Educating Children with Lupus about Self-care
Charlie, a Buddy for Children with Lupus
Project Type Senior Capstone
Deliverables Tablet App and Toy Prototypes
Client/Sponsor the Lupus Foundation of America
Duration 9 weeks (SUM20)
Team Solo Project
Roles UX Researcher, UI/UX Designer, Experience Designer
Tools Sketch, Principle
Children diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune condition, often struggle with self-care and independence, impacting their physical/mental health and social lives.
How might we design an education tool that helps children with lupus adapt and become more independent with their care?
Charlie is a companion who familiarizes children with lupus management habits through an engaging experience, paired with an educational tablet app.
1) While caring for Charlie, children can learn to manage their lupus by:
applying sun protection
(as lupus patients are photosensitive)
and sleeping healthily.
2a) The partner app helps children:
track their progress with Charlie
learn through videos and games
earn rewards for completing lessons
2b) Parents can also:
set a routine best fit for their child
view their child's progress
Study independence in childhood development
Review current lupus education tools
Understand the user journey of a child getting diagnosed with lupus
3 Interviews with people diagnosed with lupus during childhood
1) School aged children (8-12) are recommended to practice independent self‐care with a parent before transitioning to adult care.
2) Existing lupus education tools are not designed for children.
3) Children recently diagnosed with lupus feel:
frustrated trying to understand lupus and its impacts
overwhelmed by new care routines
out of place amongst friends
their parents are too overprotective
4) Self-care is challenging to learn because the keys to teaching it are not addressed.
Keys to Teach Effective Self-care
Help the child learn and develop skills
Promote confidence & independence
Form a sense of community
Make self-care education engaging
User Pain Points
Frustrated trying to understand lupus
Overwhelmed by new care routines
Out of place amongst friends
Disinterested in current education tools
1) Educate children about lupus management.
2) Let children practice self-care with a parent prior to becoming independent.
3) Support discussions about lupus with peers.
4) Design learning tools beyond text resources.
I wanted to design a physical component that was interactive and comforting.
I learned that stuffed animals help with language development, comfort, and social skills and decided on this monkey concept.
Participants believed the monkey can help
keep children engaged (most interactive)
children feel less alone
familiarize children with care habits
create trust between caregivers & children
I named them Charlie and their design was refined for feasibility and costs.
The interface and plush have been separated into different parts.
Children can interact with the plush using care items with sensors.
I ideated ways that children can practice healthy habits alongside Charlie.
Sleep Habit Tracker
Sun Protection Reminder
Designing the App
I wanted to supplement Charlie's experience with a tablet app that educates children through engaging videos and quizzes.
Because parents play a large role in a child's care, they can see how their child is adhering to the health routines they have set.
Children can see how Charlie is feeling based on how well they are caring for them, like a virtual pet
Children can learn about lupus through age-appropriate videos.
Motivate children to want to care for Charlie and learn about lupus
Before children can interact with Charlie, parents must first set up a routine for children to follow that includes medication schedules, sleep goals, and learning goals.
Then, children can check on Charlie, learn about lupus-related topics, and earn badges.
After user testing, I learned that parents want security and children want learning to be more fun and incentivized.
I implemented this feedback and added
a passcode feature for parents, to avoid accidental edits by the child
and redeemable prizes in addition to badges
I translated this updated flow and past UI sketches into low-fidelity mock ups.
Once I established the layout, I refined the UI/UX flow for the final prototype.
Parent's User Flow
Child's User Flow
While experimenting with design styles, I chose this color palette as purple represents lupus and the accent colors kept it vibrant and fun.
4 minute demo video
0:00 Childhood Lupus
0:48 Introducing Charlie
1:17 Setting up Charlie
2:01 Fitting into Allison's lifestyle
Prior to Charlie: User Persona & Previous User Journey
Allison is a 10 year old recently diagnosed with lupus who is overwhelmed by all the lifestyle changes she needs to adapt to.
However, once she is familiarized with self-care, she is annoyed that her mother won't let her take on more responsibilities.
Initially has trouble remembering care instructions, feeling unconfident in her ability to manage lupus
Can no longer play tag with her friends during recess
Upset that her mother is overprotective after she has gotten used to her routine
Have a good understanding of lupus management to feel confident in taking on more responsibilities
Find a recess activity that she can do with her friends
Wants her mother to trust in her self-care abilities
Final Solution & Improved User Journey
Allison now feels supported, comforted, and knowledgeable as she learns to adapt to her lupus lifestyle with Charlie by her side.
While caring for Charlie, Allison practices...
Charlie's mouth lights up blue and Allison knows it is time to take her medication with the blue cap.
applying sun protection
Charlie's cheeks light up to remind Allison to apply sun protection before going outside.
Allison puts an eye mask on Charlie when she goes to bed to record her hours slept.
communicating lupus to others
In addition to keeping Allison company during recess, Charlie makes discussing lupus with her friends easier.
The partner app helps children...
see how consistent care for Charlie leads to a better wellbeing
Encourages/emphasizes consistent care
learn about lupus through educational videos and quizzes/games
Educates children in an engaging and interactive way
earn rewards for learning new topics
Encourages consistent learning
Parents can also...
set a care routine and learning curriculum best fit for their child with a passcode for safety
Parents can collaborate with children in learning routines
view their child's progress in caring for Charlie and themselves
Reassures parents of child's progress, allowing children to become more independent with self-care
Outcome & Impact
"There are so many good qualities that will benefit the wellbeing of lupus patients. It is an outstanding product that gives the caretaker peace of mind and the child independence!"
Success Metrics Moving Forward
Task Completion Time: How quickly can parents create a routine?
User Satisfaction: Do parents feel satisfied with their child's lupus education?
Task Success Rate: How well are children caring for Charlie?
Retention: How often are children completing lessons?
User Satisfaction: Do children find Charlie helpful and fun?
Because the tablet app stores medical data, we have the responsibility to protect user data and ensure it is used ethically. This is especially important in forming trust between the product and users.
As advocacy for childhood lupus has increased, diagnosis times have decreased. With more children getting diagnosed earlier but no suitable education tools, Charlie is a great solution to this market gap.
Challenges & Takeaways
Though I did not have access to a studio and wood shop, I was able to overcome and use household craft items to prototype Charlie. I also struggled to use Premiere Pro's green screen effect for Charlie's cheeks because they were so small and shiny but I was eventually able to work around it and learned what materials are best for green screening for future projects.
Moving forward, I want to create a higher fidelity Charlie prototype with working lights and sensors. I would also like to refine the quiz/game experience to include more animations and variety.