Client: Dr. Roger Vilardaga, University of Washington
Year: 2016
Platform: Android phone


We teamed up with Dr. Roger Vilardaga, a behavioral psychologist, to develop the first smoking cessation application for the mentally ill. 88% of people with a mental illness are smokers, and nearly 45% of the cigarettes sold in the U.S. are to the mentally ill.

Currently, there are over 500 smoking cessation apps in the market, but only two have been tested in clinical trials. Learn to Quit was part of a clinical study developed around Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT). ACT can be viewed as an approach that helps people be more mindful of their feelings and urges. Through this method, patients can take a more positive action towards quitting.

The goal for Learn to Quit is to provide patients with the right tools for accepting and dealing with their urges. Over time, the skills that patients learn through the application will set them up for greater success in quitting.

My Role

My role on the project was to help drive the initial UX direction during the early stages of the project. I wasn't the primary UX designer on the project, but I was pulled in to guide the team through rapid iterations for different UX approaches. Once we landed on a few directions, I slowly stepped away, and the core team saw it through until the end.

Our Approach

When the project kicked off, I was helping to synthesize the ask into actionable directions through a series of whiteboard sessions, rapid prototyping, and guerrilla testing to get quick validation. Once we nailed down a direction, I became less involved, and the team drove the UX forward to implementation.

The design came to life in a very playful and engaging way that proved very successful in the clinical studies. We synthesized the findings from the studies and iterated on a new version for a second study. Learn to Quit has proven to be one of those projects that brings the best out of everyone. We were using our design superpowers for good and giving back to an audience that needs help in finding their happiness in life.