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Smiling Mind – Meditation App

Project info

Duration: 5 weeks

Client*: Smiling Mind – *Special thanks to Memorisely for this unaffiliated research challenge.

Team: Ashley Cao & Jennifer Bishop

Roles: UX designers, researchers

Tools: Figma/Figjam, Otter, Useberry, Google Forms, Dovetail

Smiling Mind is a non-profit company focused on equipping people with the skills they need to thrive with a healthy mind. They are looking to improve the experience of the existing app for university students.

Our goal was to better understand this segment of users and to provide the Smiling Mind team with goals, insights and recommendations for university students looking to try meditation.

Read & download the Executive Summary of our findings.

Problem Statement
“How can we better understand the needs and goals of the Smiling Mind university student users who are looking to try meditation?”

Existing Research Reference

Independent researchers previously evaluated the Smiling Mind existing education program and had uncovered many positive effects on young and adolescent students under the age of 18.

We believed we could build upon those findings, and conducted our own research into the 18+ age user segment geared towards meeting the needs and goals of university students looking to try meditation.

Research Goals

We developed four goals for our research plan. (This set of research goals won us a team award for having the most in-depth plan after our 5 weeks!) 🏆🦄

  1. Validate that there is an interest in meditation from university students.

  2. Build a tool kit of possible issues / pain points meditation and mindfulness Smiling Mind might be able to relieve and help solve for university students.

  3. Understand how Smiling Mind can bring awareness to the greater student body through guided meditation.

  4. Help Smiling Mind be successful at building a robust meditation curriculum surrounding the needs and goals of university students.

Project Timeline

After developing a set of powerful goals, we spent 5 weeks validating them by recruiting, interviewing, testing and surveying our targeted user segment.

Participants and Methods

Our insights are based on 28 screened participants* who were current university students and practiced meditation.

View the Figma prototype we used for usability testing. During the test, we gave our participants a series of scenarios and then asked a series of questions to follow up.

Example Scenario: Imagine you are interested in meditation. You have downloaded the Smiling Mind app to help form this habit.

Task: Show me how you would choose a meditation session for university students.

Follow-up questions: What was your experience navigating to this meditation? Did you find anything frustrating?

Interesting Find: ⚠️ We noticed during testing, the frustration of the app not having a search bar. Users were unable to search for meditations geared towards them and would even skip tasks when they were unable to find them manually.


Synthesis of Data 

We used a combination of tools to synthesize our raw data. This includes Figma/Figjam for live team collaboration, Otter & Zoom for user interviews, Useberry for moderated usability testing, Google Forms for our survey, and Dovetail as our main hub for affinity mapping and synthesis.

Competitive Benchmarking

As a means to understand the standards of other popular meditation apps and tools in the same space as Smiling Mind, we conducted benchmarking of 3 direct and 2 indirect competitors.

Actionable Insights

After combing through all the data in synthesis, and seeing the standards in benchmarking, we went on the hunt for the golden nuggets. We discovered 5 actionable insights on how stakeholders could appeal to the university student user segment.

01 Insight

Students would intentionally schedule times to meditate, but found it hard to be consistent.

Current consequence: There is evidence of university students unable to meditate on a consistent basis due to lack of direction. We need to develop a way to encourage consistency and accountability.

Recommendation:Tips, tricks and direction for students to actively set aside time to schedule their week

02 Insight

Students would use various methods to track meditation, but did not find a centralized place geared towards university students.

Current consequence: Not having a dedicated curriculum for university students left many wondering why there were not meditations curated for them. To successfully capture this segment of users, it would be advantageous to develop guidance geared specifically to them.

Recommendation: ✅ Offer workshops or guidance about how the app can bring awareness for university students specifically

03 Insight

Students had the intention to meditate, but were unclear about how to start their journey.

Current consequence: Several students have not been able to educate themselves on how to start meditating. Users got frustrated with how long it took to find the right meditation for them, so they left the app altogether. Using these findings, we need to determine how to make meditation easier for students.

Recommendation: ✅ Modules for those who are unclear about how to start their journey into meditation

04 Insight

Students had difficulty finding suitable locations for them to meditate.

Current consequence: In environments that are too uncomfortable for users, they tend to get distracted during meditation, resulting in unsuccessful sessions. It is important to give them strategies for meditation even during uncomfortable environments.

Recommendation: ✅ Providing students with a list of locations that would be suitable for meditation on campus

05 Insight

Students practiced mindfulness, but they struggled with being relaxed and staying still during a meditation.

Current consequence: Meditators who are unable to completely relax do not receive the benefits of meditation and remain stressed. We need to help them develop the ability to stay in a flow state.

Recommendation: ✅ Varied length meditation modules geared towards stress levels and time available

Results & Lessons Learned

We used every minute of our 5 week research project, and were able to validate all of our original research plan goals. 🎉

It would be interesting to carry this project forward and to further explore how we could best iterate for a better user experience for university students. 🧘🏻‍♀️

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