This project is from my time in Practices of Design and Design Studio IV: Digital Design Thesis, two consecutive senior courses within the Digital Design program at the University of Colorado, Denver. We were tasked with constructing a thesis question which could be solved by utilizing our preferred design disciplines as well as to guide the project through to fruition.
My preferred discipline is UX/UI Design and user research. Therefore, I chose a path that would allow me to explore solutions applying these design efforts as well as contribute to a cause I am passionate about and believe could be improved upon: mental illness and technology.
Project Timeframe: 9 months
I was the only individual working on this project and was responsible for the experience strategy and design, research, branding, and visual design of this product concept. I also utilized relationships with subject matter experts in order to gather knowledge of the industry and additional information on user needs as well as to understand mental illness technology production and logistics.
Psychotherapy treatment is a fundamental service in treating those with mental illness, trauma, and the like. My aim was to supplement these practices with a platform that supports the modern individual. With less and less time being devoted to self-help due to the demand of school, work and other important life responsibilities, there is a need for this type of platform. With my knowledge of user experience design, I attempted the creation of a system that individuals could supplement their current psychotherapy treatment in order to facilitate and advance these efforts.
Adobe Illustrator & InDesign
GanttPro: Project Management Tool
Constructing the thesis question involved brainstorming and iterating until it embodied the goal set for this project and its intended audience. This is the question that would guide all design efforts throughout thesis:
HOW CAN USER EXPERIENCE DESIGN BE UTILIZED TO FACILITATE AND ADVANCE PSYCHOTHERAPY TREATMENT FOR YOUNG ADULTS?
I began developing a concept to solve this problem by first sending out a survey asking individuals who were currently seeing a therapist, as well as those who would like to see a therapist, what would be most beneficial to them. These results are below:
Total qualifying participants: 35
Participants currently seeing a therapist: 9
Participants who want to see a therapist: 16
Coping mechanisms: 24/35
Habit tracking: 21/35
Direct messaging to your therapist (send updates between appts): 20/35
Public discussions on specific topics (depression, trauma, etc.): 18/3
Articles/blogs on specific topics (depression, trauma, etc.): 17/35
Available community resources: 12/35
Suggested safety plans: 11/35
Direct messaging to your peers/community members: 10/35
Social sharing (of your progress, articles, etc.): 3/35
Other features suggested
Journaling to record discussions and learnings from sessions or thoughts in between sessions
Online messaging support
ANTICIPATED FEATURES & PAPER PROTOTYPE
The next step was to create a paper prototype of the features requested in the previous survey. I presented the survey results to subject matter experts with the anticipation of including: Public Discussions, Direct Messaging, Habit Tracking, and Available Community Resources.
We agreed that the discussion board feature would be extremely difficult to monitor and thus sustain the privacy and safety of the users, which is the most important aspect of any platform such as this.
The following images are from the paper prototype with revised features –
Habit Tracking, Recommended Articles (submitted by users, to be approved by certified therapists before posted publicly), and Available Community Resources.
Home Screen: Habit Tracking
Add Activity: Categories
Add Activity: Details
I tested the paper prototype with individuals currently seeing a therapist, as well as those looking to see a therapist, in order to assess usability and desirability before creating high-fidelity designs. Here is an overview of those results:
Total qualifying participants: 8
Participants currently seeing a therapist: 2
Participants who want to see a therapist: 6
62.5% | 5/8 participants were able to add a new activity
100% | 8/8 participants were able to view their activity data
87.5% | 7/8 participants were able to view recommended articles/blogs
100% | 8/8 participants were able to add a recommended article/blog
100% | 8/8 participants were able to change their active doctor’s settings
87.5% | 7/8 participants were able to view community resources near them, resources that were available 24/7, and their saved community resources
75% | 6/8 participants felt they could rely on this product
87.5% | 7/8 participants felt this product had useful functions
Participants felt as though their doctor settings and community resources should not be in their account but rather as its own feature
SME & MENTOR FEEDBACK
After testing the paper prototype, I returned to the subject matter experts and my industry mentor. My industry mentor recommended reviewing the project and narrowing the scope to the feature that would most help the patient and therapist in reaching their goals, together.
When speaking with the subject matter experts, they suggested removing the articles/blogs feature as well as the community resources (although they are very nice to have, other companies were doing this already) but that the activity tracking and transparent sharing of data and information between the patient and therapist is most crucial, so efforts should be focused on this feature.
I also met with the Outreach/Prevention Coordinator & Psychotherapist at the CU Denver Student and Community Counseling Center. We reviewed the paper prototype, the changes that were about to be made, and she gave me resources to replace the features that were going to be taken out.
The decision to focus on one main feature that would aid psychotherapy treatment and the patient/therapist interaction would hold to be useful. Once this feature was set and out in the wild, others could be added as they proved valuable to this main goal.
FINAL CONCEPT OVERVIEW
The main feature of this platform is tracking activities and habits. It is almost completely customizable, unlike the habit tracking resources that are currently available. This makes it ideal for entering different activities that the patient and therapist have discussed during sessions.
The platform also curates data from the user’s entries that is displayed both individually and in a combined, overlaid graph. This allows for the discovery of trends or patterns within the user’s day-to-day which creates the opportunity to alter activities or habits in order to improve the user’s quality of life.
Further, there is complete transparency with the data information. The user can add their doctor to the ‘Resources’ feature as well as edit their access and privacy. This adds a layer of accountability in addition to accessibility for the doctor to review this data. Together, the patient and doctor can view the data and discuss any changes that may help advance treatment.
In the event a user requires additional support, the National Suicide Prevention contact information is provided in the ‘Resources’ feature as well as other accredited resources which provide information on mental health and, if needed, ways to find a therapist or other doctor.
Main navigation in app:
Andrea Russett, 24 years old
Income: Under $20k per year
Education: Pursuing a business degree
Occupation: Marketing intern
Meets with her therapist three times per month
Checks her email compulsively
Is extremely detail oriented
Drives 30 minutes to work everyday
Works 40–50 hours per week including schoolwork
Has high anxiety that prevents her from socializing outside of work
Over analyzes what people say or do when they are around her
Needs & Goals
Wants the ability to track her activities, mood and sleep in a way that she can discuss any trends with her therapist during sessions
Wants a seamless experience where she can log issues that arise
Wants to take full advantage of therapy and what she can gain from it, regardless of her crazy schedule
noun, plural praxises, praxes [prak-seez]
1. practice, as distinguished from theory;
application or use, as of knowledge or skills.
2. convention, habit, or custom.
3. a set of examples for practice.
Synonyms for praxis
[noun: habit] custom, exercise, practice, practical
The color choices for this project were made based on the needs of the user. The use of blue, as well as other pastel colors, has historically been associated with the feeling of safety and relaxation, which is crucial for an individual going through crisis or other tough life events.
Other colors prove to be more stimulating, like red. Therefore, rather than using a bright red within the design, I have chosen a softer red. It has a hint of orange and is easier on the eyes. Although this is a bit less stimulating, it does still bring attention to itself in necessary situations like error messages, buttons, and extremely important disclaimers.
The dark grey choice for body copy and icons follow the same reasoning. With dark grey text, rather than black, the user can feel more comfortable while using the app and creates a cooperative calming effort with the pastels.
This logo was designed with the main feature of the platform in mind. It combines user entry visuals with data view representation and an iPhone outline which visually connects the two. The gradient effect symbolizes balance, progression and connectedness.
PATIENT APP SITEMAP
MAIN DESIGN ITERATIONS
Added an 'All' tab for varied viewing
Changed date header to 'Today'
Changed mood scale to icons for more accurate interpretations
Calendar View v.01
Calendar View v.02
Changed the calendar to reflect other modals within the app
Activities Completed v.01
Activities Completed v.02
Created an automatic 'Completed' section for easier viewing of uncompleted tasks
Changed navigation icons for better visibility and brand cohesiveness
Changed 'Active Specialists' to 'My Doctors' and 'Other' to 'More' for better recognition and personal ownership
Added an urgency icon to direct users to 9-11, rather than their doctor, in emergency situations
Added 'Hours of Operation' for quick reference (if provided by doctor/office)
Add Activity v.01
Add Activity v.02
Added a title bar for suggested activity templates for indication and separation from the blank activity entry
Added additional suggestion templates
Data View v.01
Data View v.02
Changed date header to 'This Week'
Designed graph to better showcase overlapped data and trends
More Info Modal
Account & Settings
Add Activity Details
Add Activity Details Completed
Manage Visible Data
FAQ & Legal