For this new project linked to well-being, I had the great pleasure of working alongside Christina for 8 days. Well-being could be defined as : an active process through which people try to improve or maintain their well-being.
So, the goal here was to take advantage of technology to introduce wellness practices into the digital world. To do this, it involves developing a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) for an innovative mobile health application based on mind maps.
This means we needed to develop a solution that should have sufficient features to satisfy early adopters. Therefore, we did not have to develop a full app but have essential features in it in order to attract new users. You can take a look at this very explanatory image.
The methodology of Design Thinking is central and the UX / UI tools that we finally used have been carefully thought out and adapted to our subject.
For our secondary research, we focused on anxiety and stress, spatial visualization of information as well as mind maps.
Understand the principle of mind maps
Mind maps are widely studied and used in various fields of application such as psychology, engineering, education, archeology, planning, geography, cartography, architecture, landscape architecture, town planning, management and history.
Mind maps are a familiar language for just about all mental representations and are also called cognitive maps, mental maps, diagrams, scripts, and frames of reference.
A little bit of history…
Do you know when was the trace of the first mind map?
Obviously this goes back to ancient Greece and more precisely to the 3rd century AD. J. — C. thanks to the tree of Porphyry of Tyros which makes it possible to visualize graphically the categories of concepts of Aristotle!
Let’s take a leap in time… in the 1960s ! Allan Collins & Ross Quillian’s research focused on semantic memory and human cognition : they developed the idea of “semantic networks”. Their publications have helped to understand human learning, creativity and graphic thinking.
Finally comes Tony Buzan who developed and popularized the term “Mind map” notably thanks to a book and a series on the BBC in 1974 called “Use Your Head”.
We have found many benefits using Mind maps : it helps strengthen memory, reduce cognitive load, improve memorization, learn new information and can improve mental health !
Research psychologist George J Huba PhD, diagnosed with a rare neurodegenerative disease in 2010, makes the decision to embark on a daily practice of mind mapping in order to maintain stimulating cognitive activity. He then notices the following benefits that he attributes to a regular practice of mind mapping :
- helps to think more clearly
- helps to plan
- promotes memorization
- decision making aid
- calms anxiety
Empathize (quantitative + qualitative approaches)
We find that people with anxiety often feel overwhelmed by their thoughts and sometimes find themselves lost or helpless in the face of this situation. And there is one thing that helps them, it is the externalization of their emotions. Thus, some therapies encourage patients to express themselves to reveal their consciousness but also their subconscious, whether it is about their current life, their past experiences, their childhood memories as well as their dreams. Recurring thoughts and dreams, repetitive patterns of behavior can be indicative or revealing.
Among the well-known means of expression and externalization is journaling. It should be noted that, for a few years now, mental maps have at least been widely used in both teaching and management. Thus, a person suffering from anxiety could enter entries in a mind map and, unlike a traditional journal, would therefore not have a linear appearance. The advantage would be to have a better overview of your thoughts, positive or negative, to be able to come back to them easily, to make changes, to make links between the different entries.
We conducted an online survey to learn more about the anxiety and discomforts many people experience on a daily basis. It was interesting to see the benefit of exteriorizing one’s thoughts, the act of journaling, and other documentation habits. How do people relate to their childhood memories, dreams ? Are they able to identify recurring thoughts and behaviors. We also tried to better understand the manifestation of anxiety, to describe it, to control it, to discover the source or the methods used by the participants to calm down.
If you feel like taking the survey, you can take a break and redirect to this link.
We launched an online survey and we had 58 returns, we noticed:
> around 60% of people feel a little confused about themselves and feel overwhelmed by their thoughts, positive or negative.
> and 40% do not always manage to control their anxiety and stress.
> 55% have owned a diary at least once.
> Over 80% of participants find it helpful to write or draw in a journal or notebook.
We then identified through an open question various advantages, among which : clearing the mind, having a broader perspective, clarifying thoughts, helping to remember, relativizing, visualizing thoughts.
> 76% of participants regularly recall their memories or past experiences out of context for no particular reason and almost half of them very clearly express frustration if they forget them.
> more than 50% regularly feel caught in a loop, have specific feelings or experiences multiple times.
> more than 80% observe repetitive patterns in their behavior.
> 65% admit having trouble responding clearly when someone asks them how they feel.
The participants shared their methods to calm down in a new open question, among which : breathing, music, drawing, yoga, contact with loved ones, sleep, meditation, sport …
Thus, through this online survey, it is clear that there are real issues concerning anxiety and the means to address it in depth by identifying and targeting the sources of anxiety specific to each person.
We recruited 5 participants and interviewed each of them on the model of a Job-to-be-done interview. We had a general direction in mind. Our first objective was to learn more about how they organize their life at the professional level then at the personal level. Understand what type of memory they use and why according to them.
After establishing a more confident relationship, it was a question of going a little more into details relevant to the intimate and getting to know anxieties. We would learn as much as possible about the manifestations, the instigators, the physiological effects, when was this happening. We asked about participants’ externalizing habits and how they try to find relief when they feel anxious, where they found their comfort.
Power of verbatims
Most of our participants shared they had anxiety at night, before bedtime, or when they had nothing to do given that they are less active than during the day. They described in powerful verbatims the way anxiety struck, the flow of thoughts, the loss of control, helplessness or overwhelmed feelings. They shared the ways writing or doodling sometimes helped to organize, relativize or minimize thoughts.
At the end of the 5 interviews, the day had been very informative but also very trying. The subject dealt with made the discussions delicate at first, then very deep and personal. Indeed, the gestures for some, the intonation and the facial expressions were very often revealing. Their openness or reluctance to share, their emphasis or minimization of certain information was equally relevant. We could see that as the exchange progressed, they managed to open up to us : a certain trust was established.
In order to synthesize the interviews, we created an empathy map for each participant. The more we progressed, the more we came to find similarities. We decided to organize all of the data found in each empathy map into recurring themes.
We found that our participants had similar sharing habits. They enjoyed the human contact, whether through friends or therapy with a professional. Sharing in a safe space would help them to externalize, to identify introspection leads and behavioral patterns.
Moreover, our participants had strong common pain points. From what they had shared, we were able to constitute a tableau of anxiety: overwhelmed with thoughts, thoughts generating new thoughts, loss of control, lost, therefore having trouble sleeping.
We have also identified common gains while externalizing thoughts. All of them had different ways of expressing themselves, mainly through writing, voice recordings, making lists, doodling, drawing.
With so much in common, we’ve merged the empathy cards into one. Each participant was still distinguished by a distinct color of post-it, with two shades. The lighter shade was used for insight, the darker shade was used for verbatim.
How Might We
Having identified top gains and pains, we derived a series of HMW questions to drive us.
- Anxiety :
How might we help users control, calm, contain the influx and prevent the accumulation of thoughts to stop the vicious circle?
How might we help the users organize their thoughts to not get lost and confused?
How might we help people identify and name their recurring thoughts to bring relief?
- At night :
How might we help people be less anxious at night when they have trouble sleeping?
- Expression :
How might we accompany users while they express themselves: writing, doodling, therapeutic coloring, recording themselves, listening to sounds?
- Identifying :
How might we help people identify and name their recurring thoughts?
How might we help conduct introspection methods to stop anxiety?
- Mental exercise :
How might we help people perform mental exercises in order to calm down, suppress negative thoughts and anxiety?
How might we bring joyful and positive thoughts to decrease anxiety?
Then we reduced these different HMWs to 3 that you can find below :
Ideation : Crazy 8
Once the HMWs were well defined, we organized an ideation session with 6 other designers focusing on the Crazy 8 technique. We then shared our ideas. For the second series, we individually remixed the convincing ideas of the first round to push them a little further. Thus, some very interesting ideas emerged :
- In terms of expression, a large number of ideas have been imagined around note taking, journaling, a diary organized by theme and date, a journal to document and track dreams, notifications to encourage a user to write.
- Many ideas of mediums have been suggested in order to adapt to each user a way of transcribing information : writing, dictation, audio recordings, doodling, drawing, video.
- Concerning the organization of the content : themes related to professional, personal, family, or with a distinction of negative and positive thoughts, with an organization related to time, or to distinguish physical and emotional symptoms.
- Many ways of visualizing the collected data have been imagined : lists, tables and charts or mind maps. The goal would be to identify recurring thoughts or dreams, make connections, help users diagnose sources of anxiety on their own and/or with artificial intelligence.
- Some ideas to integrate connected objects to record brain activity or cardiac rhythm were also put forward.
- A few designers have been interested in sharing, either by creating a community to share content with others anonymously or schedule meetings, chatbots, or video calls with therapists.
- Some designers have focused on techniques and methods to feel better such as : breathing exercises, teas and massages, mantras and quotes, reminders to dedicate time for relaxation, quotes and people inspiring.
We organized the ideas into themes, while keeping all post-its, including the repetitive ones, to view how often similar ideas had been proposed.
Once we had listed all our ideas, we prioritized them using the MoSCow method.
Our solution would allow users to journal their thoughts, dreams or memories, using a large amount of mediums, to create a mind map that can be documented endlessly. It would then be possible for them to establish connections between the different inputs and thus identify recurring patterns to be able to work on them. Users could search and filter the map to find certain content more easily. They could also share their card (especially with their therapist) and switch to dark mode at night since some anxiety occurs at this time of day.
User flow to-be
After identifying a clear solution, we were able to set up a user flow to-be outlining the tasks and decisions the user could take in a happy path scenario.
Low Fi Wireframes
We did the first frames depicting the solution and a given user flow.
Mid Fidelity prototype
The wireframes led to designing a mid-fidelity prototype with the main frames and interactions. Here is a short video of the prototype.
We conducted 5 usability tests on our mid fidelity prototype. Using the user’s results and insights, we were able to analyse and iterate.
We have chosen adjectives to better define our product and represent the essence of the brand. Our app is :
- a space of personal expression
- benevolent because without judgment
- an infinite card, flexible at will
We then created a moodboard to inspire us. We reflected on the themes of :
- expression therefore (as seen with the book, the chair, origami, the malleability that allows the trace)
- serenity and introspection (as seen with the zen garden, origami, the man alone facing the beauty of a landscape between heaven and earth, the statue)
- the infinite and the notion of timelessness (as seen with the sand, the clock, the repetitive patterns and the samara).
In order to have a consistent design, we created a style tile and defined typography, icons, shapes, buttons with different states, brand colors, functional colors and accent colors.
Desirability test results
We conducted 5 seconds brand personnality tests on our high fidelity prototype. We had 14 participants and the design was mostly identified as original with 11 votes, technical with 10 votes, and real with 6 votes.
Using the Five Dimensions of Brand Personality by Jennifer Aaker and our desirability test results, we were able to define a branding personality with the main “sincerity” attribute.
High Fidelity Prototype
We designed a high fidelity prototype depicting a user entering a childhood memory. The user first enters the memory using drawing and text (a sheep and grandma’s farm). The user further specifies this memory with a theme (family), a feeling (childhood) and context (grandma’s picture). As a result, the user can view the memory on the mind map. The user connects the memory to another similar one. Then, the users search the map using filters. Lastly, the user views the setting page with the sharing and dark mode options.
The first step after implementing the product would be to collect usability data and iterate. To measure success and failure metrics, we would need to verify how beneficial and helpful the mind map is for its users. We would observe how the mind map affects users experiencing anxiety both on the short term and on the long term.
Finally, I think it would be interesting to look at the app as a tool used in the context of therapy.
Thank you for your time ! :)