This studio course at UCSD introduces students to the basic practices of interaction design through a focus on visual, physical, and digital prototyping. We followed a human-centered design process that includes research, concept generation, prototyping, testing, and refinement.
In this class project, we investigated how the social distancing restrictions in light of COVID-19 have affected the mental health of those isolating alone. We then used this information to build an app that addressed the needs of our focus group.
I contributed to all stages of the design process in this project from research, concept generation, prototyping, testing, and refinement.
Mood Board & Style Guide
High Fidelity Prototype
How might we help those who experience worsening mental health symptoms due to the absence of routine and social accountability in their lives?
Rutina is a supportive app intended to alleviate deteriorating mental health that has been triggered by the absence of routine, productivity and social accountability during the COVID-19 imposed quarantine. The app does so through the facilitation of routine and connection.
Rutina, facilitating routine and connection through social and productivity features
According to a 2018 mental health survey of 20,000 U.S. adults:
50% of participants reported that they sometimes or always feel alone
40% of participants responded that they sometimes or always feel that their relationships are not meaningful and that they feel isolated.
These results made us curious as to whether the COVID-19 pandemic had any impact on these feelings of isolation among the U.S. population. Hence, we decided to specifically explore the mental health of those isolating alone due to the pandemic.
For our primary research we sent out a questionnaire to facebook groups, reddit groups and our mutual friends. We also carried out in-depth interviews via zoom. The goal was to hear directly from people isolating alone in order to see how this has affected their mental health.
Out of 101 responses, 68 respondents were isolating alone.
"Not being able to physically spend time with people is hard. I think a lot of my friends are also dealing with everything so it's been harder to lean on them for support." Survey Respondent (18-20 years old)
"I think I would've gone crazy (during quarantine) if I didn't actively try to distract myself...I would jump to talking to people on Zoom because I was so sick of being alone." Survey Respondent (21 years old)
From our user insights, we came up with 2 personas:
We decided to focus on San Diego youth (ages 18-29) in order to narrow our scope so that we could hone in on solving the key problems of a smaller demographic. We aimed to reach this demographic via a platform (phones) that may of our users already had ready access to.
Through our primary research we narrowed down some key problems: the lack of routine and social accountability our users faced during quarantine was resulting in the decline in their mental health. We began to brainstorm design solutions for those problems with storyboarding— a means to visually narrate how, when and why people would use our product.
We then carried out 8 storyboard interviews to get feedback on the narratives we curated.
We needed more incentives to keep the user accountable
We needed to incorporate more friend interactions (Interviewees were nervous about interacting with strangers)
We needed to differentiate ourselves from existing products.
Through these insights we decided that we wanted our design solution to facilitate routine and connection through social and productivity features.
We wanted to differentiate our app from the myriad of apps out in the market, so we compared varying features from 5 competing apps. After noting different features, we then evaluated how we can best create an app that includes the best combination of features to address our target users' needs.
On getting closer to our design solution we developed a lofi prototype to visualize our ideas
After getting feedback on our lofi prototype from our class cohort and user testing, we then made a refined midfi prototype of our design
Finally, after getting feedback on our midfi prototype through user testing and class critiques we developed a hifi prototype of our design solution.
User testing was done at every fidelity level. The intent of this testing was to get feedback on the concept, design and usability of our app. We tested the same 8 people across the span of the project. We also regularly got feedback from our class cohort. The feedback we received influenced every iteration.
Working on this project at the crux of the COVID-19 pandemic was very impactful to me. I learned a lot about how people are coping during this time and the kind of resources they might need to cope more effectively. I'm also grateful that I got exposed to user research and user testing remotely. I think these are very relevant experiences that align well with the technological advancements of the world and with the increase of remote work.