Smiling Mind is an Australian not-for-profit organisation dedicated to mindfulness education through tools such as their free mobile app.
ROLE: UX Researcher (small group collab), UX Designer (individual)
TIMELINE: February 2021 - April 2021
The Brief
We were tasked with designing user experience improvements to, what was at the time, the beta version of the mobile app, in order to increase engagement amongst their target audience. How could the app better cater to the needs of parents practicing mindfulness and meditation with their primary school aged children?
Understanding the Target User Group
The first step was to seek to understand our user - parents with primary school aged children.

Between our small group cohort, we conducted 15 remote video interviews. Participants were diverse, ranging from those who had used the Smiling Mind app previously, to those who didn't know or understand much about mindfulness or meditation at all.

Using the following key insights gained from our interviews, we crafted our User Persona 'Skeptical Sally':
Understanding the Business
A group interview with Smiling Mind's Product Designer helped us to understand the business objectives. By then identifying where the business and customer challenges overlapped, we were able to reveal an opportunity.
How do you encourage habit-forming behaviour?
James Clear is the author of a book called Atomic Habits, in which he talks about the 4 stages of habit. In order to successfully build habits, you need to engage in the habit loop - a continual cycle through each of the 4 stages.
One of the keys ways to tap into this habit loop is to make engaging in the response stage as easy and convenient as possible. Therefore what the solution aims to do is introduce a number of strategies and improvements which make it as easy as possible for the user to make time to open and use the app. 
Source: James Clear, 'Atomic Habits'
Identifying Focus Areas
By conducting an analysis of the existing app I identified the following focus areas or flows which needed improvement:

1. Onboarding Flow                                                   2. Home Page                                       3. Notifications/Reminders
Refining the Onboarding Process
The onboarding flow was refined and further personalised to the user's daily routine, to be specific about how and when to prompt the user to practice mindfulness.
Maximising the Home Page
The existing app's Home page was under-utilised. Now, it contains more interactive and personalised content (the emotions check-ins and affirmation cards), and more call-to-actions.
Rethinking Notifications & Reminders
Many of our user research participants expressed frustration or annoyance with push notifications - they often come at inconvenient times and rather than prompting the user to open the app, have the opposite effect, with the user ignoring or eventually silencing the notifications altogether.
Widgets are a less intrusive means of reminding the user to use the app regularly. They can be positioned on the phone's home screen, catching the user's attention incidentally whilst they are already using their phone, thus feeling more organic and less irritating to the user.
Final Solution & Key Outcomes
- Refined and further personalised the onboarding flow, setting up the user to apply habit-stacking techniques to their mindfulness practice
- Implemented the strategy of habit stacking into the app to help users build the habit of meditation
- Redesigned the Home page to be more interactive, and to contain more calls-to-action
- Proposed iPhone widgets as a more organic and effective alternative to traditional push notifications
These outcomes address the key challenges faced by both users and the client Smiling Mind as a business.
What Did I Learn?
The importance of taking the initial client brief and using this to conduct qualitative user research and synthesis, before coming back to the client with a return brief. Presenting a return brief and design opportunity to the client midway through the project was such a crucial step in the process. It allowed us to validate our research synthesis against the client's business objectives, and maintain open communication with the client about how the project may develop as we move into the ideation and prototyping phase.

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