Tech++: Piece of Mind

This weekend, I attended a design sprint focusing on combating mental health disorders hosted by UW’s Tech++. I had only experienced design sprints in my HCDE 210 course so I wanted to challenge myself with a real world application and work with people outside of the course.

Techplusplus’s facebook event image (https://www.facebook.com/techplusx2/photos/gm.1481668748567005/1706570632976285/?type=3&theater)

Meet the Team

I was fortunate enough to meet and collaborate with two very talented and experienced designers, Sophia and Marissa. They gave me more advice and guidance than I could ever ask for as a student interested in entering the design and user experience field and they both helped me realize my passion for HCDE and design.

From left to right: Marissa Hui, Sophia Gallant, and me

Sprint Background

As described by the members of Tech++, this sprint was inspired by a 5-day design sprint done by Google. While the designers at Google spread out their processes over the course of a week, we were challenged to complete these tasks in approximately 3 hours.

The task at hand was to combat mental health disorders, with a focus around anxiety, depression, and eating disorders of college students. As someone who has close friends battling these mental health disorders everyday, I am passionate and determined to work towards a solution that can assist them through these disorders in their college career and for the future.

Process: Research

To simulate user research, the members of Tech++ acted as Candace, a college out-of-state student battling anxiety, depression, and an eating disorder. My team members and I were giving 15 minutes to question Candace about her fears, challenges, emotions, hobbies, sources of inspiration/ motivation, etc.

From the questioning process, we discovered that:

  • Candace has a difficult time getting out of bed and attending classes
  • Being an out-of-state student makes it difficult for her to be away from family
  • She has a difficult time maintaining relationships with others and often feels bad about cancelling plans
  • She has a difficult time opening up, thinking she is a burden to others
  • She enjoys gymnastics but has not been able to participate in it as consistently as she’d like

Process: User Needs Statement

Using the format provided by Tech++ and the previous research data:

“[User name] is a [user character] who needs (a way of [user need]) because (they value [insight]).”

our user needs statement states that:

“Candace is an out-of-state college sophomore who needs a support tool because she values being engaged with life.”

Building up towards a user needs statement

Process: “How might we?”

Next, using post-it notes, we brainstormed “how might we…?” statements to generate ideas on how we can provide solutions for some the issues raised in our research and user needs statement.

Some of these statements include:

  • How might we encourage more consistent physical health habits? (Eating breakfast, going outside, doing yoga)
  • How might we help her not feel like a burden talking to her friends about her challenges?
  • How might we help her feel more connected to her family?
Collection of “How might we” statements

After, we grouped these statements into categories, such as social life and habits, and narrowed down on one category to ideate on: connecting Candace with others.

Process: Ideation

Next, we individually brainstormed solutions on how we might connect those with mental health disorders with others. We spent 8 minutes on divergent ideas, where I designed apps and services and later, spent 8 minutes on convergent ideas to expand on one of the ideas from the previous step.

Process: Designing the App

We decided to create an app for this challenge as it would be easily incorporated into the daily lives for many college students. I began by sketching out individual frames that I wanted to incorporate into the app such as a journal, a profile, and a community page.

Sketching out individual components of the apps

After discussing and combining ideas with my teammates, we decided we wanted this app to allow users to:

  • reflect: journaling system
  • track improvements (for positive reinforcement)
  • connect with others to form a supportive community: paired with a psychology graduate student and other users (through the survey of interests, struggles, etc) to get support (while the grad student gains experience as well)
Journaling page and profile page
Tracking improvements and community page
Home, mood, community, and improvements tracker

Reflection

Being that this was the first design sprint I participated in outside of class, I was very impressed with how far we got in only three hours of designing. I learned a lot about the process of designing and will use these step by step brainstorming techniques for future projects. In addition, I also learned how to present my design ideas through sketches and will work on improving my speaking skills to make my ideas more clear.

As for the future of this sprint, I hope to further develop this app and keep in touch with my team members to prototype as I believe this app has the potential to help many.