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Charlie Hero.jpg

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:

taking medications


applying sun protection

(as lupus patients are photosensitive)

and sleeping healthily.


2a) The partner app helps children:


track their progress with Charlie

Lesson 1_1.gif

learn through videos and games

earn rewards for completing lessons

2b) Parents can also:

Parent setting up.gif

set a routine best fit for their child

Parent's Dashboard.png

view their child's progress

Charlie Logo Purple-01.png
Design Process




  • Study independence in childhood development

  • Review current lupus education tools

  • Understand the user journey of a child getting diagnosed with lupus

  • Secondary Research

  • Competitive Analysis

  • 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.

Market Analysis.png

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



Design Opportunities

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.

Design Principles






Designing Charlie

Designing Charlie

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.

User Feedback

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.

Charlie_Storyboard 2.jpg

Sleep Habit Tracker

Sun Protection Reminder

Medications Reminder

Designing the App

Designing the App

I wanted to supplement Charlie's experience with a tablet app that educates children through engaging videos and quizzes.


Parent's Dashboard:

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.

Charlie's Overview:

Children can see how Charlie is feeling based on how well they are caring for them, like a virtual pet

Educational Video:

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.

Flow Diagram.png

After user testing, I learned that parents want security and children want learning to be more fun and incentivized.

Wireframe Sketches.jpg


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

Flow Diagram Updated.png

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

Parent's User Flow

Child'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.

Design Style.jpg
Solution Details

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.

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  • 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.

Improved User Journey
Previous User Journey


While caring for Charlie, Allison practices...

taking medications

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.

sleeping healthily

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.

Charlie with Friend.gif

The partner app helps children...

Lesson 1_1.gif

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...

Parent setting up.gif

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

Parent's Dashboard.png
Outcome & Impact

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!"

- Interviewee

Success Metrics Moving Forward


Parent's Experience

  • Task Completion Time: How quickly can parents create a routine?​

  • User Satisfaction: Do parents feel satisfied with their child's lupus education​?

Child's Experience

  • 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.

Next Steps

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.

Charlie Logo Purple-01.png

Thanks for reading, feel free to check out my other work!

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