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Circle is a relationship reflection app for LGBTQ+ young adults to visualize and introspect on the evolution of their closest relationships.
App design, Interaction design, Prototyping, End-to-End Process
Product Designer
Interaction + Design
University of Washington
13 Weeks
September - December 2021
Home and LGBTQ+ Individuals
This project is the end-to-end design my team and I created within our Ideation Studio over 13 weeks.

Our design prompt at the beginning of the quarter was: “Homes of the Future”.

Our team first began by defining “home”. And when we asked ourselves “what is home?” the core of “home” was not 4 walls or a big kitchen, but it was the more intangible aspects: family, friends, acceptance.

We then thought of user groups that lose these aspects of home. We immediately thought about LGBTQ+ youth that may lose these core aspects of home or these core aspects of home experience a strong shift as they come into
their true identity.

We immediately knew this was the user group that we wanted to design for ways to bring closer to home.
Why is this important?
1.8 million LGBTQ+ youth
between the ages of 13 and 24 in the U.S.
seriously consider suicide each year.
In the US, the LGBTQ+ community faces both systemic barriers to stable housing and cultural threats to family and community acceptance.

With shifts in identity comes a shift in relationships with friends and family which in many cases does not go well resulting in issues like isolation and in extreme cases the loss of a home.
Where should we start?
Our team initially began with the simple question:
What is home to LGBTQ+ Young Adults?
The next step from there was our generative research. We conducted desk research and user interviews to understand if our assumptions of the intangible aspects of home being the most important were correct.
How do LGBTQ+ Young Adults Define Home?
We dove into the space by conducting a comprehensive literature review and 8 qualitative interviews to better understand the problems within this space.
We used a design activity in our qualitative interview called the “Circle of Home” where we had users think of aspects of home throughout different stages of their life and map them on a circle, with the center being the most important and the outside being the least.
What did we learn from all that research?
Relationships = Home

Relationships were central to a sense of home for all participants.
Places and Things are not as Important

Places and objects do help people feel at home, but are not primary factors.
Home Changes After Coming Out

LGBTQ+ identity shifts had a major impact on participants’ relationship to home.
Now what?
After all this research we could now reframe our design goal to solve for our findings:
How might we support LGBTQ+ young adults in adapting and evolving their circle of relationships that are central to their sense of home?
What should users feel?
We created the following design principles deriving from our research to guide our design:

Circle prioritizes creating a safe space where people feel free to genuinely evaluate themselves and their relationships.

Circle aims to support people in recognizing and strengthening their connections.

Circle provides individuals with opportunities for reflection about themselves, individual relationships, and overall changes in their set of connections.

Circle values personal growth through guided long-term and short-term introspection.
How can design facilitate better relationships?
We then went on to rapidly prototype 120 ideas using methods like braiding and 8x8’s narrowing them down by dot voting.
We narrowed to the following two ideas as they were most relevant to our design principles and findings from our qualitative interviews.
We like this idea but do users?
The next step was imagining how this idea would exist. Would it be an app, a website, an object? We went on to prototype and test these options of forms in co-creating sessions with participants.
We first ran a concept evaluation to receive feedback
on our idea. We did this by creating a paper prototype
that mimicked the activities a user would go through
in a lo-fi form.
Next we created a mock-up of the prototype’s functionality as an app. We allowed participants to use the prototype and give us feedback.
And the final form we tested was a decorative physical object that could be placed publicly but used AR to allow users to see private information they logged.
We ended up receiving positive feedback on both the app and physical form. However, participants did not like
the AR feature tied to the physical object. So we decided to combine both ideas with the result being the app and
the physical object.
Map Visualizations

Users view their relationships on a map to better understand their feelings and the state of their relationships.
Self Reflections

Users can record their feelings about a relationship in a
self reflection.

In self reflections they take voice recordings and can label the reflections.
Guided Reflections

They can also go through a guided reflection where they can receive a guide to what they are reflecting on.

Every 3 months a season is wrapped up and they will see data on their reflections and emotions and can make further reflections as the season ends.
Future work on this product would be towards developing the guided reflections to offer more support to the user. If we had more time we would have liked to speak to subject matter experts on how we could accomplish this.