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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.
Charlie Blue Brahm
Nikita Nerurkar
Adeeb Dholakia
Product Designer
Project Manager
UX Researcher
Human-Computer Interaction + Design
University of Washington
13 Weeks
September - December 2021
According to research conducted by the Trevor Project, more than 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.
How can we support LGBTQ+ young adults in adapting and evolving their circle of relationships that are central to their sense of home?
Our team initially began with the question:
“What is home to LGBTQ+ young adults?” and we quickly found relationships were at the heart of the idea of home.

Through these 13 weeks we provided a tool for LGBTQ+ young adults
to visualize, reflect, and find support in their relationships and their
sense of home.
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.
We dove into the space by conducting a comprehensive literature review and then qualitative interviews to better understand the problems within this space.
From our research we gained the following insights:

1. Relationships and emotions were central to a sense of home
   for all of our participants.

2. LGBTQ+ identity shift(s) had a major impact on participants’
    relationship to home.

3. Places and physical objects do help people feel at home, but they
    are not primary factors.
We created the following design principles deriving from our research to guide our design:
Circle aims to support people in recognizing and strengthening their connections.
Circle prioritizes creating a safe space where people feel free to genuinely evaluate themselves and their relationships.
Circle values personal growth through guided long and short term introspection.
Circle provides individuals with opportunities for reflection about themselves, individual relationships, and overall changes in their set of connections.
We then went on to rapidly prototype 120 ideas using methods like braiding and 8x8’s narrowing them down by dot voting.
We ended up liking the following two ideas the most and morphing them together forming a very early form of our idea.
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 it
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 forms but participants did not like the AR feature of the physical object. So we decided to combine both ideas and began building out the app and the physical object.
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.