End-to-End App Design: Wednesday

An online community for women to connect about mental health through guided conversations.

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Overview

Wednesday is an online community that connects women who are interested in improving their mental health through guided conversations.

By connecting users and encouraging daily communication, Wednesday addresses the challenge of isolation that women feel when taking care of their mental health.

I designed the MVP for the end-to-end application that completes the objective of connecting users to participate in guided conversations.

  • Duration: 12 weeks

  • Role: UX/UI, Research, Design, Branding, Testing

  • Tools: Figma, Maze User Testing, SurveyMonkey

Women interested in improving their mental health indicated that traditional forms of help required a large commitment of time and resources.

Women interested in improving their mental health indicated that traditional forms of help required a large commitment of time and resources.

Initial Problem

While reconnecting with old and new friends post-COVID, I noticed that everyone’s life had been knocked off its normal course. I saw a common arc among professional women friends and observed how they were consistently struggling with taking care of themselves.

A quick 3 question survey posted on Discord yielded 20 responses, with more than half indicating that they were interested in improving their mental health but found the barriers to entry too high: e.g. requiring a large commitment of time and/or resources.

My interest was piqued, and I was curious to help.

Hearing firsthand from our users helped define the problem.

Hearing firsthand from our users helped define the problem.

Discovery

During the discovery phase, I interviewed 8 women between the ages of 29 and 52 years old who were interested in improving their mental health.

I wanted to hear firsthand what they found important about mental health, what they were doing to address it, and the challenges they faced.

I gathered over 140 qualitative data points and used affinity mapping to draw insights.

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Communicating about emotions is hard

50% of the participants had difficulty talking about mental health, emotional needs, and their feelings.

33% of the participants expressed internalizing their emotions.

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Loss of identity and self-worth

67% of participants were grappling with a loss of identity and a diminished sense of self-worth after a lifestyle change.

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Feelings of isolation

A common sentiment amongst all the participants was feeling alone and not having anyone they could confide in. They didn't want to be seen as "complaining" since they felt they had a "privileged" life overall.

Wellness apps are focused on individual practice

Wellness apps are focused on individual practice

Wellness apps aren't meeting users' needs

Users reported that existing wellness apps were focused on individual practices such as therapy or meditation. These activities were highly individualized and required a commitment of time and lacked a social and accountability aspect.

Insight:

Managing mental health for women is a challenge because it’s highly isolating and focused on the individual.

Personas humanize our users and inform the design process.

Personas humanize our users and inform the design process.

Personas

Before forming a hypothesis, I created two personas to humanize our users and form a deeper understanding of their goals, motivations, needs, and pain points.

Tracy, 48 years old

  • medical professional

  • mother of two

  • recently scaled back on her career

  • experiencing loss of identity

Kristina, 33 years old

  • creative professional

  • recently engaged

  • moved to a new city for her fiance's job

  • seeking balance between professional growth and personal life

They represent two different user segments that I uncovered during the discovery phase. I used these personas to guide the ideation and design process.

Opportunity:

We can help people like Tracy and Kristina improve their mental health by connecting with others.

Storyboarding two product ideas helped visualize Tracy and Kristina's experiences ultimately leading to the final solution.

Storyboarding two product ideas helped visualize Tracy and Kristina's experiences ultimately leading to the final solution.

Rapid Ideation

I used creative constraints to rapidly generate 15+ ideas that would address the challenges Tracy and Kristina faced when addressing their mental health. Some of the ideas I came up with included a digital puppy app that they would "feed" and care for, and in return the puppy would respond with positive affirmations and cute photos. I didn't think Tracy would find much value in that, given she had two live "puppies" of her own.

This led to the the idea of an artificial friend, where the user designed the AF to their specs and needs. This idea had legs and led to the final solution: Wednesday, an online community that connects women like Tracy and Kristina to each other through honest conversations about mental health and wellness.

Hypothesis:

Combining the task of managing mental health through meaningful conversations would address the challenge of isolation that Tracy and Kristina experienced.

In order to solve this problem, two things needed to happen: a user has to be connected to a BFF and prompted to talk to each other. These events also had to be measurable. I identified two key workflows that differentiated my product and mapped out the flow to help determine what screens I'd need to design.

I created a design system and library that would enable responsive design and a visual identity that would resonate with Tracy and Kristina

I created a design system and library that would enable responsive design and a visual identity that would resonate with Tracy and Kristina

UI Design

Since this was a project I started from scratch, I had to create the visual identity before designing the high fidelity mockups. I took inventory of the things I would need based on the wireframes and built a design system, which included creating components in Figma.

I also had to select a color palette and typography that would resonate with Tracy and Kristina. I landed on a peachy orange, which represents warmth, joy, and encouragement and a jade green, which symbolizes growth and renewal. For the typography, I chose a title font that was more nostalgic and a body font that was clean.

Usability Testing

I created a fully-functional, high-fidelity prototype of the updated flows using Figma. Using Maze, I conducted 7 usability tests in the first round and 5 after iterating on the issues. The participants were women between the ages of 29 to 52. Below are design iterations I made based on user testing.

12
Test sessions
2
Work flows
3
Revisions
80%
Success rate

Key Takeaways

Overall, testers had a positive emotional reaction to the user interface and visual design. In addition, 86% of users indicated that they would use app Wednesday to find community and connection, especially during a major life change.

After usability testing and making iterations, the completion rate increased from 43% and 67% to 80% for both task flows.

What I learned💡

Be flexible and curious. The problem can evolve as you uncover more information. The initial problem seemed to be that women found managing their mental health to be time consuming and resource intensive, but it became more nuanced as I delved deeper. At a more basic level, women were seeking connection and support to maintain a baseline level of wellness and address feelings of isolation.

Design is iterative. The process involves multiple feedback loops. It's better to get something down and seek feedback in stages, than to work in a silo and try to make a perfect product before sharing it.

If I had more time and resources 🧐

  • I would track metrics including adoption rate, engagement rate, and time spent on app.

  • I would be very interested to track users' mental health progress, including having users answer a wellness quiz before using the app and a month after using the the app to see whether users indicated an improved sense of community and lesser isolation.