Loom is a digital heirloom that can be passed down through generations to tell the story of a person’s life and the impact they had on others. Loom serves to cultivate a culture of intention and meaning by preserving valuable memories, and by creating something that lasts.
My role
UX Researcher, Concept Strategist, Visual and Branding Lead, UI Prototype Designer. I touched all areas of this project as a concept close to heart.
Aug - Nov 2021
10 weeks
Junior Studio UXDG 330
Professor BC Hwang
I am happy to share that Loom has received design awards from different design competitions!
Loom has received 21 Indigo Design awards, as well as being shortlisted among others as a 2022 Student Discovery of the Year!
Loom has also received awards from the Core77 Design Awards
Service Design, Student Runner-Up
Design for Social Impact, Student Notable
Visual Communication, Student Notable
1 more! Loom was recognised by the European Product Design Awards
Winner in Design for Society
Winner in Designs for Social Impact
Note: I wrote this page as a recap of the ideas that was floating around the conversations we were having while we were in the zone of making this project. It was meant to be thorough and to ask open ended questions. Feel free to skip to the Concept section to view the designs.
Problem space
During the pandemic, so much of our lives were progressing on screen, new hobbies, new trends, new jobs. This was the same for the death industry. We had virtual funerals and digital commemorations, we wrote wills and grieved online. This was a big shift in the customs of death that made it difficult to process the trauma in a tangible and conscious way. Major events in our lives became hard to pin to a specific time and place. While time still progressed in our semi-pseudo online lives, what about the digital lives of those who passed? Do their digital presence continue to live, oblivious of their physical passing?
Our design brief was to disruptively improve the New Normal, an oxymoron that made as little sense to me as waking up one day knowing a family member just passed due to Covid, or that people were buried in mass graves because there wasn't enough space to give their bodies the respect of rest. This project was a response to the ecosystems of impact a person's passing can have on their loved ones and their environment. “Oxford Internet Institute researcher Carl Ohman anticipates that, by 2070, Facebook will have more deceased people with accounts than living ones, and this number may increase to about a billion people over the next three decades”. At this junction in time, the eldest generations may not have an internet presence at all while it seems like our youngest are programmed to be tech literate from birth. What happens to our digital lives after we pass and who takes care of all the sentimental value locked in photo galleries and social media accounts? How long do our stories last and who manages our legacies? Are social media accounts our heritage and are they worth preserving? 
Secondary research
My team and I were primarily interested in the digital lives of the dead and their digital legacies. We began our research by structuring the ecosystem of the dead into four phases, the Living, the Grieving, the Planning and the Leaving. With how much of our lives we live online, there is an underwhelming lack of thought for the concept of a digital legacy. At this stage, we want to begin more conversations and ask more critical questions about designing long term solutions from the preneed to the post-mortem. What do we want to leave behind in our own digital accounts? And how could you know what someone who’s passed away would have wanted? We unpack deeper questions through this section.
The Digital Ecosystem of the Dead
The Living
We began our discussion of the problem space with some of the big social questions that the pandemic had exposed. The first area we discussed was on the relationship that people had with their digital presence. The second was on the different public perceptions people had about death and their associations. These ideas, though disconnected when we first started researching, brought up more critical questions about the digital lives of the dead.
1 — Digital presence

The months following the most intense periods of the lockdown, millions of thoughts flooded chat rooms, and people were living very different strings of reality online. During this time, I theorised the concept of Noise. The content we consume sometimes acts only as visual or audible noise and mental clutter. The Social Dilemma warns us of the mental and emotional harm that mindless consumption of media can have. The impressionable are more at risk to the dangers of fake news, cat-fishing, advertisement traps, or the addiction to the infinite scroll. Noise is a click bait into hours of your time feeding information about yourself to AI algorithms without getting much in return. As our relationship with technology grows and changes, how do we instil values deeper than the pockets of billionaires? How do we create a culture more sincere than engagement for engagement's sake? Social media has a short memory and the Noise that fills our time robs us of opportunities to give value and purpose to our digital selves. To speak broadly, there are a few questions being raised. How do we reduce the Noise on the internet, and how do we teach our individual versions of the internet to be a place of greater substance for us?
2 — Perceptions about death

Death could look like burying your first pet hamster in the backyard next to the flowers. Death could look like a celebration with colours and flower garlands and a public parade down the streets. Death could look like wearing black, burning joss sticks and lighting incense candles; reciting prayers and standing in an appropriate position based on lineage. Honouring the dead could have huge differences in interpretations based on culture, belief systems, age or prior experiences with death. The public perceptions of practices around death and how to talk about death can be a sensitive topic for the living. Especially for the young, we often take for granted that death has no deadline and does not necessarily follow our plans. On a regular basis, it's normal not to consider our mortality within every mundane task or responsibility we have. Death is not a contributing factor to deciding where I'm going to eat tonight or what I post on social media. However, when death decides to make changes, it can be a powerful impetus for personal reflection.
In the year of the lockdown during the pandemic, we were forced to face mortality on a daily basis. Our thoughtless consumption of Noise was an escape from the drastic changes and ugly realities of the new normal. Taking a critical lens to our online behaviours, how has the gravity of the pandemic affected our media consumption? When bad news was never followed by good news, many of us opted out of news media entirely. The tone of our online communities influenced our outlook on the world and became a reflection of the values we hold. What we choose to put online and the narrative we craft for ourselves is also a reflection of our persona. How does facing our mortality influence what we choose to consume and contribute? And if your social media accounts were all that was left of your personality today, would that representation be the one you wish to leave in your legacy?
The Grieving
We began to look at circumstances of handling death online. During the pandemic, memorials and funeral ceremonies were planned and executed virtually, a novel experience for most people. This came with adapting our traditions and customs and managing grief online.
When the online ceremonies were our only options, sentiments toward them may have been biassed. However, two years earlier in 2017, a survey was conducted and 54% of participants said watching a live-stream of a funeral would be insensitive or morbid. 40% did not believe virtual funerals would capture the emotions and sentiment of being there in person. As the pandemic has taught us, there is an irreplaceable quality of gathering in person. That intangible quality of coming together helps us be present in the moment to observe respect and appropriate courtesies of the commemoration. Additionally, 27% felt that they wouldn’t be able to grieve or process their grief in the same way. Virtual ceremonies don't allow for the quiet passing of condolences or a reassuring squeeze of your arm. The little moments that silently create the mood in the room. Appropriate social étiquettes and emotions are best conveyed in the physical presence of each other. Although we have genuine intentions and try to convey them as best as possible online, our grief also manifests in ways that are unnatural in the digital world. If given no other option, is our best option to adapt to successfully navigating our social situations online? How can virtual funeral facilitators better our experience of expressing grief online?
The Planning
We widened our research scope from instances of death online to the planning for pre and post death. We first looked into planning by setting affairs in order which included understanding what assets and possessions could be included in wills. This then opened up more questions to what the rights of the deceased are and the risks they may possess.
Funerals help us pay respects to our loved ones and give us time to process our grief. Besides addressing our physical beings and our emotions, we are reliant on loved ones to be responsible for our worldly possessions. Writing a will helps to allocate your possessions according to your wishes. A will is a process that can begin at any stage of life, although usually begins when one has a larger estate or children to pass it down to. The idea is fairly straightforward for physical possessions but what about our digital assets? Digital assets is a broad term. According to Nolo, “A general rule is that all digital assets that you own and that have a monetary or tangible value will be included in your estate when you die. You can use your will to determine who will get such digital assets”. These digital assets include for example, funds in PayPal accounts, funds owed to you by an online store like Amazon or Etsy, Bitcoin, digital music or photos that you own and store on your computer's hard drive, or even frequent flyer miles (depending on the policy of the issuing company). However, there are some digital assets that will almost certainly not be included. These being your email and social media accounts, domains that you've licensed, subscription accounts like Netflix or Spotify, and tax or financial software. This realisation introduced an opportunity for designing for the digital lives of the dead. What actually happens to our digital presence after we die? (Digital presence being defined as assets of sentimental value not included in wills.) For example, how would a social media platform know that Grandma had passed on? What if Grandma never wrote down her passwords, or what if it was one of 26 different variations that we’ll never crack? Furthermore, if we could get into the account, what do we do with the content?
Our research continued to look into the rights of the deceased, and the privacy and security of their data not transferable in a will. We found that for private accounts like social media, “Ownership of those accounts is controlled by the user rules and regulations of the site in question. A typical rule is that the site deletes inactive accounts after death, the account exists and is still “owned” by the deceased person”. As predicted, the account is still in the name of the deceased and access solely relies on whether they passed on their passwords to a trusted person. “In the end, it doesn't matter if someone is dead or alive – accessing his or her account without permission is illegal”. These ghost accounts are not able to be passed on by legal definition, but neither do they disappear or are disabled immediately. This leaves at best, a few months of idle time where no one takes responsibility for the account. While this is usually not a big deal, the biggest risk we found was identity fraud. “Inactive accounts of dead users have been targeted by hackers, and cybersecurity firm NortonLifeLock found that nearly 500 million consumers across 10 countries have been victims of a cybercrime, and 350 million of these crimes took place in 2019 alone”.
These findings gave us great insight into understanding more about the digital lives of the dead. From here, we wanted to inquire further about whether people actually attempted to save their social media accounts, emails or other documented memories, and how they managed all the content of sentimental value. The biggest risks seem to come after death when the owner of the accounts can no longer give permission. We began to understand how difficult it would be to retrieve that information, especially for death in unforeseen circumstances, and what could legally be done with the data.
The Leaving
Now that we have built a base picture of our digital lives and our experiences with death in the living, grieving and planning stages, we continue to ask more about what happens to the accounts of the dead if they are left unsupervised? We were curious about the level of control that users want over their digital lives pre-death, and if left to a loved one post-death, who the users would trust to tell their story.
We know that ghost accounts face individual risk of identity fraud, but what about collective risks? 1 email, all text and no media attachments, is about 4 grams of carbon. Now picture your entire inbox, and if you have multiple emails, add on each social media account and all the posts you've posted, every tab you’ve left open for a week, all cloud services that you may use, and any other internet habits you have. “A study by the Boston Consulting Group found that the internet is responsible for around 1 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year. That’s about 2% of total emissions”, roughly the same amount of carbon emissions as the aviation industry for comparison. After we die, all of our possessions and our physical being is allowed to stop, to rest. But for every account that is left unmanaged, our digital presence still contributes to the carbon emissions of the internet. Multiply a single person’s digital presence by the hundreds of thousands that we lose on a regular day. That could add up to a large amount of carbon sitting idly, being produced for no purpose. So who is cleaning up the internet? How much digital Noise exists because they've become inaccessible?

Moreover, not all that is lost is Noise. Some of the data that remains unmanaged or locked up in dead accounts could hold sentimental or even unknown monetary value to the living. While Grandma’s shaky film photos may not have been of much value to the general public, they could hold deep value to her family. That memory is not Noise, but a piece in time worth keeping. In a survey, participants were asked the question, Would you want to set up your own virtual memorial before your death so that you can control the content or after your death, where someone else controls the content?” The majority, 59.4% responded “before their death” and 37.5% responded “after” with 1 (3.1%) not responding. As the importance of a digital legacy grows, either through virtual worlds or social networking sites, users may want or need to have more control and input on the digital artefacts that represent them after their death. This raises yet another risk to digital legacies. The rapid development of technology means that older technology becomes obsolete, from file type obsolescence to the physical life of storage drives. Within my lifetime, we’ve gone from floppy discs and 8-bit screens to a functioning metaverse of 3D avatars. Preserving heritage of digital selves already have much broader capabilities and take on various forms. How can we create better systems of preserving what is of value to us and our future generations?
Concluding secondary research
Through secondary research, we have built a base to define what digital legacies look like. We’ve summed up the key points at each stage, including covering the ecosystem of the dead and the long term and short term impacts.
The Living
Digital Presence and Digital Lives
Some of the content in my digital life is noise, some has sentimental value.
My digital life and habits are daily tasks that are usually not influenced by death.
The Grieving
Digital Memorials
Digital ceremonies do not hold the same sentiment of in person memorials.
Grieving online complicates the process of coming to acceptance.
The Planning
Digital Wills
Some digital assets that I feel are valuable are not legally binded in a will.
Preventative planning aids in harm reduction for the grieving.
The Leaving
Digital Legacy
Managing the digital assets left behind can lower my digital carbon footprint.
Intentionally crafting digital legacies can ensure content of value is kept.
Competitive Analysis
Our research started to build its own vocabulary to shape the problem space. We are choosing to define these terms in accordance with our project scope from here going forward, and will be used as such. The repetitive use of these terms also helped us shape a clearer picture of the digital life of the dead, and what systems already exist to help manage digital legacies. We researched social media companies and existing services that manage digital assets not included in wills.
Preneed (adj.) — Occurring before there is a need. Especially planned prior to death. A term coined by the funeral industry.
Post-mortem (noun.) — Usually meaning an examination of a dead body to determine the cause of death. For us, meaning the afterlife of a digital account after one has legally passed on.
Noise (noun.) — Content on media that does not hold sentimental value, educational knowledge, or value that is wished to be kept in a digital legacy.
Digital Assets — The digital artefacts and content that make up one’s digital presence, only pertaining to the items that are not included in wills and have no legal rights or monetary value of their own.
Digital Legacy — The documentation and memorialisation of specific digital assets to tell the story of how you or a loved one wants to be remembered by in their digital afterlife.
In looking at the policies of various social media we learnt about ways that companies are currently managing their load of ghost accounts. When an account owner has passed, protocols regarding ownership and privacy differ in two ways. Some social platforms allow family to gain access with an appeal, while others do not transfer access at all. Also, platform have different levels of action taken from complete deletion of content, to disabling accounts after inactivity, to preserving content. These two factors make up the 2 by 2 matrix for the current post-mortem solutions. Through the major media platforms we looked into, we identified a market gap in a platform that prioritises memorialisation and giving family access.
2X2 matrix competitive analysis
Competitive Analysis of Post-Mortem Solutions for existing platforms
What if we wanted a plan to pass our digital assets down while we are in the preneed phase? We researched some preneed solutions, though none have as large a user base as social media platforms. DeadSocial and Gone Not Gone are services that primarily collect messages from loved ones for the memorial. They involve social contacts well, but don't account for the existing digital assets of the dead. We found Here After and After Note which are services that place more importance on crafting a timeline of memories and wishes to be preserved. Lastly, we have Digital Legacy Management and the Digital Legacy Association who provide resources, spread the word and help to preserve digital assets.

We placed these solutions for planning, along with social media and having an assigned person to manage the accounts on a 2 by 2 matrix. It evaluated the ability of these platforms to host a digital legacy from the preneed to the post-mortem. It also specified the level of access of these services provide from allowing the public outsider to view and/or add to it, to an inside family member. It makes sense that most services now are targeted toward helping the preneed market segment plan by themselves what their legacy should hold. This gives some opportunity to design for the preneed space in a more collaborative way. It also reveals greater opportunity to place emphasis and care on the post-mortem capabilities of digital legacies.
2X2 matrix competitive analysis
Opportunity map of Digital Legacy Solutions
Through our research findings up to this point, we chose to define our primary target audience as the Preneed market, and Post-mortem being the secondary focus. We want to design for providing relief, to the eventual deceased and the ones who love them. We were most compelled by a few research insights to drive the project. These includes wanting to preserve memories for the living, to reduce the carbon footprint of the internet by reducing noise, we want to spark meaningful conversations, and we want digital legacies to be accessible and shareable.
Graphic of silhouette walking from preneed to post-mortem
Primary Research
We chose three research methods we felt appropriate to dive deeper into the project. We conducted surveys, expert interviews, and in-depth participant interviews. In this section, we outline our methodology for collecting data and share our findings.
We conducted 2 surveys. The first was on Digital Life with 112 participants, and the second was on Attitudes and Sensitivities of Death with 213 participants. Both surveys had respondents that were 18 and older reaching late 70s; both had the 18 to 24 year old age range making up more than 70% of respondents.
Key Findings: Digital Life
The goal of the first survey was to understand users behaviours online and their thoughts on a digital legacy. We wanted to get a quantitative view of the general awareness and demand for digital legacies. We asked, “Have you thought about what will happen to your digital accounts when you die?”, of which the majority, 69.4% said no and the other 30.6% said yes. About 7 out of every 10 people have not thought about it, showing a lack of public awareness.

Following that, on a 5 point likert scale, we asked participants to rank if they would want a digital legacy with 1 being “not at all” and 5 being a “yes!”. 85.2% or 95 participants answered a 3 or higher, and 37 of them responded with a 3 being the most common answer. While most people remain on the fence and don't know if they would want a digital legacy, it is expected that these users who are majority below 24 years old and have not thought about their digital legacies don’t know that they would want one when asked.
Do you want a digital legacy? (Do you want future generations to be able to see what you have chosen to keep on the internet?)
N = 108
Digital Life Survey Q7 Results
Digital Life Survey, Question 7 Results
Additionally, we asked how users would prefer their digital account to be handled post death. 57 responded by selecting “I want family/close friends to have access”, 22 said “I want them untouched and frozen in time”, and 13 people said “I want them all deleted”. We also allowed for short answer input on this question and some people shared their specific ideas about how they want it handled saying, to only give family and close friends the useful stuff while the rest gets deleted, or to freeze things in time but delete things that didn't get a lot of likes. Some people said they don't care because they would be dead, while some wanted family to be able to post but not read their messages. The range of answers we had for this question began to show us that there is a huge range of mental models and degrees of care toward having their legacy taken care of. We were excited to hear the whys of these answers in the interviews to come.
Key Findings: Attitudes and Sensitivities of Death
The goal of the second survey was to understand users' attitudes to the subject of death and learn about their interactions with digital legacies. 197 of 213 respondents indicated that they had been to a funeral before, ranging from attending “1” to “more than 8” different funerals. We structured their subsequent questions about their experience with death based on the question, “Do you know anyone that has died in the last 5 years?”. (18.3%) 39 people answered “Yes, one person”, (9.4%) 20 answered “No”, and (72.3%) 154 people answered “Yes, more than one person”.
I have known more than one person to have passed in the last 5 years.
From the large number of people knowing more than one person who has passed, we speculate that the pandemic has affected these results greatly. 77.9% of those respondents indicated that they know 2-5 people that have passed while the other 22.1% know 6 or more people. With such extensive experience with death, we asked the question, “Have you found that the grieving process has gotten easier or harder each time you experience it?”. There was a balanced split in the results with the majority neither feeling it getting easier, nor more difficult. In reflection, this question does not take into account the relationship with those who've passed and the gravity of the passing on them which could explain the result. We can also say that grief looks different each time and grieving a person is an individual process instead of cumulative for most people.
Have you found that the grieving process has gotten easier or harder each time you experience it?
N = 152
Attitudes and Sensitivities Section 3 Q2 Results
Attitudes and Sensitivities of Death Survey, Section 3 Question 2 Results
I am friends with or follow someone who has already passed on.
Lastly, from all survey participants, 53.1% said that they are currently friends with or following someone on social media who has passed away. Of those who responded yes, 35.8% never visit their account and 41.5% visit yearly. To look back at memories, the majority would use digital platforms like personal photos, facebook, instagram, snapchat, twitter, or a combination of the listed. For most, the extent of their interaction with a digital legacy is nothing at all. Of the 126 respondents to this section, only 14 people have posted a comment on their page once, and 17 having commented more than once.
How often do you visit their account?
N = 123
ttitudes and Sensitivities Section 4 Q2 Results
Attitudes and Sensitivities of Death Survey, Section 4 Question 2 Results
Have you ever posted or commented on their page after they have departed?
N = 126
ttitudes and Sensitivities Section 4 Q4 Results
Attitudes and Sensitivities of Death Survey, Section 4 Question 4 Results
There is a huge diversity in experience and attitudes toward digital legacies. Often people's perceptions are not shaped by age but by their depth of experience. We learnt that experiences with death are not that uncommon. However, the extent of grief and interactions with digital memorabilia are not dependent on how many people they have known to pass but based on external reasons such as individual relationships with the person who has passed.
Is there a person who you would trust to handle your social media accounts after you die?
N = 211
ttitudes and Sensitivities Section 5 Q2 Results
Attitudes and Sensitivities of Death Survey, Section 5 Question 2 Results
Expert interviews
We conducted 2 expert interviews. We spoke for an hour to User Experience Designer at Florida Blue Insurance, Erin Imhof, and a 30 minute interview with Senior Partner at the Law Firm of Williams & Pine, LLC, Mr Wallace J. Williams.
Key Findings
Blue Insurance has many clients who require end-of-life care. Ms Erin Imhof interviews and speaks with these clients directly and was able to share with us her insight to attitudes toward death. In her work to design for death, she advises to “Focus on the benefits, rather than the risks. The reality of discussing your mortality could be a morbid or sensitive topic. She explains that it's courteous to send the interview questions ahead of time, to help her interviewees feel prepared for what's asked of them. During interviews, it's important to be empathetic to their situations and emotions. Focusing on safety, security and protection to always put the best interest of the user at the heart can help them open up as well. Those would grow to be key values that guide design decisions for a digital legacy. She says, “End of life planning is not about you, it’s about your family”. She provides perspective to how she frames her duty to those, that by that stage of life, have the general sentiment to place the importance on family members. Speaking with Ms Imhof helped us better prepare ourselves for the conversations about death we were about to embark on.
Our second expert interview was shorter but gave us huge value to understanding digital legacies. Mr Wallace Williams is a probate attorney who aids in writing and legitimising wills. “People come into my office to write a will, and they will have a list of assets they want to give away. That is like going to the doctor and asking for a prescription before telling them your symptoms”, Mr Williams says to give us perspective to his job. The assumptions that people make about wills are that they are solely about the estate, when really they are about the relationships. To navigate the process of creating a will, it comes with handling the sensitivities of people considering their livelihoods and wellbeing. He mentions that experience can motivate users to create a will. When it came to managing the assets, the insights he provided both validated and clarified how legalities affect digital legacies. He was able to confirm with us that non-monetary assets can be considered intellectual property which can be accommodated for in a will. Additionally, even when digital property is probated, it might not be able to surpass company privacy policies. Though a relatively stringent sounding man, he got fired up sharing his frustrations about a previous case where they were unable to help his clients retrieve information and data from an Apple account after the owner of the account passed on. While this call with Mr Williams was highly insightful, we wished for more time as he prompted further questions we had about intellectual property ownership and privacy rights, as well as the human impacts.
User interviews
Over our 2 weeks of preparing and conducting primary research, we had 11 user interview participants. Our goal for the interviews was to inquire about the various stages of the digital ecosystem of the dead. We wanted to understand grief in the digital space, attitudes towards managing digital legacies, and wishes for the users own digital legacy.
We wrote our interview guide to cover the areas of the digital ecosystem of the dead in a structure that we wanted to guide our interviews in. 1 — We started with building an idea of their Digital presence. We wanted to understand the user’s support system, their perceptions on their own digital presence, and willingness to have a digital legacy. 2 — Once we initiated the relationship, we asked about the Preneed phase which was about their wishes for themselves, digital privacy, digital life span, and trusted contacts to pass access down to. 3 — That led more smoothly into inquiring about their thoughts on their Post-mortem digital life. We discussed what it felt like to grieve in a digital memorial and about how they would feel managing a loved one’s digital legacy. 4 — Lastly, we took a more reflective tone to ask about the Benefits of Planning. We discussed the user’s mental model of a digital will. User’s then weighed the benefits and risks of planning their digital legacy versus leaving their story to be told by someone they chose.
From our 11 user interviews and all other research methods we conducted, we pulled 820 individual raw data points that lived on our Miro board. From there, we started our affinitization process to create 174 themes, and 51 high level insights from our users. To define the problem space and create actionable steps, we created 22 How Might We questions to define and direct the design problem.
yellow stickies for affinitisation
820 Original data points at the beginning of affinitization
Key Findings
During our interviews, we were lucky to have spoken to people who shared openly and deeply about their experiences with death and digital legacies. They brought the human experience to the centre of our research. All the risks, legal constraints or assumptions we had before became side pieces to their emotional attachments to their people.
I lost one of my best friends in the army to suicide.
“I get memories online of people who I have lost. It's like when a butterfly lands on you. It’s a beautiful reminder.”
My father passed away suddenly during the pandemic from a heart attack.
“I think a lot about how my future kids won't know him. Through this digital legacy they can.”
I grew up with a single parent, I don't assume death comes at 80.
“Documenting memories is very important. It is how I make and understand meaning in my life.”
I lost a friend but I wasn't too close to them, I could only imagine.
“It's just a digital way to leave flowers on someone’s grave. It seems it would help their family. To see that her passing has affected so many people that they commented.”
I lost someone I really cared about, they meant alot to many people.
“I am a perfectionist. It would be hard for me to misstep in taking care of someone’s digital legacy.”
I don't have a big digital presence but I care about what I put up.
“If you write about yourself, about how you think you are, you might end up with something not very realistic, more idealistic. I think it would be better for someone who really knows me well to determine who I am.”
Digital Presence
I don't have much of a digital presence.
Death is a difficult topic and takes time to process.
I want planning and documentation to be easy.
I like having social media to view posts and communicate with others.
Digital Memorials
I honour memories by remembering them and sharing them.
Paying respects online doesn't capture a person's breadth of emotions.
I want a safe space to grieve in my own way, on my own time, with the people I need.
I want some control over my digital legacy to keep the authenticity in my story while showing my impact on others.
I want my digital legacy to be honest to who I am.
Digital Wills
I need help planning my digital legacy, I rely on others to manage it.
I want my personal, private digital legacy online to be secure.
I am hesitant and unsure how to manage the digital legacy of someone else, it depends on their wishes.
I want an easily accessible digital legacy, digital or physical.
Digital Legacy
I don't feel that my digital legacy is of much value.
I have not considered or care about what happens to my digital legacy.
I want to curate my own digital life.
I want my digital legacy to live for a long time for my future generations to see.
I don't know much about what having a digital legacy means.
Word Cloud of descriptive words interviewees used to describe their Digital Presence
Word Cloud of descriptive words interviewees used to describe their Digital Presence
People don’t plan for their digital legacy until absolutely necessary.
The 5 Whys
Because they haven’t thought about it and don’t understand it.
Because the younger generations don’t think about end-of-life planning, and the oldest generations may not consider digital death relevant.
Because people don't think about the mortality of their digital selves and the afterlife of their digital assets, or how it impacts their loved ones.
Because death or a digital life feels far away and intangible.
Because there is a lack of experience and awareness of the benefits and risks of digital legacies.
How Might We Questions
Through a rigorous 4 weeks of research and analysing our findings, our team grew together to build a depth of knowledge to define the problem space using appropriate terminology. We learned about novel insights that tested our assumptions and found clarity on the core issues for our users. With this sense of excitement and growth in designing for this space, we felt good to move forward. Shifting from the Define stage to the Develop stage, we used How Might We questions to turn our insights into actionable steps that keep the core problems in mind. These were the questions we asked ourselves to guide our design process moving forward.
How Might We accurately represent someone's life and the impact they had on others, while still allowing for a control over their narrative?
How Might We secure people's private life so that they feel comfortable with their digital legacy?
How Might We clearly communicate someone's wishes to the person left to access their accounts?
How Might We create an inclusive support system to help people through the grieving process?
How Might We demonstrate the value of storytelling and motivate non interested users to take part in creating a digital legacy, if not for them, for their loved ones?
We created four characters to describe four archetypes that cover pairings of two major characteristics shown in the 2 by 2 matrix below. The matrix maps a users’ need for a digital legacy against the size of their digital presence. This makes up the 4 quadrants of different mental models we expect to encounter.
2x2 matrix Archetypes
2x2 matrix Archetypes
Our first archetype is Off-the-grid Gregory. Gregory values in-person interaction over social media connection so he doesn't put much effort into his small digital presence. He leans toward being introverted as he keeps his life private, but is not a shy guy when you’re his friend. Although, he lives in the moment and does not want a digital legacy.

Cultivated Cathy is an extroverted character but prefers not to overshare on social media accounts. Cathy is very family oriented. She is organised, particular, and decides very carefully what she chooses to share online. She has thought about passing down her story for future generations.

We have Prominent Paula who is extremely open. Paula loves to frequently document her life online, letting everyone know what she is up to. She is proud of her story and does not care who sees it, in fact, she believes people could benefit from her story. She thinks, “It doesn't matter if 3 weeks ago me or 3 years ago me posted it on the internet. If I posted it then I am okay with it on the internet”.

Lastly, there is Incognito Carl. Carl has so many accounts online, each one for a different side of himself. He is an open book about many different things right now, but wants that clean slate when he is gone. He thinks, “I’ll be dead anyway so why keep any of it”. He does not see the value of keeping a digital legacy and rather avoid other risks.
To utilise these characters to show how we intend to create an impact for them, we have expanded on Cathy and Gregory to create personae and journey maps. These helped us identify areas of opportunity to design for in the stages of our ecosystem, from Living to Leaving.
Personae & User Journey Maps
Persona 1 - Gregory
Persona 1 - Gregory
Persona 2 - Cathy
Persona 2 - Cathy
User Journey of Gregory
User Journey of Cathy
User Journey of Gregory and Cathy's story
From here, we began ideating for solutions to the complex problem. During the ideation process, we say that there are no bad ideas and no wrong answers. Our team had great chemistry and we wanted to enjoy the process, keep the brain storm open, and find the best solution. Sometimes we end up with obvious answers that a few of us touch on, sometimes we have fun spontaneous ones that aren't realistic, or even run out of ideas. Through this process, we were all equally and heavily immersed in the early research such that our ideas flowed naturally. The organic discussions showed us the benefits of collaboration and ideation that was rooted in research.
Crazy 8's
We chose our top six HMW questions to carry out six Crazy 8 ideation sessions. We generated 35 pages of Crazy 8’s, which came out to be a total of 210 ideas. Through the sessions we had ideas for products, for features, marketing strategies, and all kinds of touch points big and small. After we discussed, expanded on, explained, trailed off, found more ideas, linked ideas, got trailed off again, and even more discussion, the process guided us to start labelling.
Photos from our Crazy 8 sessions
Photos from our Crazy 8 sessions
Feature Shopping
For each mini idea we had, we gave it a label for either a feature, function, or task. We also created a very preliminary user journey to mark a point along a users journey the mini idea was meant to address. To make sense of all the crazy things happening, we did a little “feature shopping” where we began grouping a collection of mini ideas to create a more comprehensive concept of a product. With the visualisation of the labels, we were able to very quickly see if the concept had potential to meet all the users needs and what the core features would be. By the end of the process, we had 6 possible directions, each with its own unique area.
Ideation User Journey Key
Ideation User Journey Key
Feature Shopping and grouping into concepts
Feature Shopping and grouping into concepts
Early Concepts
Permanent Marker
Using traceable stickers to say "I was here", also acts as a marketing tool. Mapping both your digital and physical presence to a place of significance. The interface would include a dashboard and map and allow for collaboration. Tell your story before it's too late.
A centralised virtual location for curating your narrative. This personal space would become a spot for memories and wishes for loved ones. Have your own customisable dashboard. Collaborate to write to others.
Digital Vault
A place to store your digital assets. A metaphor for a physical concept of a vault. To be like a safe deposit box. It needs multiple degrees of access. Could join third party companies for a privacy agreements, and to sign terms that are passed down. Can keep assets on a timeline. Can be a family heirloom.
Remember Light
A digital platform for starting your story – helping users be more comfortable with thinking about their mortality and digital legacy through a protected series of steps and categories. Have 2 Factor Authentication to keep legacy crafting secure.
Physical Location
Engage the 5 senses in a physical location that is of significance to you and your loved one. In memory of them. A physical and portable set up that is customisable.
Auto Collection of Data
A plugin to all other existing social media. Would become a central hub for all of your digital selves and categorises on a linear timeline. Allows for each editing of all digital media content online. A collector, organiser, and preserver. Seamless transfer. Small and manageable steps to categorise.
Once we came through the other side of exploration and development, we needed to evaluate our early concepts. We used four evaluation methods, the action priority matrix, ability to answer our How Might We questions, ability to fulfil the needs of our archetypes, and the 6 Hats exercise.
Action Priority Matrix
We use this matrix to put our concepts on a scale of impact versus its feasibility to be developed. We kept in mind our interviewees and various use cases for each concept to gauge the impact it can create. Feasibility considers the existing technology to develop the product, and our own ability as a team to prototype as well.
Action Priority Matrix
Action Priority Matrix
How Might We Evaluation
We walked through each of our 10 HMW’s and checked the box if the concept addressed the issue. Although none fulfilled all 10, we had 6 stronger concepts that met 6 or 7 of the needs. Those were also able to meet 3 or 4 of our five primary HMW’s.
How Might We Evaluation
How Might We Evaluation
Fulfilling Archetypes
Lastly, we used the strongest four concepts to check who they best serve. Before was about proactive planning in the preneed stage so it targets those who already know that they want a digital legacy. Digital Vault focuses on security and deciding terms on the spot, so for those who don't want a digital legacy or wait to plan could benefit from this. Remember Light is a soft entry into planning, for those who are more like Cathy, someone with a meticulous digital presence could benefit from the focus on preemptive planning. It can also help those with a large digital presence to begin thinking about their digital legacy. Permanent Marker was special with the physical and digital sticker tagging. The opportunity for someone with a large presence was that external connection and collaboration. Those with a small presence and don't understand the benefits of planning could also have their first encounter with a digital legacy through the sticker sharing.
Evaluation of fulfilling archetypes
Evaluation of fulfilling archetypes
6 Hats Exercise
Overall, the concept that seemed most compelling and exciting was Permanent Marker. It was able to meet the most needs in our evaluation criteria. Moving forward with that concept, we carried out the 6 Hats exercise.
To put everyone on the same page, we described Permanent Marker’s goal as aiding users with leaving a sense of permanence with their digital presence. By placing physical stickers attached to a digital map, users can mark memories to a place of significance both physically and digitally. Every profile would be a collection of memories to tell their story in a collaborative dashboard.
The Six Thinking Hats technique gets you to look at a problem in six different ways. It takes you and your team beyond any instinctive positions, so that you explore a range of perspectives. That way, you can carefully consider each one, without having to argue your case or make snap decisions about what's "right" or "wrong."
Describing the role of each hat
Describing the role of each hat. Source: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTED_07.htm
The exercise was a long process to carry out because we had not yet made concrete decisions on the concept even though we all had a vague idea in our head. It left the session more open ended and difficult than we anticipated. Either way, it allowed us to ask a broad range of questions which eventually informed us to make better design decisions, or at least, ideal decisions in theory.
We began with writing down some facts we want to be true for the product. We wrote simple things about how the product would work such as, “app knows when stickers are placed”, “stickers are cheap to produce”, “loved ones have some access to manage the assets of those who've passed”, or “have privacy settings for legacy contacts”.
When basic features were a little clearer, we put on our yellow hats to think about the positive values and benefits these bring for the user. First, this was a fun way to merge the physical and digital space to give memories a tangible quality people can feel connected to. The playful aspect takes away the scariness of beginning a digital legacy. Instead, it becomes small manageable steps toward creating a digital legacy with sentimental value. We can envision creating a cultural impact on the accessibility and acceptance of discussing death. Legacy holders would also be able to manage their digital legacies easily, by knowing the terms they have set in place on the app. In theory, the big picture would look like having this digital legacy be the only place on the internet that users' legacies are secured in, reducing the rest of their carbon footprint and risks of unmanaged accounts.
Once we understood the good that we can do with the concept, it became almost too ideal. We wore the red hat next, to bring back the human worries directly tied with our ideas. As we reflected back to the behaviours and attitudes of our interviewees, we wrote the sentiments of all kinds of users. Some worry that their storytelling does not capture their relationships well, some wanted their entire digital legacy deleted, some said as long as they have the control over what to include, and some were simply not ready to begin.
As we grew more critical, we put on our black hats and worked through situations of risk we did not initially think of. Looking at the behaviour of someone who wants to save everything, we were critical of how much is of value worth saving, and if there should be a limit on how large a legacy can be. Given that one of our goals was to declutter the internet and reduce noise, who is to say one’s digital legacy is worth more than another’s. Leading from that, we were unsure about how to import existing digital content like an instagram post into the legacy. It does not currently address pre existing accounts. Additionally, how do we monitor that the content people are sealing in their digital legacy potentially for generations is content that is socially acceptable. In a worst case scenario for example, what if a Hitler or a Ted Bundy were to put their thoughts into their legacy. On a lighter issue, we also considered the environmental impact of using physical stickers. They could contribute to pollution or vandalism in public spaces.
While this exercise exposed some problems that we would not be able to tackle in our time frame, we were able to make more informed design choices going forward. We were also optimistic that there was more good intention that could come out of the concept.
Discussion board of points raised during the 6 Hats exercise
Through this 9 week journey, we researched and spoke to many people to consider the perspectives of different stakeholders, different age groups, different social media habits and varying degrees of experience with death. We learned a lot in the process and went into defining and ideating with the best intentions. Not that we have evaluated our design solutions and asked ourselves many critical questions, we have come up with an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) we feel is the first step to our idea of a digital legacy. In this final chapter, we will go into detail of the concept using a storyboard, interaction model and our final presentation of our app.
In this two part storyboard, we show how the “I Was Here” sticker memory marks link people to places while also touching on a few features the concept is capable of for the preneed and post-mortem.
Part 1
Storyboard 1 img 1Storyboard 1 img 2Storyboard 1 img 3Storyboard 1 img 4Storyboard 1 img 5Storyboard 1 img 6Storyboard 1 img 7Storyboard 1 img 8Storyboard 1 img 9
Part 2
Storyboard 2 img 1Storyboard 2 img 2Storyboard 2 img 3Storyboard 2 img 4Storyboard 2 img 5Storyboard 2 img 6Storyboard 2 img 7Storyboard 2 img 8Storyboard 2 img 9
Interaction Model
Part 1: Before Beginning
Some users begin their journey of a digital legacy coming with prior experience with death or even having managed someone else’s legacy. These people know the reality of the work that goes into it while managing their grief and personal responsibilities. Some users begin with less experience. Maybe they hear about the concept through a TV show, or Facebook notifications of someone they know who's passed on. Sometimes they come without any idea.
Interaction Model P1: Before Beginning
Part 2: Onboarding
By understanding these mental models, there are adjacent avenues to beginning the idea of a digital legacy. Users may have some idea of their wishes, what digital assets they have, who to pass access to their legacy down to, and a way they would like to tell their story. While some users will come with none of these ideas. So, onboarding to create a legacy will have to touch on the most important of these points.
Loom Onboarding screens
Once onboarded, we want the functions of the product to touch on the key areas that will make up the MVP product.
Interaction Model P2: Functions of the product
Part 3: Privacy and Access
Creating a legacy is not like creating an Instagram profile. It is a long term endeavour that happens over a lifetime. We do not foresee the app being used every single day as the goal is not high engagement but to create a digital legacy with genuine intention. This guided us to keep Legacy profiles primarily private while still being created. The only means to share a memory is to link it to a memory mark and set that memory to public view. This gives the users complete control over how much they wish to edit and change in their legacy, and to share when they are ready. Of course these preferences can be changed in their settings, for both what is accessible to other pre and post death.
Interaction Model P3: Privacy Circles
Part 4: Creating a Legacy
From understanding the different approaches and attitudes people had to their digital legacy regardless of their age or experience with death, we drew a spectrum of behaviours we expect to see when creating a legacy. It went from someone who wants to start their legacy early and write everything themselves, to those in the middle that are motivated to write memories with others, and to those who rather have others write their story for them.
Interaction Model P4: Creating a Legacy how I want to
We believe
in being purposeful in our actions.
that life is about the impact you make on others.
the hardest conversations are the ones that matter most.
in respecting people’s wishes and privacy.
in honouring the memory of those you love.
in respecting and honouring mother nature.
in the power of storytelling.
The most important decision that we made as a team was to name the product. We landed on Loom. We felt the word had a good balance of a calm mood and a slightly ominous and unknown feeling. Like a looming feeling, or a family heirloom. The word also did not have other negative connotations or was occupied by other competing services.

When thinking about our product placement and inspiration from other brands, we referred alot to We Are Not Really Strangers, Post Secret, Snapchat specifically with its map feature, VSCO and Instagram. We definitely wanted a modern look, something that was impartial and timeless. We leaned toward the warm colour scheme to give an inviting and soft touch, but also to avoid looking like a space related app. The visual language of the branding was a fun collaboration to depict a nostalgic collection of memories. Loom is a safe place to hold keepsakes and precious moments.
Project Loom
Loom Branding
The anatomy of a Loom legacy
Final Product
Loom is an app designed with the intention to give people control over their narrative. It is a digital heirloom that can be passed down through generations to tell the story of a person’s life and the impact they had on others. As legacies can hold deep value, Loom is respectful of each individual's terms and privacy levels. Loom serves to cultivate a culture of intention and meaning by preserving valuable memories, and by creating something that lasts.
Your Loom Profile holds the stories documented and kept in your digital legacy. Here you can write and curate your memories that you want part of your lasting story.
Make a Memory and post it on a Loom Profile to craft a legacy
Make a Memory and post it on a Loom Profile to craft a legacy
Memory Marks are scannable stickers that can be placed wherever your adventures take you. Connect them to a memory in your legacy and never forget places of significance. Set a Memory Mark to public view and share your story with anyone, or keep it private just to those you are connected with. With or without a Loom, public Memory Marks write the history of a place and bring awareness to digital legacies.
"I Was Here" Memory Marks connected to a memory shown on the Map view
"I Was Here" Memory Marks connected to a memory shown on the Map view
Keep your story in good hands by setting your Heir Contacts. Heirs are given permission by the owner of a Loom to protect their legacies. Set your wishes in your Terms for the amount of control your heirs have. Allow them to add to your story, to manage, to preserve, to complete or delete your legacy.
Set Loom Heirs and specify Terms
Set Loom Heirs and specify Terms
Being an heir, it is your responsibility to take over a Loom as an Inheritance account. The memorialised account being handed down is to honour the memory and wishes of a user. Like flipping through old photo albums, it is a place for the living to remember and reflect on those we’ve lost.
View Inheritance accounts to remember those lost
View Inheritance accounts to remember those lost
Loom is to provide its users relief through peace of mind knowing they have control over their legacy in the planning preneed phase, as well as leaving their legacy on their terms post-mortem. As we build this relationship of heirs and inheritance holders in the digital space, Loom hopes that our human connections grow stronger and fill our digital spaces with longer lasting compassion.
illustration of walking under arch
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