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designing an app that helps people have a more mindful work from home experience

company: concept app // role: Product Designer // team: solo project

Work From Home ("WFH") has become the new normal for many, but people are still struggling to adjust to the lifestyle. In my personal conversations with friends and family, there's a lot to love about WFH, but there's also burn out, no structure, distractibility, and lack of boundaries. A big question I hear a lot is, "Are employees productive when they work from home?" rather than, "Are people taking care of their mental health when they work from home?" I wanted to design an app that would help people to make their wellbeing a priority, have fun, and take back control of their work day.

a work day that works for you

How might we help people plan a better WFH day that doesn't leave them feeling drained?

As a WFH-er myself, I've wanted to create a more mindful schedule for my work day for a while. But to design this app, I wanted to really delve into user research to discover how other people work from home, how they schedule their day, and how it makes them feel, in order to identify common pain points and come up with a solution that would help not just me, but a lot of other people as well!

digging into research

research goals

Discover how users currently schedule their day when they work from home

Uncover how users set boundaries between work life and personal life

Understand how users take breaks and take care of their mental health

Assess what concerns users have about their lifestyle while working from home

secondary research

The current market for apps that are meant to help people work from home are pretty non-existent. The closest equivalents were tools to block off distracting apps and websites to increase productivity, framed the user as lacking in self control, and anything that takes them away from work as negative. But it's human nature to lose focus and need to take a break, and that's okay! In fact, we work better that way.

behavioral research

For this app, I also wanted to get a head start on discovering people's favorites strategies for staying productive in a balanced, intentional way.

talking to users

To better empathize with more people working from home, I spoke to 5 WFH-ers about their current work flow, how they feel about WFH, and the challenges they face.

"The toughest thing about this is drawing clear lines about work and outside of work"

"I feel like I take breaks frequently but I don’t think I take good breaks"

"I feel like I’ve had to work harder to establish self-care routines or just things as simple as meal times"

"The problem with a typical WFH Day is it doesn’t exist"

"I set out every day to try to have a structure. Whether that actually works out or not, is debatable sometimes"

defining the strategy and audience

research insights

After putting all of my research together, it was clear that there are plenty of opportunities for products to help people work from home better. I had tons of ideas for different tools and tricks to solve multiple problems uncovered in my research, but I identified a few common themes to define better where there was the most need.


People enjoy the greater flexibility of WFH, but wish they had more of a routine. How can we help people build a routine with flexibility?


People have a sense of "good" and "bad" breaks. Good breaks don't always have to be productive. How can we help people remember it's important to rest as well, as long as it's done with intention?


People know they should prioritize their mental health more, but need help actually motivating themselves to make that space and time. How can we motivate people to commit to rest and taking breaks?


People miss the physical boundary between work and home. How can we help people achieve that balance?

who is this product for?

I wanted to hone in on one principal persona that really could benefit from an app like what would become ReMind.

Meet Cora - a young, corporate worker living alone in a small apartment who has been feeling distracted and demotivated during her work day, but wants to make a change.

developing solutions

Next, I came up with a list of possible product features for the app, and then refined it with a modified MoSCoW prioritization system in order to figure out what features to include in the MVP. Ultimately, I chose the "Must Haves", and a couple of additional features that were either High Impact or Low Effort that I thought would make the biggest difference to Cora.

Hover over the list to see the features I chose for the MVP.

Once I had the features picked to develop, I created a user journey to help me visualize what it would actually be like for Cora to use the app during her work day.

Next up, designing!

creating a look and feel while wireframing

In order to build my MVP, I identified three main user flows to design:

Onboarding questionnaire

Scheduling breaks

Activating "Break Mode"

As I started sketching ideas for the app, I quickly came to the conclusion that I needed to establish the branding and overall look and feel of the app in conjunction with the wireframes. I knew I wanted the UI to be super minimalist, with plenty of white space, clean lines and soft, approachable fonts.

I created Mid-Fi wireframes in grayscale but using my personal sans-serif favorite - Apercu Pro - for some aesthetic appeal. I also incorporated intentional language in my content that would go with my brand messaging: playful and approachable, with just a hint of aspirational Mental Health Expert.

The most complex flow to develop was figuring out how the user would schedule their breaks. Design decisions I made included: Should the user pick the activity, or the time first? How should the break activities be discovered and categorized? To what degree should the user be able to customize their options?

A rough rendering of the "Scheduling breaks" user flow

defining the brand identity

Although I had initial ideas about the look and feel of the app that inspired me as I worked on my mid-fidelity wireframes, my next step was to fully establish the brand identity through a strong name and color system.

What's in a name?

With some help brainstorming with a personal friend and fellow Product Designer who currently works from home, we came up with ReMind, a play on the function of the app - reminders to take breaks - with mindfulness and mental health. If I had more time to work on this brand and fully develop it, I would love to come up with a playful, yet soothing logo. However, I made the decision to postpone logo design and stick with strong minimalist typography for the scope of the MVP.

two color systems for two moods

As a fun take on Light and Dark modes, I created two color modes that reflected the two energies of the app, because sometimes mindfulness looks and feels energetic and warm, and sometimes restful and soothing. Meet Chill Mode and Go Mode!

usability testing

I conducted moderated usability tests after creating something in between a Mid-Fi and a Hi-Fi prototype. In these tests, I asked users to complete the Onboarding questionnaire, Schedule breaks for the day, and activate Break Mode and go through a break. Overall, the feedback I received was positive, although some key changes that I implemented were

Before and After

more visuals

In the early prototype, there were no icons or visual elements. Users felt the app was still functional, but could benefit from icons

expanded mood check

Users really loved the post-break "Mood Check" feature, but wanted more options or a sliding scale to track how they felt.

I decided to keep descriptive words to better capture the nuances of how a break can make you feel.

Before and After

the solution

ReMind works by empowering users to take control of their daily schedule and prioritize taking care of their mental health by reminding them to schedule in healthy break times during the work day.

Fun, approachable suggestions

ReMind has a library break suggestions that are healthy and fun to take the pressure off of users to plan what to do on their own. Users can quickly save break activities to their favorites or draw from the ReMind Suggestions, which are learned from the user's past activity. Users also have the ability to add custom entries

Trends and stats that help personalize your journey

Users can access a backlog of their past activity and valuable insights and analysis that lets them identify patterns, habits and what makes a good break for them.

flexible timer and a post-break check-in

Once the user activates the break via push notification, ReMind provides them with a timer to keep them on schedule. The user has the opportunity to extend, shorten, reschedule and cancel the break - all of which will be captured in Trends so they can plan better next time.

Once the break is complete, the user can fill out an optional Mood Check form, which lets them track how they felt after taking the break and better enable them to see what kinds of breaks work the best for them.

the final product

last thoughts and next steps

I had a lot of fun creating ReMind. It took a lot of personal reflection on my own lifestyle and ways I would like to improve my work flow to not only be more productive, but make sure I'm taking care of myself. My challenge here was to create an effective MVP in a short time frame, but there are so many opportunities for further development that I'd love to explore, such as more development of the brand visuals and logo, making interactions I imagined come to life, and expanding upon features like Morning and Night routines.

Good things happening here...
Good things happening here...