Provide university students accessible mental health services from Short Video Addiction through personalised assistant design and effective eMarketing strategies.
Wilson: Graphic & UX Designer, Social Media Marketer
Peter Walker: Design Mentor
Lara Stocchi: Marketing Mentor
Overall: 2 months
Discovery & Research: 1 month
Design & Prototyping: 1 month
Documentation: 1 week
Australian University Students, majority coming from Asian regions, had been dealing with a digital illness called short video addiction. Thanks to excessive brand or influencer advertisements combined with bespoke interface design, students are experiencing a tough time self-regulating their own bodies such as practicing consistent sleep habits. Hence, there is a drastic increase of younger people diagnosed with mental health conditions such as anxiety, short-attention span, and depression that in turn affects their overall academic performance.
The goal of this project is to remind students to practice mindfulness exercises and encourage them to sleep at consistent intervals in the most ethically and appropriate manner. A personalised assistant will play a key design role to create more powerful user engagements.
How do we reach out to university students and provide accessible mindfulness exercises without becoming another run of the mill meditation program?
I gathered some empirical data on the pain points and struggles of short video addiction in Australian youths and how did it affect their day-to-day learning experiences. These ranges from non-biased academic articles to official online statistics and lastly, personal one-on-one interviews.
As of 2023, the average watch time of TikTok has grown to 1.5 hours on average and has grown by +70% in 4 years. Reports has also shown users opening the app about 9 times a day.
User's body will not have enough time to walk through the 5 sleep stages, including the most important, REM. Melatonin suppression is also common problem when exposed to colourful displays, influencing users to sleep much later.
When users don't get enough good sleep quality, they will have a hard time staying awake, let alone retain their focus when it comes to working on assignments and exams.
Poor Brain Activity
If this poor behaviour prolongs, user's body will start struggle basic tasks such as struggling to pick up a glass of water or walking straight. Furthermore, they might experience irreversible brain damage or mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression.
Based on the evidences given, short videos can be positive for those who:
are self-conscious of taking a few minutes off from reality.
have the intent to find useful information or inspiration.
are ambitious on sharing their creativity.
However, short video can also inversely affect users to:
be distracted of consuming online content for hours.
struggle on daily routines such as sleep and social gatherings.
develop or prolong mental illnesses.
To ensure the end product can aid individual's addiction on a personal level, it has to include unique features such as:
simple mindfulness exercises.
friendly and positive personal assistant.
Because plethora of mindfulness or meditation apps freely available to be downloaded, there's no reason for me to bring another one into the market. Therefore, I will instead give insightful critiques on each apps based on its uniqueness, strengths and weaknesses.
Most of these apps share similar characteristics with one another such as having essential mindfulness exercises like breathing meditation and mood tracker. They also do encourage users to participate in basic physical activities but each offer slightly unique approaches. However, these apps are effective if the individual already has a strong incentive to be mindfully better and have the capability to keep up their new routine. Hence, this new app is born by taking the best parts and improving on what can be done further.
To form a deeper understanding of our users' inner psychology, I decided to create 3 personas based on people I personally interviewed. The aim is to ensure what kind of students am I targeting towards and what kinds of human characteristics do they have before using the app. So here are the listed personas:
A high school boy named Gordon
A final year university student named Jenny
A young university graduate named Luke
Notice most people share similar pain points? Having to struggle falling asleep easily, excelling with their respective careers while struggling to stabilise their mindfulness are common traits most young people are facing. Hence, practicing meditational practices that doesn't require heavy energy can be of major benefit to them.
This diagram is a representation of the user's overall experience before, during and after using the app.
Low Fidelity Sketches
During my time sketching, I was simultaneously looking through other mindfulness apps that shares similar unique features stated in my synthesis. Endel's simplified all-dark interface and Lock Me Out's app usage limiter are great examples that I can use as inspirations. With this in mind, this can help me structure the user flow of the Onboarding, CBT therapy, Chatbot and Lock-Out screens before proceeding for user testing.
A high fidelity prototype are delivered with the help of Figma. I did 4 usability tests in total and the issues identified were:
Users are confused with whether they can select one or multiple mindfulness goals.
Clarify the description to tell users they can select multiple choices.
Users are confused with what kinds of services the app is offering and they are unsure if they can select multiple teaching practices.
Add an "information" button at the top right to open a pop-up, clarifying the users on a much more detailed information.
Users are both confused and uncomfortable of paying the app upfront.
Allow users to select "Try Out 7 Day Trial" and prevent users from using the apps premium features once they have gone up to 7 Days.
Users do not know how to setup their app lockout.
Guide users through step-by-step process inspired by AppBlock with descriptions and intuitive indicators.
Unique Selling Point
Here are a few examples of screens where it demonstrates the key features of the unique selling point of this app.
To create a visual identity that’s aligned with the brand’s values and message, which is: “Your New Meditative Roommate”. Also, competitors such as Endel, Wysa and Insight Timer had gave me the inspiration to produce the design system for Jimmy's app.
Intelligent, Yet Fun Chatbot
Jimmy is a built-in chatbot that will be using ChatGPT's intelligent artificial intelligence system to ensure users will have a friendly personalised companion during their bedtime.
Meditation in Black and White
A meditation app is not complete without offering various programs such as Ambient Soundscapes, Affirmations and Religious-Centric Prayer Spaces.
App Lock Reminder
If the user has an unhealthy relationship with social media, the app lock will prevent them from opening the social apps they selected for a specified amount of time.
Social Media Marketing
When most designers tend to stop at this process, I wanted to explore further on how do I reach more people through strategic digital marketing. For this project, I wanted to focus on creating short videos using A/B testing that will primarily shared on TikTok and Instagram Reels to uplift students during exam period.
The goal of this small campaign is:
To observe how a "static screen" can hook in new viewers for longer retention compare to a conventional bespoke thumbnail.
To prove whether a vintage 1 second "static screen" accompanied with a hissing noise at the beginning of each video can break the user flow as they scroll through a lists of other short videos.
Below is an example of the video.
I also made some social posts that I scheduled to upload at 10:30PM from Monday to Saturday. This is to garner more audiences to further promote the short videos and the account itself as a whole.
After a week of content uploads, we can identify that TikTok is able to reach more audiences thanks to optimised hashtags and larger demographic. It is unclear if the thumbnails or static screen has any effects as the retention rates for both platforms seemed to do very poorly under 3 seconds. It is best to assume that the content itself needs more engaging elements, which is something social media marketers do.
Overall I personally enjoyed doing this 6-month long journey of designing a product that can help people like myself not only to get better sleep quality, but also open up our minds on accepting artificial intelligence as a temporal companion during tough times. However, there are possible improvements that I can introduce if I ever want to come back to this project in the near future.
1. Utilising Speech-to-Text
Artificial intelligence had become so advanced that it is a miss opportunity for the chatbot feature itself not to include this. In this way, users will be able to have a much more personal connection with Jimmy. Thus creating stronger bonds between the user, AI and meditation as a whole.
2. Integration with Other Smart Devices
It's very common for those individuals who are cautious about their personal health tends to wear Apple Watches. Having Jimmy to remind users via their smart watch to take a break at specific intervals would be very beneficial as sometimes people can overwork and lose track of time. Therefore, a Study Focus feature may be very useful for maximum productivity, which may reduce an individual's anxiety.
3. Embracing the Silly Brand
As a brand itself, tackling a sensitive subject is very tricky as I have to ride the fine line between straightforward and whacky. However, as the majority of meditation apps took themselves too seriously, going the complete opposite route seems to be the logical reason. Hence, embracing the silliness can benefit the brand better in future installments.
1. Always Put Users First
I haven’t always been an advocate for design decisions, but knowing that my target userbase are students, I knew I had to design a product that is simple to use and likeable for everyone.
2. Take Advantage of Your Opportunity
With the privilege of doing this as part of my final year university project, I'm able to take my time to research and develop a product that is both unique and practical in the real world. Using existing design systems and utilising powerful softwares like Figma made my designs much faster to produce.
3. What I Wish to Improve?
As an artist myself, I will always tell myself "an art or design piece is never and will never be complete". With the collaboration of other designers, time and management skill, this project may be able to be better than what it is. However, there are other problems in the world that needs solving. So why not jump onto a new project?
Thank you for reading my case study!
Want to work with me? Feel free to contact me through email or social media!