During my product design internship at Potato London, I was tasked with designing an internal mental health/wellbeing tool for employees.
This was a solo project completed as part of an internship at Potato.
Monitor the wellbeing of employees and encourage the use of existing resources.
UNDERSTANDING THE USER
I began the research process by brainstorming potential workplace issues, existing resources at Potato, and potential mental health app features, as well as looking at what is currently available on the market. I then conducted primary user research in the form of a survey, which I used to generate proto-personas and draw some conclusions.
Investigating The Problem Space
Depression and Anxiety
Unhealthy Work-Life Balance
Lake: Coloring Book
Resources at Potato
Support & Wellbeing Wiki Page
Anonymous Wellbeing Issue Form
The People Team
Employee Assistance Programme
I used this initial research and ideation to inspire questions for a survey that I sent to everyone in the studio. I received 20 responses in total.
Which work-related mental health issues need to be addressed most urgently?
The two most common answers were stress (90%) and depression/anxiety (75%).
Are you aware of the ‘Support & Wellbeing’ Wiki Page?
65% of respondents were aware of the ‘Support & Wellbeing’ Wiki page provided to them by Potato.
Which Potato-endorsed wellbeing resources do you use?
Most people used the office osteopath (80%), and few (30%) spoke directly to HR or used the free Headspace account.
Which, if any, mental health apps do you currently use?
Most people did not use mental health apps, but the few that did used the following: Calm, My Possible Self, WYSA, and Silver Cloud.
What features would you want to see in a mental health app?
The most popular answers were contact with a mental health professional (60%), contact with HR (60%), and mindfulness/meditation (50%).
What kinds of wellbeing activities within the office would you be open to?
The most popular answers were contact group walks/exercise (50%), mindfulness/meditation (50%), and mindful coloring (30%).
What kinds of wellbeing activities do you do in your free time?
The responses included exercise, mindfulness/meditation, journaling, and self-help books.
Reluctance to use mental health apps - prefer physical activities, like journaling
The ability to track your mood could be good
Concerns about data privacy
Mental health could be incorporated into the ‘Flexible Ways of Working’ scheme
Helping people feel comfortable in opening up
LUCY WILSON is a 27-year-old developer at Potato. She enjoys running and often takes part in the London Marathon, but is not typically able to run during the week as she gets home so late and has been spending the weekends planning her wedding. She is also finding the stress of balancing wedding planning and work very overwhelming. As a result, she has started experiencing tension headaches.
JIMMY DOCTOR is a 35-year-old UI/UX designer at Potato. He struggles with social anxiety and, as a result, has found himself taking advantage of Potato’s flexible working scheme and working from home on a regular basis. He has previously attended mindfulness classes to help with his anxiety and found them extremely useful, though has fallen out of the habit of meditating as he is preoccupied with work.
Overall, I concluded that while serious work-related mental health issues were not prevalent at Potato, people did naturally experience work-related stress and anxiety from time to time and did not necessarily seek out help or solutions when necessary.
A lot of people expressed interest in resources like mindfulness and group exercise sessions but did not take advantage of the resources available to them such as the free Headspace account and the company running club.
One key observation I made was that Potato did not have a single portal where their mental health resources and links were collated. These were instead scattered across multiple websites, which likely contributed to the ignorance of certain resources.
Respondents also did not express an interest in downloading an entirely new mental health app that required dedicated time and attention.
I therefore decided that I needed to design a tool that would collate the existing mental health resources and lead people to those which meet their specific needs.
BREAKING DOWN THE PROCESS
I used the outcomes of the user research and design thinking process to inform the product proposal, wireframes, and prototypes. I then conducted a round of user testing.
Product Proposal, Wireframes, and Visual Design
Below is the section-by-section product proposal, accompanied by stills from the final prototype. The initial wireframes can be found here.
For the visual design, I used the typeface and some of the colors from the company's existing style guide and reinterpreted how they worked together. With regard to the chatbot avatars, the 'doctor spuddy' character was a fully pre-existing illustration
used by Potato, while the 'spuddy' holding a notepad is an edited version of one of the other 'spuddies'.
The app will be based in Slack in the form of a chatbot called ‘spudbud.’ It will be based in Slack rather than built as a native mobile or web application because Potato employees already use Slack for most communications and many respondents indicated that they did not necessarily want to download a new app. Additionally, as the mental health resources are so scattered, this is a good place for them to be collated as all employees use it on a daily basis. Slack is also naturally set up for reminders and messaging, it is a familiar interface to the target user group, and there is a lot of existing development and prototyping documentation.
Upon launching the app for the first time, users will be invited to fill out an initial questionnaire, during which they will establish a personal wellbeing plan and set reminders. Users will subsequently be able to access their plan, settings, and pinned resources (such as the anonymous People Team Form, the Support and Wellbeing Wiki link, and a list of wellbeing-related clubs, talks, and activities) in the ‘About’ section. Having these resources easily accessible and in one place is likely to increase use and compliance. They will also receive notifications, messages of encouragement, and invitations to fill out periodic check-ins.
The onboarding questionnaire asks users to indicate their general mood, as well as provide some background information regarding their mental health. This is a good way to train the bot and will help to tailor the user experience.
Observations & Recommendations
In response to the user’s answers, the app will provide daily, weekly and general suggestions, as well as additional online resources. These recommendations will mostly be centered around encouraging the use of existing Potato resources. For example, employees already have free access to Headspace, so specific Headspace exercises may be suggested. Users may also be encouraged to join certain clubs within the company or attend relevant company-sponsored wellbeing events, such as NABS talks.
After their plan has been presented to them, users can delete, edit and add activities, as well as set a schedule and reminders.
Users will be sent a message via the Slack interface inviting them to fill out a weekly check-in questionnaire. Once again, they will be invited to indicate how they are feeling, after which they will receive advice based on whether or not their mood has improved since last time. They can also update their information, change their plan and settings, and view a chart of their mood history. This data can also be collated anonymously and sent to the People Team, so that any necessary changes can be made to the work environment.
These are features that I came up with but did not feel needed to be factored into the design and prototype as urgently as some of the others. However, I do think they could potentially be added in future versions of the app.
Paired People Team App
This would allow easy access to the responses sent via the anonymous People Team Form as well as the data collected from the mood reports and check-ins.
An AI-powered schedule organizer could help users to balance work, breaks, and wellbeing activities, which would greatly help with time management and relieve stress.
Contact A Mental Health Professional
The ability to contact a mental health professional directly through the app for one-off text-based therapy sessions would be useful for users who are having a particularly difficult time with their mental health.
Below is the final walkthrough of the app prototype, which was created in Figma.
I also conducted a round of user testing within the office, which I used to inform subsequent revisions.
Most participants felt that the questionnaire was the right length.
Feedback included having more options that were less black and white, as well as making the ‘other’ input option more obvious from a UI perspective. It was also suggested that the emoticons could be more specific/personal.
Some participants felt that the recommendations should be presented at once so that the user did not have to click through them, and others felt that multiple options should be given and not just a top three.
The general consensus was that the resources should be in the ‘Home’ section, rather than the ‘About’ section as it is not obvious that there is important information there.
The ‘Mood History’ feature was popular, though it was suggested that it should be visible immediately with the progress report. It was also suggested that the wording could be more emotionally driven.
A few minor UI issues were brought up, such as the mix of left and center alignment, as well as some confusion with the navigation styling.
While I did not have the chance to do a full redesign, I did begin to address some of the feedback and make revisions.
> Revision #1: Visual Hierarchy and Navigation Styling
I created a Style Guide with a clear visual system for the different types of components.
> Revision #2: The Resources Are Difficult To Find
I moved the resources to the app’s ‘Home’ tab and simplified the ‘About’ section.
> Revision #3: There Are Too Many Pages In The Recommendations Section
I put all of the recommendations onto a single page, with the ability to add, delete, and edit right away. To reduce clutter, I removed the links from the initial recommendations page and put them into the ‘View Plan’ page.
> Revision #4: The Mood History Is Not Immediately Visible
I moved the most recent mood history information to the ‘Observations & Recommendations’ page, with the option to view the full report. I also put the additional links/settings options into categories to reduce visual clutter.
During this project, I gained new insights into how wellbeing is managed within the workplace, as well as how apps work within Slack. This was also my first time designing a conversational interface for a chatbot.