I'm talking about any kind of self-improvement that is monitored/tracked. Most common example are fitness trackers or apps.

Now are there any guidelines or examples on this?
How would one best visualize the progress of the user over time, so that it will help him/her reflect upon it?


In my specific case it's about mental improvement (self-affirmation, confidence exercises and stuff like that). So participants have a main goal and finish certain steps on the way towards it.
The data I'll have will most likely be number of finished steps, distance to reaching the goal, self-reflection entries and possibly other ways.

The process is supposed to happen over approx. 3 weeks, with the user finishing a "step" approx. every 2-3 days and getting a new one then.

Since self-reflection is a crucial part of such a mental improvement process (Paper1 & Paper2) I really want to present the data in the most helpful way possible.

  • To visualize something it must be something that can be easily measured and presented in a graphical format. What aspects of mental self-improvement do you think can be visualized?
    – Michael Lai
    Nov 7, 2018 at 10:40
  • Is this case for mobile applications only? Nov 7, 2018 at 12:02
  • 1
    @RobbyReindeer Yes, it's going to be an app.
    – Big_Chair
    Nov 7, 2018 at 15:13
  • @MichaelLai Well, the ones I stated are as close as I can get to the easily measured criterium. I can do something like tracking of daily self-affirmation readings (same as other apps use daily log-in streaks as a persuasive technique), too. Mainly I'll have the finished steps towards the goal. Btw it's supposed to happen over the course of approx. 3 weeks.
    – Big_Chair
    Nov 7, 2018 at 15:16

2 Answers 2


In my opinion, as mentioned above, in order to show progress, this progress should be measurable. Mental improvement sounds like something that is hard to be measured. Things that come to my mind:

  1. Create something like "mental health" score which is based on different measurable aspects. This one needs serious thinking and consideration what is ethically and scientifically correct.

  2. Show only measurable things: hours spent reading, topics covered, steps walked, miles, mood, etc.

  3. Use a metaphor for visualizing improvement or any development. This way you are also gamifying the app too. Example: a seed growing into a plant, the growth of the plant itself, garden, etc. I have seen such an examples in an app for controlling and monitoring blood pressure. The more strict the user is and follows the schedule, the better the plant was.

  4. And last suggestion, use daily questionnaires, so users can self-reflect and rate their confidence, etc which could be easily visualized over time.


The first thing that pops into my mind is Duolingo app. It's quite a good way to show the goals and the progression towards those goals.

In your particular case my advice would be to focus on positive reaffirmation wherever possible as this might help improve the mental state of the user when reviewing progress. It would be interesting to see how your app's voice and tone is and how that will effect the user.

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Duolingo Progress

  • I guess with copy personality (haven't heard that before) you mean the way that content is expressed in general. It's supposed to be a bit more on the serious side, but not like "elite" business style. As for Duolingo, I think I'll have to take a look at it. I remember some paper mentioning it in a similar context too.
    – Big_Chair
    Nov 7, 2018 at 15:28
  • By copy personality I mean't "Voice and Tone" I just couldn't remember the right term for it. Nov 9, 2018 at 8:27

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