Cirkidian is a mobile app designed for iOS. It is a new approach to mindful support designed to help today’s parents prepare their children for learning routines and future success.
Shape a healthier working environment and set a positive tone for your child, whether their learning routine is in-person, or remote.
Integrate the most fundamental elements of an effective education, into your child’s routine.
Schedule your child’s mindfulness activities around their school schedule.
Maintain awareness and support your child’s needs, when they need it. 

Project 

Academic Case Study

Role

UX Researcher, UX Writer,

UX/ UI Designer

Timeline

Dec '21 - Jan '22

Tools

Invision, Figma

Problem Space

Delving into an imperative challenge

Primary school education in the US has transitioned from in-person instruction as the standard to a surge in remote and distance learning experiences, due to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, the change in education routines have created some concerns for parents on the development and wellbeing of their children, socially and emotionally.

When approaching this significant problem space, I hoped to prioritize the concerns of parents in regards to their children's wellbeing and academic achievement, as a foundational deciding factor. Secondly, I knew the digital solution should be something that parents can use when their child has a full school day in-person, too.

Parent's Emotional Distress Increase

54%
25%

Children's Emotional Distress Increase

Primary & Secondary Research

Awareness of constraints

I knew that the solution to the challenge, had to be accessible to all. I considered the socio-cultural constraints around demographics, abilities, socio-economic forces and other significant factors.

  • The pandemic has accelerated learning losses for all students, but the disparities are greater for students of color and students in families with low income.

On average, students learned

67%

of mathematics per

grade level.

The average was

59%

in schools that served

students of color. 

Hypothesis

I believe that many parents are concerned for the outcomes of their children’s development, due to the changes in education routines and social norms. The uncertainty and concern around these changes are stressors for both parents and children.

  • Life experiences, are important factors in childhood development. When  experiences such as gathering with friends and family are not available, children may experience emotional challenges. 

​One of the interviews I conducted was with an educator. From the conversation, I received insight on how SEL (social emotional learning) is implemented in schools. I considered the benefit of integrating SEL into the solution for the challenge.

Social Emotional Learning is the process through which children learn how to effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to manage their emotions, set and achieve goals, show empathy for others, and make responsible decisions.

11%

Children who received SEL programming had an

increase in positive academic achievement

SEL 5 Core Competencies
User interview insights 

I conducted semi structured user interviews with a diverse group of parents with children in primary grades. All had experience with their child in in-person public school, two had their child learn remotely in the past year, and one parent was  homeschooling their child. 

 

  • Empathetic and authentic remote classroom environments

  • Collaborative support

  • Opportunities for social and emotional learning experiences

  • Children to have guidance in navigating essential social emotional experiences.

For their children, parents want:

User findings led me to 3 occuring themes of which I chose to focus on:

 

SEL Development

“My Little girl said she wanted to go to school so she can hang out with her friends… Going to learn- that's one part of it. But the other parts were just as essential as knowing how to make and find best friends.” 

User Interviewee B

Wellbeing Measurability

“Just beyond feedback, I would find it really hard to measure their progress in something like that at home. So I would love to hear about his progress...”

User Interviewee A

Classroom Dynamic

“Sometimes it seems like the child's experience is not at the forefront. There's just too many children (remote online)… because it's not a physical space…”

User Interviewee A

Persona & Experience Map

Primary persona 

I was able to derive a primary user persona and experience map from the user interviews and other extensive research on the problem space.

I used the primary persona's pain points and opportunities for improvement within the experience map, to synthesize the how might we question, craft user stories, and decide on the primary task flow.

Task Selection

Filtering to find the task that meets the user's initial needs

I crafted three epics with user stories for the primary user after synthesizing the themes and insights I found prior. I chose to hone in on one of the three, as the core epic.

Respond to child's tracked progress

 

Search and select supportive resources

 

Message a teacher for collaborative

and learning reinforcement support 
 

User Stories

I ideated user stories that resonated with the core theme and epic I chose to focus on. 

Taskflow Prioritization

Considering the users journey
  • First, I considered what would be an organic task flow for the user when interacting with the product.

  • Even though the child’s progress tracking will be a significant task, the adult is the primary user.

  • I decided to develop a task flow where the adult opens the app to look at the child’s schedule, and then sees that the app notified them that there was a drop in the child’s track chart.

  • The parent user will then view the feedback and get recommendations and resources to address the challenge the child is having.

Sketching & Wireframes

Exploring design possibilities with initial sketches

With the user task flow solidified, I began exploring interface design for the digital product through sketching. I made sure to consider the appeal of book apps such as blinkist, because I knew my solution would have a resource library.  I found interface inspiration from mobile Wellness apps such as Headspace and Open. I appreciated some for their simplicity, and others for their refreshingly experimental design.

Example of initial Ideation sketches for the initial prototype

Grayscale Wireframes
User Testing

"Give it more importance."

In reference to the CTA's (call to action buttons), it was suggested that I make

the buttons larger to look more clickable.

Another priority suggestion was to lengthen the component sections toward the sides of the screen margins.

Breathing room is good, but I could take up more screen space there. 

Visual Identity

High Fidelity Wire Frames

Solidifying the design

Since I had considered and added many of the fine details in the grayscale stage, the high fidelity stage consisted of adding color thoughtfully to the frames. I made sure at this stage, I considered semantics and finetuning the visual identity.

Marketing Responsive Website

Marketing the Cirkidian App

Understanding the significance of a great marketing strategy, I knew the mindful visual identity and branding efforts I had done would make an impact. I also knew I'd have fun developing the visual presentation of Cirkidian further, as the brand colors play together in my design. 

I designed two low fidelity desktop wireframes, one fluid and the other fixed. Before moving into high fidelity I made sure to get the perspective of two other designers. The verdict was to create a mixed grid, keeping some of the design qualities of the fixed, but with adding a bit of freedom to the page. From there, I developed the mobile website frames and went into high fidelity.

Multi-platform Design

Translating the mobile Cirkidian interface, to another platform

I was aware of the challenge of applying the mobile interface content to other platforms, but for the functioning of the Cirkidian app, I knew it would be beneficial and enhance the usability of the product for the primary user. Many parents are already monitoring their child's activities on tablets, so I was certain to experiment with that platform. I applied my mobile design to an iPad canvas. I made the decision to add a side dashboard function and keep the CTA buttons and other components larger, to keep it child friendly.

Design Impact & Future Thinking

Reflecting on Cirkidian's potential impact

The Cirkidian digital product was designed with the initial intention to be of benefit and to support the wellbeing of parents, and their children. For parents to find new ways to help their children to develop mindful and positive habits, further opens the space for children to become more mindful of their impact on the environment, and in society earlier in life. To encourage children- people to value themselves, their feelings, and others through positive social and emotional practices can without doubt- encourage youth to see the value in the world they live in.   

My product reinforces the use of something that is already being implemented in schools, but is taking those tools and placing it into the hands of parents. Most programs that encourage SEL are used by schools and marketed to schools. Engaging the parents and families in the school communities is encouraged. My product will take some of that work off of the schools, and give parents the resources to collaborate with their child's education team.

With that said, I am aware that overusing or using out of context is possible with any product. With Cirkidian, I suspect this could look like a parent avoiding engagement or being apart of their child's learning and growth. It is also important to consider possible misuse in a situation where a child is dealing with something that might need to be dealt with in a way where they may need other professional support. Cirkidian was designed with the Parent and child at the center, but it is a tool of support, not a fix all. 

My hope is that the youth mental health crisis that was further exposed by the Covid-19 pandemic will greatly decrease and no longer be a crisis. This will be the result of more parents and their children having access to the tools needed to develop a skill set to conquer life’s challenges.

I believe that if 80% of residents in a communities were to use my product, there will be a lot of happy kids, happy parents, and successful communities.

Key Learnings 

The process is not always linear,
when searching for the right solution 

Good design, takes time... (just kidding!        ) Actually, it may not seem ideal to reach a stuck point in the design process, but when you take a step back it might catapult you two steps forward. It's not just a design process, it's a learning process... and we all have our own pace. So, find solutions to aid in the process, and stay in the game.

Next Steps

Design choices are rarely ever final when humans are at the center. Refinement and enhancement, will always be a worthy challenge. 

With the acuity I have gained from each step of the design thinking process and the user stories that followed, this digital product has more to come. Cirkidian has gone through ideation and was developed on a strong exploratory foundation.

 

Here are the next steps:

 

  • Refine the current user flow prototype and implement other great design enhancing suggestions received.

  • Develop the community function to meet the users needs to have a space for social emotional experiences where their child can engage in activities with other children.

  • Gamify activities to meet the wants of children as a secondary user to have engaging games in small timed increments that align with the apps resources.