Solace: A Self-Care App For Everyone

UX Design
Cover image of article: Series of phones displaying Solace app
Skills & Software
Purple screwdriver and wrench icon
UX Design, Content & UX Writing, Graphic Design, UX Research
Purple computer icon
Figma, Adobe Illustrator


The mobile app market is saturated with self-care solutions, but they often fall short for low-income users or those without consistent internet access. Existing apps often lack empathetic writing, causing users to feel judged rather than supported.


Develop a free self-care app focusing on mindfulness, habit-building, and empathy. The app is designed for offline usability, making it accessible to a wider audience. Proto-personas like Maya, Brian, and Carmen helped me understand diverse user needs and pain points.


Usability testing with 10 participants indicated intuitive navigation and relevant content. Areas for improvement included accessibility features and range of response options. Updates would include plans to add voiced narration, compatibility with screen readers, and multilingual support. Solace aims to offer an inclusive, empathetic approach to self-care and wellness, filling a significant gap in the market.


What's important to consider when developing a self-care app? I came away from my research with three main findings.

Offline-access is crucial

Only 60% of people globally had internet access in 2020, and 1 in 5 U.S. households lacked it in 20211 2. Apps that require online access exclude large segments of their potential users.

1 Hannah Ritchie, Edouard Mathieu, Max Roser and Esteban Ortiz-Ospina (2023) - "Internet". Published online at

2 Cao, M. (n.d.). Switched off: Why are one in five U.S. households not online? | National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

Self-care helps more when it's a habit

Self-check-ins are vital in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for improving mental health and problem-solving1. A self-care app needs to foster these habits for long-term user well-being.

1 "Cognitive Therapy of Depression" by Aaron T. Beck, A. John Rush, Brian F. Shaw, Gary Emery

Empathy matters

A user's mood shapes their view1. Those seeking a self-care app likely struggle with mental health, making a welcoming, non-judgmental experience essential.

1 Clore et al.,2001; Erber & Erber, 2001; Niedenthal, Setterlund, & Jones, 1994

These findings led to determining the user needs and pain points.

User needs

• Empathetic writing

• Offline usability

• Habit-building routines

Pain points

• Judgmental writing tone

• Membership fees

• Internet dependency

• Data costs

And the user needs and pain points helped shape Solace's objectives!


Provide empathetic self-care guide that promotes mindfulness

Give questions for users to ask themselves throughout their day, building healthy self-care habits.

Complete offline functionality.

• Zero cost to users.


Creating wireframes, making a visual design palette, and developing the first digital prototype.

Wireframes for a self-care app.

These wireframes represent each unique type of screen, from the home page, to options, to the self-care guide.

This prototype, developed in Figma, walks through the primary functions of the app.


Finding out what works and what doesn't.


Participants: Recruited 10 participants representing different demographics (e.g., age, occupation, technology comfort level).

Testing environment: Conducted both remote and in-person testing sessions to mimic various real-world scenarios.

Tasks performed: Users were given specific tasks to complete within the app, such as navigating through the self-care guide, responding to prompts, and exploring settings.

Success metrics: Time to complete tasks, error rates, user satisfaction scores, and qualitative feedback were measured.


Positive feedback

• Intuitive navigation: Users found the app easy to navigate, praising the clean design and clear instructions.

• Relevance of content: Participants felt that the questions and prompts were pertinent and resonated with their self-care needs.

Areas for improvement

Accessibility features: Some users with visual impairments noted difficulties with certain text colors and sizes.

• Response to "I'm not sure": A few participants were confused by the options following an "I'm not sure" response, suggesting more clarity or guidance.

Iteration, Refinement, and Next Steps

How has it been changed in response to feedback? And what comes next?

Added features

Transition animations

Users requested responsive animations transitioning from screen to screen

Ambient sound effects

Users disliked lack of sound effects transitioning screen to screen, as it created a disconnect between input and response

Needed content

Length options for self-care guide

Users expressed a want to have more options on how long they spend on a self-care exercise

References for Exercises

While users want to trust that the exercises in Solace are based on research, sourcing the relevant info will go a long way in building that trust.

Needed features

Voiced narration

Masculine and feminine options

Options for users with diverse vision needs

Colorblind modes, impaired vision modes, et. al.

Multi-language support

Beginning with Spanish and French, expanding to Chinese and Arabic


Mental health matters. With the available options lacking an empathetic, offline self-care app, Solace would fill a much-needed gap in the mobile market. Future updates would aim for enhanced accessibility and diverse self-care guides, reaffirming a commitment to inclusivity.

Back to top