Whale Grace App

I designed an iOS app that has the power of healing to give the body and mind a sustained, long-lasting sense of well-being.

This is my story of designing “Whale Grace Music,” an app designed for people who wanted to reduce depression/stress and build relationships. Whale Grace Music was associated with positive social support. It contained recommended songs, radio channels, feeling functions, and community functions. People can share beautiful songs with the same preferences or moods and publish their songs.

My Role

I worked on this project as a User Experience Designer lead. I was part of a small team alongside Zhujia Dong, now studying at Art Center College of Design, California. I was responsible for:

The Challenge

Visualize Healing Music

“Healing” had become a popular concept. We need nourishment to soothe our souls in online relationships from emotional pressures. With a 2-month timeline, we conducted in-depth research. Combining music therapy theories, we tried to engage users and deliver the user experience of Healing music in a more effective and meaningful way.

Design Toolkit

The Approach

Cognitive walk-through

Throughout the project, we researched the Human-Centered Computing field and user experience design methods. This approach was necessary to understand the music healing process and users’ music preferences under social media towards:


Through the project, I conducted deeply theoretical research and academic literature review. To be more specific, based on Sensitive Self-disclosures, Responses, and Social Support on Instagram: The Case of #Depression,” we found:

  1. People can benefit from disclosing negative emotions;
  2. Social network sites could positively offer an unprecedented way for emotion sharing (Andalibi, Ozturk, and Forte, 2017).
Literature Review

We then used When, Where, Who, and Why based on 5W2H to design the online questionnaire to target the user group. We tried to figure out why These people were heavily using the music app to listen to, what kind of music they tended to share, and why they did that.

The Discovery

User-tailored music for healing

Insights from our discovery indicated that an app could help to improve the day-to-day lives of depression through self-healing music.

We discovered that image-based sharing was essential for depression users though it was only a two-dimensional object. Images are tangible, while music is “more empowering to kickstart our imagination, painting inner pictures and inspiring us.”

We wish to use a different approach to ease the lives of depression users. We need to provide an application of self-healing music app that can:

Music is more empower to kickstart our imagination, painting inner pictures and inspiring us.

Before starting any visual design, we spent tons of time making the function definition. We designed an online questionnaire to target user groups to understand music theory and how it affects users’ thoughts and feelings about recommended songs, radio channels, and playlists.

Using Persona, we call out the users’ painpoints even more!


The Framework

Concept Structure First


We did the task analysis based on user goals and needs. We then created the information architecture (IA) through task analysis and user flow to match many different people. With the literature (Andalibi, Ozturk, and Forte, 2017) and our user study, we finally came out with the features over the others:


After visual thinking on paper and sketching, we came out with our user journey – the flow chats included the interactive steps of this app and the user interface mockups.


Nowadays, so many things can be associated with ‘Healing.’ For example, as highly-intelligent animals, the whales can communicate with people with empathy, and everyone also loves their amiable appearance and ethical behavior. In branding our app concept, we chose the whale as a symbol of musical communication and emotional intelligence. Their gentle and sensitive movements can stimulate people to the outside world. Healing people, the whale is the most useful one than those psychotherapists. It was similar to music which can relax, soothe and heal the listeners’ hearts and so on.

 After the usability test for our low-fidelity prototype, we adopted this idea, using a cute whale as our icon for this Music APP.

Detailed Design

Visualize the Healing Music

We finally developed and troubleshot the prototype during usability testing to check for UI design flaws and establish critique:

The Impact

Result & Takeaways

We helped users through our app, including:

Positive social support could be emotional support, esteem, network, instrumental. It means a lot when I read the comment from followers like “I’ve been there before. You will get through as I did before! We can talk if you want~”

– Anonymous Website Visitor