growing and collecting plants and flowers to encourage users to continue to practice their habits.
The current version is an MVP in order to gain data from repeat users to analyze whether our thesis of repetition is true. As the app progresses, we aim to add more resources and interactive inputs for users to continue their experience.
Designing for a project that hits close to home, such as the topic of mental wellness, drove passion for me to execute a clean design to create an app that I would want to use. This caused me to really leverage empathetic considerations and smooth user flow to be able to reach the goals that Dr Joordens wanted to meet, as well as the goals that I as a user and designer wanted to achieve
This project differed from school projects as it was actually an experience that would end up developed. Often times in school, we focused on creating a golden flow for an experience to promote an app. In this case, I could not only develop screens for a golden flow, but rather every single edge case and instance that we could think of. Using my knowledge of HTML/CSS, I also had to consider what could be quickly implemented during development and adjust my design. I worked closely with the developer to communicate my intentions with the app and to create a fluent design for our launched product.