I'm struggling with some data visualization for a mental health app.

This app evaluates different mental states (lack of pleasure, sadness, focus, Nervousness) via a questionnaire.

The questionnaire will also ask with what the person did to trigger either good or bad states (no anxiety vs anxiety, or sadness vs happiness), along with where this happened and with whom.

I'm a little lost on how to create a dashboard for it. But thinking on the user perspective I wanna know: What is my current state, what makes me feel good and bad and how I can improve it. I think it's a little similar to fitness app, but instead of having just weight, there are multi dimensions of different aspects, because you might have depression sometimes because of rejection, but not necessarily anxiety, and you might have anxiety during public speaking, and if you fail might trigger depression.

I have no idea on how to start, but thinking as a user I might want to get focused on a particular aspect first (such as just anxiety) but always having a general "KPI" of health.

  • 4
    This is a bit too broad a question to answer. You might want to consider putting up a wireframe sketch of your solution so far and then asking a more specific question about the area you feel it needs improvements.
    – nightning
    Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 17:32
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    It's a bit of a tough one. Having a selected focus, or order of priorities would certainly make the tool more useful for the user, but I'm not sure how useful an overall "Health KPI" would be, since any single one of the mental health states dropping too low would have a dramatic effect, but the point at which it becomes a problem is inconsistent from user to user, and highly variable from day to day. Presumably you've interviewed users with mental health considerations?
    – Nathanael
    Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 18:03
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    When you say you're lost on how to create a dashboard for it, do you mean from a technical, layout or quantification perspective?
    – R. Barzell
    Commented Nov 10, 2015 at 2:23

4 Answers 4


Firstly, it is probably not a good idea to attempt to display too much information if it is on mobile, but rather focus on a number of simpler and important metrics that gives the user a 'at-a-glance' idea of their progress or state. This also applies not only to data display, or also in terms of capturing input.

One strategy that will help you to come up with an initial design that you can further refine (based on user feedback) is to look identify the key metrics you want to display and make them at the top of the hierarchy, then work out the data used to derive this metric and group them under that metric. Keep doing this until you can get down to single atomic data sources/points. Then you need to look at the type of data and work out the corresponding graph/chart type you want to use to display the data (there are many UXSE questions dealing with this topic).

Keeping in mind that you are starting with one category but want to expand to other mental states, it would be good to identify and design the display in a way that ensures the visual presentation is coherent and consistent across the different mental states, especially if you want to capture it under a general health KPI.


My understanding of your problem: You have a multi-dimensional data set collected from the user's reported emotional state and current environment. The goal of your interface is to help someone figure out what correlates with a particular emotional state for them.

The traditional multi-dimensional visualizations (parallel coordinates, scatter plot matrices, or MDS projections) could scale to mobile with a lot of interactivity built around them but I suspect you don't expect mobile users to dig for correlations and patterns themselves.

In that case I think you need to investigate if automated analytical techniques can turn your multi-dimensional data set into something simpler. While I'm not an expert, there are some on https://stats.stackexchange.com/. Decision Trees create easy to explain rules, identify the most important influences on an outcome, and are probably your best starting point.

Your end interface could then be a visual presentation of current state (with the option to change to not-current states) and below that a text description generated from the analytics on that state. Something like "You seem to be sad and anxious when hungry on Mondays and Wednesdays with 4-6 hours of sleep."


In mobile, you should first consider user's attention. Probably, user's attention is easily distracted by environmental effects (baby crying, walking through street crossing, car horns, some people say 'hey buddy' etc.) It may not happen when you are working on a desktop/laptop yet, it will be in mobile. So major aim should be reducing user's cognitive load.

So don't show any numbering on your graphs first, if user interacts with the certain graphic, than you show details. If user digs into your details, you can place an advanced button.


Mobile experiences are, almost by definition, brief and focused. The concept of a dashboard is a great one for this type of data, and your parallel to a fitness app here is actually quite a good one. I'd do some research on mobile fitness app card design and see if you find something that sparks some ideas.

For my money, I'd go after something like the follow design:

I like the idea of a strong visual representation of the factor you're evaluating, a small, relevant graphical representation of its performance, and perhaps a small amount of contextual or additional information.

To get some ideas for exactly what type of graphical representation might suit you, http://www.highcharts.com/demo or https://dribbble.com/search?q=charts is a great place to get some brainstorming going.

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