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Transcend Mobile app

Transcend is an app that focuses on communication specifically between a deployed military parent and his/her child. It is a project done between two people, where we conducted interviews, research, and created the final UI concept together.


We want to Understand the struggles of keeping deployed parents and their young adult children in touch with each other so we can See room for opportunity to design an effective communication product that can be incorporated seamlessly into the lives of both service member parents and their children, allowing them to keep in touch easily and on a more intimate level


  • I conducted the interview while my partner did secondary research.

  • PERSON 1

  • 1st year master student. 

  • Mom lives in Suzhou, China

  • Dad lives in Shanghai, China

  • Brother works in SF, USA

  • PERSON 2

  • Currently in military for Korea.

  • Parents live in Shanghai for work.

  • Just finished 2nd year in college.

  • Personal relationship with family member(s)


  • Who initiates conversations/interactions most


  • What is the primary means of interaction


  • What are the main topics when they communicate/interact


  • Would they like anything changed/thoughts on current interactions.


Freedom and privacy concerns between family members. 
Different amount of interaction needs between parent and child may depend on original closeness in relationship. 
Every person is different when it comes to how they want to interact with others 
Time zone differences and time allowed on phones in military are a struggle
  • INSIGHTS FROM research

Little time during the day for outside communication due to their highly intensive schedules. 
Military families generally seek to keep the service member psychologically present in the household 
Lack of communication often stems from unreliable technology and security reasons.
Infrequent communication with friends and family members at home can add to their distress. 

USER scenarios

Scenario of Harry Boice written by me.
  • Persona 1: Harry boice

18 years old, college freshmen

Jim Boice’s son

Good relationship with parents, but distant with father 

  • Persona 2: jim boice

47 years old

Stationed in Iraq

Married, 1 child

Almost always away from home

scenario 1

After a long, tiring day out on the field, Jim returns to his barracks around 9:45. Even though he’s exhausted, he still has to finish coordinating tomorrow’s schedule and respond to emails. He sheds his uniform and gets to work. After he finishes his tasks, there’s a few minutes before his bedtime, so he decides to check up on his son since he hasn’t had the opportunity to do so for a few days. Due to differing time zones and packed schedules, the app makes it easy to catch up with Harry at any time of the day. However, as he closes his tabs, he notices that the app’s icon is glowing yellow. Jim realizes that Harry has sent over a direct message, but it looks like it isn’t urgent. Since he’s not busy, he opens the app and a video message appears, where Harry debriefs him about his day, particularly how he slept in past his alarm that morning, causing him to miss his first class. This doesn’t amuse Jim, but he sends a brief video of him talking about the day’s MOS skills training. If they both happen to be on the app at the same time, it allows them the opportunity to do some face to face video chatting if they wish to. He then flips through a few photos Harry sent and checks Harry’s upcoming events and scroll through his school news. He also notices that Harry has scheduled an invitation to schedule a face-to-face video call for 30 minutes Friday evening. Jim’s schedule subsequently pops up, which he checks. He sees that his Friday evening is less packed than usual, so he accepts the invitation. Within a few minutes, Jim has caught up with Harry and has painlessly coordinated a video chat session.

scenario 2

Harry has a soccer tryout. Right before, he checks his phone randomly and sees the icon of the app glowing yellow. He understands that this means Jim has sent him a message, but it isn’t a high priority for Harry to check. So he goes ahead and closes his phone. After the tryouts, Harry opens the app since he now has the time. Turns out that Jim has sent him a video message cheering him on for his soccer tryouts, in which Jim knows about because Harry wrote about it in his upcoming events/schedules. It was a simple and short video of Jim reminding Harry to do his best. Harry chooses to respond to Jim and update him how his tryouts went. He doesn’t say too much details, but Harry responds in text form thanking Jim for the message and that he did well. Before sending, he labels his text also as yellow (low urgency), knowing that his father has a big travelling week and won’t be able to be communicate easily, so the yellow badge will let Jim know that he can check the message when he is free. Harry is expecting Jim to not respond for a week or so, since it will be extremely difficult for him to access wifi. But that is okay because they both understand the busy schedule each side has, but by being able to send and receive messages based on each other’ schedules and check when they’re free, Harry is happy to be able to communicate with his dad without spending much time daily. At the same time, it shows to Jim that Harry is thinking about his father without making it seem too cheesy and direct.


Sketches by my partner, digital low fidelity wireframes by me.

FInal design

Icons, final UI implementation with iphone, colors, 
photo selections be me. Final placement of each
design concept done in pairs together by discussing

Home Screen

This is the home screen that Harry will see on his end. Jim's timezone is displayed, and it changes when Jim's phone detects a location change. Jim's latest message will be displayed underneath.
The color of the ring outside of Jim's profile picture will be explained below.

  color communication

The app icon will change colors in the iPhone home screen depending what type of message is sent from the other person.
Colors will also change here in the user's picture.

News Screen

By clicking into the news app from the dashboard, this app can show Harry all news articles written on the closest date by famous news sites such as the New York Times and the Washington Post. Here, Harry can read articles about Iraq because that is where Jim is currently stationed.

Message Screen

New and old messages can be seen in the "messages" section. By pressing the orange "+" button, Harry can record a video or audio, accompanied by a short text message if needed. Priority level indicated will change the app icon color and profile picture's color to whatever priority is set.

Upcoming events Screen

In the calendar app, Jim and Harry can put in some important dates happening around them. On the left, Jim can see that Harry scheduled a video chat on a certain day and is waiting for a response. On the right, Harry can see Jim's upcoming events that Jim previously put in so Harry will know what Jim is up to without informing Jim.

Team Project by Roseanne Chao and Katie Huang

Designs, illustrations, and animations © Roseanne Chao