Lacuna is a mobile app that guides users through a mindful journey of planning their days and taking intentional breaks.

Duration

6 weeks

My Role

wireframe/mockups
visual design
usability testing

Background

The pandemic-induced physical and mental stress continues to impact college students. Currently, higher education is implementing plans to bring students back to campus. However, for young people, the harm incurred by COVID is ongoing, and there is an urgent need to address the stress and anxiety issues. 86% of students also felt they have fewer social interactions.

71%

of students reported increased levels of stress because of the pandemic.

Problem

Staying on top of everything under the pandemic seems impossible.

During COVID-19 and other ongoing societal events, staying on top of academics take less precedence for most college students. The stress and anxiety from changes in the living environment, news, and fear of the pandemic make it hard to keep everything on track.

How might we reduce stress and help college students make better academic and life plans?

Solution

A playful scheduler app that helps you take intentional, mindful breaks and connect you back to your friends.

How Lacuna works

Start from creating your daily goal

Lacuna guides you with setting a tangible daily goal and breaking it down into actionable steps. It frames the process as an adventure into space and discovering stars in your own galaxy.

How Lacuna works

Entering mindful work sessions

Using the Pomodoro technique, each substep defined earlier leads to one work session. Lacuna will prompt notifications to ask if user finish their task for this work session. If no, the app will suggest a recommended time for the next work session. But no matter the result, it will direct users to start an intentional break.

How Lacuna works

Taking intentional breaks

Lacuna will suggest mindful break time activity ideas based on user's interests through in-app filters or Facebook data. These activities require the user to leave their phones and interact more with the physical world. Users can choose to share their completed tasks and breaks with their Facebook friends.

How Lacuna works

Evaluation and feedback

After completing today's goal, Lacuna will prompt the user to evaluate today's performance and give feedback based on the results. Users can check previous reflections in the home screen.

Define

Our target users are beginning planners

Initially, I focused my attention on stay-at-home college students because of their stress and academic difficulties. After discussing with my team members, we opened up to everyone who just started a more scheduled lifestyle because Lacuna shouldn't just exist for COVID-19 lockdown.

Beginning planners who are looking to learning the most about their schedules. They are looking to build their routines and taking a small step at a time.

Base on our findings, we aim to create a tool that focuses on planners' and beginners' needs, to help them better discover theirselves and add more fun to their lives.

Goals

Incentivize users to walk more
Introduce unique attractions along their explorations

Ideation

Generating concepts

Making no further assumptions on our own, each member brainstormed several solutions, and we went through these together to determine which one to pursue.

1. Calendar integration & generate schedule for users.

2. Break activity generator visit by distance.

We compiled and picked our final idea using a prioritization matrix. It was evident that creating a radius filter allowed maximum efficiency in development and scaling the business.

Ideation

Testing & refine

Making no further assumptions on our own, each member brainstormed several solutions, and we went through these together to determine which one to pursue.

1. Calendar integration & generate schedule for users.

2. Break activity generator visit by distance.

Design Decisions

A struggling student's journey

Imagine Nina is studying at her desk for four hours without taking a break. She can't find any activity to do that is fun and not involving staring at screens. To find something that helps to decide, she uses Lacuna to help her decide and motivate her to try new things.

Design Decisions

How can we make planning less stressful for users?

Creating a quick way for users to pick break activity is crucial as it encourages users to keep up with their goals and make breaks less likely to go overtime.

Based on users' feedback, creating an event page with indication for activity difficulty makes a trying something new in breaks less daunting and more fun. Motivational texts when users are engaging with the activity also decrease the chances for them to quit.

Visual Guidelines

We chose Rubik as the primary font as it adds some playfulness to scheduling.

Measuring Success

Result

How will Lacuna benefit stressed-out users during and after COVID?

Although Lacuna is still a prototype, I believe a goal tracker promoting self care has its place in the market. In the real world, I would measure these metrics to determine success:

1. User satisfaction: How is your day to day like after using Lacuna for 2 weeks?
2. Retention rate: How many users stay with Lacuna after a month? Does user drop off after their first goal?

Result

Next steps

Development

Once our app's primary flow is complete, we will continue our development to roll out a fully function prototype for user testing.

Takeaways

Reflection

A journey of colliding passion and constraints

Going into this project, I knew it would be different as we were designing and coding out our prototype in 7 weeks. However, as this problem is something I and my friends experienced often, I learned a lot through this process:

Prioritization, goals, and constraints

Initially, our solution solely focused on user needs. But as we progressed with coding our features and considering shipping it to the public, we had to remove some of our initial designs. It’s another reminder for me that a design solution needs to get every system involved and keep them in mind.

Create something you’re passionate about and share with others, even with set prompts

Lacuna is a class project with a tight timeline and topic restriction. However, it’s still rewarding to get your teammates and yourself excited about your ideas and create something that could bring a positive impact to those in need.

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