Tools: Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Experience Design (Xd), Adobe Photoshop
A mobile app created to assist in the preparation of end-of-life plans and to facilitate the communication of them to survivors after death.
Recently I had a close family member pass away suddenly and they left no will or instructions for settling their affairs. It was an emotional and stressful situation and one thought kept going through my mind. If only they had left some sort of plan or discussed their last wishes with someone, things would have been much easier on those of us who were left to settle their affairs.
I came up with an idea for a mobile application that would assist people with preparing and documenting of their end-of-life plans and last wishes. They could use it at their own pace, working on topics when or where ever the mood arose. And the app would make it easy to share those stored plans and wishes with surviving loved ones after their demise. This app would have two types of users — the planner and selected survivors given permission to access the plans upon the planner’s death. In essence, the app would provide the planner peace of mind that when the end comes, their trusted confidants will be able to fulfill their last requests and answer the larger question — “Will you Do Right By Me?”
Research & Discovery
I conducted competitive research to review and compare existing mobile apps and online sites in the relevant marketplace in August 2016. I found a few existing competitors, but most were offering different means of engaging their users. There was one with a web application with a subscription model and another that used an online questionnaire to customize PDF planning documents they would send you to fill out and keep as hardcopy. There were mobile apps, but most were broken and non-functional or didn't offer any guidance in preparing end-of-life plans. My research showed that there is room for a mobile app that provides spur-of-the-moment contemplation and guidance for end-of-life planning.
Primary User Feature Set
For the primary user, the Planner, the application will be both a collector and a secure receptacle for their plans and last wishes. It also will be a means of requesting and empowering trusted individuals to carry out those plans after their gone.
1. End-of-Life plan development through step-by-step questionnaires guiding user through common topics and concerns.
2. Recording those plans and support materials in a secure and encrypted cloud database for future retrieval.
3. Creation of list of trusted individuals and managing their access to the collected information.
Secondary User Feature Set
For the secondary users, the application will put the mind at ease by assisting them in the carrying out their deceased loved one’s plans and wishes.
1. Confirmation of death of primary user by 2+ predetermined secondary users (aka “confidants”) and the unlocking of data.
2. Viewing of deceased’s plans and wishes based on their assigned level of access.
3. Facilitating the carrying out of the deceased’s plans (prioritization of tasks, creation of check-lists, etc.).
Created some low- and medium-fidelity wireframes to explore key feature screens and primary user processes.
Prototyping & Preliminary Usability Testing
A preliminary prototype was created in Adobe Xd from hi-fi mockup images to test with a group of users who matched the targeted demographic. The goal was to test ease of use and whether the testers saw value in the concept. The secondary goal was to gauge the app's visual design and tone. The prototype was limited to the following: launch intro screens leading into sign in process; the home screen; the adding of confidants to the planner's account; and the step-by-step questionnaire for funerary plans.
User Testing of Preliminary Prototype
User test responses indicate a positive reaction to the concept and real interest in using such an application for end-of-life planning for themselves, their family, and friends. There were a couple of survey responses that pointed out a few functional short-comings in the prototype's design.
Key User Survey Responses
“I just don't know how my confidants will access the information required, if it is stored on an app on a locked phone/tablet.” and a user wanted "The choice to sync my data to the cloud or only store it locally." There’s a need to clarify how/where data is stored and how confidants will gain access — both set-up of permissions and post-mortem.
"Home screen icons seem to blend in too much and need to stand out more..." There's a need to increase contrast/visual separation of topic icons from the rest of the home screen.
“Target young people who will create their own and then help their parents; as age increases, attraction toward using apps decreases.” This is a good suggestion. Having younger users sign up and then assist their aging parents and elders in creating their plans would increase the effectiveness of the app.
Changes Made Based On User Prototype Testing
• Added to the Create Account screen a toggle on/off switch for syncing data to a cloud storage system thereby showing explicitly where data will be stored either locally or to the cloud.
• Added accent colors to the icons on the Home screen to differentiate and put more emphasis on them.
• Added question number titles to the funerary planning pages to match the list page.
User testing responses indicate a positive reaction to the concept and with many having a real interest in using such an application for end-of-life planning for themselves, their family, and friends. This mobile application is currently still in the ideation phase of development. I intend to flesh out the sections and plan further functionality in the future. The hope is that this app will eventually reach the MVP stage and I'll find funding for its complete development.