Memoir: Stress & Anxiety Relief Through Better Breathing

Memoir: Stress & Anxiety Relief Through Better Breathing

My Role:
Product Designer

Principal Product Designer
& Co-Founder

Team Size:

Myself + 1 Software

Mobile App

Launched to the App Store for iOS and Android

Testing Pool
5.9 Million

See My Testing Process for the Full Story

Memoir is an app that uses animations to guide you through deep breathing exercises to relieve stress and anxiety.

In addition to being mesmerizing and calming, Memoir's unique visual prompts can be used by customers who don't speak the language or who are deaf/hard of hearing.

Memoir launched to the App Store and Google Play Store in 2021.

"This might change my life. Thank you so much for this.🙏"

-Memoir Beta User (Jan 2021)

The Planet-Scale Problem:

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), at least 1 in 13 people suffers from moderate anxiety. This has only worsened due to the worldwide pandemic and other concerning world events.

Deep breathing exercises can be an impactful solution for many people to gain relief, but few practice them consistently due to obscurity or lack of practical knowledge in breath work.

Project Objectives:

Build a deep-breathing app that helps ease the world's stress and anxiety


Use visual cues so the app can be used worldwide, regardless of language.


Use short and digestible exercises, then allow the customer to ramp-up as desired.


Provide something new & fresh within the mindfulness space.

A Testing Pool of 5.9 Million — Validating the MVP

5.9 MILLION?? How is that possible?! 😱

Our early research indicated that a breathing exercise called the 4-7-8 technique was the best way to solve our customers' stress and anxiety, due to its simplicity and effectiveness.

This breathing technique is known to help reduce anxiety and nervousness, as well as allows people to sleep better.

We designed a series of exercise prompts based on the 4-7-8 technique using animated shapes moving in a loop.

Testing our MVP via a Social Platform 🤳

We used TikTok, a rising social media platform, to quickly get our breathing exercises in front of potential customers at scale and observe their reactions.

TikTok has a large organic reach potential, and the videos were quickly viewed hundreds of thousands of times within the first 2 weeks. During this process, we tested different variations of the main feature of our app - the breathing loop.

"Thank you. That was incredibly grounding. 💖💖"

"First day of home-schooling my 5-year-old today. I needed this."


Our Test Became a Trend by Accident

Our breathing loop lent itself beautifully to one of TikTok's most popular features, the "duet." A trend began where people around the world would record a duet video of themselves practicing along with our exercises.

"Going to favorite this and make this part of my morning and night routine. Thank you! 🙏"


What was the Best-Performing Content?

Through our rapid testing and observation of the TikTok metrics, we were able to determine the most engaging types of content for our app.

Our most popular exercises involved symmetrical shape patterns, fantastical landscape backgrounds, and were backed by a bell chime sound to mark breathing intervals.

"When I feel stressed I always come here. What app is this??"


Millions of Viewers, A Global Reach, and a Clear Path Forward 🚀

After 6 weeks of testing and experimenting with different content on TikTok, we had amassed over 5.9 million views, 160,000 followers, and our most popular exercise had accumulated over 17,000 hours of watch time.

By this point, our data suggested that we had a good app concept on our hands to proceed with.

Customer Segmentation: Daily Users & Evangelists

We segmented our ideal customers into two buckets: daily users who make up the majority of our customers, and evangelists who will champion our app to their audiences and clientele.

What Are Their Needs?

Key Takeaways from Existing Mindfulness App Reviews

1. People Want to Sleep 😴
Many reviews for existing mindfulness apps were centered around helping them sleep. This was an unexpectedly important feature for many.

2. People Have Different Sized Lungs 👨👧👦
People need different length breathing exercises — some short, some longer.

3. Don't Startle Them With Notifications 🚨😖
Many were bothered by a notification sound at the end of the exercise period.

4. People Don't Like to Pay 💳
Numerous reviewers are turned off by the subscription model and locked content of popular meditation and breath work apps. This was by far the largest reason for negative reviews.

Customer Journeys: Walking the Path of Truth 🧘

Guiding Customers to Create an Account

We knew we wanted to delay the account creation process and allow the customer to explore the app before committing to giving personal information.

We designed the app so that customers would be able to try out the free exercises as they please, and would be prompted to create an account when visiting the favorites or profile stats pages.

This kept an incentive for the customer to create an account while reducing the chance of them leaving the app due to an early account creation request.

High Fidelity Design & Interactions:

The Memoir app consists of three main pillars: the discover feed, the breathing exercise player, and the stats & favorites pages.

On the player screen, customers can tap-to-view the UI, providing options to toggle the music and bell sound, add to favorites, and set a timer.

Home Screen
Breathing Exercise Player
Setting a Timer
Favorites Library

Memoir also has a separate meditation player, which is a different exercise than the breath work videos. "Meditation" allows the customer to practice Vipassana or Transcendental Meditation with their eyes closed, and serves as a timer as well as a gentle reminder to keep focused on the present moment.

Meditation Timer
Stats Page
"The amount of options available for breathing exercises on the home screen was a perfect amount.

It was not too overwhelming or time consuming to decide which option to choose. It was also very easy to switch between breathing exercises if I decided to check out another one."

-Memoir Beta User (Jan 2021)
"Overall I had a really great first time experience with it. The settings were extremely simple and easy to use. I love the way it tracks your progress for each session as well."

-Memoir Beta User (Jan 2021)
User Testing: Problems & Solutions

Tap to Expand Items

Tap-to-Start vs. Autoplay

It wasn't initially clear whether users would prefer the exercise to start playing as soon as they open it, or if they'd need an intermediate screen with a "start" button before beginning.

Our assumption was that this intermediate screen would be unnecessary, since the videos started immediately in our TikTok testing.

However, after putting our product in front of test participants, it became clear that within the native app ecosystem, autoplay was far too abrupt. Test participants would often spend the first few breath cycles just orienting themselves before beginning.


We decided to add an intermediate step which briefs the user on the exercise and gives them time to orient themselves before pressing “Start.”

This proved to be very well received by test participants and we noticed a greater number of users following along with the exercise on the very first cycle.

Displaying Stats & Milestones

How might we track the customer’s progress and give them goals/rewards to keep up their consistency?

Going back to our research, it was evident from many reviews of existing apps that people didn't want their mindfulness practice to be gamified.

Reviewers complained about annoying notifications and unnecessary trophies for doing what they often viewed as therapeutic and healing.


Our goal with the profile stats page was to motivate, but not bother the user.

After conducting interviews, we decided to implement a goal system that would show progress towards a numerical milestone, but wouldn't include needless rewards or trophies.

One way to add a slight bit of excitement was adding animations of the numbers counting up and the progress bars moving to the right each time the page is loaded.

Delaying the Signup Prompt

How might we allow the customer to develop a connection to the app and build a habit before requiring the account signup?

HCI best practices recommend delaying account-creation until the customer has had time to explore the app and build adequate trust before giving personal information.

This creates a second problem of customers perpetually ignoring account creation and instead forever using the app as an anonymous user. We needed to place the sign-up prompt in an area where the customer wouldn’t ignore it.


1. Allow the customer to explore the home page, free exercises, and meditation feature without an account.

2. Place the signup prompt as a gatekeeper to access their favorites library as well as their profile stats.


•We've logged over 50,000 hours of deep breathing by our test participants.

•We built an app for our 165,000+ audience on social media.

•We validated our MVP with over 5.9 million views.

•Non-English speakers were more likely to use our exercises vs spoken-word mindfulness content.

•Improving our exercise launch flow led to 75% of test participants breathing on the first loop cycle.

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