A relationship wellness app that draws couples closer together by reflecting through the root causes of their emotions.

Problem Space 

Problem Background  

“The quality of our relationships determines the quality of our lives.” (Perez).

A research done by Arch Insights indicated that close to 90% of the population believe that relationship health to be one of the most important factors for their mental and emotional health. Furthermore, 71% of the correspondents wish that they had more information on how to talk about conflict with their partner. (Arch Insights)

From our user survey, we found that 80% of couples consider relationship conflicts to be extremely painful. Furthermore, they selected communicating emotions to be the most difficult part of resolving conflicts.

While a healthy dose of conflicts can indeed be beneficial to the relationship, not every couple has the toolkit to approach it the right way. Research has shown that repetitive arguments and negative feelings in a relationship are damaging to your health as much as they are to the relationship (Scott). While most conflicts are manageable, and can even be transformed into a positive experience, many couples keep getting stuck in a vicious argument cycle and cannot move beyond their hurt feelings because of a lack of awareness and education, namely on their emotions. 

Research Insights

User Pain Points

From our user survey, we found that 80% of couples consider relationship conflicts to be extremely painful. Furthermore, they selected communicating emotions to be the most difficult part of resolving conflicts.

Our survey found that cost is the number one factor that deters people from seeking professional help to improve their relationship health. Furthermore, many couples believe that conflicts are normal or at least theirs are, and don’t believe they need to turn it into a bigger deal. In fact, on average, most couples wait six years after identifying a problem before seeking therapy (Gaspard and Gottman). And although 89% of correspondents believe that there would be value in going to couple’s counselling sessions, only 35% of them indicated that they have attended couples counselling (Arch Insights). 

That’s why, although there are digital alternatives (e.g., the app Lasting) to in-person counselling at a fraction of the costs, the very fact that it’s labelled as “counselling” deters couples who do not believe that they are “sick” enough to seek help. 


Our user research found that people are generally intrigued yet excited about a solution that helps them navigate their emotions and relationship conflicts. However, they do have some concerns. Some of the feedback were:

  1. Unsure about when they would use it. During a conflict, they will be too emotional and caught in the argument to think about pulling out their phone. So it would be more likely that they will think of using this app after the peak of a conflict, when they are trying to process their emotions. 
  2. They felt that being able to use this app with their partner will be greatly beneficial.
  3. Reservations about the pain flow: seems to require a lot of energy and emotional resiliency. Would they be able to skip that section?

Solution Explanation

There is inevitably a void in the market for a discrete, simple, and affordable tool that individuals can use regularly to promote a deeper understanding of their partner and of themselves, and thereby improving their relationship health. 

Closer goes through a 5-step process to establish an emotional reconnection. 

1. Prompt user to log their trigger - what made them react in the first place. It could be a comment or an eye-roll from the partner. 


a. Prompt user to enter the emotions they felt. 

b. Prompt user to slow down and reflect what are the underlying pain and fears beneath their emotions. 


a. Prompt user to log the actions they took, or how they reacted. 

b. Ask user how their partner reacted in retrospect. This is how they get stuck in a push-pull, infinite cycle of conflict. 

4. Bring everything together and present them the full conflict cycle:

“When [trigger] happens, I show [emotion] and tell myself that [perception]. The more I [action], the more my partner [partner's action]. But deep down, I'm experiencing [pain] and am protecting myself from [fear/past experiences].”

5. Ask user to communicate this new understanding of the conflict to the partner. Sharing vulnerabilities is extremely difficult, as the communicator does not know how the receiver will react. But this is the most important step in breaking the cycle, as it will help the couple reconnect emotions and understand each other’s true feelings. 

To some extent, Closer can be used as a digital, self-serve version of EFT couple therapy. The method is simple but effective: by going through this process of “de-escalation of cycle”, the user gains an understanding of what triggers them, what is the pain beneath it, and can stop the cycle by facing and processing what makes them vulnerable. 

Lofi & Hifi Mockups



Iterative Design Learnings

After we show the prototype to users again, we’ve noticed that users think differently than we do. It’s important to not have assumptions when conducting usability tesings and ask leading questions. I’ve noticed that users get distracted by small details so it’s important to keep the designs clean so the user can focus more.
Overall creating high-fidelity design is a valuable experience to me becauseg there’s a big difference between working solo vs working with the team. Also working on mobile designs is different than web app because the specs are different, also how you arrange the placement of elements is different.

It’s important not to jump into conclusion too fast or think about new features that are not the MVPs.
It’s easy to change designs on Figma because it can all look great, but it’s not easy for engineers to change features that have been built. So it’s important to stick with what have been discussed and not make changes without communicating with the team.

Implementation Details 

Technical implementation

Where is it hosted? what about the backend?

What is your tech stack?

  • Frontend: Ionic Framework, React.js, Typescript, SASS
  • Backend: Ruby, Ruby on Rails, PostgreSQL

High level journey of a request

Technical challenges

What was the hardest part of development? 

  • Jingru: Utilise a new framework, get familiar with the syntax of Typescript, as well as state management tool Zustand. 
  • Ricky: working with TypeScript and the Ionic framework. I took it lightly because I have had a prior experience with the latter but with JavaScript. Styling and Typing the Ionic components is a little trickier than I anticipated.

What are some key takeaways? 

We learned to work with the product manager and designer in an agile environment.

Future Steps

If we had more time, we would have implemented the following features: 

  • Analytics: giving users key insights into their relationship style based on their conflict resolution style.
  • Insights: giving returning users summary of their data points, e.g., top triggers, top emotions and feelings.
  • Partner sharing: use the app in conjunction with your partner and share each other’s results/insights.


Product Manager Learnings:

Ingrid Xu

  • Crafting quality user stories and acceptance criteria: not just on a high-level, but think from design and development perspectives and break down a story into executable tasks.
  • Keeping focus: being vigilant about focusing on refining the core feature rather than expanding the scope and getting distracted by more features.

Designer Learnings:

Grace Chen

  • Learning how to work with PM and developer in a remote setting
  • Learning how to create pixel perfect high-fidelity designs
  • Understanding users and make changes that make sense, but not taking all the feedback because some may not be relevant

Developer Learnings:

Jingru Xu

  • learned how to work with PM, designer and backend developer in Agile environment
  • Received valuable feedbacks from PM and designers’ perspectives, and seen every step of a project’s life cycle 
  • Having another developer in the team is very valuable
  • Learned new frameworks/languages

Developers Learnings:

Ricky Mormor


  • Familiarity with agile development methodologies and how they can be applied to software development projects.
  • Ability to troubleshoot and solve problems that arise during the development process.
  • Understanding of the benefits and challenges of using Ionic, TypeScript, React, and Ruby on Rails in a project.

Full Team Learning

  • Iterating through short sprints is challenging, especially with constant user feedback. There’s a lot of heavy-lifting on the design and dev side, and the PM needs to make the call of which changes are crucial to be made, and which ones can wait. 
  • Working remotely across different time zones and working through the post-holiday blues can be challenging. It’s important to keep the momentum going from the start.