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Problem Statement

How can we help people curate and pass on their life stories to their loved ones?

It is generally acknowledged that nobody can avoid the fate of mortality. Before slipping away from this world, it’s a common desire for people to pass on their life values to help the next generation or loved ones. However, their busy lives often prevent them from doing so until it’s too late, which leads to unresolved issues or regrets.


Interaction Designer

Conducting user research, defining user flows and site map, building interactive prototypes, conducting user testing, designing web interfaces, producing product video

Methods Used

Competitive analysis, Secondary research, Expert interview, Interview, Focus group, Participatory observation, Affinity diagram, Brainwalking, RITE method

Tools Used

Sketch, Marvel, InDesign, Premiere, After Effects


Tingwei Chang, Kai-Ting Huang, Catherine Jou


Minerva Interactive


16 Weeks

Research Goal

We conducted primary and secondary research to understand people’s attitudes toward their own mortality, what they want to pass down, and what kind of legacy is meaningful to them.

Research Methods
Competitive Analysis

We looked into other storytelling platforms and found that services, such as FB, Twitter, Snapchat focus more on sharing day-to-day matters with public. In contrast, StoryJar centers around life lessons and with a custom circle of people.

Competitive analysis

Primary Research

Expert Interviews


Semi-structured Interviews


Focus Groups


Participatory Observation

Focus Group
Focus Group Activity
Focus Group Activity

Focus group and activities

Key Research Findings
  • Life values and guidance are the most meaningful types of legacy.

  • Life events are key triggers for legacy planning.​

  • People want to help the next generation to succeed.

  • Remembering a deceased loved one’s life values can help a person reflect on their own life.

Design Implications

“Spiritual values are definitely more important than the physical things that I inherited. Things are just things. You can’t take them with you.”

– Participant J, Interview

  • Instead of documenting trivial life events, help people focus on telling stories with life values.

  • Use life events as the major trigger point to bring people to prepare their life legacy.​

  • Be inclusive and appealing to cross-generational users.

  • Provide a space where people can feel enriched, inspired and connected to other family members.


Following the design implications we came up with in our research phase, we ideated around a set of design prompts to help inspire creative ideas during our brainstorming sessions.

Ideation Prompts

Here are some of the prompts we used:

  • If your value is the gene that you want to pass on, how would you ensure after 100 years, your life value still being followed?

  • What are the ways we might do to let the loved one know we appreciate and follow (some of) their life value?

  • If you can 3D print your life value, how would you design your blueprint?

  • What are the ways we might help people constantly remember their loved one’s life value and follow it?

Ideation Methods
Idea Selection

9 fleshed out concepts

We then worked as a team to discuss the feasibility and opportunity of each idea. After consolidating our ideas, we iterated and refined the initial sketches into 9 potential ideas, with storyboards depicting each use case in details. (Click to see explanation on each.)

Eventually, we picked the ideas that follow our design implications - emphasize life values, and include over time cross-generational use. It led us to hone in on our final idea direction - Family Fables.

Concepts evaluation matrix


We conducted 2 rounds of iterations following the RITE method. Tweaks were made given the urgency of the issues and the resource we had at that time. In this way, we were able to quickly test and gather feedback.

Prototype 1

Before starting off building the prototype, we first mapped out the user flows for the key features and sketched screens on paper. The prototype was built with software Sketch and made interactive in Marvel. Video of the initial prototype working in action and the pilot user testing can be seen at

Prototype 1
Initial User Flows
Paper Sketches
User Testing 1

We conducted a pilot run and recruited three participants in the first testing round, with ages of 22, 40 and 60 years old. 

Selected Research Questions
  • What are the most effective prompts that help people tell life stories?

  • Does the story composing flow make sense to the user?

  • Can the user manage to add an immediate family member to the family tree?

Key Testing Findings and Improvements
  • Navigating through multiple steps to compose a story on a phone is not convenient enough. We designed another story composing flow for A/B testing in the second round of testing.

  • The feature of providing story inspirations inside the story composing flow is not necessary. We removed it and include it in the home screen.

Prototype 2

Based on the feedback we got on the first prototype, we quickly iterated and came up with another version. Following are the two prototypes that we used for A/B testing the story composing flow. (You can start with "write a story").

Prototype 2-A

User Testing 2

Prototype 2-B

In the second round, we reused most of the research questions based on the design iterations and recruited two participants.

Selected Research Questions
  • What are the most effective prompts that help people tell life stories?

  • Which story composing flow makes more sense to the user?

  • Can the user manage to add a non-immediate family member to the family tree?

Key Testing Findings and Improvements
  • To create a comfortable and focused space for people to write a life story, our product should exist on multiple platforms other than just mobile.

  • Following the design implication, we added Facebook life events and highlights of the user’s and the user’s loved ones as one kind of story prompt.

  • To evoke stronger emotional connections with the life stories, we connected the concept of story categories and circle of people to an existing metaphor of “wisdom jar”.

Prototyping & Evaluation
4. Outcome

We finalized the user flows, site map and system diagram before building the final high fidelity prototype in Sketch.

System Map
Site Map
Interaction Flow

Following are the key screens that showcase how StoryJar looks like on mobile, tablet and web with selected features, such as requesting for story, composing a story and consuming a story.

Home screen - tablet
Home screen - mobile
Home screen - mobile
Story jar - tablet
Story jar - mobile
Story snippet - mobile
Story snippet - tablet
Story list - mobile
Story consumption - tablet
Story consumption - mobile
Story consumption - web
Family tree - tablet
Story prompts - tablet
Compose a story - tablet

As deliverables, we made a poster and a video to show the problem space and the solution. We created a process book describing our design process in details. We delivered the final presentation at both UW and HTC office in downtown Seattle, where we gained the positive feedback and insightful comments to make StoryJar better.


We were grateful that this project has provided us with a great opportunity to practise user-centered design process in every aspect. We went broad in the research phase to explore all the possibilities and triangulated our findings with different research methods. We managed to prototype, evolve and finalize the ultimate solution among multiple initial ideas in a fast-paced situation.


With StoryJar, we envision a future where individuals are connected to their family members with inspiring family stories that shared across generations. Other than life events, special family mementos like recipe could be a potential entry point. The key concept of StoryJar – sharing and passing on life values – could potentially be applied to strengthen a community bond. For example, cultivating and spreading the shared vision in a corporate can be one of the use cases.

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