A mobile meditation app designed to help people manage their chronic pain symptoms.
View Prototype

Project Details


UI Design
UX Research
Brand Design
Interaction Design


Adobe After Effects
Adobe Photoshop


iOS Application


6 weeks

The Goal

Design an app that offers users the tools they need to adopt proven techniques that help with chronic pain, including somatic tracking, meditation, mindfulness, and good sleep hygiene.

Problem Statement

Chronic pain sufferers who use meditation apps often struggle to maintain a consistent routine with their practice and have difficulty finding meditations that specifically focus on techniques to help manage pain.

Target Audience

Final Screens

The Challenge

The challenge was to design a digital product for a client’s wellness company that would promote regular user engagement.

To do this, I decided to design a mobile mindfulness app for people that live with chronic pain conditions. 

Could people who struggle with chronic pain and illness find relief through a meditation practice that incorporates specific techniques to help manage their symptoms?

What is "Somatic Tracking"?

Somatic tracking is the primary technique used in Pain Reprocessing Therapy and is the therapeutic practice of monitoring and observing bodily sensations and pain symptoms, in order to gain a deeper understanding of one's physical and emotional state.

So the question in laying out this project became: How might we help people incorporate somatic tracking, meditation, mindfulness, and good sleep hygiene into their busy lives in order to help them with their chronic pain?

Background Research

To better understand the problem set I was building for, I wanted to see if there was quantitative data available that could demonstrate how large of an audience there might be for this product to internal and external stakeholders and how big of an impact this type of therapy has on people's lives.

Important Statistics

"More than 20% of all US adults live with chronic pain - CDC

Research published in April 2023 by the CDC estimated that more than 51 million people, or more than 20% of the US adult population, live with chronic pain and 17 million, almost 7% of adults, have high-impact chronic pain (pain associated with substantial restriction in work, social, and self-care activities for at least 6 months) - Source

"66% of chronic back pain patients who underwent Pain Reprocessing Therapy (PRT) were pain-free or nearly pain-free post-treatment after four weeks."

A 2021 CU Boulder research study focusing on the effect of Pain Reprocessing Therapy on chronic back pain patients, found that 66% of chronic back pain patients who underwent a four-week psychological treatment called Pain Reprocessing Therapy (PRT) were pain-free or nearly pain-free post-treatment. - Source

A 2020 report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality concluded that mindfulness-based stress reduction was associated with short-term (less than 6 months) improvement in low-back pain.  - Source

A 2020 NCCIH-supported analysis of five studies of adults using opioids for acute or chronic pain (with a total of 514 participants) found that meditation practices were strongly associated with pain reduction. - Source.

In 2017, The CDC reported that over 14.2% of Americans have tried meditation. - Source.

Competitive Analysis

Now that I had a better understanding of the audience, I wanted to take a look at solutions that are already on the market, and perform a SWOT analysis to see what opportunities might exist for SOMA.



  • Established brand and credibility in the meditation and mindfulness space.
  • Wide variety of meditation programs, sleep sounds, and mindfulness exercises.
  • Collaborations with brands, organizations, and celebrities, expanding reach and offering unique content collaborations.


  • Subscription-based model may deter some users unwilling to pay for premium content.
  • Limited free content available, potentially limiting access for users on a tight budget.
  • Intense competition in the meditation app market, making it challenging to differentiate.
  • Few options for meditations focusing on chronic pain conditions.


  • Partnerships with businesses and organizations interested in offering mindfulness and meditation programs to their employees or members.
  • Diversification of content beyond meditation to attract a wider audience.


  • Competition from other meditation apps and content providers offering similar services and features.
  • Free alternatives available online, making it challenging to convince users to pay for premium content.



  • High-quality meditation programs, sleep stories, music, and relaxation exercises.
  • Visually soothing and calming user interface.
  • Unique focus on sleep and relaxation-related content.
  • Collaborations with well-known figures, attracting attention and expanding the user base.


  • Limited free features, requiring a subscription for full access.
  • Competition from free meditation resources available online.
  • Potential lack of diversity in meditation programs compared to some competitors.
  • Little to no offerings for pain management content.


  • Partnerships with healthcare providers or insurance companies to offer meditation and relaxation programs as part of wellness initiatives.
  • Expansion into new markets and tailoring content to specific cultural contexts. 


  • Increasing competition from other meditation apps with similar offerings. 
  • Free alternatives available online, potentially diverting users from paying for a subscription.
  • Dated user interface compared to other competitors.

Ten Percent Happier


  • Unique approach targeting skeptics and providing practical techniques for incorporating mindfulness into daily life.
  • Expert guidance from renowned meditation teachers and experts.
  • Strong presence in media with a podcast, books, and interviews.
  • Emphasis on mindfulness in various aspects of life, appealing to users seeking a holistic approach.


  • Limited free content and a smaller user community.
  • Potentially narrower range of meditation styles and programs compared to some competitors.
  • Less content overall compared to other larger competitors.


  • Partnerships with wellness platforms, mental health apps, or corporate wellness programs to expand reach and integrate mindfulness into broader initiatives.
  • Collaboration with additional experts in the mindfulness and meditation field to diversify content.


  • Intense competition from other meditation apps with similar features and content.
  • Technological advancements or new trends in the wellness industry.
  • Competition from free meditation resources available online or other lower-cost apps.

Findings from Competitive Analysis

After conducting a comprehensive analysis of various meditation apps, I found that none of the platforms that I looked at sufficiently cater to the needs of individuals suffering from chronic pain. Despite the abundance of meditation applications available, the majority of them lack substantial offerings and dedicated resources targeting these specific areas.

This gap in the market demonstrates an opportunity for the development of more specialized and inclusive meditation apps that prioritize addressing chronic pain management and somatic tracking for a more holistic and comprehensive user experience.

Visual Design

Before diving into the design work, I made sure to thoroughly pour over my research and competitive analysis to make sure I was designing the right product for the right audience. It seemed that existing meditation apps had very few/limited options for people using meditation as a form of pain relief. This opened up a lot of space for ideas around unique accessibility features, and opportunities to cater to an underserved audience.

User Flows

The user flow for this project was driven by a user-centric approach. This process for figuring out the user journey needed to cater to diverse needs, ensuring a seamless meditation journey.


Once I had a clear understanding of SOMA's purpose and flow, it was time to put pen to paper. I gathered some sketchbooks and started generating ideas. I iterated through various interface layouts and brainstormed some creative ways to make the app accessible, soothing, and user-friendly.

Brand Identity

I wanted the visual identity of this platform to inspire a playful sense of calmness and to feel comfortable to users. This was realized through the intentional use of color, type, illustration, and language.


The color palette consists of mostly dark blues, purples, and pinks that are generally associated with sleep and tranquility. Throughout the app, I wanted there to be a significant use of gradients that inspire calmness. (I also just personally love a good gradient)


I wanted the typefaces for this project to feel fairly modern, so Idecided to opt for a more minimalist sans-serif collection to portray this. (Sorry Comic-Sans)


I wanted the user to be able to see illustrations of characters meditating, exercising, and performing normal daily activities pain-free in hopes to inspire the user to see that in themselves. (The illustration set used for SOMA was made with Midjourney. Being that this is a student project, I felt comfortable enlisting the help of AI tools, but in a real world scenario I would always hire an illustrator.) 


Just as important as cozy gradients and modern typefaces are, the copy and language that the application uses to communicate with the user had to envelop a calm and assuring tone to help guide the user through their experience.

Low-fidelity Designs

With the sketches and branding guidelines as my guiding light, I set out to create a testable lo-fidelity prototype.

This allowed me to focus solely on the core functionalities and user flows at the heart of the app’s experience.

The experience of developing the low-fidelity prototype helped me to think through user flow issues and refine the overall user experience

Lo-Fi Testing

Now that the architecture for SOMA started to take shape, I knew it was time to put the prototype to the test. 

I conducted usability sessions with five individuals dealing with chronic pain that I had connected with via social media communities, doing my best to navigate these user testing sessions with empathy. This feedback was a vital source of insight, guiding us toward improvements and shaping the app to be more inclusive and attuned to users' needs..

Insights from Low-Fidelity tests

  • Users expressed a desire to be able to quickly search for meditations from the home page, instead of having to navigate to the “Featured Collections” page and manually find their preferred content. This was rectified by adding a search bar to the main dashboard UI and search functionalities that would quickly and intuitively take users to selections based on their preferred meditation topics and keywords.
  • Many users communicated their preference of using meditations at bedtime as a means of falling asleep and expressed an interest in a “sleep mode” for this specific purpose. This was iterated upon by adding a sleep icon in the top right corner that would darken the screen, minimize unnecessary controls (such as the 15 second forwards and backwards controls) and enlarge the play/pause button to help users listening to content late at night.
  • Users expressed some privacy concerns with the questionnaire that new users are guided through after signing up for the app. This functionality was originally intended to match users with personalized meditation content, but after gaining this insight and realizing there might be HIPAA concerns with data collection I decided to remove this functionality completely.
  • Additional functionalities such as bookmarking content, ranking content, enhanced control over settings related to data and privacy were implemented after recommendations made by participants in user testing sessions.

High-Fidelity Designs

Once I had synthesized the findings from my lofi testing sessions, I was assured that I was much closer to designing the right product for the right audience.

For the hifi designs, I relied heavily on my branding guidelines and design system to build out the screens and workflows for the user. I wanted to mimic a real world design scenario as closely as possible, so everything was built out of atomic components for flexibility, ease of use, and consistency throughout the design process. 

Breathing Exercises

Controlled breathing can have a major impact on one's mental and physical well-being, and is another component of PRT.

This functionality was developed in Adobe After Effects and implemented into Figma as a video overlay for this screen.

Research was conducted on the types of breathing exercises help chronic pain sufferers, competitive analysis of how other available breathing exercise apps function, and testing to make sure this functionality worked and benefited the user.

Sleep Mode

Another finding from user testing and research was that many participants liked to use meditation as an aid to help them fall asleep.

After some initial research and testing, I found that the most functional way to aid this process for the user was by offering a "Sleep Mode" functionality that darkens the screen, minimizes unnecessary controls, and enlarges the play and pause buttons to help users control the meditation content when fumbling around for your phone late at night.

User Testing

For testing the high-fidelity screens, I had users work through a series of actions that would be consistent with new users opening the app for the very first time. This included processes such as sign up/sign in, beginning your first meditation session, searching for content, starting a breathing exercise, checking in using the journaling feature, and more. A full breakdown can be found here in my user testing script document.

Findings from High-Fidelity Tests

The user test sessions for SOMA revealed some really valuable insights into users' behaviors and their overall experiences with the application. 

  • Cluttered Interface: Some users perceived the app's interface as cluttered, with spacing issues leading to elements that were hard to differentiate. During the tests, a select number of users faced challenges interacting with smaller cards and buttons within the app. On the other hand, they found full-width buttons and cards more user-friendly. This feedback indicates that the app's layout and organization might be overwhelming or confusing for some users, potentially hindering their ability to navigate and interact effectively.
  • Uncertainty within Search Functionality: Users expressed some uncertainty about the scope of the search bar and what they could search for within the app. This suggests a need for clearer instructions or a more visible search scope indicator to enhance the search functionality and user understanding.
  • Hierarchy and Classification Ambiguity: Users had difficulty identifying the hierarchy between titles and were unsure about the classification of certain items. This indicates a potential information architecture issue, where better visual cues and design choices could help users understand the relationship between different elements more easily.
  • Positive Reception of Aesthetics: Participants generally appreciated the overall aesthetic of the app, noting that it conveys a soft and calming feel. This suggests that the visual design of the app is appealing and contributes to the intended user experience of relaxation and meditation.

Lessons Learned from This Project


This project taught me the importance of maintaining simplicity in design, the value of user testing for informed decision-making, and the necessity of continuous reevaluation to create a more user-centric and effective digital product. These lessons have not only enriched my understanding of UX design but have also reinforced the significance of empathy and attentiveness to user needs in creating impactful solutions.

Post-script: A huge influence on this project and a great deal of the background research was inspired by the book The Way Out: A Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven Approach to Healing Chronic Pain by Alan Gordon.

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