Doumi envisions a future where caregivers caring for dementia patients find support in a judge-free community and expert guidance on how to redirect agitated patients.
Market Size & Prospect
How many of us, maybe a loved one or ourselves, have become intricately involved in caring for someone with dementia? According to Susan Golden at Stanford GSB, the figure stands at a significant 26% of Americans, a number that has steadily increased since 2015 . Moreover, delve into your circle and consider this - about 85% of dementia patients rely on the unwavering support of unpaid family caregivers . Now, with the 65+ population in the United States expected to surge to 94.7M by 2050, the market for family caregivers will grow significantly as well.
While these family members embrace caregiving and do it out of love, the caregiving role may bring significant stress to their life . As we delved into the narratives of these caregivers, two major pain points emerged as recurrent themes.
The first centers around the struggle of redirecting and de-escalating the agitated behaviors of dementia patients, which was a challenge unanimously voiced by our interviewees.
The second revolves around the lack of social and emotional support while witnessing the symptoms of their loved ones worsen with no hope of getting better and feeling trapped. The resonating voices of our interviewees harmonize with the empirical evidence presented by the National Academy of Sciences in 2021, emphasizing isolation as one of the most significant stressors associated with the caregiver role.
According to our interviewees and recent research, family caregivers for dementia patients resort to occasional help from family and friends, writing notes, using paid care services, and employing medication management apps such as myMeds and Medisafe. However, there is no optimal solution that addresses their pain points related to social isolation and redirection of agitated behaviors. Thus, their current solution consists of a combination of different resources which include:
- Facebook Groups
- Altzheimer/Dementia support groups
- Local Caregiver support groups
Initially we were envisioning an app focused on medication management and calendars for dementia caregivers based on our personal experience.
We, however, made a pivot after our user research and competitive analysis confirmed an unmet need for a comprehensive solution that directly addresses the dual challenges of social isolation and the redirection of agitated patients.
Doumi is uniquely positioned to bridge this gap in dementia caregiving, and this realization led to our vision: empower family caregivers of dementia patients in navigating and sharing their caregiving journey with an open, supportive, and resourceful community.
Lofi & Hifi Mockups
Since our target population is caregivers over the age of 45, there were several specific design considerations.
I used Valdana as it has clear differentiation between capital and lowercase letters, as well as numbers. When compared to other fonts at the same size, it appeared the most readable. Since Valdana only has two modes - bold and regular - I decided to use Inter as the second font. It has many weights and styles, so it worked well for the headings, labels, and buttons.
I bumped the body text size up to 18px, instead of the standard 16px, so it’s easier to see with aging eyes, and all of the headings were scaled up accordingly.
Purple is the color of dementia awareness, and many related organizations (for example, the Alzheimer’s Association) use it as their primary palette. In researching the preferred color schemes of seniors, it was apparent that their favorite colors are navy and sky blue. Blue also comes across as trustworthy. Because of this (and the strong visual contrast ratios they provide), we decided to incorporate a palette of blue and purple gradients, with shades of teal and pink accents.
While experimenting with different lo-fi wireframes for the Strategies page, we tested out horizontal carousels. Originally, I thought that they would be a spatially efficient solution. After talking to Sophia about her experiences testing features with seniors, she suggested eliminating the carousels and keeping the interactions as simple as possible. This led to our current design, where the Strategies page has four category cards (with the possibility to add more in the future). The user can easily navigate from there to the specific strategy lists.Another area we tested and refined was the search function. Our users found it confusing, since they expected Google, where you can type and find any keyword.In the Doumi app, users' posts are categorized by preset hashtags. To navigate them, we turned our search bar into a tag filter, with familiar checkboxes.
Iterative Design Learnings
Success with the community feed tasks really depended on whether the user had previous experience using social media. Those that did recognized the familiar flow, and easily went through the steps. Those that didn’t struggled to comment and interact.
All of the users found the Strategies section easy to navigate and appealing. They found the information valuable, and wanted to explore this section further.
Doumi realizes its vision by addressing two critical pain points. Firstly, the app establishes a judgement-free support network, utilizing anonymous usernames to encourage open sharing and mitigate the impact of social isolation. Our hypothesis is that the use of anonymous usernames will empower caregivers to freely share their challenges without fear of criticism, with strict community guidelines in place to regulate potential downsides of anonymity.
The community guidelines were born out of a careful evaluation of the potential tradeoffs associated with anonymity. While anonymity can safeguard individuals from judgement and criticism, we acknowledge that it could pose challenges in building accountability within the community. There might be malicious actors who take advantage of anonymity and misuse the platform, and we realized that striking the right balance between anonymity and accountability is crucial. Doumi aims to achieve this by enforcing strict community guidelines and monitoring to regulate the potential downsides of anonymity in order to ensure that the platform remains an open and supportive community for caregivers.
Additionally, the app offers research-based coping strategies tailored to specific symptoms, enabling caregivers to de-escalate aggressive behaviors in dementia patients. Caregivers can experiment with proven tactics, curating a personalized list of strategies based on what works best for their loved ones.
After our ideation session to flesh out features to solve our users’ pains, we divided our launch plan in 3 phases to test and learn with an interactive approach. We landed on main features to prioritize for demo day based on its impact, size of the population with the pain, and technical feasibility. Here are the features we are launching for phase 1 (our MVP):
- Community feed
- Make/edit/delete a post
- React or comment on a post
- Access de-escalation strategies
- Bookmark de-escalation strategies
- Search posts based on hashtagsLog in
Where is it hosted?
Our apps are hosted via ESA. Public Release will be on the Google Play Store.
High level journey of a request?
The user would interact with the app to create a user account, create a new post, delete a post, comment on a post, like posts that will be saved in the username’s profile, save different strategies. User account is created using Firebase. User account details (e.g displayName, createdTime, email, photoURL, etc) and new posts and comments are stored in Firestore. Firebase auth makes sure the requests to create, receive, delete posts and comments are all authenticated. The data in Firestore are then rendered back on the client-side on the React Native app.
What was the hardest part of development?
The hardest part of the development was switching over to building a mobile app. We have never built a mobile app before so this was great learning but also a challenging experience.
For me specifically getting my android emulator running was the hardest part. Thankfully my dev partner, Christian, was able to work together to help me figure that out. The other challenging part of development has been getting backend functioning, more specifically for me, on the userfeed portion where users can create posts and comments.
Does your app have any scaling issues?
Did you consider tradeoffs?Once we decided to build a mobile app, we knew that we were going to do React Native, as both of us were already familiar with React, but it was our first time building a mobile app.
What are some key takeaways?
Doumi’s journey is ongoing. We are committed to actualizing our vision of empowering family caregivers of dementia patients in navigating and sharing their caregiving journey with an open, supportive, and resourceful community.
What does success mean to us?
Our hypothesis is that Doumi will lead to the following outcomes:
- Caregivers have a reduced feeling of isolation; they know that they are not alone in their caregiving journey
- Caregivers feel easier to redirect agitated behaviors of dementia patients
- Foster a community for caregivers of dementia patients to give and find support within
On top of actualizing our vision, our business goal is to engage as many users as possible. We believe that any foundation of a good product is driving engagement and giving value to our users. Engagement is a strong indicator of product market fit. With engagement, acquisition becomes a matter of raising awareness of our product, and retention will follow as users who found our product useful will come back to our app. That is why we prioritized daily active users as our north star, activeness defined as performing one meaningful action in the app, including viewing/creating/sharing a post, reacting/commenting to a post, viewing/saving de-escalation strategies, etc. Here are the tracking metrics we would like to measure in our product lifecycle:
- app downloads
- After the first quarter, acquire 100 users
- post with at least 1 interaction
- interaction defined as reactions, comments, and shares
- of de-escalation strategies bookmarked
- 28 day retention
- Not our main focus until we surpass our acquisition goal
- NPS (5 faces)
- Post-survey, users report less stress
Our roadmap for phase 2 and 3 is as follows:
- Embed a link within a post
- Community guidelines
- Adjust profile setting
- Search feature enhancement
- Security enhancement
- Notification when your post has a new reaction or a comment
- Notification when there are new posts of your interest
- Share posts externally
- Play store release
To ensure widespread adoption of Doumi, we have developed a comprehensive go-to-market strategy to effectively reach and engage with our audience. Our approach combines various marketing channels and strategies aimed at creating awareness, building trust, and ultimately encouraging potential users to download the app.
Within 30 days of play store launch (soft launch)
Multi-channel Marketing Strategies
Partnerships and Email Marketing
Target audience: PR or leadership teams of dementia institutions
Establish partnerships with relevant organizations, healthcare providers, and support groups to leverage their networks and reach potential users
Send an email to partnered institutions so we can get on their newsletters. Ask their PR person to include a section to encourage caregivers to download our app; message should include that this app can be used as a secondary helper and will be useful for patients that will be sent home from care homes or patients who are already cared for by their family membersCommunity EngagementTarget audience: caregiving seeking advice and support in local and online communitiesActively participate in online forums, discussion groups, and communities where caregivers seek advice and effort by hosting webinars and virtual events to demonstrate how the app can be a valuable resource for caregivers.Content MarketingTarget audience: general caregivers of dementia patients and those facing specific challengesCreate informative content on caregiving challenges including topics such as redirection of agitated patients. Distribute the articles on online forums and blogs, providing valuable insights and showcasing Doumi as a solution to download
60 days (hard launch - embark on generating buzz!)
Our unique value proposition is that it is more than just a social media app where you can post your questions and get answers; you can vent and gain tips on how to redirect aggressive behaviours of your loved ones. Our messaging to the target audience will capture how our uniqueness and their needs intersect.
Multi-channel Marketing Strategies
- Target audience: users of Facebook groups and subreddits related to caregiving or dementia
- For those who are struggling with social isolation/redirecting their loved ones, write a message filled with empathy to direct them to give our app a try
- Make posts on relevant subreddits to advertise our app
- Target audience: senior care homes, Alzheimer’s and dementia institutions
- Continuously send newsletter emails to the institutions to advertise new features of our app
- Reach out to dementia influencers who are caregivers or experts such as Teepa Snow and Adria Thompson to review how well the app works
- Reach out to grandma tiktokers such as grandma_droniak to review viral marketing to ensure that our app works well for the senior population
Quality Assurance and Customer Satisfaction Tactics
- Set up customer support channels such as social media and email to listen to the voice of the customers and fix their issues
Apply initial feedback and iterate the app quickly
- Gather initial feedback and apply the feedback to our app
- Fix the unforeseen bugs and perform functional, usability, and performance testing to ensure the app’s stability and reliability
- Use 5 stars rating to gauge customer satisfaction
90 days (feedback loop and continuous improvements)*our marketing effort will continue
- Send out surveys to gather use feedback to users who have been using the app for 1 month
- Implement in-app feedback tools such as “Do you find these strategies helpful?” screens
- Use feedback for continuous improvement of the app and user experience
- Continue marketing efforts to maintain visibility and attract new users
Throughout this phase, metrics such as new user signups, CTR of a link in a post/email, and conversion rate from deep links will be regularly tracked to measure the success of our marketing strategy and guide future strategy adjustments.
Product Manager Learnings:
Co. Lab taught me that it is okay to pivot and that user research should guide feature developments. I believe the reason why we were able to succeed as a team was that we all prioritized user experience as our key value driver instead of what we thought was right. This attitude definitely helped us assess the tradeoff when prioritizing features because we always tried to empathize with users and asked us the question, “what would our users do/like?”
Conducting remote user testing with the senior population was a major challenge. There were technical struggles in using Zoom, sharing their screen, and accessing the prototype appropriately. In retrospect, the testing should have all been done in person, because the external factors exhausted and frustrated the users, before the tasks even began. I would’ve made sure that they knew how to do basic movements on their technology - like scrolling, clicking, typing - so there was a baseline to begin testing.
In terms of design, I was reminded to keep things simple. The UI patterns that worked best with the older users were the most familiar and obvious interactions. When in doubt, Simple button taps on list/gallery views were more successful than motions requiring swiping sideways (carousels) and dragging (comment boxes).
I also grew in my experience of working with developers. We communicated often, and when in doubt jumped on a Discord call to discuss best options. There were a couple of screens (like the Tag search and editing pages) that were unnecessarily complicated, and Christian and Khlee were helpful in offering suggestions of ideal technical feasibility that I translated into designs.
During this project, my role as a developer granted me profound experience in mobile development. Building a mobile app from scratch presented its own set of challenges, and overcoming them was a great learning opportunity. Collaborating with my teammate Klhee, we navigated through these challenges, with a highlight being the successful implementation of features to create, edit, delete posts, and manage user interactions. The steep learning curve tested my technical skills, but the project's hands-on experience will undoubtedly augment my growth as a developer for my future endeavors.
I learned about mobile development and everything that came with it (React Native, expo), since all of that was brand new for me! Also learned the importance of communication with the team members on my current status and struggles, and being open and honest about them. I also learned the value of having input from different disciplines in order to make a comprehensive and high-quality app.
Full Team Learning
We definitely learnt the importance of aligning on a common goal and communicating in a timely manner on changes. Also, we learnt how to collaborate cross-functionally as a team and respect each other’s opinion by being flexible and having an open environment to bring up new ideas. Since we are all learning new skills, it was important to support one another's growth.