User Experience & Product Design



A Therapy Companion Application


The Challenge

Design a gamified application to elicit behavior change through sustained use.


Ponder is a mobile application for daily self-reflection and externalization of emotions. It is designed to be used alongside professional therapy sessions to help patients make the most of their time during and between appointments. Ponder provides unique ways of setting goals, monitoring emotions, visualizing progress and documenting personal reflections for reference in subsequent sessions.

The Timeline

7 weeks

The Team

Mai Bouchet
Chelsea Braun
Emi MacLeod


PopCap/EA Games


Primary and Secondary Research, Competitive Assessment
Wireframes, Interaction Flow, User Journey Map, Storyboards
Conceptual Models, Iterative low-high Fidelity Prototypes, Interactive Prototype
Video Walkthrough, Final Presentation & Slides

Ponder Click through


A seven week Studio Project with a focus on ideation technique and process.




Human Psychology and Games

Our research began with understanding of game design behavioral theory, we asked ourselves some questions: 

What attracts users to games? What keeps them returning? & What provides users meaning? 

Essential game elements must be present to capture attention, enrich user experience and provide meaning. In an effort to design from a holistic and human-centered approach we prioritized notions of personal attitude, belief of skill and ability, reinforcement, internal and external motivators and societal influence as we progressed.




Competitive assessment

Analysis of data from various behavior modification games and apps provided insight into current market trends; activation vs. retention rates, purpose & gratification, risk vs. reward, user burden & incentivization techniques.

Quantified Self; in the form of life-logging and personal metric tracking, are prominent methods for motivating and incentivizing behavior change for health and fitness related goals. Many such apps have a high user burden; either time investment, cognitive load, or required wearable technologies are common barriers. Though initial user adoption is often high, so is the drop-off rate within the first 6-8 months of use. 

We believe that motivation is personal, and intrinsic and more than just numbers. We directed our research toward Psychotherapy and Behavioral Theory to better understand modification techniques where quality is the measure of success rather than quantity. 



the PsychoTHerapy GAP

Our concept was inspired by our topic of research.

As we dove in we discovered that individuals seek therapy to for a variety of reasons; to improve emotional health, learn coping skills or navigate major life changes. We also found that many practicing counselors and psychologists, especially those who practice cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), assign  'homework' to patients between sessions; because, similar to any other skill, growth takes regular, committed work. However, patients repeatedly express that they find it difficult to commit to therapy goals amongst the chaos of daily life, effectively stunting optimal growth.

A design opportunity became salient, it was clear that patients weren't forgoing this 'homework' intentionally, but needed a resource to help them do it better. After numerous ideation sessions, group and focused critique, we began prototyping. 

I always feel great after a counseling session, but then I immediately forget what I am supposed to work on.
— Anonymous


How might we encourage a regular and sustained practice
of self-reflection and externalization between therapy sessions with
 minimal burden of time and effort? 



We practiced several ideation methods, from thumbnail sketching and group brainstorming to mash-ups.





  • Visualization- As our concepts evolved and became more refined, storyboarding allowed us to visually predict and explore a user’s experience with a product.
  • Memorability. As we integrated concepts into these 'illustrated use cases' they became unique as they naturally gained their own identities. 
  • Empathy. Storyboarding ing helped us share our concepts for critique within a context that everyone could see and relate to. 
  • Engagement. These same stories helped us capture attention the of peers and potential users and establish purpose for their interaction.


User FLow Diagram



WireFrames: Patient View

Morning Check-In:

  • Document mood, add descriptive words from a pre-populated list.
  • Choose a goal from drop-down list as your focus for the day.


Activity Log Screens:

  • Review or edit daily moods and goals.
  • Access your profile, view history.
  • Visualize progress over time via bottom navigation menu.


Evening Check-In:

  • Reflect on daily goal completion, and document mood each evening.




Evening Reflection:   

  • Enter a personal reflection daily. Document thoughts between therapy sessions.
  • With each completed reflection receive a token item to populate your virtual world.
  • Visualize your progress over time as your world is populate with these items.


wireframes: Therapist View


Patients, Data and Appointments:

  • Therapists can prepare forsessions by reviewing patient data & visualizing patient participation.
  • Track and plan appointments.

High Fidelity UI


Morning Check-In:

Document mood each morning using a faces scale. Add associated descriptive words from a pre-populated list to elaborate, or enter your own.

Choose a daily goal to stay on track from a list curated with your therapist.


Evening Check-In:

Document goal completion, record mood and add associated descriptive words each evening. 

Evening Reflection:   

Finally, complete the day by journaling a personal reflection, add a voice recording or photos. 

With each completed reflection receive an item to populate your virtual world. Visualize your progress over time as your world grows. Use the Date Slider Bar to see history of you world.

Reference your reflections in upcoming therapy sessions to improve recall of daily events and make the most of your time.


Ponder Next Steps.png

Next Steps

Moving forward we would conduct prototype testing with various designs and would-be users. We'd like the opportunity to gain feedback from a variety of people on the user experience. With more time we would also like to build out customizability of avatars and design multiple virtual environments and interactive components.