Mind Over Matter.
Creating a safe and secure student wellness resource platform to foster & improve mental health
1 UX Designer
1 UI Designer
Who is Mind Over Matter?
Mind over Matter (MoM) is a non-profit organization that provides mental health resources for students seeking information and support. MoM is designed with students in mind and encourages young adults to seek out professionals and campus services.
Create a safe and inviting space for students searching for wellness resources.
Make everything as easy as possible to access the information they're looking for
Creating a platform that puts students' needs first.
Bridging technology with student wellness
The rise in mental health among students has significantly increased and become exceedingly common. Students' stress and anxiety levels are attributed to school workload, sleep deprivation, and their environment.
Currently available platforms have a staggering low retention rate due to its bold claims that don't measure up. Users expressed concerns citing its credibility in misguided information and the underwhelming platforms after the initial visit. How might we find a way to support students in need while sustaining engagement?
UNDERSTANDING THE USERS
Connecting with students
I visited 3 campuses and spoke with 6 students to understand their headspace as well as thoughts and opinions towards wellness platforms. I found it vital to be in an environment that's familiar to students in order to connect about talk about a personal subject like mental health.
From the interview, key takeaways were:
All students occasionally experience stress
Mental health resources should be free, especially for students
Mental health platforms are too tedious and time-consuming.
Strong preference over direct health resources vs. gimmicky mood trackers or habit quizzes
While the interviews were informative, I realized that most students were reserved in their answers. This was going to be hard topic and I had to find another way to learn more about our users.
How do students cope with stress?
In order to dive deeper and connect with our users, I sent out surveys online hoping this method would be more welcoming than the in-person approach. I filtered students who have experienced stress in the last 6 months to gauge their mental state and their thoughts on mental health.
Didn't have a clear understanding of where to look for help
Experience stress daily, BUT 54.2% allocate less than once a month researching or using wellness resources
Believe that the current health and wellness options are NOT easily accessible.
The results made it clear that not everyone who struggles will seek help and knows how or where to. Equipped with the insights gathered so far, I knew I had to address providing information and resources to students while making it easily accessible for first-time users who might not normally seek out for help.
Needed resources YESTERDAY
Direct resources only
Tired of tedious tasks
Handled by professionals ONLY
Students don't know where to look for help
Student often experience stress
Free and easily accessible resources
DEFINING OUR USERS
Meet Our Students!
2 personas emerged from our research: Susan and Thomas. Both personas have varying degrees of stress but believe that mental health is important. Susan has used wellness platforms before but wants direct resources, finding current options too intimidating while Thomas who doesn't know what resources is available to him wants free and easily accessible resources if need be.
Primary & Secondary Persona
Mapping out an intuitive experience
I dove deeper to understand what our primary persona, Susan would go through during a typical day in order to better cater to her needs when I start ideating some potential solutions. I also created some user flows for both personas so that I could map out and assess the efficiency of the interface I'll be building later.
DEFINING THE PROBLEM
“Students are stressed and overwhelmed with school workload. They need an outlet for mental health resources so they can be able to manage their well-being and have a better quality of life.”
Sketch it out!
With so much insight from the user research, I did some rapid sketching to quickly ideate and brainstorm some ideas I had. This way I could better access what would be viable solutions which would be helpful for users like Susan and Thomas.
Sketch #1: Feed/News. Students can have access to the most updated resources
Sketch #3: Support feature to contact professionals and book appointments.
Sketch #2: Browse through different types of conditions. No fluff, just information.
Sketch #4: Find communities and events nearby to attend and relieve stress.
We are NOT our users!
I discussed the concepts with my UI designer and we gravitated towards sketch #4 community and events. We thought this would be a great solution to help students relieve stress if they're surrounded by a supportive and likeminded group.
However, something felt off. We realized we jumped the gun and subconsciously made the decision based on our own rationale. This direction clearly did not fit either personas or personal statement from the user research.
We were also aware that this was a taboo topic (as seen through interviews) to talk about and we’re not really sure if the product would really scale if need be. People would prefer to have a place to find out about mental health and have direct resources rather than all the fluff that was seen in current competitors and apps that users are currently using as seen in the interviews.
Finding our way back to the user...
Pen to paper
I revisited the research and concepts which directed me back to users' main concerns. I realized my earlier concepts aligned with users' needs and followed that path focusing on a resource-based platform that provides mental health information and support to students in need.
Since this would be a content-heavy site, I stuck to a minimal design. I also scaled back on additional features as this would lose credibility and make our platform seem too scattered, distracting users from the main purpose of the site - which is not what we want.
How did students perceive the design?
Overall, participants thought the paper prototype was a great resource for end-users. However, participants also voiced a few iterations that might improve the site. These suggestions include:
In the homepage, the site should feature contacting the wellness center for ease of use for students
In the hamburger menu, the title of “Find Help” sounds very alarming and loud.
What was the need for the sign in and sign option? Why are users signing up?
Making the designs digital and tangible
At this point, my UI designer had created a logo that embodied a very personal symbol of community, support, and love. I digitalized my lo-fi wireframes along with the logo in order to capture the true essence of our resource site before heading off to conduct usability testing.
During my mid-fidelity wireframing, I also stuck to a clean and easy to digest layout because this site is content-heavy I didn’t want to overwhelm the user with anything too crazy. The goal behind this is not to be super flashy as it’s marketed as a resource center that provides information and connects students in need with professionals. We also wanted to make everything as easy as possible to access the information and support they’re looking for. Keeping the main focus as a resource data-driven site, I also took out the sign up/in feature as I found it unnecessary and wanted to eliminate the concern surrounding student privacy and allow students to remain ambitious.
We still have work to do
With usability testing, the objective was to access how users will interact and navigate through each task, what their pain points are, and their ability to complete each task.
Key usability test insights:
All participants thought it was a campus wellness center and not a student resource site
Participants were overwhelmed with all the content, lots of endless scrolling
- Felt conditions in the navbar weighed more importance than articles
My UI designer partner also conducted a 5-second and 1st click test. Results showed that...
5-second: The homepage didn't convey the intention and purpose of MoM.
1st click: hero image took up most of the average fold and viewport. Participants missed the next section of the screen and didn't scroll further to view content.
Refining the student experience
Based on our participants’ feedback and usability test results, our key iterations consist of...
Changed homepage: can now see the name of our site with a description and what the site is about
Added top of page button. For users to easily go back to the top of the page
Menu is revised. Conditions is now swapped with articles
Overiew & accordion menu. Allows for easier overview and lets users jump to their preferred section
Design advocacy: as the only UX designer in the team, I became the spokesperson of the platform and made every decision based on the best interest of the user. It's essential to put users at the forefront behind every decision and extremely crucial when tackling a delicate topic like mental health amongst students. In order to help users, one must first empathize with them.