Mobile Therapy App
Role : Designer/ Researcher
Defining the Problem
Teen suicide is a serious problem that is growing throughout the US. My team and I sought out to find a way we could help out with this problem. Our first assumptions were that people weren’t getting the information they needed on how to deal with suicide either in a loved one or themselves. Our original idea was to make a website that parents could go and get valuable information on the topic of suicide so they could better deal with their struggling teenager. From my own assumptions I felt like teens were less likely to reach out to someone in regards to their mental health.
Thus we would strive to give parents the resources and tools to detect suicidal thoughts in their teenager and also how to deal with the issue. As a team we came up with survey questions based off of that.
Coming up with survey questions were really tough. While I wanted to get good data, it was tough to ask certain questions that may be sensitive to certain people. It was also very hard to come up with questions that would be relevant and give us the data we need to tackle our problem.
The data we got back from our surveys told us that parents are comfortable talking to their children about mental health and that they have the proper resources. This data may not have been super accurate however. One reason is because we only got 15 responses. We didn’t have money to spend on these surveys so my team and I posted the surveys on social media and asked friends and family to take the survey. We did our best to get our surveys to as many people as possible within the resources and time frame allotted.
I think my team and I would agree that our in person interviews changed the whole trajectory of our project, for the better. While our main target was to interview people who specifically had teens, with the timeframe we had our team just interviewed whoever we could. Lessons learned, interviews are a big part of the research process and are very helpful. It’s something you shouldn’t take lightly when conducting research.
The data we got back ended up being pretty much obsolete. Most people thought that there was already resources out there on the internet to look up. We ended up running with the idea anyway. However there was a little insight that ended up shifting the whole direction of the project.
At the beginning of our design process we were still on our original idea of a website/blog/forum. Throughout the design process it seemed like we kept hitting creative blocks. I think it had to do with the fact that what we were doing honestly wasn’t that creative. It was something that had already been done repeatedly across the internet. We created User story maps, site maps, and even came up with a persona but we weren’t really going anywhere. We were pretty deep in the project at this point.
User Story Map
We started with a user story map to take us through the process of gaining information on the topic of suicide on a website.
We also created a site map to get us started on wireframing our website.
One of our first ideas with our website/application was to have a feature that would connect you with a mental health professional over face time. It was just an idea and we didn’t even know for sure if we were going to implement it. Our main concept was to come up with a website that would post articles from mental health professionals and have a community where people could go and get valuable information. However with our surveys and interviews I think most people already felt like they had the resources to get more information on suicide. DUH! We have google nowadays and it wouldn’t have been a unique website at all. Could it have been valuable? Sure! But what is something that’s different, something that maybe hasn’t been created or created well?
So while we thought our data from interviews and surveys weren’t any good it actually told us that we were headed in the wrong direction.
“Ah Ha” Moment
Because we weren’t really going anywhere with the first idea we decided to look back on our interviews to see if we could diagnose a problem among multiple interviewees. One of the team members Brea got really good feedback from the interviews she conducted. She found that people had a hard time connecting to good therapists and that therapy can sometimes be too expensive. How could we solve this problem?
Be great at one thing, not average at a lot of things
Well we already talked about including a way to connect with a therapist over some sort of facetime. What if we just ran with that one specific feature? After asking people what they thought, most people agreed that it would be cool if there was an app specifically for finding good therapists and having a feature to connect with them over facetime. This would essentially make appointments more convenient and cheaper as well.
I feel like it’s definitely solving a bigger problem than the first idea we came up with. Not that it couldn’t have been valuable, but after doing some research I found that there are already a ton of websites on the topic of suicide. This would be a different approach to the solution. It would give people a great resource to reach out for help.
Decision to change focus
It was a really tough decision. We basically switched up our whole concept of what we were creating and we did it with limited time left to work on this project. Also we weren’t able to do that much research on our new concept. However we definitely felt that it was well worth the shift in focus. I also realized that the best products tend to focus on one thing. In our first concept it was almost like an all encompassing experience when getting information on suicide. Instead I assumed it would be better for the overall experience to focus on one thing and make it really good. When the other concept would’ve had multiple features that may have just turned out okay with the time frame we had to work on it.
After our decision was made, we jumped right into wireframes. Our first wireframes were done on paper using the 10x10 exercise. After that we started throwing everything into sketch. These are some of the low fidelity wire frames that I put together.
For my high fidelities I chose to use the color purple because I thought it was very calming and it has a very friendly tone. These screens show your home screen, doctors profile, inbox, scheduling, and profile page. From the home screen you can sort through categories or recommended doctors. There’s also a filter option where it will narrow down what exactly you’re looking for. Through the doctor profile you can schedule your appointment. Or if you’ve already had a few appointments with a doctor you like you can reschedule on the scheduling tab. We also added a way to communicate with doctors through a direct messaging format. That way they can follow up and ask doctors questions if need be. On the profile screen you can go through and set up your payment information. Go through your account settings, and it gives you the option to logout.
This project was very challenging and it was the first time using these research methods. We ran into a lot of challenges along the way. Finding out who our user was going to be was a real challenge. We ended up changing our ideal user or persona many times. Next time I’m going to make sure we pinpoint one solid user, that way all of our decisions can be based around that. One of our downfalls in this project was that we had a hard time coming up with a clear and concise problem statement. We definitely didn’t spend enough time figuring that out from the jump. That would’ve helped us tremendously and probably would’ve prevented the eventual change in direction that we had towards the end. Switching the whole focus of our project towards the end of the deadline was the ultimate challenge. By the time we came to the conclusion to switch focus, we didn’t have enough time to do the research necessary to complete the project to our liking. There was a lot learned however throughout this journey and I feel like I have a better understanding to improve upon my design process for future projects.