concept/art direction/app design
Huey is an outcome of my research paper at St Martin's - “How can communication design help people achieve a greater self-awareness”. I was fascinated with the topic of self-awareness and mindfulness and how can we bring it into a digital environment. I recently came back to this app and completely re-design as a part of my self-initiated projects. The initial design was not great due to my lack of UI and UX experience, however, I thought the idea was still valid and worth re-vamping.
We often have a problem with comprehending our feelings, desires and motivations. When the source of our emotional reactions is unknown to us, we become confused and alienated. Moreover, when we are unaware we are not able to evaluate ourselves and our abilities properly, which can result in bad life choices and frustration. Huey aim is to raise peoples’ self-awareness using mobile devices. This project is an emotional calendar which was created to help people monitor their mood pattern and discover major factors influencing it. Its purpose is not to dwell on emotions, but to acknowledge them, even the most painful ones and let them go.
Competitor analysis and idea generation
I’ve done extensive analysis of the market and discovered that most self-awareness themed products are meditation apps and there was lack of mood tracking devices. The few that were available were not great in terms of look and usability. I found a niche for my idea - mood tracking in the form of a calendar, which also offers users detailed break down and analysis of the emotions and triggers. The app will be based on 6 emotions: sadness, anger, anxiety, happiness, love, excitement. User will be able to add multiple entries each day and tag them with specific events, people and situations. This will help them determine what triggers each emotion and make them more aware of their mental patterns. They can also add a description to each entry - this form of journaling will help them to go back to a particular event, look at it in retrospect and reflect on it.
Research and testing
The concept started forming however I needed more research and user feedback. I’ve started with a series of surveys and interviews with my college classmates there were general questions about the mental well-being and usage of mood tracking/meditation apps. It was quite a diverse group of people, coming from around the world, age 21-45 so the responses varied, but most participants express interest in the product. My initial idea was to assign a specific colour to each emotion (sadness, anger, anxiety, happiness, love, excitement), so I’ve asked users what colour they associate with them. This was an eye-opener, answers varied a lot and were clearly related to the cultural background of the person. The conclusion was that I can’t force any specific colour on the users and it had to allow them to pick them themselves. This customisation/user input element makes the app a lot more personal.
The biggest challenge was to create a mood calendar that is visually appealing but also functional and easy to navigate through. I also wanted to reflect an etheric nature of emotions - it’s not something that can be precisely defined. As a result, I’ve created gradients that are blending with each others creating interesting colour compositions. It was also important to remove the stigma from negative emotions and make users feel it’s ok not to be ok. I also wanted the app background colour to reflect the user’s emotional state at the moment.
The app needed to spark joy - make users happy to re-visit. This is something Headspace has accomplished - created great branding and content which generates pleasure. My aim was to create a similar experience with Huey. Being from a design background I wanted the app not only to be functional but also visually pleasing. There was also a question of how do I keep users engaged and make them return to the app. Therefore came the idea of personalised avatars. Each personalised character reflects users emotions at a given time. It distinguishes Huey from other self-help apps and coins a unique relationship with the user.
Next steps for the app would be testing prototypes and implementing user feedback into the design. I also keep on getting more ideas for the app. One of them was to create customised poster prints you can order as an in-app purchase. For example, users could order a poster for their loved one which would say “how you make me feel” which would be a beautiful water-cloud like artwork.