User Research Competitive Research, Illustration, Marketing


Jaeden Theriault, Rafael Flora, Jayde Norstrom, Ailia Jafri

Tools Used

Illustrator, InVision, Figma, InDesign, Photoshop


Oct - Dec 2018



SOL was developed as a smart light therapy lamp with a companion app that helps make light therapy accessible and simple for users affected by seasonal affective disorder. This was a collaborative group project where I took on a marketing role - developing advertisements and illustrations for the app - as well as contributed heavily to the user and competitive research. I also contributed to the userflow of the app, testing it periodically to see where we could condense and slim things down.

Our group focused on the problem of seasonal affective disorder - a mood disorder affecting 1 in 5 Canadians - because as the cold Canadian winter approached it was easy to understand how large of a problem this was, and we realized how misunderstood and stigmatized light therapy treatments were. Early user research resulted in us realizing that many people don’t realize what seasonal affective disorder is, typically chalking it up to “winter blues”. To help combat this misunderstanding and make light therapy more accessible, we had to develop a product that was easy to use, visually appealing, and could fit around peoples busy schedules.

The Research

The project began with significant research into other smart products and apps, especially other apps that focused on user relaxation and health. For my own research I focused on two apps, Headspace and Daylio. Common problems I noticed were that while the onboarding was typically strong, the actual usability of the apps struggled with a lot of dead weight and useless pages. I felt each app could be condensed so as to make a better whole.

I also created a user Persona for someone I called “Trevor Nelson.” It was based off of an article I had read from the Toronto Star recently about night shift maintenance work on the TTC, as night shift workers especially see a lot of benefits in the use of light therapy, especially in regulating their circadian rhythm.

This Persona was then used to create a User Scenario, centered around the need to customize “sunrise” and “sunset” times on the app around alternative sleeping schedules and lifestyles.



Early on in the research phase of development we decided that one of the best - and easiest - groups to market SOL to would be commuters heading to work early in the morning and late at night on the subway. During the winter months many of these commuters wake up in the dark, travel underground, go to work and then repeat the same process, returning to home at night. To help target this audience I designed a series of subway posters that would be displayed on the train as a wrap around the door using two banners at the top and the posters on the side.

The idea behind the wrap was to represent the transition from day into night that happens on the way home from work. The image of “sunlight” is mirrored in each poster, as the window in the office and the SOL lamp in the home; this combined with the slogan creates the idea that by buying SOL, users can bring the sunshine home with them, even if they don’t get any during the day. A monochrome colour pallet used in each poster also helps draw attention to the sunlight and lamp, further emphasizing the message. The posters also went through a lot of variation to get to where they are (including a full colour of the room I designed that I still really like).


The App

Since much of my time was spent designing advertisements, , my contributions to the development of the app consisted largely of critique and user-testing; I would regularly go through out prototype and flag any pages or interactions I felt were accessory or superfluous. This process helps to trim the app down and create an efficient user experience, something I noted other apps - like Daylio and Headspace - had failed to do. I also wanted to make sure that as a group we narrowed down the onboarding experience to not take up much of the users time, while still being informative.


Onboarding & User Statistics

Both of these user interactions were created in a way that helped the user interact with SOL and the app with ease. A succinct onboarding process introduces users to the applications functions, and the statistics page helps make it clear to the user how their continued use of SOL is positively impacting them.


Sunrise Simulation & Efficient Dashboard

By allowing uses to customize their sunrise and sunset times, this helps them regulate their circadian rhythm, as well as help them use SOL more regularly. The users dashboard gives them access to many of the apps features - such as scheduling - on the first page they see.


In Conclusion…

Highschool and post-secondary can have this nasty habit of making people really dislike group work, and I admit I was sour on it for a long time; creating SOL, however, changed that opinion. I realized that when a team really communicates and collaborates, and can critique each other while still respecting each other as a designer, great things can happen. SOL was a puzzle put together by every single team members ideas and skills, and organized by Rafael’s amazing leadership. This project really redeemed the idea of the dreaded “group project” in my eyes, and showed me what a well oiled team of skilled designers and idea-makers could create.