Catholic University of the Sacred Heart
Catholic University of the Sacred Heart is an Italian research university founded in 1921 and linked to the Agostino Gemelli University Polyclinic. It is worldwide renowned for its faculty of Law and it has been granted five stars by QS Stars, a global university rating system, in the following fields: employability, teaching, facilities and engagement.
The goal of the research project was to create an App to monitor children’s feelings, emotions and thoughts during the day, while supporting their awareness and wellbeing. The App had to feature a child oriented user interface, simple and effective user experience and local or remote data storage.
After sessions of brainstorming with the principal investigator, I sketched some examples of possible interaction flows, and opted for a minimal eye-catching layout. Considering that children might easily be distracted by too mani stimuli, I try to focus their attention on big buttons with self esplicative icons.
After the layout and the interaction flow were signed off, I moved the wireframes into a hi-fi mockup. I started thinking like a child, focusing on graphic elements, with few verbal instructions. This approach ended up with few functions and big coloured buttons provided with very clear icons. Children need to have their attention engaged, so we decided that an acoustic signal to attract their attention was needed.
We opted to pre-install the App on a number of devices the university provided to the selected children, collecting data after one week of usage in a completely anonymous way.
The App was tested by 23 children (aged 7-11) for one week, in order to ensure that there were no major usability issues. Children were then interviewed to highlight any difficulty and collect their suggestions, before submitting the App to 400 children.
Children answered the questions addressing the App as an individual, like in a sort of conversation. They felt engaged and happy to share their experiences.
This discovery gave us the chance to tailor the user experience, building an App completely user-centred. In order to implement these aspects, Mesc became a character, a friendly blue cat interested in children’s daily life and happy to help them.
As Lead Designer I have been responsible for building the user experience, the user interface and the visual design. I managed the full product lifecycle to ensure customer and user’s needs were met. I set an iterative approach to rapidly incorporate children’s feedbacks into the designs.
The Final Product
The final product is an App designed to ask children to complete items related to their thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations on the device five times per day for five days, in addition to describing the situations in which they were living. The MES-C gave five acoustic signals from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at randomised time points to prevent participants from anticipating their answers. If the children did not start their report within five minutes, the signal turned off, then resumed after about 20 minutes.