Mitra is a mediation companion bot that guides newcomers of The Art of Living Foundation to build stronger bonds with other fellow students, their teacher community, and the meditation teachings.
Design an app for The Art of Living Foundation that contains a student and teacher experience. Develop a brand that reflects the diversity of its teachers, honors tradition, and enables the Foundation to stand out from “just your average studio” or fad.
Approach & Role
Our team adopted rapid research and prototyping techniques of a small design studio and treated our partner as our client. We collectively immersed ourselves into the experience of the Foundation to research and understand the needs of our client's users, held regular check-ins with them, and iterated the product upon their feedback.
Sketch, Adobe Illustrator, InVision, Keynote.
The interactions that The Art of Living newcomers have can be disjointed. As a volunteer-run organization, teachers don’t have the capacity to properly nurture or support enhanced experiences.
A better way to nurture newcomers to their first Happiness Program experience and get them to complete their 40-day challenge.
How might we create a better system that supports one unified and enjoyable experience for The Art of Living newcomers?
Your Art of Living Companion
Mitra is a personal guide to help you through your 40-day Art of Living happiness challenge.
Pepe is looking to improve the quality of his daily life, and to make a positive impact in his community.
Pepe's Journey through Mitra:
Pepe has been stressed from work lately. Noticing this, his friend Nina recommends him the Art of Living Happiness Program.
Pepe decides to register for the Happiness Program. Once he registered, he was recommended to download the Mitra app, an Art of Living companion.
A week before the program:
A week before the program starts, Pepe meets his guide through his Art of living journey: Mitra.
Mitra guides students through the on-boarding experience, and gives them a simple introduction of The Art of Living principles their meditation practices.
1 day before Happiness Program
Day 2 of the Happiness Program
Day 3 of the Happiness Program
Day 6: Third day after the program
Day 7: Fourth day and onward
Mitra will send Pepe words of encouragement from Sri Sri throughout his 40 day challenge.
Learning With Everyone - Ethnography
In order to fully understand and comprehend the needs of The Art of Living newcomer students and volunteers, we immersed ourselves in the experience of the Happiness Program.
New Friends & Interviewees
1. Community enhances happiness
2. End of course = Beginning of practice
3. Coursemates are new friends
4. Volunteers strengthen the organization
Our learnings were analyzed and synthesized into insights that we used as foundations for designing the product.
As experiencing our client’s service first-hand helped us deeply understand user needs and opportunity areas, we considered it necessary to research our client’s competitors the same way. This helped us compare the strengths and weaknesses of our client and its competitors, and apply our learnings to designing the product.
All three concepts were well received by our client, as all the opportunities and solutions resonated with their needs. We decided to implement all three into the next iteration.
Chatbot as the Mediator
As the main theme identified was communication and connection, through exploration of UX and UI trends, we saw an opportunity to use a chatbot as a “mediator” between students and teachers.
A bot would supply students with the basic resources and support needed at any time during the program–giving teachers time back, while still allowing for 1-1 student-to-teacher connection whenever needed.
In Sanskrit and modern Indo-Aryan languages, Mitra means friend. We wanted the name of the guide that would accompany newcomers through their journey to represent the sense of community they’d be welcomed into. The name is also representative of the meditation’s roots in India, where it originated from.
What could Mitra feel like?
Our goal was to embody our client’s core values into the brand. We surveyed participants during our ethnography session about the values that most resonated with them. Being in the Present and Nature Connection were the highest voted, so we based Mitra’s look and feel on them.
Mitra’s color palette reflects kriya - a breathing technique rooted in the meditation practice, and the colors of the sky, as inhaling from the ground and exhaling to the sky is a crucial element in The Art of Living mediation practice.
What could Mitra sound like?
What could Mitra look like?
The language in which the bot conveys itself is crucial. We gave Mitra five personality traits that reflect the organization’s values and based the dialogue on them.
Two character explorations resonated with the brand the most. Both conveyed nature and growth through the program.
We opted for character exploration 1, as it also presented with the opportunity to visualize the contraction and expansion of breathing during meditation.
Final Client Pitch
At the end of the course, we pitched the final app experience and brand to our client. We did so through engaging them in the story of a newcomer going through the 40-day Art of Living happiness challenge; highlighting the friction points before, during, and the program, our solutions, and added value.
The Art of Living foundation was happy with the final brand and design, and will consider it for future implementation.
Mitra introduces Pepe to the course and hypes him up along the way.
Mitra re-caps the course learnings with Pepe, encourages him, and connects him with fellow coursemates and teachers.
Mitra continues fostering encouragement, support and connection among his newly formed Art of Living community.
Learnings & Outcomes
Design Studio? ➞ Fast Iteration!
Throughout our academic formation, Sara and I were used to undergoing long design cycles before diving into prototyping. Given this was our first experience in a fast-paced studio environment and working closely with a client, we learned:
1) The importance of "quick and dirty" prototyping to arrive to concepts faster, 2) Communication and justification of design decisions in a way our client would understand - different to our usual audience of designers, and 3) To undergo multiple design iteration cycles in shorter time spans. At the end, our workflow resulted in a successful final pitch and a client that was ecstatic with the final app experience.
Diverse Team = Awesome Teamwork
Teamwork wasn’t a novelty in our experience as interaction design students. However, our team dynamic reinforced the value of diversity, and the impact it can have in the final product outcome. Sarah brought knowledge and experience with wellness practices and the ability to step back at any point in time to identify friction points; I brought a fresh and enthusiastic perspective for health and wellness, and the ability to dive into weeds and details when necessary. Our ability to identify and communicate our strengths and weaknesses from the beginning, and divise a strategy for collaboration proved successful during our workflow and final delivery.