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When a loved one passes, it’s a devastating time for those left behind. The following days and weeks are a time of recovery and remembrance, where individuals go through loose collections of personal memories and items memorializing their loved one that span across different family members. But these memories can fade and be lost as the years go on, or items lost accidentally discarded while preparing for a move. A way to document memories could aid in allowing people to honor the life and memory of their loved ones.

Personal Project
Product Design

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The memories and objects of our loved ones are fragile and easy to forget or misplace and only proliferate in the presence of other friends and family that can share or receive them.


Build a communal space where friends and family can upload and store media, write and record stories, and comment on the posts made in the space.

Memories can never be replaced

Early in our interviews, we received validation in our hypothesis when a participant mentioned having saved about 6 years of voicemails of their late father somewhere and was constantly paranoid that she might lose them forever. They emphasized the importance of preserving these moments of life to carry for the rest of her own and to hopefully share with her own kids one day.

“The pictures are all great and everything but I have a one second video of him just smirking and I will literally watch it on loop. And I have all of these voicemails from him from the last six years. I have saved the files somewhere and I’m constantly paranoid that I’m going to lose them forever.”

Shared stories and memories bring healing

In order to build a successful product, we needed to understand how families and individuals recall and share their memories and stories. Stories are a powerful tool that bring people and places to life, and it was evident early on that this would be very important to our product. Some other key insights include:

  • Multi-sensory objects evoke the strongest memories.
  • In our interviews, this was strongly related to food and to physical place, such as a grandparent’s house.
  • Hearing and sharing stories help process grief.
  • It is hard to process grief alone.
  • Objects or concepts can become a meme within a family, such as lotto tickets, a certain type of wine, a recipe.
  • Some people will create some kind of new object of the deceased writings or recipes.

Digital footprints are strange

While our initial hypothesis focused on memories and physical objects, we recognize that some people may leave behind memories and objects on the internet. We asked research participants on how they perceive these footprints and got the same unclear answer from nearly all of our participants:

  • Downloading photos of the person is valuable.
  • In regards to social media, participants will regard a person’s identity more akin to a “persona” rather than an accurate representation of the person.
  • Going through that content will definitely uncover information that is best left unknown.
  • Participants would rather store everything in a box and eventually decide what’s worth keeping from the deceased’s digital footprint.

The grieving process is very messy based on your proximity to the deceased

It seems obvious in hindsight, but the closer your are in blood to the deceased, the higher strain of the passing is on you. This “insight” for a lack of a better term really helped define our two primary user groups: the next of kin and everyone else. This bifurcation of our users has impact on our potential solutions:

  1. Those closest to the deceased are in no mind to use this app when it’s the most relevant. Which leaves everyone else as the primary users/content creators.
  2. This does not mean that next of kin will not use the app, simply that we would not expect them to be the catalyst for our product’s adoption.
  3. It is hard to process grief alone, so the next of kin may slowly find their way to our product as a form of acceptance, aided by friends and family who have been using it prior to the next of kin’s adoption.


Extended family and community (primary users)
Next of kin (secondary users)


Our brainstorm session ended a little skewed to the upside. Based on our research, most of our ideas would greatly enhance the current means of saving memories and objects, which is decentralized and in different form factors.

Surprisingly, we decided that the value begins to drop off once we start thinking about AI functionality as it potentially conflicts with how people create relationships with their own memories. There would not be enough user input to accurately make those connections through AI.

Defining the scope

Narrowing down some of our ideas, we chose to focus on the following features:

  1. Create a communal space for family and friends to share, upload, and comment on stories or items that they may have about the deceased.
  2. Allow users to create public and private posts and let them organize the posts how they see fit.
  3. Most importantly, share functionality to invite other editors, but also enable unauthenticated access to viewers. Knowing a portion of our audience will not be tech savvy, this is very important to implement.
  4. We also decided that we will not focus on a chronological view of posts, though we will have date as a meta tag for the user to enter.

Information Architecture

Our IA was a challenge because while most users will stay in one space for most of their time on the app, what happens if they’re invited to another space? How does a user get between spaces? What content actions are global and which are space specific?

In design, we decided that we could toggle between spaces and have space-specific settings into a submenu that allows users to toggle between different spaces, which keeps the user focused on the content.

Creating a communal space for memories and stories

As we defined the specific functionality of our product, it was clear that what we were aiming for was essentially a board focused on shared memory and stories.

Because other services, like Pinterest, can provide a linear or masonry display of content, we chose an experience that is more random and spontaneous, similar to exploring a box of photographs and prompts conversation through discovery, meeting our core user need of connection in a stressful time.

Expanding our use case

Something that we did to test for concept validation was to remove mentions of deceased family. To our surprise, 60% of testers mentioned that they, or someone they know, might use this product as a way to “document” living family members. One tester mentioned that they might use it to share things from their pet dog with their partner.

While this use case had come up in our research, the intention of keeping memories of living family and friends is different from those who have passed, but not the action. Thus, our research had  opted to focus on how users perceive memory more broadly. This may have worked to our benefit, as the only changes on our end are copy based.

However, this does mean that we will need to test marketing language to see how to best frame this product.

Adding expected interactions

Our testing largely consisted of user understanding of product concepts since the interactions themselves are fairly simple. This meant that after our first and second round of testing, many labels, particularly in the “Add” menu, had gone through many revisions.

One finding with big implications deals with how users link different posts together. Originally, we though that users would want to do this within the edit view of individual posts. However, when asked to do this, testers said that they would drag and drop, similar to have apps are displayed on phone dashboards.

While we agreed with this change, it shifted the dashboard from being a shared space showing shared posts to personalized spaces with shared posts because people will group posts differently from each other.

While we implemented the drag and drop functionality, we also decided to leave the intended method as is since the dashboard is populated randomly.

Next Steps

  1. Given the expansion of or potential use cases, we need audit our planned planned offerings for our paid subscription plan to make sure that it aligns with our different audiences’ expectations.
  2. As we are not launching with a chronological view in our MVP, we will need to explore what that might look like. For linked posts, we currently display a lock icon for “private.” It could be that our solution is an “unlocked” version of this feature.
  3. Test marketing messaging to see what framing converts better: a product to remember deceased loved ones or a product to share memories about family?
  4. What could a family space look like?
  5. What could it look like to use Keep to honor a celebrity?
  6. How might we create physical objects from what users add to a space?

See the Prototype

See the Prototype