Design Challenge

How might we serve the caregiving needs of newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes patients with a product that is fun and useful for both patients and caregivers?


Drop-in is a project sponsored by Premera, a local health insurance company whose primary business areas are Washington and Alaska. Our team was asked to provide a digital solution for Premera’s current or prospective customers in aftercare field.

Final Concept Demo

1. Mike wants to encourage his friends Sophia to get some exercise from her busy schedule. He starts by recording a video message and drops his message on a specific location. 

2. Sophia receives a notification from Drop-in that her friend Mike just sent her a message. However, before she can watch the message, she needs to take a walk.

3. The message was dropped 14 minutes from her. She decides to take a walk right away. Following the map, she walks towards the message.

4. Getting closer and closer, finally, Sophia found that message! She taps on the “view” button to watch the message now.

5. The message plays. In the video, Mike reminds her to take a walk every day to build exercise habit, getting outside to enjoy natural views.

Research Findings

We started with secondary research about caregiving in general, issues around aftercare,  how behavior change can be impacted by technology, and the most common medical conditions in the area served by Premera. We also supplemented our research with additional primary research.

Ideation and Down-selection

We used a mind map to explore the connections between each subtopic and uncover areas in the problem space we hadn’t previously considered.

We came up with around 100 ideas and sorted them into 7 different themes. The following critique session with Premera helped sharpen our focus in order to pull out the strongest 20 concepts from our group of 100.

Downselection Criteria
Combining the feedback from Premera and our own perspective from our research, we chose 6 criteria for evaluating our concepts:

  • Innovative
  • Contextual
  • Beneficial to Caregivers
  • Beneficial to Patients
  • Increased Knowledge
  • Coordinative

After multiple rounds of downselection sessions, we felt the geocached messaging concept can serve our users and Premera’s business goals best.

The geocached messaging concept will allow caregivers located locally or remotely to send video messages that can only be accessed in a specific location. The patient will have to be physically active in order to access the motivational messages from their loved ones. They will then have the ability to send a geocached message back to the caregivers.

Competitive Analysis

I researched on a variety of fitness apps and diabetes management apps, and analyzed them using these 3 metrics: being motivated, exercise orientedand, and diabetes targeted.

Discovery design opportunities

Desired Goals and Key Features

Key User Flows

*View the detailed flows map here

Key Path #1   
Send a Message
The caregiver would be able to send video messages that can only be accessed in a specific location.

Key Path #2
Retrieve a Message
The patient will have to be physically active in order to access the motivational messages from their loved ones. They will then have the ability to send a geocached message back to the caregivers.

Lo-Fi Prototype Test

To further develop the concept, we created prototypes of key user flows using paper prototypes and tested them with users.  

Main Finding #1
  • Message senders expected more guidance of where to drop the message; when retrieving the message, people wished to have more control of their walking routes.

Added My Favorite Places feature, which users can define their start locations.

Main Finding #2
  • Users brought up accessibility concerns. Patients may have different levels of mobility issues.

Provided accessibility filters on the map including Steep Grades, Obstruction, and Stairs to better serve wheelchair users.
Main Finding #3
  • Users have different opinions about the order of dropping the message and choosing the recipient.

Conducted another round of competitive analysis on popular video messaging apps such as Snapchat and Instagram. Followed the most conventional order, but leave freedom for users to jump back and forth.

UI Mockups

Send a Message

Retrieve a Message

Maintain Healthy Habits

Visual System

Interface Style
In order to create a clean look and allow users to focus on the key tasks, I used the flat visual style to reduce unnecessary distraction.
Color Palette
I chose orange as one of the primary colors because of its association with joy, enthusiasm and encouragement. Black and white created strong contrasts to other colors which provided effective visual cues.

*View the detailed UI specification document here


Should think more about collaborative elements in the goal settig part where patients and caregivers share the ownership of the goal. They can accomplish the daily walk togehter. 

Enable the system to learn patients’s habites and routes. Should avoid making sending messages become burdon on caregivers. They system should be able to send messages intermittently. 

More research needed for the accessibility map data sources. 

    Design Challenge

    How might we improve the communication efficiency between childcare providers and parents?


    In most U.S. families, both parents work outside of the home. Daycare is usually their first option.

    Elepho is a new system that improves the communication efficiency between childcare providers and parents. Keeps parents well-informed, while simultaneously make daycare teachers’ work more manageable.


    Research Findings

    Insight 1
    ︎Most people have trouble to accommodate their busy schedules and feel the lack of time with children and families.


    *View the detailed survey report here

    Insight 2
    ︎Parents’ expectations and complaints about daycare services are different and vary along with the children’s growth.

    *View more about the MakeTool sessions here

    Insight 3
    ︎For daycare teachers, paper reports and emails as the main communication methods with parents are cumbersome and easily misplaced.


    I formed 2 primary personas from the formative research findings. I summarized their representative daily tasks, device preferences, and needs and goals.

    1. Parents

    2. Teachers

    Design Principles

    Aligning with users’ goals and expectations, I developed 4 design principles as my guidelines for the following ideation and design process. 

    Design Opportunities & Ideation

    I looked for design opportunities around parents’ bags, kids’ daily supplies, and daycare equipment to build the connection between parents and children through technologies which can provide proper feedback when they are not taking care of their children in person.

    I brainstormed different concepts based on these three steps:

    • Sending information from childcare providers such as the daycare center, nanny, baby sitter, etc. 

    • Processing information via digital platforms such as baby monitors and mobile/desktop apps.

    • Receiving and reacting to information on the parents’ side. 

    Down Selection

    1. Users’ Feedback

    I brought these ideas back to 3 parents and asked them about the desirability of each idea. They wrote about their thoughts on sticky notes and voted for their favorite ones. For teachers, I called back to 2 daycare teachers (one from toddler class, and one from mixed age class) and walked them through these ideas. After gathering feedback from parents and teachers, I reached 3 major insights.

    2. Competitive Analysis

    To better understand the design opportunities, I conducted a competitive analysis of 6 popular software usually used in daycare centers and 6 child monitor/communication tools used by parents. I examined them in terms of their features and the values they provided for daycare facilities and/or parents.

    Daycare Software

    Child Monitor & Communication Tools

    *Click to zoom the charts above 

    3. Synthesis

    After synthesizing all 5 insights from users’ feedback and the competitive analysis, and taking the 4 design principles into consideration, I reached the conclusion that a two-way information interactive service could fit best in this scenario. 

    System Diagram

    I proposed a responsive and interactive service system to address the communication problem between childcare providers and parents.

    Media Selection

    1. Information Design Opportunities

    Parents have strong emotional connections with their kids. The special bond between parents and children makes them miss their children very hard. Current software and products on the market can provide information and feedback to parents but few could think about when and how the information would be sent and received.

    In this case, I used the Media Richness Theory as the reference to categorize and analyze different types of communication media and their capabilities of carrying information.

    2. Media Channels Analysis

    When the parents cannot take care of their children in person, they expect to receive proper feedback from other care providers to make sure their kids are safe and happy. Different communication channels can carry different amount and types of information. 

    3. Information Flow

    *Click to zoom the charts above

    Concept Development

    1. Mobile App Design

    Low-fi Prototyping and Testing
    I made paper prototypes and invited 5 parents (4 female and 1 male) to attend the testing sessions. I was able to perceive how the participants would interact with the app and observed if they encountered any usability problems.

    Main Finding #1
    • 2 participants pointed out the multiple entries on the homepage did not provide useful information directly.

    Revised the homepage content to be more informatic. Simplified the navigation structure and provided accesses to the most important features on the bottom navigation bar. 
    Main Finding #2
    • Parents expected an easier way to set up the Customized Feeds section. 

    Provided two pre-setted modes that users could modify the amount of feeds they want to receive. 

    High-fi Prototyping and Testing
    During the low-fi prototype testing, I got a lot of useful feedback from the participants. However, due to the limitations of the low-fi prototype in both functional and visual aspects, some functions were unclear in terms of what were supposed to work and what were not. It required a lot of imaginations from users. For the next step, combining the feedback got from previous testing sessions, I developed a set of high-fi prototype and conducted another round of testing. 

    Main Finding #1
    • Having the daily reports listed by dates was not the most convenient way for parents to locate the information they want.

    Added a search bar that enables users could use keywords to find related information  

    Main Finding #2
    • All the participants liked this Gallery feature. However, people wished this section could be more personal and creative.

    Considered to develop more customized editing and reviewing features for photos and videos.  

    Main Finding #3
    • Two participants expressed a desire of having shared information with other family members about kids’ growths.

    Added a Family Account feature, thus the parents can contribute together on childcaring tasks.
    Main Finding #4
    • The male participant hoped the theme colors could be more gender neutral. 

    Explored broader color schemes and used gender neutral colors.

    Based on users’ feedback, I revised the sitemap to be easier to navigate. I re-ordered contents and arranged them in a logical, intuitive way to increase their discoverabilities. 

    Final UI Mockups


    • Use Journey or List view to see important dates and achievements
    • Understand what should be expected next

    • New born babies may bring a lot of anxieties. Parents hope to be proactive about what should be expected next (interview).
    • Parents’ expectations vary along with the children’s growth (survey, interview).


    • View all the photos and videos at one place
    • Select your favorite ones to export customized posters

    • Parents participants expressed a desire for creating a photo memory book to savour the baby’ journey (round 2 testing).


    • Have the daily reports at your fingertip
    • Use keywords and pictures to create your own reports at home

    • Paper reports are hard to keep on file and are easily misplaced (interview, MakeTool session).
    • Allowing parents to input the night reports would help to streamline the childcare task (interview).


    • Use 1-click to switch modes between “Busy” and “Free
    • Adjust the amount of feedback you receive

    • For working parents, being able to adjust the amount of notifications helps to reduice the unnecessary distractions from work (interview, round 1 testing). 

    Other Features

    Parents’ Group

    • Start a conversation with other parents in the discussion group

    • View incoming events and payment due dates


    • Check out the daycare center’s events, and save the interesting ones into your Favorite
    • Use “Going” or “Maybe” to indicate if you’re interested in or not

    2. Hand Device

    This device was specifically designed for daycare teachers. It is small, lightweight and easily be carried with. The built-in front and back cameras that incorporate with Facial Recognition and Object Recognition technologies can help to smartly capture information about each activity of each child by pairing with different Hotspots located in daycare centers.
    Primary functions include:
    • Photo capturing
    • Tasks confirming

    No extra writing is needed from the teachers’ side and the accuracy of tasks’ record is guaranteed.

    Final design


    3. Childcare Robot

    The elebot is an Artificial Intelligence Robot who is able to communicate efficiently with children and teachers by analyzing the words and tones in conversations and people’s facial expression and then give natural reactions. He is responsible for collecting and selecting useful data and send them to the central hub. That information will be used for generating children’s daily reports that the parents can save as references.
    Daily tasks include:
    • Captures photos and videos during activities
    • Displays customized educational materials and teaches lower-level classes
    • Connects video calls upon to parents’ request. Immediately syncs data with the central hub

    Final design


    Visual System

    I hoped to create safe, energetic and lively feelings. Most of my inspiration pictures have pastel tones of mild color themes.

    Color Palette

    Logo Design

    System Performance

    Childcare is a complicated task. It brings joys and excitements to parents, but also requires a lot of efforts on a daily basis. Existing tools are mostly one-way communication that lacks interaction. To fulfill both parents’ and teachers’ needs, a interactive system would provide more comprehensive information feeds which could not be achieved by a single product.


    Should consider design the device’s user interfaces and tested them with teacher users if I had more time. 

    Should prototype the hand device with proper materials and test it with teacher users in their working environment.

    Should test the prototypes in the parent users’ home to mimic the usage scenarios (eg. parents are writing new reports at home while they’re performing other childcare tasks at the same time).

    Should think about other types of users and usage scenarios. For example, other childcare providers such as baby sitters or nannies might also utilize the system to provide feedback to parents. 

    If I had time to design more components in the system (the device screens, the robot screen, etc), I would like to test them with teachers and parents together. Thus, I can understand if the system provides suitable assistants for both types of users. 


    UX Specialist Internship

    From May to August 2017, I worked as a UX specialist intern in the digital team at Owens Corning's headquarter, Toledo, OH

    I was highly involved in multiple projects across different business units in a  collaborative setting. 
    - UI design
    - lo-fi & hi-fi prototyping
    - usability test
    - research planning
    - user interview
    - heuristic evaluation
    - card sorting

    - interpersonal skills
    - collaboration
    - presentation skill

    Collaborated with: 
    - Stakeholders
    - Project Manager
    - Senior UX Researcher
    - Web Analytics Lead
    - UX Architect
    - Visual Designer
    - Software Engineers
    - Marketing Specialists - Internal Users

    Roofing Contractor Experience

    For this project, we were trying to transfer the current portal onto a new platform where can provide a better user experience for the customers. 

    Research Methods

    • Card Sorting
    • Usability Test

    Building Enclosure

    Building Enclosure website is a launched website, rather than researching and testing on the overall user experience, our goal was to validate several specific functionalities.

    Research Methods

    • Heat Map Analaysis
    • Usability Test


    Customer Relationship Management

    The CRM system is a great tool can help the sales team manage customer relationship effectively. It can asset commercial leaders to predict marketing trends. 

    Research Methods
    • Heuristic Evaluation

    These projects are under NDA, please contact me to know more about them. 


    a new design of meeting scheduling experience

    Individual project

    - User Research
    - UI design

    - Animation

    Problem Statement

    How might we help the individuals in different time zones to manage and communicate their schedules with their co-workers?

    Desired Outcomes

    • Provide a holistic view of meeting schedules for the meeting hosts
    • Optimize the meeting scheduling process, includes booking meeting rooms, inviting attendees, sharing the schedule with others, and etc.
    • Reduce miscommunication caused by different time zones and locations


    Key Screens and Animations


    There are two ways to get started with MURA. 

    • Enter an invitation code from your organization.
    • Register with your email or other social media accounts


    The dashboard contains overall information of today’s meeting schedule. A quick view of all attendees’ locations and time zones.

    • Swipe left or right to review previous meetings and incoming ones.
    • Different locations and time zones information are available on the dashboard.
    • Add more parties or remove current ones by a single touch.

    Customized Topics

    You can choose a meeting topic such as touch-base, interview and team discussion to make your schedule more organized. There is also an option to set new customized meeting types, and save them for later usage. 

    • Choose a default meeting type or add a new one.
    • Dial the wheel to select.

    Date and Time

    Bring visual cues along with the scheduling process. The users could see people’s headshots when scheduling meetings.

    Use the forward feature to inform relevant parties.  


    Fluid Earth Viewer

    FEWer is an interactive intuitive, and visually appealing web application, will allow users to visualize current and past conditions of our planet’s atmosphere and oceans. FEVer will be a vehicle of modern Earth science communication, bring information most often utilized by the scientific community and making it accessible and engaging to STEM and broader communities. In particular, it will provide hands-on visualization of the important climate role of the polar regions, their connections to lower latitudes, and the changes they are undergoing.

    Original Version:

    Beta Version:

    Details Coming Soon

    Sophia Li. 2019