Flowspace—Meditation is growing in popularity as an intervention to address mental health and everyday stressors. The number of people who have meditated at least once has tripled since 2012, with more than 52 million meditation app downloads in 2019 alone. Women are 38% more likely than men to meditate. Women (or more inclusively, people who menstruate) experience hormonal fluctuations throughout the monthly menstrual cycle, which play a significant role in fluctuating emotions, thought processes, energy, creativity, and other functions in the body. This highlights an opportunity to integrate mental health and menstrual wellness. Enter Flowspace: Meditation for Menstruators.
Time frame: Ongoing
My roles: Self-initiated: Product & Visual Design
Improving menstrual wellness through cycle day-specific meditation
Throughout the ~28-day menstrual cycle, people who menstruate experience fluctuations in hormones (predominately estrogen and progesterone) which play a significant role in emotions, thought processes, self-esteem, energy levels and other body functions, depending on hormone levels on each specific cycle day.
How might we use this hormonal 'forecast' to customize meditation recommendations for the mental and physical symptoms the user is experiencing each cycle day?
Discovery & Inspiration
Over the last year, I've been using a daily meditation and mindfulness app regularly. After a few months of use, I found myself wanting a more fine-tuned meditation experience based on where I was in my menstrual cycle. On estrogen-rich days I wanted different types of meditations than on estrogen-low days due to the mood and physical symptoms attributed to high or low estrogen. As a makeshift solution, I found myself first checking my period tracker and then manually searching my mindfulness app for meditations based on my hormonal forecast. Gah! I thought. There has got to be a better, more integrated way!
So I began designing one...
UX Research & Ideation
Curious about the need for a more integrated solution for mental and menstrual wellness, I started exploring these questions through competitive analysis and user interviews. Was this actually a problem worth solving or was I simply an n of one?
Looking at some of the most popular meditation and menstrual cycle tools currently available, I found that while mindfulness meditation apps are quite popular, they tend to be for broad audiences and fairly general in nature. At the time, none of the products offered specific sessions for PMS or cycle-related symptoms. Additionally, most of the period tracking apps focused on period scheduling (when is my period coming?) or fertility tracking (what is my likelihood of conceiving on this day?). There weren't any solutions that focused on mood and mindset during the menstrual cycle.
I created a set of questions to ask potential users. I was especially interested in responses around the following themes:
Which period tracking and/or mental wellness tools are you currently using?
What solutions do these tools provide? Where do they fall short?
When throughout the day do you prefer to check in on your mood or mindset?
Do you notice a strong correlation between mindset and/or mood and where you are in your monthly cycle?
When was the last time PMS threw you off of your mental game?
How are you dealing with it now?
From the interview responses, I drafted my product idea and MVA, which I used to create a user persona, whom I've named Alex.
A way for motivated, self-aware menstrautors (in their 20s - 40s) to optimize their mental wellness and mindset according to where they are in their monthly menstrual cycle.
Minimum Viable Audience (MVA)
Motivated, self-aware people who menstruate (in their 20 - 40's), interested in optimizing their mindset to achieve personal and professional goals (and be the best versions of themselves!).
Our persona, Alex, is a 34-year-old marketing manager who wants to be more in tune with her body and work on shifting negative thought patterns to more positive ones.
With an empathy map, we can imagine a major pain point for her being a lack of integrated tools for women's health and wellness issues.
I mapped out the process of our user persona, Alex, experiencing an emotion, identifying it as hormone-related based on her cycle day, searching for a meditation to address that emotion, finding it and listening to that meditation.
Using what we know about her, we can hypothesize what her feelings and thoughts might be at each decision point, and consequently identify an opportunity for improvement.
The persona, empathy map and journey informed my problem statement.
A motivated, self-aware person who menstruates needs cycle-specific meditation and mindfulness exercises because they experience a range of emotions, mindsets, energy, thought processes, cognition, creativity and other body functions based on the hormonal fluctuations of their cycle.
Information architecture & Interaction Design
With my initial UX research and planning complete, I created a site map to outline the key pages for the MVP.
The main page is a dashboard where users could a) quickly view their cycle day and phase, b) log their overall mood and individual symptoms, and most importantly c) press a large CTA button to listen to their daily custom meditation.
The site map has pages for my MVP and suggestions for future features to add to the product roadmap.
User & Task Flows
Then I outlined New User and Current User Flows (and various task flows within) to identify gaps in the UX.
Prototyping & testing
I worked on the wireframes in tandem with the task flows to create wireflows and a testable prototype of the MVP.
An early prototype created to quickly test for gaps in the Current User Flow.
One of the trickiest task flows to design was the "Add a Symptom" flow, in which users can create their own custom mood or symptom. I tested different patterns, and landed on the revised flow shown to the right.
UI Design & Branding
For the branding and visuals, I wanted to capture the concept of flowing through emotions with ease and fluidity. The visuals needed to speak to meditation and menstruation (or to be punny, "flow"). As a riff off of the meditation app, Headspace, I landed on the name Flowspace.
Flowspace is a meditation app that helps users move through emotions with fluidity and ease. Therefore the visual brand is built around organic shapes, fluid lines and a balance of energizing and calming colors.
I was also inspired by the granularity of bullet journals, and the cyclical layout of seasonal harvest calendars.
I created a set of components for an atomic design system. The four colorways correspond to the four phases of a menstruator's monthly cycle (menstruation, follicular, ovulation, and luteal). Upon opening the app, users can instantly determine what phase they are in based on the color of the UI.
The UI design is based on fluid lines and organic spaces to create a feeling of ease and calm.
There are four color variations of the UI, depending on which of the four phases of the menstrual cycle (menstrual, follicular, ovulation, luteal) the user is in.
High fidelity prototypes of the onboarding flow (top) and MVP (bottom).
conclusion & reflections
There is more work to be done! Here are a few items on the roadmap as I continue to build out Flowspace.
Address edge cases, such as irregular cycle lengths
Invite scientific reviews from menstrual wellness experts
Refine technical features, such as the growing database of recommended symptoms per cycle day
Refine the micro interactions & animations
Create a community around menstrual wellness beyond an individual’s daily meditation practice; Provide a feature for more education and resources around cycle hormones and menstrual health