The non-profit had previously developed a tool for K-12 students, initially focused around grades 3–5 to track and manage social emotional skills. As research has shown, there is a direct correlation between performance in school and emotional and mental health.
As a followup to the original product, Effective to Great was looking to identify ways that we can bridge the gap between the progress being made with student learning and their parents.
With that in mind, through research and developement, I created a mobile app that will empower and engage parents with their children as they explore SEL.
My Design Process
Key research methods that I wanted to focus on were competition, field research and user interviews. Competition is especially important to me, as I find that no one would leave an app that they are already comfortable and well established with for something similar if not the same.
Social emotional learning certainly isn’t a new space. Blogs, websites, podcasts, and even mobile apps have been created to help educate people on the topic.
When it comes specifically to mobile apps, there are quite a few in the market. Most popular are meditation apps, such as Calm or Headspace. There have even been apps developed that focus on children’s social emotional learning, where they play games and watch videos, occasionally with parents, that help them get in better touch with their feelings.
However, there is a space that has yet to be touched in the market; an app geared towards parents to work with their child towards bettering their emotional mental health. Keeping that in mind, I decided to really gear my product towards parents, but with the app itself centered around the child/children.
As well as looking into the marketplace, I did some research on the topic itself. Not just the social emotional learning space, but families themselves. How much time on average do families spend together? When are they more likely to chat? How do parents handle concerns with their child’s emotional learning?
By drawing connections and coming up with questions, I was better prepared for my next step, which was User Interviews.
Based on a sample group of 12 parents, I tried to get further feedback on what content is missing for parents when it comes to communicating with their children about SEL. Below are some sample questions.
- What kind of discussions do you have with your kids about mental health and their feelings?
- What resources do you use when you have questions?
- Where do you struggle when it comes to talking with your kids about mental health and their feelings?
While there was a lot of information found, I pulled a few quotes below that I feel gave a lot of insight.
Culminating my user interviews and research, I identified a persona that I wanted to target and keep in mind while developing my app.
The aim would be to create an app with content that would help/interest this persona, while keeping their schedule and preferences in mind.
After my research, I notified a few common problems parents have been having when it comes to their child’s social emotional learning.
- If a parent has more than one child, finding the best way to address an issue with each child. A solution may work for one child, but not another.
- Finding tools that can help them, while spending what limited time they have together and away from screens.
- Communicating effectively with a child about something as complicated as emotional learning can be difficult, especially getting a child to retain that information.
Keeping my hours of research in mind, I created an app that will be easy to use, educational, and will address the pain points listed above.
After identifying the solution, I identified 4 key features that I wanted to make sure were included in my final product.
- Activities: Parents get to browse through different activites to do with their kids, and can favorite those they want to do more, or delete those they have no interest in.
- Create Your Own: Gives parents a chance to learn from each other, building a community.
- More Resources: If parents want the opportunity to learn more about a specific issue (or get inspiration for creating their own), videos, podcasts and other resources will be featured and filtered.
- Selection Options: Giving parents the option to work one-on-one with a child, or together in groups.
Once the content of my product was established, I needed to design the app itself. Something that I really wanted to focus on was movement: swipe, drag, pull, elements that made the app feel interactive and easy to use.
For my user flow, I wanted to focus on my key features, and then build out from there. Through a lot of trial and error, I found myself with this final flow.
Wire Frames and Paper Prototypes
I find that I work best with wireframes, as it allows me to quickly jog down design ideas, and just as easily get rid of them.
Keeping in mind my focus on movement between the interfaces, I created a bottom tab for a menu (for easy access for the thumb), pull and drags for the activities, and slide options for filters.
As well as the activities and create your own features, I included a Track Progress feature. It allows parents to see how often they’ve been doing specific emotion activities over time, and the chance to see if a certain concerning emotion, such as anger or stress, has been increasing over time.
I did a few different feedback sessions with different users, and got some really interested advice.
- “Give an option for good feelings and emotions as well as bad ones”: I really liked this feedback. It’s just as important to continue good behavior as it is to address poor behavior.
- “What is the takeaway from activities? What do they learn?”: This question make me look back at the activities. Since the activities are created by professionals in the SEL community (as well as fellow parents), I created a feature that gives a “fun fact” about each step of an activity from a professional about how this activity will help the child address their problem.
Final Clickable Prototype
I worked in Balsamiq to create a final clickable prototype of Stick Together. I welcome you to watch the interactive video below, or follow this link to play around with it yourself! https://balsamiq.cloud/sozmivg/pmv09gz