Family stories brought to life through audio

November 2018 • View Site

What would you give to hear your grandparent or deceased relative tell you a story again? To hear their voice again? That’s the idea behind Kinecho, an app that allows you to record stories from loved ones now so that you can continue their legacy beyond today.


Our mission was to make it easy for all generations to ask relatives questions about their past, record and listen to stories, and connect when stories are shared.

My role

I focused on the logo, product, UX, our Squarespace integration, design, emails, and development.

Mock of the Kinecho experience


We researched and found that 40% of older adults have a strong desire to leave behind their legacy, yet only a third of those have taken steps to do so. Memory loss and other health problems create urgency, but also leave time/energy for memory preservation. There were plenty of companies already doing the same thing (collecting stories from family), but none were doing it very well.


We discussed early on that whatever we created would need to be very accessible so that it would cater to all. There were more challenges:

  • Give seniors a companion to combat loneliness and isolation

  • Make users trust us with their stories and feel like their content is safe and secure
  • Help users know what to ask and write about so that they don't experience writer's block

"When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground."

— African proverb


For the logo design, we reached out to Margot, a designer we knew from Craftsy, to help. I had drawn a sketch of a microphone with the lettes K and E making up the parts of the mark. Margot was able to work with that sketch and together we eventually got to our final logo.


Because our team was so small, we were able to collaborate all the time, whiteboarding out of Ryan's basement. We never had meetings yet we were always meeting; it was great to be so collaborative.

We luckily had two user research specialists on our seven-person team, Tom & Sarah. We had customer interviews almost every week, which was amazingly helpful.


When diving into sketches and wireframes, it's helpful to have user stories to fall back on. These give you a checklist of requirements to knock off and make sure you're focusing on what the user wants. Our initial list of user stories was two pages long, but the highlights included:

  • I can create posts via audio, photographic, and text input
  • I can provide context after inputting a memory, inclusive of title, location, time, tags, and other people who were involved in the memory
  • I can send questions to others, so that they can answer questions I want to know about themselves or myself


We used Whimsical to work through different paths a user could take. User flows help expose user decisions, solve edge cases, and reveal opportunities to simplify or innovate.

Experience design


We had a pretty good flow worked out from the get-go, and iterated on it as we added features. Three guiding principles stayed with us the entire time:

  • We wanted accessibility to be at the forefront of all design decisions.
  • The app had to appeal to young and old.
  • Keep it simple. Remove as much as possible without losing anything important.


I was constantly making new wireframes and updating our clickable prototype, because we were in rapid-iteration mode, testing with users all the time. Our CTO, Neil, was already hard at work implementing the back-end and setting up the front-end Material framework.


Initially, I spent a good amount of time on mocks, changing my mind between several different brand styles instead of figuring out what kind of brand Kinecho should be. And, I designed mostly in the browser. This experience taught me that mocks deserve a sacred step in my process in order for the design to really shine. My process of building the brand for Cactus turned out much better.

Some of the Kinecho wireframes
Mock of the Kinecho experience



We went with Squarespace for the marketing side of our site. We thought it would give us velocity for iterating on landing and marketing pages. It probably gave us some velocity toward the end, but because we're a technical team, we wanted to customize most things, which slowed us down.


Neil, Scott, and I worked in tandem on all of the components leading up to launch and thereafter. We were constantly tweaking and optimizing parts of the experience. We operated as an agile team using Github, pull requests, and frequent deploys.

Material theme

We used the Material theme from Google to take care of a lot of the front-end for us. This worked out pretty well in terms of velocity, but we couldn’t really push past the look of a Material-themed website. If we had more time, I’d go through each screen and transform the design into something more inviting, whimsical, and harmonious.


Though we had strong signals that end-of-life creates urgency unlike anything else, we had trouble targeting these people. We also tried visiting retirement homes, to collect life stories one-on-one. It was really cool to hear people's stories and see these people smile as we listened in, but we had trouble getting the stories to the families.


"I would want to work with each of them again. They are all customer-obsessed, curious and driven – critical qualities for success..."

Danielle Wilkie