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Concept Development

My dad had cancer my sophomore year of college. When asked in my Design for Understanding class to design something related to public health or safety that is important to us, I knew I wanted my project to involve cancer. There are already many resources for people with cancer, but less for their supporters. My role with cancer was as a supporter, so I decided this is the direction I would go in. How could supporters be successful in that role, and how could they cope with seeing their loved one sick?

Research + Need

I looked into some dynamics that can occur between a patient and a loved one. When my dad was sick, our dynamic changed—the caregiver had to now receive care. This made me interested in other dynamics.


After some beginning secondary research on cancer support, I contacted Jena Cooreman, a social worker at the UC Davis Medical School's cancer center. She informed me that that need in this area was for long-distance support, as there are currently not enough resources for these supporters. Not everyone can drop their lives to help their sick loved ones. She also said there is a tech piece missing for more tech-savvy younger adults. After my conversation with Ms. Cooreman, I refined my topic to focus on long-distance cancer support and wanted to attempt a phone app. I did research from here, looking into existing resources and ways people can be supportive from near and far. It became clear it would be too limiting to do an app only relating to people with cancer, so I broadened it to include anyone who is sick and in need of support.



“A surprising number of distant caregivers—nearly 30 percent in one study—feel so inadequate that they don’t even identify themselves as caregivers"

—The New York Times


When you are far away from a sick loved one, how can you help them? It can be easy to feel guilty for not being there with them. My goal was to remove some of this guilt by giving supporters easy ways to help even from afar.


You don’t have to be there with someone to be there for them.




"Portable Support” and “Able to Support"



I applied three IDEO Method Cards to my research: paper prototyping, narration, and flow analysis. After mocking up most of my app pages, I printed and did user testing with them. How were the users navigating through the app, what were points of confusion, and so on. I also had them narrate as they went, so it was clear what stood out and why they chose to click in certain areas. In addition, I did a flow analysis to see how all the pages connected. This allowed me to find discrepancies in flow and see what I was missing.



The final app is anything but final. It is more of a prototype of the features and flow of what the Supportable app would be, and it encompasses a lot of my research. 


I would love to go back to this project someday and really flesh it out visually.

Supportable Logo





Paper Prototyping
User Testing
App Sketches
Concept Ideas


Supportable Icons
Flow Analysis
App Pages

Lessons Learned


1. It’s easy to get caught up in the details. Establish the big picture.


2. Research is number one, two, and three on a list of most important things.


3. It’s way more satisfying designing for an actual need.

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