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Love Always Case Study

Love Always Header image


Long distance relationships are tough, there is no way around that fact. The absence of physical contact with a significant other means there’s an absence of the many ways couples indirectly communicate.  There’s no small smile tell you that your partners in a good mood, no soft squeeze on the shoulder to tell them everything is going to be okay, and no kiss goodbye that expresses “I’ll be thinking of you until we meet again”.  Sure, technology has helped immensely with direct means of communications, but it still offers little in the ways we maintain connections with our romantic partners.

Problem Statement

The current technology commonly used to communicate between long distance couples fails to emulate the uniquely intimate, subtle, and dynamic connections found in relationships where partners are not physically separated from one another. 


A communication app that is synced with a smart light which couples can use to either set a mood for one another or augment a message.

Target Demographic

People who are in long distance relationships. Typically younger people who are between the ages of 18 - 30 years old.

Target Demographic

Expected Result

The Solution

animation of LoveAlways working in the enviroment

Enter LoveAlways, a communication app that pairs with a unique lighting feature, or Love Lamp, allowing couples to control one another’s lighting directly or through texts. The light can be controlled independently to set a mood for a partner, or a message can be sent which causes the light to pulse a selected color, emphasizing an intended tonality. The Love Lamp turns messaging into an immersive experience, taking an element of the conversation off the screen and into the environment. Through immersion, couples can create a much more intimate space where they can express different emotions through different colored lights. Similar to other communication apps, LoveAlways also offers the ability to talk and video chat when messaging isn’t enough.

LoveAlways User Interface Home Screen LoveAlways User Interface Sending Tones LoveAlways User Interface Sending Yellow message LoveAlways User Interface Sending Yellow message LoveAlways User Interface Light Color selector

Why Not Emojis?

Unlike the use of GIFs and Emojis, colored light is a more subtle way of emphasizing a message, leaving more up to interpretation yet still communicating inflection or tone.

Additional Specialized Features

Partner Can change Each Others Lights and send messages accopmanied by lighed messages

Project Timeline

Project Timeline
Phase 1: define and reseach, Weeks 1-3: research questions, Research Interviews, User Personas. Phase 2 Design Synthsis, Week 3: Card Sorting. Phase 3 Prototype and Development, weeks 4-6: User Flows, Wireframes, Figma Prototype. Phase 4, week 7: user testing. Phase 5, week 8: analysis.


Summer Kim User Persona

Design Synthesis

Key Insights

Screen Capture of Card Sorting Board

Card sorting was the primary way of generating ideas. While I did the first round of card sorting myself, I would often ask others to do the same. By having other people sort the cards in categories, then have them explain their thinking behind their decision, I would often glean new insight into how the long distance relationship system functioned.


Incorporating Hardware

Starting with the light, the only workable answer was to do something with smart lights. They are accessible enough where couples could get them in time for testing and they can be controlled from anywhere. The second part was the application itself, which would be built using Figma. The question then became “how do we link them?” After exploring options that could link the UI prototype with the smart light, it became apparent that I would simply have to ask participants to download the smart light application and have them control it directly from there. When necsessary, I would also act as the man behind the curtain and trigger the lighting events myself while users shared their screens.

figma link to smart bulbs LoveALways Wire Frames


The testing was preformed with four couples giving eight data points to draw conclusions from. All testing was done over a the course of one week. Smart light bulbs were shipped to participants’ houses, and Zoom was used as a form of communication. Due to the time constraints surrounding shipping, three out of four couples were not long distance. However, this was not crucial to testing. The most important aspect was the couples’ understanding of one another. 

LoveAlways User Interface Light Color selector LoveAlways messaging linked with lights


Prototype testing found that couples had approximately 60% accuracy in broadly interpreting their significant other’s intent through just the color of the light. Users also seemed to become more confident and accurate as the testing went on, often misinterpreting the first color sent by their partner. On average there was an 84% chance of users changing their interpretation of the message, or noted a predicted disconnect when the light was pulsed in tandem with a message. 

Love always resluts
60% of users who interpreted only communication correctly 84% of users who interpreted color emphasized messag as predicted 87 % of users who focused on the light before reading the message

Colors interpreted <80% Consistently (light-only testing)

Yellow as happiness; orange as energetic; Pink as love

Colors interpreted >80% Consistently (light-only testing):

red as anger; blue as sad or calm; purple as sexual or love


The results of the tests suggest that my proposed solution would help ease couples problems when communicating in a long distance relationship. I anticipated that there would be a lower level of accuracy with light-only communication as it is an indirect form of communication. It is encouraging to see that the light changed users interpretations and how many users were focused on the light during testing. This points to the experience being an immersive way to help couples communicate. From here, I would suggest creating a more developed prototype to test how couples interact with each other, as they would in normal conversations, as opposed to a simulated one.

During this project I learned a lot of things about the UX process, but my biggest take away is what to do when you're forced to pivot. My original solution involved incorporating more sense into the immersion such as smell, however that proved too hard to prototype. Taking this in stride because of the deadline, I had to learn to re-synthesize by isolating what it was about my blue sky idea that was addressing the problem; immersion. From there it was up to my creative problem solving to come up with a viable prototype for the new solution and the rest would fall back into my UX process.