Mindfulmates cover photo


3 months (October - December 2022)


Hawa Ali Drammeh

Yerim Heo

Katelyn Mei


Figma, Blender

My Contribution

Ideation, User Research, Storyboarding, Prototyping, and Usability Testing.

Problem Statement

Poor communication can lead to misunderstandings, conflicts, and frustrations that may render one’s relationship unhealthy.‍

Solution at a glance


MindfulMates is a pair of palm-sized robots that allow people in relationships to have an easy and entertaining way to communicate to each other how they are feeling even when they are not physically together.‍‍


Mindfulmates check-in


Mindfulmates take time off

Who are we competing with?


I did extensive research on existing products and found one that has the most similar idea to ours: Lovebox




While Lovebox appears to be similar to MindfulMates on the first glance, it does not address the problem of poor communication, that is, couples having difficulty communicating to each other how they are feeling right now.


Lovebox is an interactive and creative messaging device whereas MindfulMates is a product that addresses poor communication by creating good check-in and conflict response habits.

User Research


Before designing a solution, we hoped to understand how poor communication arises in couples’ daily interactions. We decided to conduct surveys and interviews on people who are/were in a relationship between the ages of 18-30. We gathered a total of 100 survey responses and completed 6 user interviews.


Research Questions


Research Insights:

Based on our survey and interview results, we found the following three insights:‍

  1. Poor communication and misunderstanding are the most common cause of conflicts
    • Some common examples of poor communication and misunderstanding between couples that we saw from the user research are: failing to validate their partner’s feelings, having different expectations from their partner, and misinterpreting what their partner meant.
  2. Online communication is confusing
    • Many couples reported that conflicts happen more online because it is harder to read the tone of the other while texting.
  3. Shutting down / stonewalling‍
    • The common theme we see among couples is shutting down / stonewalling to their partner after a conflict. Many couples just want to take a break and reflect before they can address the problem with their partner. Taking time off to reflect is a healthy way to address problems, but many couples try to do that by shutting down / stonewalling without informing their partners first. This can lead to even more frustrations for the other side.

Who are our users


Although we gained a lot of insights from our user research, the question we still needed to answer was:‍


Who is really going to benefit from our design?


‍Using the results from our interviews and surveys, we created two User Personas that represent our target audience and their needs:

Sarah and Sam persona Lily and Poppy persona


User Persona (PDF)

Paper Prototype


With our two main goals in mind, 1. Checking in with your partner and 2. Telling your partner you need some time off, we first started implementing our design through paper prototyping. This is a fast and easy way for us to get feedback and improve upon our design early in the process.


p1 p2 p3 p4 p5 p6 p7 p8 p9 p10

Usability Testing and Design Iterations


We then conducted usability testing with both our classmates, who are familiar with design principles, and participants from our previous interview. We found that there were four main pain points from the paper prototype:‍

We examined the pain points and made revisions, which are reflected on the digital mockup, in accordance to Three of Nielsen’s 10 Heuristics: User Control & Freedom, Visibility of System Status, and Consistency & Standards.

Final Prototype (Digital Mockup)


Prototype Overview:


prototype overview


Sending different messages to your partner:


emoji only color only emoji with color voice only voice with color emoji, voice, and color



View Clickable Prototype



Take Time Off Your Partner:


Turn off take time off mode


Turn on take time off mode



View Clickable Prototype



On our last day of class, we had a poster session where we pitched our projects to designers and researchers from the University of Washington, Allen Institute for AI, Google, and Polis.


mindfulmates pitching



This project is probably the most fun and interesting project I have ever done. The problem we addressed was quite abstract, one that was out of my comfort zone and knowledge. It took both my amazing teammates and I significant effort to bring our project to fruition. But in the end, our hard work paid off. Of all the 16 teams in the class, we were awarded the Best Overall Design by the invited researchers and designers 🎉🎉🎉

If there was more time, I would like to....


  1. Spend more time conducting user research. While the data we got from the survey were valuable, I wished I could have reached out to more survey respondents and asked them follow-up questions based on their answers.
  2. Introduce more interactions to the physical robot, such as being able to pat or handshake the robot. This way, couples can feel even more connected with each other by interacting with the robot and not just the app.

Lessons I learned.......


  1. Quantity > Quality‍
    • During the ideation phase, it is very important to explore and sketch out as many diverse solutions as possible in order to avoid design fixation. Instead of focusing on the quality, we focused more on the quantity of the solutions. We were able to come up with 28 unique solutions through Attribute Listings.
  2. Parallel Designing
    • After the ideation phase, we narrowed down all of our 28 solutions and chose the best three. We worked on those three solutions concurrently up until the paper prototyping phase. I learned that this is an extremely useful practice as it allowed for us to compare and contrast the designs and determine which one was the most effective at addressing the problem.
  3. Mental Block
    • In the beginning, I often found myself debating with ideas in my own head before I even had the chance to write it down and discuss them with my peers. I believe that it is a good approach to write down all the ideas and questions you have and go through them one by one instead of keeping everything in your head. Doing so will free up the space in your head and allow you to have more room to think clearly and creatively.


Thank you so much for reading!