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 McLeod


PopCap/EA Games


  • Primary and Secondary Research, Competitive Assessment
  • Wireframes, Interaction Flow, User Journey Map, Storyboard
  • Paper Prototypes, Hi-Fidelity Interactive Prototype
  • Video Walkthrough and Final Presentation Slides


We followed an accelerated 7 week design process
with a focus on ideation for this studio project.


Elements of a Game


Human Psychology and Games

To develop an understanding of behavioral theory and game design; we asked ourselves some questions: What draws people to games? What keeps them returning? and What provides them meaning? 

We  gained important knowledge of essential game elements, risk verses reward, and internal and external motivators. In an effort to design from a holistic and human-centered approach we focused on notions of personal attitude, skills, beliefs, reinforcement and societal influence.



Competitive assessment

Data from various current behavior modification applications allowed us to analyze market trends, including user adoption, retention, burden verses payoff and incentivization techniques.

We found Quantified Self; life-logging, personal informatics and personal metrics, to be prominent methods for tracking and incentivizing behavior change, often related to health and fitness goals. These require diary keeping or consistent use of wearable technology to capture quantitative data. Despite impressive initial user adoption, wearable technologies see a high drop-off rate within the first 6-8 months of use. We believe that motivation comes from more than just numbers these methods lack deeper meaning for some. 

We directed our research toward Psychotherapy to better understand behavioral modification techniques where quality is the measure of success rather than quantity. 

Competitive Analysis



the THerapy GAP

Individuals seek therapy to improve emotional health, learn coping skills and navigate major life changes. Many practicing psychologists and therapists, especially those who practice cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), assign  'homework' to patients between sessions; similar to any other skill, progress takes regular, committed work. Patients, however, find it difficult to keep these goals in focus amongst 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. 



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



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

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



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, and visualize progress via the bottom navigation menu.


Evening Check-In:

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




Evening Reflection:   

Enter a personal reflection daily to document thoughts between therapy sessions.

With each completed reflection receive an item to populate your virtual world. Visualize your progress over time as your world grows.


wireframes: Therapist View


Patients, Data and Appointments:

Therapists can prepare for upcoming sessions by staying by reviewing patient data visualizing patient participation and 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.