February - May 2019, 12 Weeks


UX, Visual Design, Motion


Eunice Choe, Dana Frostig, Irene Lin, Megan Parisi, Gautham Sajith

Promoting cybersecurity through social psychology

Despite cyberattacks becoming more sophisticated and frequent, adoption of good cybersecurity habits is severely lagging behind. Google reports less than 10% of people use 2-factor authentication despite it being recommended as best practice.

The Social Cybersecurity research group at Carnegie Mellon wanted to get new ideas on how they could tackle this social issue. We met their challenge by designing a mobile app that would help 18-24 year-olds transition into adulthood while improving their cybersecurity habits.

The Problem

Young adults are seeking help online for how they can “get their life together”, but cybersecurity doesn’t make the cut in these self-development guides.

Our Solution

The 30-Day Adulting Challenge

mixes cybersecurity with daily

self-improvement tasks

We use these psychology techniques:


Mixing content with other topics makes the true persuasive intentions less obvious (and more effective)

Theory of Planned Behavior

One’s intentions, social norms, and how easy the behavior seems are predictors of behavioral

Social Proof

People often act as they others do (particularly if they are unsure of what to do)

Learn how to “adult” one step at a time by completing at least 1 of the 3 tasks per day

The task card can be clicked to see a more detailed description and mark it as complete. At least 1 of the 3 tasks needs to be completed in order to progress in the challenge.

Visualize long-term progress as tasks change the in-app room

The Room page starts off as empty at the start of the challenge, and slowly becomes more built out with each task. Build out the space and stay motivated to make real-life changes by completing the challenge’s tasks.

View achievements for all tasks completed in the challenge

On the Profile page, all the tasks completed can be referenced and viewed. The achievements here more directly show the accomplishments made in the app.

User Feedback &
next steps

“No one else has come up with such a novel concept for behavior change with cybersecurity.”

- Cori Faklaris, Researcher on the Social Cybersecurity team

We've passed on our prototype with the Social Cybersecurity team and received very positive feedback. They are now developing the project and will be using it to conduct cybersecurity research.

Our Process

During the 12-week project, I contributed to the initial research, concept ideation, and led the UX, visual, and motion design. Our team’s overall process can be broken down into:

1. Literature Review
2. Ideation
3. Competitive Analysis
4. Prototyping + User Testing
5. Refining

Literature Review

There’s a lack of research on transforming behavior

We read 15 research papers on cybersecurity and persuasive techniques. Through these readings, we found that the majority of existing research focuses on risk communication and eductating the public on best practices. This showed us that there’s a lack of actually transforming people’s behavior after they understand best practices.


The Adulting Challenge was 1 of 30 ideas we made around these goals:


Increase adoption of good cybersecurity practices.


Create a novel idea to inspire new research.


Speak to an audience of non-cybersecurity experts

Competitive Analysis

Finding the importance of whimsy by playing Pretending to Grown Up

We were recommended the game Pretending to Grownup where the cards each have serious tasks (like “Do your taxes”) paired with funny and cute illustrations. The game showed us that whimsical illustrations helps make serious content enjoyable.

Lo-Fi Design

User Testing & Parallel Design

These three screens are examples of possible home screen designs we made quick digital sketches of-- one shows a carousel of tasks, one shows 3 tasks at once, and the other shows just one task for the day. We got some quick feedback through user tests to narrow down on the first carousel design.

Mid-Fi Design

Whimsical color blocking

We tried out this playful color palette for mid-fidelity design to channel the whimsy we liked in our competitive analysis, and also to create a more approachable app for young adults. The design features the home page with tasks, a progress page for the challenge, and a social page to motivate users with social proof.


Realigning our aesthetic with young adults in the self-development space

After reflecting on feedback for the mid-fidelity prototype, we revisited our target demographic. We created a stylescape where we collaged different elements that young adults in the self-development space would be interested in. From there, we decided to pursue a more minimalistic aesthetic with some pops of color.

Mid-fi vs hi-fi:
Refining the design

The stylescape inspired a more refined, high-fidelity iteration of the app’s design



Task Completion: Motivation through visual rewards

The new home page shows the tasks cards in black and white. On completion, the illustration changes and gets filled in. This adds a visual reward for completing the task.



Creating motivation by visualizing long-term progress

The original social page had an endless scroll of friends completing tasks. While social proof can help motivate people, it can also de-motivate people if others drop out of the challenge. The new room page instead visualizes the long-term progress being made by adding new objects with every task completed.



A more succinct progress page

The new profile page shows progress without scrolling, and shows acheivements without having to click into the individual days. This new design displays the accomplishments made with every task completion at the forefront.


Keeping the target demographic at the forefront

Through this project, I learned to make every design decision with intention. Though I liked the fun color blocking style of the original design, it didn’t quite make sense for our target demographic. From the color palette to the typography, each detail has now been made with a conscious decision.