Duration: 4.5 months, March - July 2021
Roles: UX, UI Designer and Art Director
Project Type: Personal project
Iustum was a project that stemmed from my passion towards mental health and finding new ways to nourish it. This project was created as my final UX/UI project for the Digital Design program at Vancouver Film School and was nominated for three VFS Awards categories:
1. Use principles of UX Design to identify pain points, goals and motivations of college students and recent graduates who experience stress and anxiety caused by a heavy workload and busy schedules in their lives.
2. Design an interactive application that will help ease users' pain points and boost overall mental wellness from a creative approach.
For this project, I knew from the start that it was going to be very research-heavy. In order to keep the design user-centered, I approached the problem with the double diamond framework of: discovering my user needs, defining the problem, developing a solution and delivering a final design.
The problem that I designed a solution for was originally rooted in my observations during my time as a student in university. During the entirety of my degree, I often witnessed close friends experiencing emotional blocks and lack of motivation, which is also something that resonated with me.
This project was designed to provide a solution to the problems that stress and work overload cause on the mental health of college students.
During my initial research stage, I discovered many insightful points that helped me narrow down my users and eventually led me to find the right people to interview. Eventually, the main problems for this design were beginning to originate from the following research points:
With this in mind, I began to understand that there is a gap in society about how our brain works and how we can optimize our brain power to our potential benefit. Through research, I eventually understood that to have a healthy mind, we must understand it first. This is where I began to see the opportunity to addressing these problems.
Albert Einstein once said that "the intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.” This quote made me connect the importance of designing a platform that will allow the user to exercise the right hemisphere over prioritizing the use of the left one. The goal in my design solution is to decrease stress and anxiety in college students by increasing other areas such as creativity, productivity, self-expression, etc., by exercising their right hemisphere regularly.
I compiled an overview video of my design process from start to finish for this project, enjoy!
I compiled the data from five user interviews into user profiles that highlighted data points about their lifestyle, mental and health goals, and their day-to-day life schedule on work or leisure day.
Some of the questions asked to interviewees had the purpose of discovering patterns, preferences, pain points, and goals. The questions asked to the interviewees were about their current lifestyle, stress and anxiety factors, and health goals.
DATA ANALYSIS FROM INTERVIEWS
Some of the key insights I gathered after the interviews indicated the following:
Following interviews, I gathered key data points into an affinity diagram to identify emotional and behavioural patterns that would allow me to brainstorm potential design features.
USER ARCHETYPES & JTBD
The interviews allowed me to understand my users emotions, frustrations, needs, and wants. I created two different archetypes that highlighted similarities and differences between my target audience, university students and young professionals.
From the information obtained from my user interviews, I was able to create two different user journeys, one that corresponds to college students and the other one that corresponds to the recent graduates (young professionals). The reason for this was to analyze how stress keeps playing a role in some users even after they have graduated from university and understanding the current stress factors to start brainstorming potential design solutions.
MENTAL MODEL & GAP ANALYSIS
The main insights I gathered from the mental model are the following:
These user-entered insights allowed me to design and brainstorm on the main features that were going to define the user flow in the interface.
The key findings from the mental model allowed me to identify desired features that users had in mind for a potential solution. These findings shaped my way in the first stage of the low-fidelity wireframes. Some important features that were obtained from the interviews and the mental model were:
Wireframing allowed me to visualize my previous design assumptions through potential features and interactions. The main challenges I faced throughout this phase were in the "Explore" page of the design. Since there was a lot of information, I wanted to make sure I was including the right amount of information that aimed to inform and educate the user about the benefits of exercising their right hemisphere. However, I didn't want to overwhelm the user so I had to keep iterating and user testing in order to find a balance in the amount of information I was including.
User testing helped me validate my design assumptions throughout the previous stages. Some of the feedback I got was mostly focused on the “Home”, which some users found a bit confusing. This proved that my first assumption of overcrowding the “Explore” page was wrong as users seemed to have all the information needed for a smooth flow.
At first, I included an image of a brain, with both hemispheres, that would allow users to see stats that reflected their progress on the Practice and Theory sections. To solve the confusion, I included a short sentence in each hemisphere to give more insight to the user about the stats displayed.
For the high-fidelity prototype, I had to combine the branding of Iustum as well as the UX/UI aspect of it. The colour palette and illustration represent my brand's identity of being friendly, calm, engaging, interactive, and educational. I designed the final prototype in Figma and animated interactions in After Effects. All illustrations in the prototype were designed in Procreate and Adobe Illustrator.
MAKE SURE THE RIGHT HEMISPHERE IS BEING EXERCISED?
I researched different activities that exercise the right hemisphere and the benefits obtained in doing so. For this project, I decided to design the challenges around six right-sided activities:
MAKE SURE USER WILL USE PLATFORM REGULARLY?
From interview I was able to identify the importance of including a reward system where the user obtains badges when completing different levels of a challenge.
User is able to collect the badges and share with friends their progress and achievements.
Also, the home page contains a section where user is able to see statistics about their progress on the six different areas (or the areas they choose to focus on).
MAKE SURE USERS WON'T GET BORED?
To complement practice, the theory section will allow the user to keep getting informed about the many benefits that exercising the right hemisphere can bring.
User is able to invite friends to join challenges in order to make it more fun and motivating. User is also able to connect with friends by liking and commenting on posts located on the social feed.
After designing and sharing this interactive application with close friends, teachers, and classmates, I heard remarks like "this makes me feel so at peace", "the challenges look so fun, I would do them everyday!”, “it looks pretty informative”, “before testing Iustum I didn’t know how exercising the right hemisphere would be so beneficial to my mental health.”
WHAT HAVE I LEARNED FROM THIS PROJECT?
This project allowed me to hone my skills in every area of the design process. From creating a brand from scratch to delivering an interactive prototype designed with solid reasoning, heavy research and lots of passion.
This project allowed me to understand the needs and goals of my target audience by keeping a connection with the user in every area of the design process. This was very important in order to keep the design user-centered.
I also learned a lot about the importance of accessibility and inclusivity in design. I wanted to keep this design accessible by giving control to the user to make the flow smooth and efficient. I also made sure to include an accessible colour palette with the right amount of contrast and AA standards.
As the topic of mental wellness is a big interest to me, I am looking forward to adding more features and challenges to Iustum in my spare time. This project has a special place in my heart as it allowed me to grow personally and hone my skills in UX/UI design.