How often do mothers talk to their high school and college aged kids? Not very often, and not necessarily at the right time to be a helpful resource for their kids. In a team with Ken Murphy , we decided to design a solution to help facilitate more meaningful conversations between mothers that feel “out of the loop” and their teenage kids.
We interviewed 7 mothers and 6 kids in person, and received over 45 responses to our survey. The survey was designed to learn about current communication patterns between parents and teenagers. We found that 90% of our respondents (both parents and kids) have smartphones. 75% of parents use social media to keep in touch with their kids, and 25% resort to emailing or text messaging only. Almost all of the mothers said that seeing pictures of their kids gave them a better idea of how they were doing than just talking to them. Many mothers also worried about “over reaching” and protecting their kid’s privacy, but still wanted to know more about kid’s lives. Their main concern was their kid’s wellbeing and providing timely support when needed. Based on this research we developed personas for the different types of mothers and a typical child. Using the personas we developed to inform our design decisions, we explored a wide range of concepts through sketches, wireframes, and high fidelity mock ups. Throughout this iterative process, we included several mothers and their kids in hands-on paper prototyping testing to help refine our designs. Our final design solution was a mobile application Weave, a tool to help mothers feel like they are more involved in their college aged kid's lives without overstepping any privacy boundaries. The purpose of Weave is not to replace face-to-face communications, but instead act as a conversation starter for the parents. Weave allows mothers to see their kid's schedule, important events as they happen in real time, and most importantly, things their kids might need help with. Weave facilitates sharing of more private information that kids want their parents see, but don’t necessarily feel comfortable sharing with friends over social media.