Everyday queer (LGBTQ+) youth are mistreated and stigmatized in society.
Chat-to-Journal your journey to self-discovery
LGBTQ+ youth suffer disproportionately from mental health issues. Rates of poor mental health, depression, anxiety, and instances of suicidal thoughts have trended upward over the last three years since the pandemic.
Be.you uses AI to create an accessible, chat-based journaling space for the LGBTQ+ community. An inclusive environment that supports self-discovery and self-awareness, crucial elements for improving mental health. Guided by inclusivity, the platform fosters personal growth by turning introspection into a tool for transformation.
LGBTQ+ Youth Struggle with their Mental health
Mental health is a universal concern that can affect anyone, from occasional anxiety to severe depression. However, the LGBTQ community, particularly youth, are disproportionately impacted as compared to their heterosexual counterparts. Rates of poor mental health, Depression, anxiety, and instances of suicidal thoughts have increased among LGBTQ young people over the last three years compounded by the added stress of the pandemic.
seriously considered suicide
Discrimination, Violence, and Harassment
The combined trauma of bullying, societal discrimination, and stigma, hate crimes instill fear and stress in LGBTQ individuals, heightening mental and physical health risks.
Marginalization and Rejection
Rejection at home can spiral into self-harm, risky behavior, and mental health crises along with systemic challenges can jeopardize their safety, housing, employment, and access to necessary services, often deepening their sense of alienation and vulnerability.
High poverty rates and economic disparities within the LGBTQ community exacerbate mental health and overall well-being issues, creating a vicious cycle of adversity and hardship.
They Desire but Cannot Access Care
They are motivated to get help but they are prevented from access due to a number of reasons.
How can I help?
To improve LGBTQ+ youth's mental health by increasing access to and benefits from mental health services?
Interviewing for Insights
To uncover more I had 1-hour conversations with 3 people exploring their mental health journey.
To understand how LGBTQ+ youths under 25 sought support, what works for them, the main issues they face, and what they find important in mental health care.
LGBTQ+ youth encounter multiple barriers when seeking mental health support, including fear, judgment, limited awareness of available services, high cost, and limited accessibility to mental health resources.
I believe LGBTQ+ youth lack access to tailored mental health care and fear sharing their experiences or seeking support.
I used affinity mapping to categorize and cluster information into common themes from which I derived insights.
Gaining Insights from Themes
From the interviews, I discovered the following insights:
Leverage Community and Social Supports
Theme: Social and Friends
Connecting with others is essential for good mental health, but it can be challenging to find meaningful connections with those who have different values, views, or lifestyles, including one's own family and community.
Therapy is a Hit or a Miss and inaccessible.
Theme: Therapy and Therapists
Customized therapy can work well, but affording it and finding the right match can be tough. It's essential to know your needs and identity to find a suitable therapist.
Journaling can be a form of self-therapy
a low-cost and effective strategy for:
based on interviews, journaling has proven a highly effective, low-cost accessible tool for LGBTQ+ youth.
The increased vulnerability of youth makes implementing social support challenging and susceptible to exploitation.
Therefore, I focusing on journaling as the key solution to address this important issue.
Let's focus our design intervention to answer this one simple question:
How Might We
enhance LGBTQ+ youth mental health with journaling to promote self-discovery, thought and burden processing, and self-awareness and learning?
Exploring the Possibilities
Let’s explore how users like Ryan might use our solution.
Here are some user stories where we can examine what actions they might want to take to achieve their goals.
Exploration of how Ryan would journal and some of the features that would enable this.
Ryan would be concerned with the safety of his thoughts wanting to keep them safe.
How would Ryan want to track his progress? His goals? His patterns?
How can we use different forms of therapy to help Ryan in his journey?
Focusing on a Minimum Solution
By narrowing our focus to the core features we can design a solution to meet Ryan's goals, motivations, and pain points to validate our design assumptions.
Journaling for Insights
After examining Ryan's goals, motivations, and pain points, I identified journaling as a powerful tool to facilitate self-discovery and self-awareness.
Through journaling, Ryan can delve into his thoughts and emotions, gaining insights into his own identity. This process can foster self-acceptance and help overcome negative self-talk.
Each entry becomes a stepping stone for Ryan to learn more about himself, creating a sense of motivation to continue journaling.
The Core Flow
Using these stories we map out the core flow so we can build a minimum solution to address Ryan's pain points and help him achieve his goals.
Recognizing Ryan's struggle with traditional journaling, let's turn journaling into a conversational experience. This method engages Ryan in a familiar format, leveraging his comfort with social media chats to facilitate self-exploration and manage negative thoughts.
By transforming journaling into an interactive, chat-like process, it becomes less daunting and more approachable, ultimately helping LGBTQ+ youth like Ryan better understand their experiences and emotions, thereby improving mental health.
In essence, if you can chat, you can journal.
Journaling requires interaction, and AI, particularly Natural Language Processing (NLP) like ChatGPT, can transform this experience for LGBTQ+ youth.
NLPs are great at summarizing and finding patterns in multiple journal entries. This helps create quick-to-understand summaries for each chat-journal entry, easing revisits.
Furthermore, the AI uses these entries to create automatic insights. It can analyze past entries to highlight patterns, promoting self-discovery.
This way, AI could aid in fostering self-awareness, a key element for mental health management. With AI, journaling becomes not only more engaging but also a powerful mental health tool for LGBTQ+ youth.
Sketching the Solution
By sketching out screens, we gain insight into the flow and generate low-fidelity wireframes. This allows us to gather validation and feedback before building, ensuring an optimized final product.
Starting with black-and-white versions, we rapidly iterate, learn and focus on functionality, preparing for real user testing. This is the essence of wireframing.
The First Version
Introducing the Chat-to-Journal approach requires a comprehensive onboarding process. It's key to build a sense of trust, comfort, and personal connection with the user. Users should also be made aware that this tool is meant to supplement, not replace, professional therapy or mental health services.
The user interface is designed to be intuitive, incorporating familiar swipe gestures for easy navigation, akin to popular apps like TikTok. This ensures a quick and straightforward experience, allowing users to switch effortlessly between screens.
The goal is to deliver a seamless user journey and test the core functionality.
Test, Prioritize, Revise, Repeat
I conducted two rounds of user testing with 5 users, using a User Testing Output Matrix for efficient visualization and recording of feedback.
Post-testing, I assessed and ranked app elements based on user value and redesign effort. This step is vital for refining the prototype and resolving usability issues.
Early user testing ensures a robust prototype and helps tackle issues before they become harder and costlier to fix in later development stages. This process ultimately improves user experience and adds value to the business by creating a more efficient, user-friendly application.
Task Analysis Matrix
To simplify the testing process and gain valuable insights, I adopted a streamlined approach.
By visualizing user responses and conducting a task analysis, I can identify patterns and prioritize recurring issues especially if the user did not complete the assigned task. This allows for targeted improvements to enhance the overall user experience.
Reoccurring Major Issues
The most pressing challenges users faced were navigation, understanding the AI, and archiving.
These issues persisted through (V1, V2, and V3) user testing sessions despite the revisions significantly impacting user comprehension and task completion.
Addressing them was crucial for improving usability.
Users found the swipe-up gesture difficult to learn.
Users ignore onboarding instructions for navigation and would get stuck when instructed to navigate.
Ai Generated Content
Users were unclear about which parts of the app were them vs. the AI:
Generated Journal Insights
Archiving Journals Confusion
Users hesitated and didn’t know what to do next.
How do insights work?
What is this summary?
What am I supposed to do here?
Revisions and Minor Tweaks
You can explore my prioritization of tasks, and how I chose to revise the prototype to resolve these issues in the gallery below:
Prioritization and Time Constraints
Given the tight time constraints, I focused on addressing a significant issue—the swipe-up navigation—which hindered users from completing tasks. I replaced this feature with a traditional navigation bar, improving clarity on the user's position within the app and enhancing overall navigability.
Through frequent testing and attentive response to feedback, each app revision became more streamlined, with fewer usability issues. This process underscored the importance of discerning between problems needing a redesign versus those requiring quick fixes. Such considerations guided my revisioning based on user feedback, ultimately improving the core functionality of the app.
Developing an Identity
As I'm designing for LGBTQ youth, it's paramount to reflect their values and priorities. Foremost is creating an inclusive and accessible environment that feels safe and welcoming, encouraging authentic self-expression.
The app aims to provide a tranquil space for users, building a sense of trust that promotes vulnerability - a vital component of the journaling process.
Naming the App
Be.you stands as a powerful affirmation of individuality and self-acceptance, particularly for youth navigating societal pressures. This app serves as a haven for authentic self-expression and a celebration of diverse identities.
Be.you captures the liberating essence of simply being yourself—an ethos deeply embedded in the LGBTQ+ community and the authentic self-expression intrinsic to journaling.
Using the Wordmark as a base I iterated to create the final App Icon
Colour & Identity
Colour plays a vital role in personal expression and visibility. Different colors represent various LGBTQ+ identities, helping users to express their unique experiences and empowering them through visibility.
Colour customization should follow Pride flag colors to represent their identity, creating a vibrant and meaningful journaling experience.
Identity & Accessibility
Recent research highlights a higher propensity of neurodivergent individuals to identify as LGBTQ+. Autistic adults and adolescents are eight times more likely to identify as asexual or of 'other' sexuality than their non-autistic peers. Also, autistic individuals show more gender fluidity compared to non-autistic individuals.
This overlap amplifies the need for accessibility of colors and design, to ensure these individuals feel seen, heard, and understood.
Accessibility & Neurodiversity
Inclusion must be at the forefront and this is echoed in all aspects of Be.you.
Sans-serif fonts for better comprehension.
Avoid high contrast and overstimulation.
Single-hue scales and muted, pastel, or neutral tones can improve readability.
Clear hierarchical path for the reader to follow (title, subtitle, description).
Break large text into smaller, digestible pieces. Balance symmetry and asymmetry for stability.
Use of organic and geometric patterns can aid comprehension due to predictability and repetition.
Single-Hue Pastel Purple
A single-hue pastel purple was chosen as the default color for the prototype. This choice aimed at ensuring accessibility, particularly for neurodivergent individuals within the LGBTQ+ community.
Purple was selected for its neutrality, and its ties to creativity, imagination, and calmness.
In future iterations, color customization will be key, allowing users to express their identities and enjoy a vibrant, personalized journaling experience.
Crafted with Accessibility in mind
The colors and text in the app were meticulously tested for readability, adhering to the highest AAA rating from the WCAG 2.0 conformance levels. The interface design also includes enlarged text size to enhance accessibility. Future versions will offer users the flexibility to adjust text size for comfort and readability, further promoting inclusivity for all users.
For the high-fidelity version, I refined the onboarding flow based on user feedback, aiming for a concise and more traditional experience.
This redesign focused on crucial information such as the role of the AI guide, the provision of a secure space for personal thoughts, and the emphasis that this tool is an adjunct, not a substitute, for professional mental health care.
Employing gradients and soft variations of the Purple to create contrast.
Using a web application for journaling could let LGBTQ youth swiftly express their thoughts. More evidence is needed as to whether I should focus on mobile or desktop usage.
The Chat-to-Journal method offers shorter, ongoing conversations compared to traditional journaling, enhancing flexibility. The evolution of this approach depends on evidence supporting its mental health benefits.
Focusing on creating that inclusive space, I create a marketing site to advertise the Brand and communicate its value to the user.
"AI Chatbot Mishandles Sensitive User Data: Be.you Breached, Users' Private Journals Exposed"
To prevent such a headline, Be.you should:
Use End-to-end encryption: Makes sure only users can read their data, even while it's being transmitted.
Ensure Secure data storage: Store user data safely using encryption and secure servers.
Conduct Regular security audits and updates: Find and fix potential security risks regularly.
Practice Data minimization: Only collect and store necessary data, reducing potential damage from breaches.
Educate Users: Let users know how their data is protected and how they can help keep it safe.
Through these steps, Be.you can create a secure space for users to explore their identities without worrying about their data.
Design, Iterate, Revise, Repeat
The process of rapidly prototyping was essential to test assumptions and to validate my design decisions.
Branding and Identity
Branding the application was challenging as it requires to create a feel and visual story that aligns with our users.
Take a Step back to move Forward
Feedback has taught me to pause and delve into the 'why' behind it, allowing me to address the root of the problem. This approach streamlines my process, enabling me to create a more user-friendly product that addresses the needs and pain points of my users.
To speak with Therapists and psychologists to get their expert view of the issues of LGBTQ+ Youth and how Be.you fits.
Create a functional prototype to test the chat-to-journal experience and how effective it is.
Iterate on the design and conduct further user testing to validate the Archiving and insight experience.
Thank you for reading my case study!
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