Despite the diversity of life — one universal fact of existence is that it ends. Our team found that only 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. have made plans for their end-of-life proceedings or have spoken to a loved one about their wishes. Thus, we designed LifeKit to motivate and mobilize individuals to prepare for the unexpected.
LifeKit is a mobile app concept within the OS ecosystem that makes end-of-life planning approachable, proactive, and streamlined; while also opening up opportunities to integrate into larger systems within the government, legal, health, and financial sectors.
The app breaks down daunting planning tasks into bite-sized steps and allows users to update, authorize, and legalize their wishes at their own pace. It also prompts users at the time of life-changing events to ensure that planning is both relevant and dynamic.
LifeKit makes planning a part of living, enabling better peace of mind for individuals and their loved ones.
LifeKit | Celebrate Life's Moments
LifeKit | Prepare for the Future
LifeKit | Enable Peace of Mind
LifeKit | Human-Centered Design Principles
LifeKit | The Main Screens
LifeKit | The Notification Mechanism
LifeKit | Formulating a Plan
LifeKit | Managing Plans
LifeKit | Making Life-Saving Info Accessible
LifeKit | The Significance
LifeKit | Plan Ahead for the Ones You Love
Planning for the future creates peace of mind at all stages of life. However, it can be difficult to establish the necessity of routine planning as we are swept up in the movement of our everyday lives. LifeKit aims to bridge this divide by weaving together celebration, emergency, and future thinking tasks.
Our operating system level intervention consists of three complimenting features:
– The Unprecedented Times notification feature contains the users' essential medical information for first responders and their pertinent legal documents if they should become ill or no longer be able to communicate their wishes.
– Future Plans and Wills provides access to important documents, such as personal wills and contact information of one's Power of Attorney while turning the opaque, complex process of creating legal documents into a simple step-by-step guide.
– The Timeline brings these features together. It aggregates memorable events and milestones shared by the user, then provides suggestions and small nudges to help correlate these celebratory moments with corresponding goals, wishes, and legal documentation.
These features allow LifeKit users the ability to expand their mental model of planning to be less of a chore or a barrier, to something that is continually considered. Finally, by presenting preparation as an act of love for those you care about, and by providing a human-centered, accessible, and integrated platform, LifeKit becomes a vehicle for developing more resilient individuals.
With the UN Sustainability Development Goals as our focus, this intervention aims to open up the conversation about how we can design and build a digital infrastructure that helps individuals prepare to navigate difficult situations in their life while also navigating the complexity of legal, medical, and government systems – directly from their phone. So now, individuals can gain peace of mind knowing that they are prepared for whatever life throws at them.
The Design Process, Insights, and Considerations
We researched how people regard mortality today and found that many neglect preparing for uncertainty and postpone planning indefinitely.
We learned that life planning is oftentimes only brought into focus when an individual survives or sees a loved one survive a life-threatening event. Those that don't plan for their future have half-formulated ideas about what they want as legacy wishes, however, most of them do not formalize it or communicate their intentions to those who matter. Therefore many people are unaware of how to prepare for the long term and are not ready to navigate the complexity of legal and medical systems.
We dug deeper into why people do not plan and what actions they need to take to make planning easier. We learned that the barriers to planning include a lack of awareness, knowledge, motivation, commitment to act, and access to resources.
Through our research, we found that the planning process is very complex. There are various decisions to make, critical roles to assign, complex systems to figure out, and tedious processes to go through. An 86-year-old planner shared that he and his wife have most of the things figured out now, but "We went through them in such a higgledy-piggledy way over many many years."
In addition to the current planning methods, information is often scattered all over the place, physical documents can be outdated or misplaced, and life-saving information oftentimes is nowhere to be found during emergencies by caregivers or family members.
We explored different concepts and tested our ideas with 10 individuals for their feedback. We also conducted a competitive analysis to hone in on our product positioning in a niche space motivating those that avoid planning. Through our competitive analysis, we also identified design features that were working well and warranted improvement. This helped us identify important features that individuals prefer the most.
Through our ideation process, we identified these six user insights that we carried through to our final design.
1. People prefer participating in life planning individually vs in a group.
2. People prefer platforms or systems that they have engaged with, in the past.
3. Prompting at the time of life transition events can often reach individuals that don't typically plan for the future.
4. People seek external facilitation that nudges them and keeps them engaged with planning over time.
5. The tone of voice should be non-threatening and balance both friendliness and professionalism.
6. The writing level should be at a grade school level for accessibility.
After conducting our research, we consolidated everything that we learned and developed these four human-centered design principles to guide our design. The four major principles were –
1. Personal Curation
What do you value? "Memories - my archives, what makes me, me!" by Workshop Participant
2. Accessibility and Approachability
"Our phone is definitely an extension of ourselves." by User Tester
3. Progressive Guidance and Autonomy
"Walk me through the process of daunting decisions, and allow me to do it in manageable chunks." by Workshop Participant
4. Selective Sharing
"Within my family, I would prefer that my mom handles my proceedings." by Interviewee
Prototyping & Evaluative Research
We made wireframes and prototypes and conducted user testing with 8 people. After conducting the user testing we iterated on several rounds of feedback to refine the details of our final design concept, LifeKit.
Testing participants enjoyed how the application:
1. Captured significant moments for celebration and provided a unique opportunity to pause and think ahead to the future.
2. Broke down complex systems and daunting decision-making processes, while making it easy step by step.
4. Empowered individuals to update their wishes, authorize access, and legalize plans at their own pace.
5. Prompted them at the time of personal life-changing events.
When considering the next steps of LifeKit for the future we would like to continue maximizing the design impact so that it is accessible to more people.
Future Considerations Include:
1. How might we make the process of formulating a plan more engaging and motivating?
2. How might we better balance empowering autonomy and facilitating the process?
3. How might we find a balance in helping people keep things organized while also embracing our human nature to be indecisive?
*Disclaimer - Our team is not affiliated with Apple. The Apple branding material is the intellectual property of Apple.