A location-based messaging app for building exercise habits.

Drop-in is a school 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. The project took about 4 months from start to end. 
Team project.

My contribution includes secondary research, ideation, concept drawing, UI design, usability test, diagram illustration, and documentation.

My roles:
- Interaction Designer
- Researcher

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.

Project Overview

Drop-In was designed to serve the caregiving needs of newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes patients. Throughout the research, we expected the product should be fun and useful for both patients and caregivers, no matter where they are located.

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 diabetes targeted.

Discovery design opportunities

Desired Outcomes 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 collaborating 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 partients’s habites and routes. Should avoid making sending messages become burdon on caregivers. They system should be able to send messages intermittently. 

Any successful intervention to reduce type 2 diabetes rates would have positive impact on reducing healthcare costs


    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. 

    Individual Project

    Skills that I used: research plannin, primary research  secondary research, user intervie, co-design, system design, product design, UI design, sketching, 3D modeling & rendering, 3D printin, lo-fi & hi-fi prototyping and video production

    My roles:
    - interaction designer
    - Researcher
    - Product designer

    Final Solution

    Problem Scope

    1. Summary

    Work-life balance problem is one of the common concerns of working parents. For a newborn baby, he/she grows so fast so the parents can expect something different on him/her every day! As parents, on one hand, those little changes make them feel happy and excited. On the other hand, they need to learn how to cope with these changes properly.

    2. Statistics

    According to factfinder.census.gov, 97% of families have at least one working parent. 

    - Data was retrieved from https://factfinder.census.gov, 2016.

    Male and female’s roles in terms of childcare tasks have started to converge. More and more fathers made the statement that parenting is extremely important to their father’s identity. Work-life balance problem became a challenge for both genders. Parents experience an emotional roller coaster due to the stress of balancing home and work, and hardly get outside helps.

    • 2/3 of mothers feel helpless about childcare problems.
    • More than 50% of parents fear they’ll miss everyday moments
    • 1/3 parents argue or fight with their families at least once a week about childcare problems
    - Summarized from blog posts, forum discussions and informal survey results on the internet

    Primary Research

    1. Interview

    I interviewed with 5 working parents (4 females and 1 male) and 3 daycare teachers through in-person semi-structured interview sessions.

    For parents, they enjoy being working adults and parents at the same time. Those two identities give them fulfillingness in different ways. On the emotional level, parents miss their children when the kids at daycare. They need something to build a connection between them. 

    For teachers, they mostly struggled with the unorganized tasks that need to accomplish on daily basis. Taking care of younger children requires consistent attention. The current system is hard to keep records and communicate with parents.

    2. Survey

    In order to get a comprehensive understanding of demographic and context of the problem, I send out a survey via a Facebook group, daycare email lists, and online forums. I got 46 responses in total. After I analyzed the result, users’ needs became much clearer.

    Insight #1
    Most people have trouble to accommodate their busy schedules and feel the lack of time with children and families. 
    58.7% of the responders work 20-40h per week, 39.13% work more that 40h.

    “feeling guilt about being at work and focusing on things that don't seem as important when something else is going on with your kid. Stress around all of the things that need to be done.”

    Insight #2
    38 out of the 46 participants have experienced with daycare or pre-school facilities. Although people’s experiences with childcare facilities are positive, parents’ expectations and complaints are very different and vary along with the children’s growth. 

    How old is(was) your first kid when you go(went) back to work?

    “Toddler program. My child got sick a lot. But he also got a lot out of it. I wish teacher's were more sanitary there.”

    “I wish I could have picked up a hot meal already prepared to take home at the same time I picked up my kids:-).”

    “For the most part it's great, my only complaint is sometimes his regular sitters have the day off and he's with people we don't know, and we aren't notified or given a chance to meet them. And it's hard to know what to expect since you don't see what's going on each day.

    “Based on what my child is going through, what I most want to know changes. ... for example, if they didn't nap, they will need to go to bed early. for babies - when did they have their last bottle, so I know when to feed next? if they didn't eat much they will need to have dinner early. etc.”

    Insight #3
    When they feel stressed, most they tend to seek emotional support from their families, close friends and working mom/dad communities, while a few of the responders prefer professional resources such as psychiatrists. 

    “ All of what you mentioned. There are a million different ways to do things or that you have to consider. Every child is different, so getting tips or knowledge from multiple sources is really helpful because it allows you to try several options or tailor something so that it is best for you or your child. “

    *View the detailed survey report here

    3. Make-Tool Session

    Participant #1
    Mary & Ethan
    Full-time working mother
    Using full-time daycare
    Mary works full-time and rarely has flexible schedules, so her husband James is the lead parent in terms of childcare. He does more daycare dropping off and picking up.
    Participant #2
    Ivy & Luna
    Full-time working mother
    Using part-time daycare and living nanny
    Ivy went back to work when Luna was five months. Her husband Jason has a tight schedule as well, so they decided to hire a living nanny to take care of their baby. On the other hand, they hope Luna to have a systematic learning experience as well as gain social skills when getting along with other children, so they send Luna to daycare 3 days a week.
    Participant #3
    Gretchen, Perry & Ryder
    Part-time working mother
    Using part-time daycare, pre-school & babysitters
    Gretchen is a part-time working mother. Her husband Danny is a graduate student who has plenty of school work need to do. She is the one who does more childcare job since she has more flexible time. In general, she feels scheduling is the biggest concern for her.

    Problem Statement

    1. Current Issues

    • Information is not immediately updated on the parents’ side.
    • Parents are experiencing separation anxiety
    • Teachers spend too much time filling out the report rather than paying attention to children.
    • Paper reports are hard to keep on file and are easily misplaced.

    Children’s performance chart, Daily report

    2. Problem Statement

    In most U.S. families, both parents work outside of the home. Daycare is usually their first option. Paper reports and emails as the main communication method with parents.

    3. Desired Outcome

    Design a new system that improves the communication efficiency between childcare providers and parents. Keeps parents well-informed, while simultaneously reducing daycare teachers’ workloads.


    1. Parents

    2. Teachers

    Competitive Analysis

    1. Childcare Software Products

    2. Child Monitor & Communication Tools

    Information & Communication

    Parents have strong emotional connections with their kids. The special bond between parents and children makes them miss their children very hard.

    Researching all different software and products on the market, lots of them can provide info and feedback in details to parents but few could think about how the information would be sent and received. I can see the blank space there where a product/system can provide a streamlined communication channel between parents and daycare teachers.

    In this case, I took different types of communication media and information priority into consideration.

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

  • Complexity of info
  • Media richness
  • Degree of distraction
  • Degree of urgency
  • Recordability 
  • Efficiency of response

  • Design Opportunities & Ideation

    Looking 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


    Design Principles:

    Embed cutting-edge technologies to create streamlined information flows.

    Release the stress caused by separation for both children and parents.

    Build effective conversation among parents, childcare providers, and children.

    Simplify communication methods. Involve parents together to do a better childcare job.

    Keep personal information safe and limit the conversations in a closed loop between daycare facilities and parents.
    I brainstormed different concepts based on the three steps:

    • Info Sending (childcare providers)
    • Info Communicating (APP)
    • Info Receiving (parents)

    System Diagram

    Visual System

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

    Logo Design

    Concept & Prototype

    1. Hand Device

    2. Childcare Robot

    3. Wireframe

    System Overview  

    1. APP Screens

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

    3. The 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 also 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
    • Video calls if parents were requesting
    • Immediately syncs data with the central hub


    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

    When UX meets business, its primary goal is to improve customers' satisfaction and loyalty through positive experiences.

    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. 

    Methods Used:

    Card Sorting

    In the old-school way, we would post every single category on the wall and prepare some physical cards for people to put underneath the category they think is the most fitful. For this project, we followed the same principle but did it digitally.

    By conducting the designs based on the data we gathered from the card sorting activity, we were confident to say that the newly designed navigation can perform its function alleging with users' mindsets.

    Usability Test

    We conducted the usability tests by video conference. The overall purpose of the conversation would be letting the users speak out they concerns while they were interacting with the website/prototype.

    I had the chances to both lead the conversation and co-facilitate the sessions. 
    After analyzing the results from the test sessions, I generated research reports and attended the discussions with stakeholders, and also involved in the interface design revisions.

    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.

    Methods Used:

    Screen Recording

    By monitoring users' behaviors throughout the tasks, we could evaluate the performances regarding those functionalities.

    Heat Map

    The heat map told us about which area has the most click counts and the route maps of the moving or scrolling of the users' cursors.

    By analyzing the data, we were able to define the good spots and the bad spots and generated recommendations for the next step.

    Usability Test

    In the meanwhile, started to screen qualified users for the next round 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. 

    Methods Used:

    Heuristic Evaluation

    After went through each page and took users' complains into consideration, I detailed evaluated each page using design guidelines and Don Norman’s 10 design principles.

    Please contact me to know more about this project. 


    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.  


    Sophia Li. 2018