Prana

Role

  • UX Research and Design
  • Interaction Design

Tools

  • Sketch
  • InVision
  • Axure

Deliverables

  • Research
  • Personas
  • Journey map
  • Paper prototypes
  • Mid fidelity wireframes
  • High fidelity UI
  • High fidelity prototype

Challenge

Despite increased access to technology and a variety of software, many people are failing to establish and maintain habits that promote personal health. How could we use technology to increase these behaviors and help create long-term improvement?

 

Background

This project was completed as an exploratory project for DESIGNATION over the course of 6 weeks. Embracing agile methodologies and using a scrum management system, I worked on a team of three to bring this project from research to fruition as a high fidelity prototype. 

I performed UX research and analysis, conducted multiple rounds of interviews and testing with users, created wireframes, designed a high fidelity interface, and created a functional prototype.

 

Getting Started

When my team and I first received the premise for this exploration, we knew how important communication would be, both internally and with users. Although initially framed as “fitness,” we knew it was important to choose our words carefully. We decided to step back and rephrase the prompt as “wellness” instead. This move paid off. When speaking with users we found that the term fitness generally makes people think of physical exercise, while wellness is more holistic. People consider wellness to refer to exercise, diet, and mental wellbeing. After making those slight, but important, changes we moved forward creating a foundation of knowledge to work from.

 

Synthesizing our research

Because this was an exploratory project, research was especially important for us to create the best product possible. To start, we dove into domain research and analyzed what potential competitors were doing. Because the issue was so broad, we analyzed physical fitness, mental wellness, and other personal management solutions.

 
 

Analysis of competitors and the domain showed us that current solutions required a significant commitment on behalf of the users and often times rewards, incentives, or motivators were lacking or not present at all.

With this understanding, we set out to talk to users directly. Due to time constraints, we balanced our interviews with surveys to ensure that we gathered enough information. We interviewed 12 people and later distributed a survey to 200 people online. 

We found that although people understand the need to eat healthily and exercise, there was an opportunity to help people improve their mental wellbeing. We created a survey to examine this further. To ensure accuracy, the survey was designed to filter people out who did not fit our criteria. 

When it came to mental wellness, meditation, and mindfulness:

 
 

This confirmed an unmet demand for a mental wellness product that was available at a moment’s notice and didn't require extensive time commitments.

To synthesize what we had learned, give our designs a point of reference, and help us empathize with the users, we created personas that would be referenced throughout the design process. Our primary persona was Andre Sherman.

 
 

In order to understand Andre’s day and where our product could fit in, we referenced our notes and interviews to create a journey map.

 
 

With this in hand, the problem became clear.

Busy professionals need a way to reduce stress and promote mental wellbeing, but have difficulty incorporating mindfulness or meditation in their daily routine.

We could judge success for our solution both based on reported stress levels and satisfaction, as well as daily, weekly, and monthly sessions.

Also based on everything we had learned, I helped create four principles to help guide our design and keep Andre in mind.

  • Be informative - The design should provide answers, not raise questions.
  • Be inspiring - The user should be motivated to participate without needing to be required or demanded.
  • Be positive - The design should never use negative motivators.
  • Be there - The design and primary function should be easily accessible and ready to use.
 

conceptualizing solutions

At this stage, we diverged to explore a variety of ideas and solutions, which we would later test against one another.

When it came time to design a product that addressed the problem and the users, I knew that ease of use, minimized time commitment, and immediacy of satisfaction was vital.

Looking back at our research, I determined that breathing meditation was the best solution. Breathing meditation offers effective use with minimal time commitments and almost no knowledge barrier. I wanted anyone to be able to pull out their phone, open this lightweight application, and quickly synchronize their breathing with a soothing animation. It was simple enough that they could do it on the train or in the elevator on the way to their next meeting. I named my concept Prana, a shortening of Pranayama (breathing) meditation. This name was later used for our final product.

Other concepts that we tested included an achievement based meditation video platform and a self-reflective audio journaling platform.

After a round of concept testing with users, we found that the breathing meditation app was strongly preferred, but there was also interest in daily mindfulness activities. When converging on an idea to move forward with, we found that the best solution was to incorporate the mindfulness activities into a mobile application with breathing meditation being the primary function.

 

Creating the interface

After iterating on our feedback from users and designing a solution that we now knew they would enjoy using, it was time to take our design to the next level of fidelity and create the interface. At this point, we diverged again to explore a variety of ideas and styles of interfaces.

Again, I knew that ease of use and immediacy of satisfaction were important. I designed a novel means of fluid navigation to mimic pages in a book. This was inspired by both the stack of paper in front of me, and Google’s Material Design system, in which elements have X, Y, and Z values. My concept played with the idea the users would be able to easily slide through pages to find what they were seeking.

Going further, we researched competitors and looked back at what we had learned from users. I chose to implement a color palette with muted earth tones that would soothe the users. For typography, I chose to use Quicksand for headers and Lato for body copy. Quicksand, being a rounded sans serif typeface with just the right tracking gave a calming appearance while still maintaining enough visual weight to establish hierarchy. In a similar manner, Lato offered strong legibility while being friendly and humanist.

 

The final design

After testing our screens for both usability and preference, we converged again to create our final high fidelity screens and a prototype.

 

Summing it up

This was the first large project that I had completed from UX research through UI design and prototyping. Looking back, this project really taught me the importance of learning from failure and how it's ok to fail fast, cheap, and often as long as we were learning and moving forward. We had many ideas that fell flat in front of users. It was so helpful to be able to see what didn’t work and why, and be able to take those insights to quickly move forward. Working in rapid, successive sprints allowed us to explore so many ideas without becoming so attached to any one that it hindered our progress.