LifeWeb is building a platform to support communities grieving a loss. They want to help people capture, curate, and preserve memories of their loved ones.
Figma, Google Docs, Pen & Paper
3 one-week Sprints
UX Designer, Researcher
Current State Documentation, Competitive Analysis, Persona, Site Map, Concepts, Task Flows, Wireframes, Prototype
LifeWeb presented my team of 4 designers with the challenge of understanding the most effective ways to present and preserve memories of a departed loved one in a supportive and respectful space. They wanted to understand how to best capture individuals stories and the media needed to commemorate, as well as how users would engage with the platform and whether they would continue to engage as time passed.
Understanding Grief and the Current Market
Keeping the challenge presented to us in mind, we set out to understand the landscape, so that we could comprehend what users are going through while grieving as well as what sources are provided to them online for their current commemorating needs.
The Grieving Process
The grieving process is different for everyone. There is no one way to grieve and no set timeline in which grieving starts or stops. Each person goes through the different stages of grief and experiences different emotions at different times.
Grieving on the internet is complicated. It can feel uncomfortable or somewhat insensitive for people to process or post about grief on the internet. However, people do use the internet to come together in support of one another.
Current Commemorating Competitors
We chose to focus on three direct competitors Forever Missing, Gathering Us, and Good Mourning. All three provided a place to go around the time of a person’s death in order to commemorate the person and provide information about the funeral. The three indirect competitors Facebook, Lifecake, and Weeva, were not necessarily focused on the death of a person, however they provided a place to store memories in an environment with varying levels of privacy.
Identifying the Opportunity
What Others Are Lacking
Based on our analysis of these competitors we found that Forever Missed, Gathering Us, and Good Mourning all have more of a focus on the death of someone. Their profiles look more like an obituary than a commemoration. Facebook provides a space for people to commemorate as well, but it is highly public. On the contrary, although not focused on death, LifeCake and Weeva offer a more private space to store memories.
What LifeWeb Can Provide
We saw an opportunity for LifeWeb to provide a space that celebrates the life of the departed in a private site that supports the community that is processing the loss.
Talking to Users & Gathering Insights
After understanding the opportunity space, we reached out to 10 users, and 3 SME's to begin gathering insights. We went in with specific objective and assumptions.
To understand more about their individual grieving processes
If they are comfortable sharing on an online platform
How they would engage with an online platform over time after a loved one has passed
Users would have difficulty navigating a grief site
They preferred a private digital space as opposed to a public platform
Users don’t want to talk about or engage with a platform to process their grief
What We Asked
What is your experience with grief/ losing a loved one?
How did you commemorate your loved one?
Have you used commemorating sites in the past?
Have you used social media to grieve or commemorate?
Do you want a public or private platform?
What We Learned
Users want a private platform and to be able to decide who can be a part of the platform. They are not very public people so they want to be able to choose the community they share with.
Users told us of their experience with grief and no two people processed grief the same. They process at different paces and in their own time, most preferring to do that privately. Some also noted that they may not want to be active on a memorial site immediately after losing someone.
Most users had a negative connotation associated with social media and sharing grief. They felt it was too public to share something so personal and vulnerable. Many also noted that they were not active on social media at the time their loved one passed away.
User expressed that photos were the biggest part of saving memories, whether they be physical or digital. Many told stories about sharing photos on social media, and also collecting photos to display at the funeral and to hold on to after.
Overall, users wanted to be able to focus on the life lived, and celebrate that life with photos, memories, and stories from different points of their loved one’s life. They wanted to understand what that person was like at a point in their life when they might not have known them.
Synthesizing Our Research
Based off of our insights, we created a problem statement, design principles, and persona. The problem statement helped us to define who the grieving user is and what they need in their time of loss, while our design principles outlined the main goals of the platform with those grieving users in mind. Our persona helped us understand the different emotions someone experiences when they lose a loved one.
In creating our problem statement, we scoped in to focus on the major trends in our research which included users wanting a private and inclusive platform, and how the grieving process is different for everyone.
The emotionally-overwhelmed bereaver wants a way to feel supported in remembering the life of a deceased loved one through a private, close-knit online community of people who knew the deceased so that they can keep their memories alive and process their loss on their own time.
Providing a digital platform that honors the lives our users lost
Every instruction and notification is mindful of the user’s current state
Approachable to a diverse family and friend circle so collaboration can be encouraged
Lighting a path for users to share the legacy of a life lost
Our Persona, Michelle
I don't remember much from the wake and the funeral. It was just kind of overwhelming.
About Michelle: Michelle recently lost a close friend of hers, Eric, who she grew up with. The grieving process is especially difficult for her, because there is a lot of distance separating her and her community who also knew Eric. She needs a way for her community to come together to honor the life of her loved one and find comfort and peace through stories, photos and other media.
Michelle's Needs: She needs way to keep her lost loved one alive with shared memories, a way to feel supported by her community in time of loss, and a way to share and interact with memories on her own time.
Michelle's Frustrations: Michelle feels frustrated because sharing grief on public social media platforms is too personal. She is overwhelmed with the logistics after someone dies and feels that reminders of deceased loved ones such as birthdays can be triggering.
Michelle's Motivations: Michelle wants to carry on the legacy of the friend that she lost and inspire others with memories of her loved one. She also wants to feel close to the family and friends of her deceased loved one.
Ideating to Find a Potential Solution
Keeping our design principles, and persona in mind, we created several concepts to address the problem at hand.
This concept provided a way for users to view memories of a loved one who’s passed in book format.
Overall, this concept was the most well received. Users said it gave them a sense of nostalgia and like it could truly tell someone’s story. They liked that they could add photos, when sometimes words are difficult. It also felt personal and customizable for them. It addressed the idea of really focusing on the life of the person who passed, instead of their death.
The second concept provided a way for users to seek support after a loved one passes.
Users felt that this could help to normalize talking about grief and getting support and felt It also gave people options for a place to go if they feel like they don’t have somewhere to turn. They could seek comfort by reaching out for support, or use the photos from prior concepts to feel joy on the days that are most difficult. It allowed them to begin moving forward in order to begin commemorating their loved one.
Share Your Favorite Memory
This concept provided users with a may to add and share memories of a loved one.
Users liked that the prompt helped them spark memories and reflect on a loved one’s life, and they liked how they could upload different types of content at the same time. A lot of users also saw this concept working in conjunction with others as a way to upload content.
Diving Deeper into the Organization of the Site
We knew that moving forward, the direction we needed to go in was the digital scrapbook, however we still needed to dive into the organization of the platform. We had to comprehend how different users would experience it based on their preferences and the insight we received on the need for privacy. Users liked that there could be collaboration, however they wanted to know that they ultimately had control over who could see their content. We needed to understand the different lenses users would view the platform from, and how they could see different groups of uploaded content.
We used an ideation technique called charrettes to quickly brainstorm what that organization would look like. We ultimately landed on breaking the scrapbook into sections, so that users can create and add content, but also have the option to hide other sections, by just selecting one. Creating sections would allow users to share memories related to a certain part of their loved ones life. We also decided to include tagging within the platform to allow users to further organize content.
To gain an understanding of the main site task flows, we conducted a role playing activity. As my teammate moderated, I acted as a potential user to explore how someone like Michelle might navigate our proposed solution.
Viewing the Book
Creating the Solution
Once we had a clear understanding of the organization and the main flows, we took to Figma to begin creating our wireframes. I identified what the main visual components of the screen needed to be and ultimately created the main screen where users could access all of the features of the platform. We used the digital scrapbook concept as a base and incorporated the share a memory concept to allow the upload of different media.
Users are able to upload different forms of content
In preparing for usability testing, we developed questions related to the usability and functionality of the product, and also concept based questions to learn more about what users wanted to see on the site. We included questions about features like tagging, viewing the scrapbook in different forms, and the process of inviting others.
Feedback & Refining the Design
The majority of our feedback centered around the following features.
When asked about tagging, users noted that they weren’t opposed to it, however they wanted it to be hidden so that it wouldn't distract from the memories. They also wanted to be able to search those tags, so they could find content related to specific topics.
Users also said that they wanted control over who had edit access and who had viewing access for LifeWeb.
Users liked that they could see all of the pages in quilt view. It gave them a birds eye view, so they didn’t have to go searching through page by page.
Users also liked that they could see activity happening within the LifeWeb, however when asked how often they would come back to view activity and to view the book in general users said their engagement was related to their relationship with the person who passed.
Based on that feedback we made the following changes:
Tags were hidden under content
Users could change edit and view access
Click below to view a walkthrough of our final prototype from the perspective of our persona Michelle:
Providing LifeWeb with Future Recommendations & Considerations
Due to the scope and time allotted for this project, there were some aspects of the product that my team didn’t have the opportunity to tackle. We see a lot of opportunity for LifeWeb to continue to do more research and testing on the following items.
Implementing the prompted note from the share a memory concept to create a more supportive platform with language
Further test tagging and understanding how users view it
Understand how users would like to see audio and video content
Further test terminology such as “scrapbook”, “quilt”, “activity”, and “tags”
Brainstorm and test new views aside from the current view
Test permissions of allowing contributors to edit and view
Although the topic presented to us in this project was difficult and emotional, I am extremely grateful to have had to the opportunity to work with this client. I was really rewarding to work on a product that could greatly impact the lives of others in such a positive way, during such a difficult time in their life.
This project also gave me to opportunity to exercise my leadership skills. I acted as the main point person for contacting the client and all interviewees, and also had the opportunity to lead many group discussions and activities. I am thankful for my teammates who provided me with the space to do that.