TRUE NORTH



True North is a wellbeing app for professionals to record and track their work experiences. As individuals, they can track how they felt physically, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually during a project. This gives them an overall understanding of what worked and what could be improved.

As Anne Frank puts it, "whoever is happy will make others happy too.” Thus, the aim of the app is to help individuals lead a fulfilling professional life by aligning with their true north and inspire others too.

RESEARCH AND DISCOVERY

Conception 
As a young freelancer, I struggled balancing business with creativity. As a result, I was under constant stress. I often wondered what constituted to maintaining professional well-being. This became my topic of research for the project.

Desk Research
I. Write Annie Dillard famously quoted, “How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.” On an average we spend about a third of our lives working. Thus, it is safe to say that our work plays a crucial role in our lives.

II. After Covid-19, there has been a surge in mental health app downloads. The design community has been proactively talking about prioritising mental health and supporting each other through online platforms such as Quora, Medium, Linkedin etc.

III. A research paper by Figma in 2022 talked about having honest conversations about our creative jobs and surveyed many designers by asking about what made them happy. Most designers valued practising their values more than their paycheck in the long run.

Competitive And Analogous Research
This research consisted of understanding factors that cause wellbeing and their relationship with apps designers use. 

A research paper published in Berkeley stated that there are five main parameters that cause wellbeing, namely, physical, emotional, social, intellectual and spiritual. Tending to any of these adds to wellbeing in an indivdual’s life. 

In the diagram, the apps on the right (without circles) are popularly classified ashealth and wellbeing apps. However, in this research I realised that when analysed through the 5 wellbeing parameters all apps cause some sort of wellbeing. It  is the core essence of all our work.  For instance, Skillshare, the app for learning skills not only causes intellectual wellbeing but also social and spiritual wellbeing.
User Interviews
After an extensive understanding of the topic and the market, I set up qualitative research interviews with seven industry experts aka senior designers with 15+ years of experience. The choice to recruit these interviewees was to figure if there were any similar patterns to their approach to wellness, overcoming blocks along with what they did to sustain it.

I realised that while they had personal coping mechanisms, but “recognising ” the block was the first step for all and then “responding” rather than reacting to it came next. 
Key Insights
Here are the five key insights synthesised from these interviews.
Lo-fi Prototypes
After gathering all my findings and synthesizing the research, I framed three how might we questions and sketched various concepts as my lo-fi prototypes. Then, tested these ideas via user inteviews.



HMW 1
How might we support designers by creating actionable tools to help present themsleves/their studios with more and certainity?

Solutions
Apps that help with 
- pricing 
- building a portfolio
- building all kinds of skills 
- drafting a contract
- creating a project scope

Tested with
3 x mid level freelancers
3 x recent graduate designers
4 x senior designers

Responses
“This (scope tracker) seems extremely valuable” 
- mid level freelancer

“I like this but I would rather just hire someone to make a contract”
- mid level freelancer

“I think all of these already exist”
- senior designer
HMW 2
How might we help designers cultivate well balanced habits so that they recognise and advance their professional and personal needs?

Solutions
Apps that help with:
- note taking (for work and emotional support)
- reframing (therapist and problem solving giude)
- mindful work
- alignment (aligning with work values)

Tested with
3 x mid level freelancers
3 x recent graduate designers
4 x senior designers

Responses
“This is not unique or exciting”
- mid level freelancer

“When sad or unhappy, I don’t want an app to console me”
- mid level freelancer

“These are confusing, I don’t think I would use this”
- recent graduate

“Designers like to create stuff not set goals”
- senior designer
HMW 3
How might we help designers recognise as well as practice alignment with their professional goals?

Solution
App that asks questions for users to re-evaluate their work decisions

Tested with
2 x mid level freelancers
2 x recent graduate designers
2 x senior designers

Responses
“I need this, I love this. Sometimes a nudge in the right direction is enough”
- recent graduate

“This makes me think and I like that”
- senior designer

“ I think 50 is too many questions, I am willing to answer 7”
- mid level freelancer
Analysis
After the user testing on the lo-fi prototypes, the third prototype, “Questions App” concept was well recieved by all the user groups. Thus, I chose to go ahead with that.

On reflection, I also realised how each of the apps catered to different well-being parameters. But I had a full circle moment when I realised that the chosen idea, aka the “Questions App” potentially checked all wellbeing buckets. Thus, I moved this design to mid-fi prototype.
Mid-fi Prototype for the Questions App
This mid-fi prototype was more text based version of my lo-fi idea.

Tested with
2 x mid level freelancers
2 x recent graduate designers
2 x senior designers

Responses
“I like the visual aid from previous version”
- mid level freelancer

“I like flowers but it is cheesy”
- senior designer

“I love these questions”
- senior designer, recent graduate, mid level freelancer

On synthesising user responses, it was clear that designers were leaning towards visuals rather than a text based app.
System Map
Next, I drew a system map. The True North 1.0 app consists of the MVP i.e. the quiz and results. 

Alongside this, onboarding was extremely important for users to understand how to use the app.

True North

Introducing the mobile app, True North with a mission to help professionals evolve with intention.
Hero Journey
Meet Krits, our hero and here is a walk-through of her True North App journey.





Reflections
This project was challenging in terms of understanding mental models. Making people reflect on their life without it feeling like a chore and with a sense of excitement was tricky. But this is what made the project interesting to solve for as well. 

However, it was exciting to develop the visual concept for the app. The arrows felt like a fresh take on a wellness app.  

Here are some stills form the app followed by ideas for True North 2.0.