Posted on 21 February 2022, updated 7 April 2023
by Nathan Blanken, Product & UX Intern
I am a sophomore computer science major at the University of Maryland, College Park. I am also the President of the Active Minds chapter at UMD. I have been working as an intern with the Flourish Labs team over the past few months to help improve myala and give my perspective as a student.
Last September we launched the first version of myala to a small group of trusted testers. We knew the app wasn’t perfect, but we wanted to get it in the hands of students sooner rather than later to get real feedback from real users. Since then we have received hundreds of bug reports and feature suggestions through the feedback form in the app. We also ran focus groups and online surveys in November and December. We got a lot of feedback, both positive and constructive, and were able to incorporate many of the suggestions into this new release.
Check-ins are our most popular feature, and working well
A myala Check-in consists of about a dozen questions on different factors that affect your mental wellbeing and health such as your mood, calmness, focus, motivation, socialization and how you feel about your sleep. Think of a myala ‘Check-in’ as a twice daily activity, just like brushing your teeth. It only takes about a minute.
Check-ins have been by far the most popular feature within myala, with over 3,600 completed. Check-ins got mostly positive ratings and comments in our user research.
“I like that it keeps track of how I am doing so I don’t necessarily need to go out of my way to journal about it. I don’t always have a ton of free time so this is nice because it is quick and easy.”
“I like that it helps me to check in with myself and see how I am feeling. I like that I can see Check-ins from the past.”
“Sometimes Check-ins accidentally fall out of my routine.”
“How much has your thinking slowed? can be interpreted positively or negatively, which is not necessarily helpful to people who are looking at the question from a more objective lens. How should this question be interpreted? Is it good to have slower or faster thinking?”
We’ve been iterating the Check-in user experience to make improvements such as randomizing the order that the questions are presented, where the slider starts, and how responses are stored so you can complete a Check-in even if you don’t have an internet connection.
We are still figuring out how to help you make Check-ins a daily habit. You can customize the reminder time for morning and evening in Your Settings/Check-in reminders. Tap the wrench icon on the bottom right of the myala app to get to Your Settings. Some users haven’t been receiving notifications from myala to prompt them, which makes it easy to forget to do a Check-in. If you are not getting notifications, please check the permissions on your iPhone or Android phone.
We are also revisiting the wording of some of the questions, and will swap out some that are less useful or confusing in a future release.
Overall, it seems that Check-ins are working well for you. Becky Fein from Active Minds wrote a great article about how Check-ins have been useful for her.
myala now connects to Apple Watch
One of the unique features of myala is that it allows you to see data from your wearable device alongside the data you enter in Check-ins. Version 1 only supported Fitbit and Oura. Many users – myself included – wanted to connect Apple Watch, and I’m pleased to report that this latest release of myala integrates with Apple Watch. You can now see your sleep data from your Apple Watch directly in myala.
Some users were unaware that you can connect a wearable to myala, so we’re now including information about how to connect a wearable device in the welcome emails and the Help section.
The Your Data reports needed a complete redesign
Once you complete a Check-in, you are taken to the Your Data section of the app. You can also access this by tapping on the geometric symbol on the bottom nav of the app.
In V1, reports were split into “Mind Data” reports for the Check-in data and “Body Data” reports for data coming from wearables. They showed a simple zero to 10 score of each factor, with shading corresponding to the scores. There was a feature to compare two different factors such as mood and calm or sleep and motivation, but it was buried deep on the bottom of the reports and you couldn’t compare more than two.
The feedback we received about version 1 of the reports was blunt: They were not working. Users found the reports hard to read, and they didn’t provide enough insights. We tried displaying a summary on the top, but the algorithm wasn’t working well, so we took it out again for now.
“I really like the different colors that are being used. However, I do not know what each means. It is difficult to understand how to read the Mind Data reports.”
“I’m not sure what the numbers mean.”
“Add ability to customize the timespan that can be viewed for reports (day, week, month, year)”
“A line graph could be more beneficial in viewing decline in mood, sleep, focus, etc. patterns.”
We appreciate the constructive feedback and suggestions for improvement!
We went back to the drawing board and made some key design decisions based on the user feedback: to focus on trends over time, comparisons between factors, and enable you to see how your sleep impacts your day-to-day mental wellbeing.
New Check-in report: Trends and comparisons
We’re excited to show you the completely redesigned reports. If you click on the Your Data tab at the bottom of the myala app, you will first see a new Check-in report section. The data from your Check-ins is displayed in a line chart showing trends over time. If you complete at least one Check-in a day, you will get a continuous trend line. Sleep questions are only asked in the morning Check-in, so don’t miss that one!
By default, you will see the “Week” view which shows you your responses from the prior seven days. If you select “Month” or “Year”, you will see data from the past 28 days or last 12 months, respectively. On any of these you can swipe left to see previous time periods.
myala breaks down your Check-in report by 7 factors that relate to your mental health and wellbeing:
- Mood – How up or down you feel.
- Calmness – How calm or anxious you feel.
- Focus – How clear-headed and focused you feel.
- Motivation – How you feel about your ability to take initiative, how enthusiastic and satisfied you feel.
- Sleep – How you feel about your sleep quality.
- Socialization – How you see yourself around others and your social interactions.
- Physical – How you feel your psychological state may be impacting your body and vice versa.
You can understand your data in more depth by comparing two or more factors. For example, you can compare how your mood is changing versus your sleep. Tap a factor button to toggle it on and off in the chart.
New Sleep report based on wearable data
The V1 “Body Data” report showed average scores for sleep quality, activity and heart rate, which users found not very useful or actionable.
In the redesign we chose to focus on sleep, which has a big impact on mental health. Sleep duration is difficult to self-assess accurately, so the wearable data is useful in addition to how you rate your sleep in your morning Check-in.
The new sleep report will only show data if you have connected a wearable. If you have an Apple Watch, Fitbit, or Oura ring, you can now connect it to myala. Tap the wrench icon on the bottom right of the app to go to Your Settings/Wearable devices. Once you connect your wearable, the last day of data will be automatically loaded into the sleep report so you can start to view different aspects of your sleep.
In the top chart of the sleep report, myala shows you the average duration of sleep for the nights that you wore your wearable device. Similar to the check-in report, you can select week, month, or year and swipe left or right to change the dates shown.
Right below you will see a line chart showing the times you fell asleep and woke up as indicated by the sun and moon icons. A consistent bedtime helps to improve sleep, so this is an actionable insight.
The new sleep charts are really helpful for me because they allow me to easily compare how much sleep I get each night with the results from my Check-ins. Being able to see real sleep data from my wearable device and see how that impacted my day-to-day mood or calmness is really important to me.
New Notes report
In V1 of the app, you could make a diary note at the end of a Check-in, or any time by tapping on the ‘add a note’ link on the home screen. If you like to journal, you will probably agree with me when I say that this is super useful. It is hard to remember details about how I felt during the day if it was more than just a few days ago, so having it written in the notes is a good way to keep track of it.
However, V1 didn’t have a way to display the notes yet, and our users noticed!
“I want the function to keep track of my notes and diaries.”
We’ve fixed this in the new release.
At the bottom of the Your Data page is now one of my favorite parts of myala: the ability to view all of the notes you took. The notes section is particularly helpful because you can refer to these notes and then you can scroll up and find your Check-in or sleep report data to see how your results matched up with how you felt that day. It is so convenient that all of this is in the same place.
When we asked users how much they liked using the myala app, the overall feedback was positive.
“I think this app is off to a really good start. I really like the simplicity and intelligence that has been integrated into it.”
“I am enjoying the app so far and feel grateful for the opportunity to engage in the app’s development.”
But many of you weren’t sure yet if you would continue to use myala in the future, because it wasn’t useful enough yet.
“I haven’t figured out why it is useful to me.”
“I haven’t gotten enough analytics from the app to justify the use.”
We hope that the new reports are one step closer to making myala useful to you.
When we asked what would most likely make you continue to use myala in the future, the most requested feature was peer support.
“I’m really excited about the peer support function.”
So that’s what we’re working on next!
We’re just getting started on the design of the peer support feature. If you would like to participate in one of our focus groups to brainstorm with us, you can sign up here.
I have seen first hand how the team at Flourish Labs is working incredibly hard to provide the best possible user experience, and quickly iterating to implement user feedback from the students using the app.
Thanks again to everyone who provided feedback. We are so excited for you all to see this new version of myala and have it be a part of your daily routine to keep track of your mental wellbeing. We look forward to the next round of feedback, please keep it coming! Be sure to keep an eye out for future blog posts and releases as we strive to make myala better for you.
If you already use myala, go to the App Store or Google Play and tap ‘update’ to get the new version of the app.
Note: This blogpost was updated on 7 April 2023 to reflect the name change from håp to myala.