Spruce | Wellness Help
Spruce | Wellness Help

Spruce | Wellness Help

Type: Side Project

Timeline : Aug-Oct 2020

Role : Product Designer / UX Focus

Hypothetical tools to measure impact:

  • Action
  • Engagement

Details in "defining success" below


we designed an app to help you stay grounded.

we named it Spruce, because it keeps you standing strong through those winter blues


Use a selection of recommended grounding techniques to stop you from disassociating or simply remind you to be aware.


Explore and understand what emotions you're really feeling. Improve your emotional intelligence.


Keep track of your personal growth day to day and month to month.

the opportunity

our gameplan

Millennials are increasingly aware of mental health but lack the tools to understand or address their particular challenges.

Conduct early interviews with people suffering from mental health issues and identify their pain points.

people are not happy with current mental health apps (we asked)


there's an influx of apps for meditation, focus, journaling, habit tracking etc.

current solutions cast a very wide net and don't address serious health symptoms

churn rate for mobile apps after 90 days is 95%, how can we combat this?

so we decided on these guiding principles


focus on one specific mental health concern


provide actionable tools for the user


create a sense of ownership over their experience

and chose to address the issue of dissociation


One of our team members had personal experience with dissociation and had previously failed to find any apps which helped. We realized this was a significant gap in the market and decided to address it.

we learned everything we could about it

A deep dive into mental health literature provided us with a foundation for understanding dissociation and how to deal with it.


The questions we sought out to answer were the following:

Who typically suffers from it?
  • Anyone can disassociate when feeling overwhelmed or distracted.
  • It's particularly common in those who suffer from PTSD, Anxiety, Trauma, Substance Abuse
Why do they suffer from dissociation?
  • It's a way of coping by avoiding negative thoughts or feelings related to memories or trauma
  • When disassociating, the person is disconnecting from their surroundings
When/Where do they experience it?
  • In situations that cause an individual to feel overwhelmed or experience emotions they are unable or unready to cope with
  • It can also be subconscious, appearing to have no cause
How does it manifest itself?
  • Dissociation is a spectrum of symptoms ranging from confusion to complete identity disorder
  • Most cases present themselves as a lack of awareness, disconnection from the current moment

our main takeaways were the following

  1. Dissociation can be triggered by anything. Individuals may realize they are disassociating but often times they do not realize until they are past the peak.
  2. There is a wide range of frequency and severity in symptoms. Therefore intervention needs to be immediate in some cases.
  3. As is often common with mental health issues, there are no clear answers.However, there are over 30 recommended exercises to combat dissociation (see below).

we asked about and listened for pain points

(conducted unstructured interviews)


Having interviewed with several individuals who were experiencing mental health issues, we found their experiences were vastly different nonetheless there were a few overlapping pain points.

Pain Points

  1. They struggled to form habits around the exercises which they had been recommended.
  2. Individuals were aware of recommended techniques and exercises but lacked a platform or database to reference apart from their research.

How do we provide users with a selection of tools without it feeling like a worksheet? And simultaneously empower them to build healthy habits around mental health?

product idea

Our product idea developed from the paint points discovered in our research. It's a mental health app which lets the user complete grounding exercises, check in's and tracks their story.

Grounding Exercises

A collection of 30+ recommended and interactive exercises which can be filtered as needed.

Check In

Allows the user to log their emotional state and learn about their emotional intelligence.

Progress Story

Keeps track of their story on the app for reference and habit building.

meet James, he's our ideal user


He is 28yrs old and identifies as a man.

Spends most of his time at the office working as a military engineer but sometimes wishes he could work "in the field".

James is a thrill seeker and an athlete. He also suffers from PTSD due early life trauma.

Usually he can funnel his energy into physical activities but occasionally he feels lost and disconnected from the real world.

James is experiencing dissociation.

we imagined how we could incorporate our app into James' day


and finally got to the fun part

😲 steps I passed over in the essence of time
We iterated user-flows until we had a functional information architecture.
We made a mini design system.
We defined the branding.

home screen design


Access to quick techniques feature for emergencies.

Access to a daily "check in" feature.

Fast and easy on boarding flow.


🤯 Interesting Finding Alert

Original designs for the "check in" feature consisted of a button leading to the emotion questionnaire. However users communicated that they would likely not use the feature. So, we tested adding emoji's for a quick reply option. We then found that users were more likely complete the questionnaire because they would be attracted to answer via emoji then realize they weren't accurate enough and click "dig deeper" (the action we wanted them to take).


To avoid designing in an echo chamber we needed user feedback

Using Figma prototypes, Zoom calls and Loom to record our test sessions we focused on iterating and user testing as frequently as possible

Changed the layout to prioritize for quick access to the grounding exercises

There was confusion over which actions they should perform if they were experiencing disassociation at that moment. It needed to be a clear path of action.

Removed the quotes and added alternating greetings

Users appreciated the personalized welcome messages/greetings however they expressed disinterest in generic quotes and felt it strayed too far from their expectations of the app.


emotion questionnaire design



This feature was designed to walk user through identifying their emotions.

Passively educate the user about emotional intelligence.

The emotion wheel by psychologist Robert Plutchik
The emotion wheel by psychologist Robert Plutchik
🤯 Interesting Finding Alert

Original designs included a "Submit" button, however, we A/B tested it besides a more personable message "This is how I'm feeling" and the users clearly sided with "this is how I'm feeling"

Iterated and designed the emotion selection flow

The selection flow was difficult due to amount of options which had to be displayed at the same time. Ultimately users appreciated an organic and interactive design which visually explained the emotional hierarchy.

Implemented multiple paths backwards

Original designs allowed users to backtrack by reselecting their previous emotion. This was not intuitive to all users and so I added a separate back button.

Incorporated the "submit" button onto every screen and changed the copy

Not allowing user to submit at any time caused users to feel their emotion wasn't accurate therefore causing a loss of trust in the process.


defining success

The 30 day retention rate for "lifestyle" focused mobile apps is 4.5% on average (2020).

Success for Spruce would require a retention rate of 4.5% or above.


In order to measure activation we would track the amount of grounding exercises and check in's a user completes per time they open the app.

Success for Spruce means an average of 1.5 activities per instances of opening the app.

Referrals / NPS

If a user is willing to recommend the app we can assume they find it valuable. Since the app is focused around a taboo topic, we recognize referrals are not an ideal metric to measure success.

Therefore we would track Net Promotor Score by asking users "Would you recommend Spruce to a friend?"

Success for Spruce would require an NPS score above 50

Check out our Miro Board (it's a little messy)

Thank you for reading 🙂