Major Project - Solace
University of Portsmouth
This self initiated project was part of my final major project module at the University of Portsmouth. We were given the opportunity to select an area of study that interests us, conduct substantial research into it and transform and resolve this research into a successful outcome.
The chosen theme for my major project is memory. I was particularly drawn to this area due to the extraordinary role memory plays in our ability to learn and recall lived experiences - sensations, emotions, and feelings. Without memory there can be no mind. The vulnerability of memory has also been highlighted to me over the years, through my family’s first hand experience with Dementia, a social crisis which demands an ethical and innovative design thinking approach.
Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe the loss of cognitive function, worldwide around 50 million people have Dementia, and this number is ever increasing. Dementia is a major cause of disability and dependency among older people worldwide. Carers for those with Dementia often feel overwhelmed, stressed and alone, with little support or guidance easily available. Without intervention ‘the silent crisis’ of caregiver stress and depression will cost lives.
From my research, I identified that caregivers of those with Dementia generally feel overwhelmed, anxious, stressed and depressed. Whilst there is support available they often don’t know how to access it, struggle with the guilt of letting outsiders in or don’t have the time for the vast amounts of paper work involved. There is also a clear need for caregivers to balance their time between care giving and themselves, with self care often being cast aside in favour of other commitments.
UX/UI Design, Branding & Identity, Copywriting, Motion Design
Solace is an app for informal Dementia caregivers, providing users with the opportunity to manage stress and anxiety as well as find a sense of community, seeking support and reassurance from like minded people and specifically tailored podcasts. Users can learn about self care techniques, receive daily affirmations and practice mindfulness sessions, finding balance between their caring responsibilities and themselves.
I identified the opportunity for a mobile application, generating user journeys to consider what mobile features would best support my persona’s throughout their day. Through creating a digital and portable solution the barriers associated with traditional support are mitigated, enabling caregivers to easily: strengthen their knowledge, connect with like minded people, and get reassurance.
The solace app provides users with daily affirmations - positive statements which help to strengthen the self-worth of caregivers and encourage them to carry on through their struggles. By regular practicing affirmations, caregivers can rewire their brains and break free of the negative or self-sabotaging thoughts, instead looking for the positives, helping them to be happier, healthier and more energised, and therefore more effective at providing the care their loved one needs.
The solace community enables users to connect with like-minded people in a safe, accessible space, where any Dementia caregiver can receive advice and valuable support, day or night. Content in the ‘for you’ tab is tailored to the user based on their location, needs and preferences, whilst the popular tab encourages caregivers to take part in discussions which are currently happening. Users can join their favourite communities, post content, comment on posts and ask questions.
The schedule feature of the solace app enables users to keep track of their caregiving responsibilities and life commitments whilst simultaneously encouraging the practice of self-care. Solace does this by automatically scheduling in time for self-care around the users schedule, encouraging them to take time to prioritise their own well-being too. The schedules sessions are short in length further encouraging the user to take part.
The solace app enables users to get support and information through the library feature which is packed full of relevant podcasts and mindfulness sessions, enabling users to reduce stress and anxiety and increase their understanding on caregiving. Users can search for content based on their current emotions, enabling them to tailor support easily to their needs.
The solace app has accessibility settings built in to ensure that all users can have an equivalent user experience without barriers. The accessibility features, consider a broad range of issues including: age, literacy level and language. For instance the user has the ability to change the size of the text, accommodating sight issues.
The name Solace is reflective of the caring nature of the app and the comfort it brings users in times of distress or sadness. The slogan ‘caring about caregivers’ works with this, helping to drive the caring aspect but also highlighting my intended audience. The identity for solace builds on this further. The use of circular shapes signifying warmth, comfort and community, key aspects which my application brings to my users. Circles are are also very relaxing and soothing in nature, making the shape suitable for the mindfulness focus of Solace.
A campaign would run alongside the launch of the solace app to promote its features to the intended audience - Dementia caregivers. The campaign would be primarily digital to reflect the nature of the solution, although some physical material such as flyers would be produced to have a high impact on my users and target them in more traditional areas such as the doctors surgery.
The promotional material has been designed to be cohesive with the solace visual identity, using the same colour scheme, typography, and shapes, aiding in brand recognition and therefore user trust. The copywriting on the promotional material is warm and welcoming in approach, whilst also clear and informative, reflecting the tone of voice of the Solace app.