Prosper is an iOS and Android app that provides personalized self-care tools, resources, and a social network to support your health journey. As the founding designer on a small 3-person development team, my tasks are varied and dynamic but ultimately culminate in the crafting of our design & brand systems and product experiences.
The current mental health crisis among young people in the U.S. is a serious issue that is affecting the well-being and future of our nation's youth. With rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide among young people on the rise, it is essential that we take action to address this crisis and support the mental health of our youth.
- One in three high school students report persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness (a 40% increase in the past 10 years.
- In the U.S., one in three teenagers are overweight with one in five being pre-diabetic and obese
One of the problems
A disconnect between payers, providers and other stakeholders in the broader healthcare ecosystem with the youth population is leading to a lack of effective solutions for managing and improving the overall well-being among young people, especially those with SDOH challenges.
The Founding idea
Create an engaging platform which provides bi-directional engagement between users of the app and organizations within the healthcare and wellness spaces. Feature self-help resources and tools that can assist people struggling with mental health, pre-diabetes, and psychosocial challenges.
How I helped
User insights and ideation
I used surveys, focus groups, and one-on-one interviews to uncover insights into target user groups. This research was critical in informing concepts for features that address the behaviors and needs of our users.
Prototyping and Usability testing
I created prototypes to visualize concepts for both internal and external testing. This process helped identify and address issues before the final product was built.
I produced high-fidelity mock-ups for developer hand offs, each supported with detailed documentation and diagrams to reduce the likelihood of misunderstanding and to improve the overall efficiency, quality and cost effectiveness of the development process.
Mood tracking and insights
A social network for your wellness
Activities, resources, and services to ease and build resilience
A better title for this section might be “How I made time for UX as a solo designer in a fast-moving start-up”. Going in to this project, I knew I was going to have a lot being asked of me, so staying organized, flexible, and focused on deadlines was crucial.
Too keep a cool cruising speed, my strategy was to:
- Identify what parts of the UI and visual design of things didn’t have blockers that could be started on right away.
- Not to start from scratch. I wanted to do as little second hand research as possible, and instead rely on SME’s, REAL PEOPLE, that could give me insights into the subject area and the problem we’re tackling
Building blocks of a design system
A soon as I could identify an element in a wireframe as being something that could end up on a screen, it became a component. This helped me expedite the process of upscaling wireframes to a version that could be shared, tested, or demoed.
I brought this all the way to the atomic level. A little trick I like to use if icons need to be updated is to cut and paste the incoming icon into the wrapper of the outgoing icon. If the wrapper is saved as a component, all other instances will be updated!
Simultaneously, I used the following methods to learn more about our business and user needs.
- I organized 1-on-1 interviews with each of the founders to learn about their respective goals with the business & product, vision, and target user groups. I wanted to dig deep into what exactly they think we’re building, why we’re building it, and for whom. This was also an opportunity for me to get a handle on our existing research and how they have interpreted it individually.
- We held bi-weekly meetings with our (impressive) board of advisors, who's expertise was hugely beneficial to my understanding of the current health system and mental health crisis.
Using connections provided by the founders, I was put in touch with a variety of SME’s and stakeholders that could help me understand the needs of our different target user groups and build empathy:
- I conducted 1-on-1 interviews with young patients of the Diabetes Prevention Program at Johns Hopkins Hospital to learn more about their needs as they navigate the health care system for the first time and their information behaviors as they relate to their health and wellness.
- I interviewed clinicians at the Diabetes Prevention Program to learn more about where they struggle with patient-retention and how they track improvement
- I interviewed members of the National Alliance on Mental Illness communications and outreach team to understand where they were falling short in engagement and what admin tools were important to them.
- I facilitated workshops with a group of high school students who interned with us as part of their STEM program’s final project. Leading them through the design thinking process, we tested three feature concepts and gathered tons of great user data from their peers with surveys and prototype testing.
Here’s the high school group giving their final presentation on the work they completed with us!
Diagramming & sketching ideas
I’m reminded time and time again of the importance of using diagrams and sketches early in the design process to as way to brainstorm, communicate, and keep a record of ideas.
Continuous testing and feedback
For the most part, my design cycles were about 2 weeks in length, which didn’t leave much time for developing prototypes to be used specifically for testing. Instead, I made outreach to our user groups a part of my workflow and invited input and feedback whenever I could get it.
Here was my strategy:
- All incoming users receive an email after one week since creating an account. The email welcomes the user and ask them to complete a survey which assessed their satisfaction with the major features of the app
- At the end of the survey, I placed an ask to book a 20 minute feedback session with an open calendar invite
- Every week, I posted the open calendar invite to topical social networks
- Once the app was live, in-app entry points were created for users to leave open feedback and / or book a feedback session using the same calendar invite
- Our App Store review alert directs the user to our feedback page if the user answers ‘No’ to the question of if they’re “enjoying the app so far”.
Here’s the payoff!
Since launching in Early November (the date is March 25th, 2023), Prosper has grown to almost 1000 active accounts and that number is growing steadily and organically. Our channels for for gathering feedback are also becoming increasingly active which has been really gratifying to me because it shows people are excited about the app and want to see it continue to improve.
- Be relentless (with myself) in my pursuit for collaboration and feedback. I’m sure something like 90% or more of my biggest Aha! moments came while talking through a problem with another member of the team, doing user interviews or while getting feedback on my designs. Opening yourself up to understanding and empathizing with other perspectives is a tenet of UX.
- Don’t be afraid to have healthy confrontation. Everyone’s contribution is valuable because everyone’s perspective is innately unique. Speak up and be heard; conflict can be productive and will lead to a better product.