Project team

Feifei Deng, Dee Song, Jade Zhao


Lead product designer / Product Manager


12 Weeks (Dec.2019 - Mar.2020)

Octopus is a smart hub for parenting, which connects different smart devices and enables them to work together. Octopus frees parents' hands, tracks their baby's growth and centralizes parenting life.
Intrigued by this problem space, I embarked on this project in 2019 and was lucky enough to team up with two exceptionally talented designers later on

Problem Space

The transition to parenthood is extremely challenging for first time parents.

Mental Stress

More than one in seven mothers and up to one in 10 fathers experience postnatal depression or anxiety

Crazy Busy & Fatigue

Approximately one-quarter of Millennial Moms say they would pay $50 per month to have someone manage their busy lives.

Relationship Challenged

Around two-thirds of couples find that the quality of their relationship declines within five years of the birth of a first child.

The challenge

How might we empower first time parents to make parenting easier and to promote happier relationships in the first year of parenthood?


Octopus - A Smart hub for parenting

Free parents' hands. Track baby's growth. Centralize parenting life.

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Design Principles

Based on all these insights from our user research and market study, we summarized our design principles and set the frame work for our future design work.


Streamline and optimize parenting life to free parents’ hands and save their time


Empower parents to manage tools/data/tasks related to parenting in one place to simplify their life


Raise parents’ awareness of each other’s contributions to collaborate better and build mutual support


Bring specific efficient solutions based on parents’ unique needs

Product concept

Meet Octopus

Guided by our design principles, we generated 90 ideas in the ideation stage. After a couple of rounds of discussion and voting, we narrowed down to the final concept based on feasibility, desirability, and viability.

final concept

Octopus - A Smart hub for parenting

functionality 01

Connecting to hub

It connects different smart devices from different manufactures to the central hub

functionality 02

Integrating in new ways

It enables different devices to talk to each other and work together in new ways to free parents' hands

functionality 03

Assimilating Data

The cloud-hosted appliance assimilates real-time data from the disparate devices used to help parents to collaborate and understand their baby's growth.

story board

How it helps in real context

at night

Devices work together

After connecting devices with the Octopus App, a preset night care routine is automatically generated by the system.
When the webcam detects Nora is about to wake up, it sends out data to the bedside lamp to wake up Melissa. Meanwhile, the webcam catches Nora sucking her fists, which usually is a sign of a hunger baby. In response, the webcam triggers smart milk bottle to warm milk at the preset temperature

In the moring

Know each other's contribution

Eric wakes up and receives a notification from Octopus, regarding what tasks Melissa completed last night. Meanwhile, it reminds him that he can help with - “baby laundry.” He uses the pre-set routine made by Melissa to finish it quickly before leaving home.

During the day

Never feel like an outsider

Eric goes to work. It’s a busy day full of meetings. In the break, Eric receives a notification from Octopus. It’s the webcam that captured a short video of Nora’s smiling. Eric enjoys this fun moment. Octopus also reminds him to buy diapers and lets him know what happened at home

Feature mapping

implementing the concept

Implementing the concept through features is another big challenge. I directed the team back to research insights and design principles to map out product features that could truly reflect our research insights and meet users' needs.

user journey map

Information Architecture

Octopus is a comprehensive product with a broad range of features. Before diving into details, we decided to map out the structure of the app to clarify the big-picture.

App Sitemap

We started with the App sitemap. Our team aligned on  6 key content sections in the App: Homepage, Routine, Device management, Task management, Baby's growth and development, and Profile .

Key flows

Equipped with the content foundation of the site map, we created user flows to think through possible paths for each feature. These five key flows including:

  • Customization (Web) - Finding the customized solution fits for user's unique needs
  • Routine - Add/edit routine after connected device
  • Device Management - Add/remove devices from App
  • Task Management -Add/check tasks related to parenting
  • Care - Manage data of baby's growth
Finding the customized solution (web)

See More Flows

Add/remove devices
Add/edit routine after connected device
Add/check tasks related to parenting
Manage data for baby's growth
Feature walkthrough

How it works


Customized Solution

Users will start the journey with Octopus from the Web. Here, they can learn what Octopus is and how Octopus could help with their parenting life. By simply completing a questionnaire, Octopus customizes solutions that fit the users' unique needs in parenting!



After connecting devices to the App, Octopus generates customized smart routines to make devices talk with each other and work together to make parenting life more manageable. Users can customize the routine to fit their needs better.

device management


At the device management center, parents can manage disparate devices in one place. They also can quickly start a device for one-time use.

Task management


Octopus provides collaborative task management not only for daily tasks but also integrates these tasks with smart routines to help family members better collaborate.


Baby's growth

Cloud-hosted appliance assimilates real-time data from the disparate devices to help parents to track and record their baby’s growth and exciting development

Highlight and activity history


Parents will not miss fun moments of their baby and will better understand each others’ contribution by highlighting actions and sharing activity history.

iterative design

rationale behind the screens

We did 5 rounds of user tests in different fidelities with 12 participants. We iterated based on feedback and previous research insights.

"Routine" is a core feature of Octopus. I was independently responsible for this feature from end to end. I struggled with a lot in the process but eventually reached the successful solutions through iteration. Next I would love to share with you the two most significant iterations and my design rationale in this process.

Routine feature iteration : Low-fi to Mid-fi

Functionality vs. Learnability

Previous research informed us there is no-one-size-fits-all solution in parenting. It's essential to enable users to customize their routine to fit  their unique needs. However, the result of our testing with our the paper prototype showed customization process is too challenging for users due to its complexity and unfamiliar concepts.
Thus, balancing the tension between functionality and learnability is the first challenge I was facing.


Adaptation to different levels of expertise

Based on user testing feedback, I identified that the primary use case is novice users who want to enable a routine with the least effort. In response, I simplified the flow. The system will now automatically generate a preset routine right after connecting the devices with the App. Meanwhile, I kept the flexibility to customize the routine settings and to create a new routine for intermediate and advanced users

Routine feature iteration : Mid-fi TO HIGH-FI

Cleanliness vs. Clarity

Another big challenge I faced is managing information density. Too much information on the page will put users in a mental straightjacket. It’s exactly the mistake I made in the Mid-Fi. As one of our participants said, “Too many action buttons on one page, I don’t know where I should start”.
However, if there is too little information,  it will become cumbersome to reach meaningful insights.
Thus, striking the right balance between Cleanliness and Clarity is the second challenge I faced


Prioritize discoverability

It’s the nature of the beast: Complex flows require the prioritization of features at the expense of visibility to others. I adopted the principle that user’s interest should drive information priority.

Ui Kit


We started building our visual identity by identifying the main brand adjectives that would represent the product: Caring, Innovative, Reliable.

Style Guide

With the established design direction, we created a Style Guide and UI Kit for Octopus. These are living documents that can be updated and added to as the site (and brand) develops and evolves. By documenting the UI patterns and components we use in the design, we can better ensure that they are repeated and, therefore, consistent across the product


At the beginning of this project, I didn't expect a smart hub would be this complicated. I thought we could just connect different devices and let them talk to each other and work together. Our four month project deepened my understanding of smart home and IoT technology. There are still a lot of things we couldn't cover in such a short time. If I had a chance to continue, I would keep working on data privacy, compatibility and reliability of the system, and multiple-user scenarios.


The success of designing a complex system is to seek a balance between simplicity and functionality. The designer needs to make trade-off carefully while holding a big picture in mind.

Multiple Scale Sizes

While dealing with a complex system, the designer needs to understand and act from micro to larger macro sizes, from short periods to long ones(like product life spam). This allows the product to serve multiple stakeholders in different situations. Moreover, there are interactions between the levels of scale and abstraction..

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