ZOTT: Parent Experience

Creating the ZOTT parent experience

My role: Lead UX researcher and PM

The challenge

I was thrilled to partner with ZOTT, a startup backed by GameChanger Charity, during my six-month capstone in the MHCID program. ZOTT is a platform where hospitalized children, their families, and caregivers, can access safe, unique content and social experiences across all of their devices. ZOTT knew its back-end CMS and content curation system needed some attention and that it wasn’t delivering a meaningful parent experience.

My process

Exploratory research

I examined YouTube Kids and Amazon FreeTime as part of a competitive analysis. I found features that could serve as generative ideas for ZOTT’s parent-users, such as parental controls, monitoring capabilities, conversation starters, and interactions around pre-emptive and reactionary blocking of content. 

User interviews

We hit our first obstacle while preparing a usability test for evaluating the CMS side of the platform. It proved almost impossible to obtain access to the small pool of child life staff, pediatric patients and their families from ZOTT’s nine pilot hospitals. 

While we were deciding a new approach to gathering data on the CMS side of the product, I moved forward with the parent focus. I created a screener, recruited participants and scheduled four parents of children who had recently spent 24 hours hospitalized (at any hospital) to learn more about their general device usage and how devices were used during the hospital stay. In my hour-long interviews with each of them, I found:

  • Parents' rules and norms regarding their children's device usage were thrown out the window while in the hospital.

  • All parents were interested in their children's digital safety, especially from unwanted contact or conversations, and in monitoring device usage to some degree.

The identity models and design implications I created after interviewing parents of hospitalized children and teens.


From the three staff members that our team was able to interview about the CMS, we found that the design of the CMS was not an issue.

  • ZOTT was underused by patients or staff because the staff didn't always have the time to introduce patients to the platform or use the CMS.

  • Staff also reported that if a parent is interested in ZOTT, the platform gets more use by the child. 

Project pivot: Parent onboarding

We pivoted our project focus towards the parent experience. We anticipated that this would relieve the burden of introduction from the staff and we could increase platform engagement by turning parents into advocates. ZOTT agreed that this new direction was valid and supported our shift in direction towards developing an onboarding experience and features for parents.

Lit review, expert interviews and feature prioritization survey

To learn the best practices for designing digital device experiences for families, I researched academic literature around joint media engagement and emerging understandings about productive usage. I also interviewed the VP of Product at GoNoodle, a children’s entertainment platform promoting health, and talked with leading researchers in game design and children from UCI. At this point, I knew what competitors were doing and we knew what academic research suggested, but I didn't have a clear idea of what ZOTT’s user-parents would actually appreciate. To get this feedback, we crafted a survey for parents of children who use digital devices. The survey responses prioritized our ideas and we were able to move into the design phase.

Design phase

The team’s designers developed a user flow of the new onboarding experience for parents. I contributed to early ideas with paper sketches and copy iterations before other team members moved into wireframes.

Early onboarding user flow and parent features


The wireframes for onboarding and a parent dashboard were converted to an interactive prototype. I user-tested the prototype with friends and family to get early feedback and identified issues with a flagging feature and dashboard structure. We crafted a testing protocol for another prototype, this one using the high fidelity designs, to get additional feedback from remote moderated usability tests with six parents of children ages 2-18 using UserTesting.

One of the key takeaways from the second usability test of the interactive, high-fidelity prototype

One of our key takeaways from the second usability test

One of our key takeaways from the second usability test

Based on the second round of usability tests, we clarified the cost, improved the findability of the flagging icon, simplified the hand-over from a parent to a child and framed content blocking as a positive experience.


Users gave our final prototype of the onboarding flow and parent dashboard a System Usability Score (SUS) in the 90th percentile, meaning there were nearly no usability issues. The VP of product was excited about our work, particularly the parts about pricing and how that concern reflected the user's emotional state in the hospital. 

Fantastic work, that was great information. You found really interesting insights... particularly around needing to identify that the product is free. I’m wondering how much time it would’ve taken me out in the wild to uncover that, so I appreciate you bringing it up and the way you presented it. Great work.
— Jarrod Jodoin, Vice President, Product at ZOTT
For a first-time user I feel like I’m a returning user, and that can only mean brownie points.”

“I really like that you can select an age group, so if I have to step away, I don’t have to worry about unwanted content popping up. It would really put my mind at ease.
— User responses to the refined prototype