Podding is when multiple families gather for playdates, lessons, or other social and educational events. As beneficial as this can be, the logistics involved can be pretty intimidating. So how do we lower the barrier to parenting pods? ParentPod is a central hub for parents to connect and coordinate plans with other families. Through human-centered design, we created an experience that incorporates and supports various types of parenting groups.
While leading the interaction design process, critiquing, and reviewing interactive prototypes for user testing as a UX designer, I distilled and synthesized research insights that informed our design and usability study. I was also in charge of visual design. It was an excellent opportunity for me to use my graphic design skills to create the concept and visual branding as a Visual Designer.
At the 2021 HCDE Open House, my team presented this project and convinced the audience, and now our sponsor is talking with a corporate investor who met from the open house to get financial support for this project. Our sponsor originally proposed an app that helps parents to find flexible childcare. My team discovered a fresh perspective on the problem area, explored novel use cases, and created a product that addresses real-world issues by successfully piloting the project's direction.
Parenting goals are dynamic due to various external factors and life stages through our initial round of user interviews. To capture these dynamic changes, a set of static user personas just won’t cut it. Therefore, we paid attention to parents’ behavior, thoughts, and beliefs and then aggregated those to create three primary mindsets to capture parents’ attitudes, emotions, and values to the parenting pods. These mindsets can overlap or adapt due to changes in a child’s needs and environment as they grow.
After discovering a series of mindsets, education-oriented, community-centric, and fostering close-knit connections, we created a modular design layout that allows parents to create a pod around their core values.
Scheduling events, like recurring playdates and hangouts, are some of the biggest headaches for parents. ParentPod calendars can help these parents achieve effective communication by offering host rotation and carpooling logistics. A community-centric pod often consists of parents with looser ties. ParentPod allows those parents to gather all the necessary contacts and essential information for children in one place. For parents in tight-knit circles, they can share moments by syncing photos or become inspired through ParentPod’s idea bank prompts to keep their pod vibrant and alive.
I have learned a social responsibility of a designer and how important we respect diversity and advocate inclusivity. ParentPod focuses on bringing parental communities together to support one another to help reduce these imbalances and support struggling parents. One of the core aspects of our product was ensuring DEI in the research and design phases. We recruited from a diverse participant pool (BIPOC, immigrant, single parents, divorced and blended families). Having a value-sensitive design exercise helped us consider different cultural values and synthesize different mindsets from parents. This project extended my expertise in helping drive social change and led me to a Pro Bono Project at Blink UX.