Meelo — A tool for early detection of Atypical development in children


The Meelo app provides parents of children between the ages of 18–24 months old with the ability to detect early warning signs of neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism, dyslexia and ADHD. The science behind this is in the scientifically proven tests which are set up so parents can administer these tests with a tablet or smart phone.

Business Goals

The business goals of Meelo is to increase early detection of atypical cognitive development, educate and involve parents with the science behind it, and create a data set that will support further research into this study and expand the application to test for many other possible disorders in the future.

Client Research

The client had already begun research on this project and provided us with these findings. This was a great help to launch our strategy from. We had more questions that needed to be answered regarding the adoption rates of the parents and what they might need in order to consider using an app to address their questions about what normal cognitive development might look like.

Our Research Results

Our user surveys and interviews supported that parents need to be assured the following factors are addressed.

  • Trust the credibility of the application
  • Easy to understand and friendly tone
  • Understand why they are doing the test, and what the goal is
  • Track the progress of their child
  • 15% of the parents surveyed might be inclined to over-assist to ensure their child completes the test correctly
  • 69% of the parents surveyed already own an ipad.
While we will doing the mobile version for Meelo in the scope of this project, the high number of ipad owners is encouraging news for teh Meelo developers, because a larger viewing area is beneficail for the tests.


Our main focus was to concentrate on the minimum viable product to help Meelo move to the next phase in its development. Even as we were working on this the FDA made an announcement that affected the initial approach of the app to provide a “red-flag” notification if are areas of concern develop from the test results. If this app acts as a diagnostics tool or offers medical advice it would need to comply with regulations for medical devices and take much longer to develop.

User Persona

Naomi Fray represents the mothers who would be looking for a solution to these pain points:

  • concerns about mental development
  • wants to be sure she is doing everything to help her child
  • wants to know what normal mental development looks like


Naomi is an educated, married woman, with 2 children and is comfortable using apps on her iPhone. Her first child is 3 years old, and her second child Dylan is 22 months old. Dylan is not vocalizing as much as Naomi recalls from her experience with her first child. She is not certain there is anything to be concerned about. But a history of dyslexia in the family makes her want to find an early detection tool to give her Dylan the best opportunity for success or rehabilitation if needed.

“As a mother of 2 children, I understand the concerns that parents have about their children’s mental development.” — Naomi Fraye


The team had passionate discussions about the difference between nice-to-have versus must-have features. We also faced the challenge of providing useful feedback regarding the child’s progress without any data to pull from. We also needed to understand what it would take to keep bringing the parent back to the app if they don’t get immediate results.

Not all of our questions were resolved at this point. But we did agree, the best approach was to let the user tests provide the answers.

Paper Prototype and User Testing

We began with the first users tests using my hand sketched paper prototypes. In this version, Naomi downloads the app, this is followed by the on-boarding pages which introduce the app and provide educational overviews about the benefits of the activities.

The on-boarding screens provide education about the app and the activities

The next step allows Naomi to customize the profile by entering the child’s birthday, selecting an avatar or uploading a photo, and even add more children if she chooses.

With Dylan’s profile complete Noami is ready to begin an activity. Because there are no results yet, the empty state screen encourages Naomi to get started. Our research indicated that users would need some feedback on their progress. Without enough data to populate any comprehensive feedback we decided that one approach would be to show the Naomi how many activities she completed.

When an activity is completed a running count of the number of activities is displayed. The intention of this was to provide some feedback to the user and encourage them to continue adding more activities to the “counter”.

Sign in screen, profile customization screens, empty state activity, activity center with game “counter” feature

User testing revealed that there was not much interest in a running tally of how many games were completed. We found a more effective “hook” in the next iteration. Rather than display results immediately, the data would be available the next time the user logged in.

Example Design Iteration