Urban Mind

Healthy cities, healthier minds

It is expected that 68% of the global population will live in cities by 2050. This ongoing urbanisation has major implications for global mental health. Urban Mind collects real-time user data to help plan and design healthier cities.

The Challenge

Improving the user experience to get better data

Urban Mind is an app that gathers data on the mental wellbeing of people living in cities. Participants are asked to answer survey questions three times a day over a 14-day period — no mean feat for busy urbanites. Many people were dropping out before completing the assessments, resulting in incomplete data.

We were approached by research partners King’s College London, landscape architects J&L Gibbons and arts foundation Nomad Projects to improve the overall experience so that it would feel less like a chore and encourage people to participate more.

Visual identity

A new friendly look and feel

We created a joyful new visual identity and logo to bring the app to life. A brighter colour palette, simpler tone of voice and animated illustrations together contribute to a much friendlier interface. A few simple onboarding steps sets the scene for what's to come.

Visual diary

Making the experience feel smart and personal through a visual diary of places and moods

We designed an illustration system that visualises the link between mood and environment. Indoor and outdoor environments are overlaid with 'emotion shapes' and pollution levels to represent individual assessments. The system can generate around 20,000 different combinations.

Personal report

Rewarding people for taking part by revealing personal insights

It's human nature to feel good when we've completed a task — even one as simple as a few taps on a screen. We know from neuroscience that seeing our progress makes us feel reassured and encouraged. So we introduced progress bars, a visual diary, and made an important change to the personal report — rather than waiting 14 days before showing it to survey participants as was the case previously, we made it available from day one.

Deep data

Adding depth to the data with Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA)

EMA is the real-time study of behaviours and moods in a person's natural habitat. It's a useful technique for Urban Mind to add depth to its data. The app connects to other smartphone data sources such as health, activity and geolocation (with permission, of course) for greater context. Participants are also encouraged to upload a photo of the ground they're standing on and record eight seconds of ambient audio.


Replicating a successful format for an unlimited number of bespoke surveys

Rebuilding the app to be fully native allowed us to implement a major new feature that lets King's College London create bespoke surveys for specific studies and audiences. We also designed a generic visual language of geometric shapes that would work for all future studies.

The studies are private, with their own access codes, and can be created in eight different languages from the custom-built CMS. The app is designed to work offline, storing data until an internet connection is available. The data can then be filtered and exported in KCL's preferred format.

“Our investigation suggests that the benefits of nature on mental well-being are time-lasting and interact with an individual's vulnerability to mental illness. These findings have potential implications from the perspectives of global mental health as well as urban planning.”

Dr Andrea Mechelli – Professor of Early Intervention in Mental Health
King's College London


  • Visual identity
  • Illustration & animation
  • UX & UI design
  • Prototyping
  • Frontend development
  • Backend development
  • Product management
  • Optimisation and support

Sennep team

  • Leah Westwood | Product manager
  • Matt Rice | Creative director
  • Christoph Lorenzi | Technical director
  • Chris Cannon | UX & UI designer
  • Lennard van Diggelen | Frontend developer
  • Yang Wong | Frontend developer
  • Will Tinney | Frontend developer
  • Marco Camurri | Backend developer
  • Pasiri Akkarasawart | Illustrator


  • Kings College London
  • J&L Gibbons
  • Nomad Projects
  • The Wellcome Trust