Case Study:


Moodmirror is a native mobile mood log that demystifies the relationship between a user’s mind and body.

How can tracking patterns in physical and mental health help millennials develop better habits?

Written by Kelly Schairer


The Product

Moodmirror is an iOS application targeted at millenials, particularly women, that prompts users to create daily logs that track their mood, energy levels, and sleep schedule. Users will receive personalized recommendations on how to improve their physical and mental health based on an algorithmic analysis of the data they choose to share with the application through their daily logs.

The Team

I worked alongside 2 other UX designers to design this mobile product. As a team, we recruited a total of 14 prospective users for interviews and usability tests in addition to the 4 subject matter experts we interviewed for insight on the problem space.

A unique challenge of this project was that one member of my was living in London throughout our working relationship while the other two of us resided in New York City. The time zone difference required us to be very methodical and flexible with our scheduling, with both parties willing to work earlier or later in the day than they might typically prefer. We also got into the habit of leaving detailed text logs of our progress over Slack and Google Docs to ensure that each team member would be able to pick up work with a full understanding of where the others left off.

In order to operate smoothly as a team, we conducted a variety of ideation and synthesis workshops. Most notably, we conducted affinity diagram sessions after each round of user interviews and leveraged a series of 6-8-5 sessions to rapidly ideate and establish divergent concepts.

Timeline and Tools

My design team completed this project in 6 weeks. We utilized Sketch, Invision, and G Suite as our primary tools throughout the project and also used Zoom, Miro, and Slack to communicate and ideate remotely.

My Role

UX Writing

I was instrumental in the composition of long-form written deliverables including a domain research findings brief and the usability test report. I also made significant contributions to shorter-form writing tasks including the user persona and design principles.

User Interviews

I recruited prospective users that fit the product’s target audience and also moderated interviews, subject matter expert interviews, and usability test sessions with recruited participants.

Wireframing and Prototyping

I played a key role in the process of wireframing key screens and alternate screen states, and I also took the lead of assembling a prototype of the design that simulated key interactions and task flows. Additionally, I contributed heavily to revisions on both the wireframes and the prototype in response to insights gathered during usability testing.

Usability Testing

I moderated usability test sessions for the prototype iteration and made significant contributions to data analysis for the usability test report, including categorizing individual points of qualitative feedback into usability heuristics and synthesizing that feedback with our quantitative data in order to compose recommendations for improvement.


Defining a Generation

How Do Millenials Approach Fitness and Wellness?

My team received a project brief from the perspective of a stakeholder interested in developing a service targeted at millenials to supplement non-traditional approaches to fitness and health.

The stakeholder’s preliminary research included the revelation that millenials are the most physically fit generation and further speculation suggested that this demographic was seeking alternative ways to stay happy, healthy, and active, with a diminished reliance on gym memberships in favor of a broader “fitness wallet” of various classes, specialized activity studios, and experiences rooted in risk-taking and adventure.

Stakeholder Goals

These were the specific objectives the stakeholder shared for what the design of this product should address and provide:

  • Appeal to the Millennial Mindset- The stakeholder was operating under the assumption that millennials approach fitness and wellness from a different mindset than the one generally accommodated by the digital marketplace. It was of particular interest for the design of this service to tap into the strong social identity, digital savviness, and cultivation of memorable, authentic experiences that define the millennial demographic.

  • Complement the “Wellness Wallet” - As a generation comfortable with implementing technology into their daily life, our millennial users would potentially already employ a variety of specialized digital services geared towards maintaining wellness. My team was to remain cognizant of this and develop a product that would offer something specific and fill a gap in that “wallet” (rather than attempt to develop an all-encompassing, catch-all service that users would be less likely to embrace).


Gathering Research Insights

Understanding the Domain

My team’s first step was to develop a thorough understanding of the project’s problem space by conducting research on the relationship millennials have with health and fitness. These were some of our most significant takeaways:

  • A 2019 Blue Cross Shield Report stated that millennials are seeing their health decline at a faster rate than Generation X, which can be attributed to “rapid upticks in conditions like depression, substance abuse, and hyperactivity”. The report also reveals that there is a broader health variability among millennial women, with women experiencing health declines related to hyperactivity and major depression at a much higher rate than their male counterparts.

  • Among the 3,000 American women surveyed for a 2017 Everyday Health Report on the state of women’s wellness, millennial respondents cited stress and anxiety as the primary inhibitor of their wellness goals, with body image and work-life balance following closely behind.

  • Millennials may be the fittest generation ever, but a 2015 article in Psychology Today suggests that prioritizing fitness can lead to the development of other unhealthy habits, particularly the development of a compensation mindset in which one is compelled to frame exercise as a punishment for poor diet or fluctuating weight. 

Narrowing our Scope

The findings of our domain research compelled my team to dig deeper into the mental and emotional aspects of wellness and the manner in which mental health issues can physically manifest in even the most active and nutritionally conscious millennials.

This domain research had also illuminated the role of gender in fitness ideals and goals. Moving forward, my team agreed to focus our research on the relationship that millenial women have with wellness in order to formulate more specific questions for our user research and ensure that the scope of our research and final design would successfully fulfill the stakeholder’s desire for a specialized service. 

Subject matter experts interviewed for insights on millennial wellness

Consulting the Experts

We felt as though we could more effectively understand our users by speaking to subject matter experts, who we defined as professional authorities on health and wellness working in both academic and public-facing occupations. We were interested in gathering insights on the discourse of millennial wellness within our target demographic from both a theoretical and material perspective.

We recruited and interviewed a total of 4 subject matter experts, including personal trainers and public health advocates. Here are a few crucial takeaways from these interviews that would heavily inform the direction of our design:

Mind-Body Connection

It is crucial to consider the “mind-body connection” when developing a product designed to supplement and encourage wellness through a physical fitness routine. Users will pursue physical wellness most enthusiastically when they are in high spirits.

Motivational Factors

Motivation, both external and internal, play a major role in an individual’s maintenance of a physical fitness routine. The design of a product that effectively encourages engagement in order to supplement physical activity will consider both.

Goal-Oriented Progress

A tech product that aims to guide or supplement an individual’s fitness routine will be most effective if designed with features that prioritize individual goals. This includes but may not be limited to establishing the user’s goals, reminding the user of their goals, and tracking goal progress.

The findings of these interviews aligned with the common theme of mindset and mental health playing a significant role in the fitness experience that had been established throughout our domain research--we felt confident we were heading in the right direction. 

Female millennial survey respondents

Surveying the Users

We conducted a user survey in order to cast a wider net of quantitative data on our base of prospective users to supplement and validate insights we’d later gather through user interviews.

53 millenial women who consider fitness and wellness to be a significant part of their life responded to our survey. Here’s what we learned from their responses:

  • Although over 70% of survey respondents stated that they already use at least one mobile app geared towards the maintenance of physical health, less than 40% of respondents used an app geared towards the maintenance of mental health

  • In response to survey questions regarding respondent’s mental and emotional attitude towards their fitness routine, 79% said they experience anxiety after missing a planned workout and 51% said they see exercise as a way to compensate for poor diet choices

  • When asked about the manner in which they track personal fitness goals and milestones, 51% of respondents said they regularly log some numerical metric measuring their fitness progress with their smartphone, with 21% of respondents using a tech wearable to track progress. 

Millenial women with non-traditional fitness routines recruited for user interviews

Understanding the Users

Our next step was to recruit and interview individuals who aligned with our user base criteria in order to gather insight on their goals, motivations, and frustrations of wellness-inclined millennials. We interviewed 8 millennial females with a non-traditional approach to fitness about the nature of their fitness routines, their relationship with mental health, and the manner in which these areas overlap and inform one another.

There were 4 major findings from the user interviews that would significantly inform the direction of our design:

Metric Tracking

Our users predominantly establish goals and measure progress through the logging and tracking of numeric metrics. These metrics include body weight, weight lifted, distance traveled, and heart rate, but appear to vary widely by user. All users we interviewed tracked metrics in some way, either through manual logging or use of teach wearables. These numerical figures provide a source of motivation and serve as concrete goals to work towards. 

Seeking Guidance

Most users we interviewed prefered to have their workout routine structured or guided by a third party, whether it be a personal trainer, a class instructor, or an instructional video. Interviewees explained that they do not always know how to effectively devise an exercise plan on their own. These users did express that they occasionally modify guided instructions to accommodate injuries, personal tastes, and current mood

Mental and Physical Burnout

Many interview participants admitted to dealing with burnout over the course of their fitness journey. We categorized “burnout” into two types: physical burnout resulting from injury or overexertion, and mental burnout resulting from stress and anxiety (both related and unrelated to their workout routine). 40% of the users interviewed had experienced mental burnout, and 60% had experienced physical burnout. 

Unapplied Understanding 

All users interviewed acknowledged the importance of mental health and the connection it has to physical health, with some even expressing that mental health is more important to them than physical health. However, none had a regimented “mental health routine” comparable to the one they have for fitness. Though these users felt as though their exercise routine has a positive effect on their mental health, they did not use a dedicated tool to track or maintain mental health despite acknowledging that such products exist. 

By categorizing our qualitative data through an affinity diagram session, we concluded that our target users...

  • Have the goal of increasing their energy levels, working towards their desired physique, and feeling the physical and emotional benefits of fitness. 
  • Are motivated by the healthy lifestyle associated with regimented exercise, the satisfaction of achieving numerical goals, and the idea that physical activity can combat the consumption of indulgent foods.
  • Are frustrated when their expectations for a class or routine are not met, when they do not see or feel a physical payoff from the work they put into their fitness, and the negative impact that injury, stress and anxiety, or external life factors have on their fitness routine. 

With our preliminary research complete, it was time to synthesize the data we’d collected into actionable design goalposts and guidelines. 


Forging a Design Path

Visualizing the User

My team created the user persona of Megan through synthesis of our research findings. This persona would help us empathize with users throughout the design process by giving a “face” to our user base. 

User PersonaMegan lacks energy, experiences stress, makes poor diet choices as a result of her demanding job. She attempts to combat all of this through exercise and doesn’t like to take days off from her routine, even when her body needs a break. 

Defining the Problem

Our users already felt confident in their fitness regimens and the resources they used to determine their routines. They already had physical fitness goals and knew how to work towards them. However, all of our research indicated that this wasn’t enough for them to remain truly healthy. 

All of our research on millennial wellness led us back to this central idea of the mind-body connection. Millennial women still grapple with harmful mental models that can’t be addressed through exercise alone, though they can physically manifest as serious health issues if left unaddressed.

Our subject matter experts made it clear that goal-setting and motivation is instrumental to creating and sticking with a routine, and our user interviews revealed that millenials set goals and measure progress by tracking numerical metrics on a mobile device. 

With a clear understanding of our target users and the factors that hinder their success, we were able to articulate the problem our design would address:

Physically active millennial women striving to reach wellness goals through dedicated workout regimens need guidance on self-reflection for a balanced mind and body so they can maintain a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. 

Approaching the Solution

Our users already understood the manner in which physical exercise correlated with physical health and how to leverage that knowledge in order to meet their fitness goals. By applying the same logic to personal reflection and mindfulness, we could help users identify the factors that impact their mental health and improve their habits accordingly.

We established five design principles to inform the direction of our project:

RESTORATIVEOur objective is to reframe the user’s negative mental associations and thought patterns, particularly those attached to their health and fitness. This design will provide the mental equivalent of stretching before and after exercise. 
SUPPORTIVEWe’re interested in building a product that transcends its core utility. It won’t just serve as a tool--it will cheer users on as they pursue their goals and establish a framework for how to improve beyond those goals. 

DEPENDABLEThis service should feel like a confidant that users can trust and consult across their wellness journey. Users should feel that the data they share will be used constructively to improve their health and user experience. 
INTROSPECTIVEOur users can’t improve their mental health unless they reflect on what’s holding them back. The design will deepen the user’s awareness of the inner self so they can more intuitively maintain their health.