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Practicing Mindfulness Creatively

Self-started mental health & creativity app.

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PROJECT STATUS

DURATION

2 month (side project)

PROBLEM

There are many benefits to practicing mindfulness, but it’s hard to find a simple and effective method.

MY ROLE

UX/UI design, Interaction design, Prototyping 
User research, User testing 
Design system

There are many benefits to practicing mindfulness, but it’s hard to find a simple and effective method. Seeing is a mobile app that introduces a fun and creative way to practice mindfulness. Seeing guides people to focus on the present by encouraging them to go outside and capture things they encounter in nature through daily challenges. Participants can also turn photos into tangible artworks as a way to express themselves and reflect on their unique perspectives. Let’s practice mindfulness creatively through Seeing!

Product video - Seeing (1min 35s)

BACKGROUND

One in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness. Research shows that practicing mindfulness can significantly lower the levels of stress, depression, and anxiety. Mindfulness is the act of consciously focusing one’s mind in the present moment. However, many people struggle to practice mindfulness effectively because they fail to find a method they actually enjoy or don't feel motivated.

Seeing introduces a fun and creative way for people to practice mindfulness by encouraging people to capture things in their surroundings through a daily prompt. As people take photos and finish challenges, they start to build up a collage that they can then get sustainably framed and shipped to them. 

Seeing mobile app

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PROBLEM

There are many benefits to practicing mindfulness, but it’s hard to find a simple and effective method.

RESEARCH

Throughout the process, online surveys, social media polls, qualitative interviews and moderated user testing were conducted to collect user insights. 

The research goal is to understand what activities in practicing mindfulness people might find enjoyable and how they would like to be motivated. Within the 113 responses, 98% indicate interests in practicing mindfulness. The activities people enjoy the most include spending time in nature, observing surroundings, creative activities and mindful walking. People feel most motivated if they can see their progress, win exciting rewards and engage with their friends.

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Online survey

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Social media polls

DESIGN

Before starting the design, I hosted a brainstorming workshop with a few other designer friends. The goal is to make the mission clearer and figure out the core functionalities and experience.

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Brainstorming workshop

Mission: An app that helps practice mindfulness creatively.

Core feature: Challenge (photo-taking)

Supporting features: Discover, Progress, Reward

 

Objectives:

  • Cultivate mindfulness

  • Encourage conscious seeing

  • Focus on processes

  • Build a habit

Based on the core objectives, I started wireframing out the core experience in different scenarios (new users vs. existing users). For new users, they can try out before creating an account. This way we have no barriers for people to start using the app, and they are more likely to commit afterwards.

To help people better build a habit without getting addicted, the app will only allow users to take one photo per day. And they need to keep doing it to finish a 9-photo challenge. To better motivate users, we have supporting features like Discover, Progress and Reward. According to the research, people feel most motivated when they can see their progress, have a community and get rewards. 

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New user flow: onboarding - choose a challenge - start the challenge - create account

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Existing user flow: challenge (core feature)

Supporting features

To transfer the user flows into UI layout, I used Home screen to test out a few options while building up elements and pattern library. Overall the app should be easy, clean, simple and friendly. I chose the rounded corners to make the app feel more friendly and welcoming. To highlight the challenge section, I used a white container over a grey background to deliver a clearer visual hierarchy. I also removed the less important elements (like the Profile) to keep the Home screen simple and clean.

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UI options

However, deciding on the visual style was not easy, especially the colors. 

Visual design isn't my strongest skill, so I challenged myself to really push the visual design to the next level for this project. After studying the visual design for other mental health products, I felt clearer about what I want to achieve and what I want to avoid.  

The visual principles for the app should be calming, neutral and reminding people of nature. And the app should also be modern but not flashy so that it’ll attract people but not be too distracting. In the end, I went with a blue gradient as the theme. To better guide the visual style and help myself visualize the look and feel, I started to put together a moodboard and created a color palette. 

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Visual study: Jour, Headspace, Ten Percent, Stonic, Calm, Flipd

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Color experiments

Visual design principles:

  • Clean

  • Soothing

  • Simple

  • Neutral 

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Moodboard & color palette

Besides experimenting with visual styles, I also built up a basic design system with typography and components so that it’s easier for me to standardize the UI. 

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Design system WIP

USER TESTING

To validate the experience and discover potential usability issues, I conducted user testing with a few friends. 

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User testing

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Prototype for user testing

I received positive feedback on the overall flow and visuals, but there were also problems regarding the onboarding experience and rewards.

[ONBOARDING EXPERIENCE]

Problem
:
The onboarding experience was too vague, it didn’t communicate the value and process clearly. For new users, they didn’t know what to expect. 

Iteration:
I updated the content so that the value prop is clear. And I also further adjusted the layout so that it’s more balanced. 

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Before

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NEW onboarding experience

[REWARD]

Problem:

Currently, users would receive digital mindfulness resources as a reward for doing challenges everyday. However, the rewards didn’t seem to be attractive enough to keep people motivated and didn’t help strengthen the concept. 

Iteration: 
I started brainstorming different rewards that can help support the concept. Going back to the mission - Practice mindfulness creatively, I think the reward should be tied back to creativity. The idea of being able to make physical artworks comes to my mind. In the new version, as people take photos and finish challenges, they start to build up a collage that they can then get sustainably framed and shipped to them. The tangible artworks they receive will help them reflect on their unique perspectives and express their creativity. 

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Before

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NEW reward - Creation

[ADDING PROMPT]

Problem:

The challenge can be very broad and vague. Participants might don’t know what to do or think it’s too easy. 

Iteration: 
To better guide participants to see things consciously, the app will give them a prompt on the day. It will also add some excitement to the challenge as it can be similar to a scavenger hunt.

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Before

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NEW with prompt

[SIMPLIFYING THE UI]

Problem: 

During testing, users thought the challenge instruction could be very helpful for new users. However, it was not very prominent and they missed it. In addition to that, some of the screens still felt a bit messy. 

Iteration: 
To simplify the UI, I moved the content together so that it’s more digestible. On the Home screen, I further cleaned up the UI by combining the two white containers because they are closely related. I also made the “Challenge instructions” banner more prominent so that it’s easy to find for new users.

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Before

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NEW simplified  UI & more prominent instructions

FINALIZED DESIGN

Seeing is an art therapy in the form of "scavenger hunt". While most products focus on meditation or journaling, Seeing introduces a new way to practice mindfulness through conscious seeing and creative activities.

After choosing a challenge theme, a prompt like "Search for the tallest tree" will guide people to see things consciously each day. Upon finishing a challenge, the Creation feature allows people to easily turn what they see into artworks as meaningful rewards. Seeing also helps cultivate a habit by motivating people to do a little everyday. The Progress feature offers convincing data; the Invite feature allows people to keep each other accountable; the Discover feature allows users to share inspiration and form a community.

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MVP PLANNING

Seeing is an initiative that blossomed from a conversation I had with my friends. We are all conscious about mental health but have trouble finding a method that we enjoy. So why not introduce a fun and easy way to practice mindfulness by capturing the beauty and sensitivity of our surroundings?

The experience was developed based on the design principles of simplicity, ease and serenity. The goal is to cultivate mindfulness, encourage conscious seeing and help build a habit. Seeing is designed for all age groups in the US market. Currently, the app is at concept stage with a finished design prototype. The MVP version in planning features the core experience (Challenge) and supporting features (Discover, Progress and Creation).

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SUSTAINABILITY AND INTEGRATION INTO THE WORLD

With the aim to improve peoples’ mental health, Seeing applies ethical and social approaches in the design process. The core experience offers effective methods for individuals to practice mindfulness to reduce stress, anxiety and depression. Meanwhile, supporting features like Discover and Invite also form a healthy community that strengthens our social values and social cohesion.

As for Creation, we partner with ethical companies like Legion to produce postcards and totes with sustainable materials like cotton. We also make sure the whole manufacturing process is eco-friendly by utilizing handmade technique and wind power.