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a self care app to understanding you

Ginny Chen
Dec 15, 2016 · 5 min read

The case study: Designing my first user experience project

Goal: a self help guide to managing anxiety and mental wellness.
High Level Goal: help people realize their anxiety is a temporary state and they are not define by their current situation or feelings.
Time Frame: 10 weeks

The Topic

A few years ago, the topic of acne and mental wellness played a huge role in my life. Eventually this obsession became my passion to do something about it. I created my own personal project called mend. a philosophy kit that explored cleansing acne from the perspective of both emotional and physical. You can read more about my initial thoughts here.

The intent was to digitalize the 52 weeks journal and add a community component to the app. But after some consideration and one on one research, I realized the lessons taught through depression were more valuable. I looked within and decided anyone can benefit from self help and self care lessons. No one is taught how to self process and manage emotional stability from birth.

It was clear, everyone would benefit from self care. The switch would lend to more opportunities and a wider audience. From those recently suffering unexpected depression to those who just have trouble sorting out personal anxiety. There I found my concept:

It is natural to experiencing unexpected lost or events in life. You don’t need to be diagnosed to feel paralyzing confusion, heartache or depression.

I took tools used in group therapy and counselling sessions, advice and articles I’ve researched and organized the app in the perspective of someone who has never experience heartache or trauma before. What can they expect and how can they make sense of things.

Research through survey

When asked, what do you do if faced with personal stress and anxiety?

55% of people distract themselves

45% don’t do anything

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Research through interviews

From personal interviews, key findings about mental wellness were:

  • Accepting the state they’re in and recognize it is temporary.
  • Be present in the feeling when you want to be or move away from it when you can’t.
  • Distinguish that critical voice that support thoughts based on facts.
  • Set a routine.
  • Do something physical, especially when you’re caught up in your own head (go outside, run, make food).
  • Realizing health, diet and sleep played a huge role in their relationship with both mental wellness and acne.


Through my research, I collected what was similar and created a persona.

Competitors Research

There are many wellness apps out in the market, each targeting to one main feature. Most were about fitness, meditation, healthy eating, mood journals, online therapy or talk apps. Each were great but nothing that really guided the user to how all these things could fit into ones' journey.

There I narrowed down three precedents; Headspace, a daily meditation app that incorporated lessons and videos. Wildflower, another meditation app with a heart rate, mood and stress tracking component. Fabulous, a healthy habit app that teaches user how to set a ritual and develop achievable habits.

Main Features / MVP

mend. is a self help guide that records, reflect and renews the user’s mental state. mend. guides the user, day by day, through self awareness, processing, and exploration to better understand themselves.

The main idea of mend. is to celebrate the process. Features and lessons are unlocked after certain days and visual metrics helps to user see their progress through time.

The app breaks down into three states:


Some of my rough sketches of how the app would look like:

Usability findings

  • Break it to make it! Testing every broken page and loophole to make sure things have a before and after action.
  • Through testing, I realized I needed more and more screens.
  • That I didn’t need duplicates of a function (aka the menu button vs, fav button didn’t need to go to the same place).

High Fidelity

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Future consideration & Next Steps

  • Adding more metric/data visualization clickable in the progress page
  • Monatize app by adding new goals and lessons.
  • Wonder if I need a tracking page for the Renew section like the Record & Reflect logs?
  • Expand the app into a web app or a physical community group. Getting users who eventually do better to help others in need.
  • Talking to professional people in the field and get their input and measure of value to their own practice.


This app would pair best with those seeking or currently attending counselling. The original intent was to replace existing work books offered in counselling with an easier and more accessible tool.

Research and truly understand the user was a huge component in developing this app. When designing the actual user interface, it was important for me to extend the existing mend. brand, colours, illustration style because everything had to be calming, not distracting but fresh. The copy also had to give the user a sense of comfort if things do or don’t go wrong. When experiencing mend. it was important that every action the user inputs would provide feedback so they are reassured (confirmation screens, soft transitions, options to go back).

Overall, I am very proud of how this project turned out. To take what I’ve learnt in my personal life and transforming it into a viable design people could see themselves using.


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