Maintaining Long-Distance
Relationship Wellness

How do we ensure Intimacy, Commitment, and Passion for Long-distance couple to last?

While couples in close proximity can rely on physical affection and direct communication to express themselves, long-distance relationship (LDR) couples often turn to relationship apps for assistance. However, these apps frequently fall short in meeting the specific needs and alleviating the pain points of LDR couples, leaving them without effective solutions to navigate the challenges unique to their situation.

We created Onli, a relationship app that aimed to fill in the gap for LDR couple. We ideated Onli with the goal of 1) Maintain couple's intimacy regardless of difference in time and location; 2)Encourage Couple's Commitment to their relationship to create customer stickiness to the app. I designed the features of Home and Goal, optimized the user flows and facilitated the creation of design system. As we are now in development phase, I also worked closely with PM and developers.

Update. I was promoted to UI/UX Executive in the project in the later phase. Therefore, I am also in charged of the Product Management at this moment


Product Designer


-design System
-hi-fi Prototype


4-5 months


Cavin Fang, Founder
Jasmine Tu, Lead Product Designer


How might we maintain LDR couple's relationship wellness by strengthen LDR couple's Intimacy, Commitment and Passion?

...the average long-distance relationship ends in 4.5 months. The success rate of a long-distance relationship is 58%, how can we help them to prolong?


A relationship wellness app, Onli, that allows couples to

  1. Maintain intimacy regardless of difference in time and location through features such as Emotion/Activity Update, Map: Real-time location sharing, Love Letter and Calendar: sharing their schedule.
  2. Increase commitment to their relationship through features such as Goals: focus on self, partner and couple goals, Album: preserve memories.


What has made Long Distance relationship so difficult?

What has made Long Distance relationship so difficult?

Illustration by Icons 8 from Ouch!

In order to find out the common struggle and the painpoint of LDR couples, we conducted few user interviews and surveys to gain in-depth insights and some common trends.

To have some in-depth insights, the team conducted 5 qualitative interviews via Zoom, alongside with it, we 25 quantitative survey we wanted to find some common trends

We coded from qulitative interviews and utilize the information to send out quantititve survey to find out the top painpoints of LDR couples. Here are some quotes:

The most chosen words that contribute to a good LDR.

Communication, Commitment and Connection

are identified as the three keys to sustain a healthy LDR by the partcipants.

“The lack of physical contact, which means having to communicate verbally all the time. Sometimes a hug would be more than enough but being so far apart means having to depend on verbal communication, which can be frustrating for some people.”
participant #1
Illustration by Icons 8 from Ouch!
“Think wise before you make the choice because it’s a hard commitment.”
participant #4
Illustration by Icons 8 from Ouch!
“We call each other, stay connected, and look at photos to deal with the loneliness.”
participant #10
Illustration by Ekaterina Rogova from Ouch!

⭐Key Insight

1+1 with a distance makes LDR couples each feel like a 0.5. The distance has created many obstacles to the couples, we wishes to strengthen Communication, Commitment and Connection to assist their relationship equation to become a 2.

Based on Robert Sternberg's Triangular Theory of Love, a sustainable relationship is influenced by intimacy(feelings of closeness, connectedness, and bondedness), passion(feelings of attraction), and commitment (working toward same goals).

From the interview, we identified the primary problems that obstructed LDR couples' relationship wellness and mapped the main needs (Communication, Commitment and Connection) to intimacy, passion and commitment. We as well find out the top pain points through affinity map,

⭐Primary Problems

Competitive ANALYSIS

How can we differentiate from the competitor?

Many participants point out that they haven't yet find the best application that can meet all their need; therefore, we conducted competitive analysis to find our stand in the market.


We analyzed among Between, Paired,  BothLove which is one of the popular LDR app in China; and Tuned (sadly discontinued service), a LDR couple targetting app.  

Though some of them targets LDR couple but none of them focus on all the three value, Connection, Commitment and Communication. Especially, Commitment are not highlighted, only one app has features that allow couple to set future goals (but still limited as shared goal).

Many focuses on the shared memories and things but they ignored an important value that they are also individuals having their own life. Though some of them do have async check-in feature to keep communication but when they are busy a check in may also be difficult.

⭐Business Goal

  1. Create the comprehensive platform that tackles all LDR couple pain point and seamlessly incoporates into their daily life.
  2. Increase user acquisition through creating a community for LDR couples.
  3. Create user stickiness and implement freemium model to generate revenue.


Based on the research, we set down our high-level product problem statement..

How might we maintain LDR couple's relationship wellness by strengthen LDR couple's Intimacy, Commitment and Passion?

..with the design goal to
1) Maintain couple's intimacy regardless of difference in time and location; 2)Encourage Couple's Commitment to their relationship to create customer stickiness to the app


Based on the research we conducted, we wanted to tackle the 3 main values, Intimacy, Commitment and Passion with our feature. We created the following app sitemap to map out all features. However, due to resources and time limit, we had to scoped down the feature list. We ensure to focus on the main features that will distinguish us from the competitors and still fulfill the needs.

⭐app Sitemap

Having the main painpoints in mind, we set the following goals and designed the app feature revolving around these:
1) Maintain couple's intimacy regardless of difference in time and location

  • Update of current activity and emotion status that can be checked asynchronously & synchronously (with notification)
  • Each other's Calendar that notes shared AND individual activities
  • Live location sharing and important location bookmark
  • Send sealed love letter for special occasion
  • Attachment style & love language (more coming) test to understand each other's need better

**The design process for this case study will focus on explaining these highlighted features

2) Encourage Couple's Engagement & Commitment to their relationship

  • Create couple-shared goals to work toward their commitment
  • Supervise and support partner's goal while still focus on own goal
  • Reward incentives for commitments

The design process for this case study will focus on the Home & Goal feature
Toggle to switch between feature

Keep LDR couple stay engaged with each other's life & Emotion

As it's a first screen to the app, the Home Page should be including a quick glimpse of important information, . "What is important?" then become the critical decision.

We wish that the users can frequent our app; thus, the home page should create stickiness by solving their urgent need. Based on the initial research, we hypothesize that the urgent need for the user is to keep track with each other's life. Through a quick card sorting, we learned that LDR Couple has the highest priority to find each other's emotion and what they are doing.

Having our main goal of "Maintaining couple's intimacy regardless of difference in time and location" in mind, I want to make sure we can alleviate LDR couples' problems on the lack of engagement in each other time and to keep intimacy.

I designed the status update (both activities and emotion) and check-in feature for the home page to tackle the problems. In order to create a community, we also included relationship wellness article to give them insights for relationship tips.

⚒️User Flow

Accomodating Time Difference

One major struggle that I encountered during designing this page was how to accommodate the time difference. Even with the smallest time difference, people may experience emotion swings or finish multiple activities in a small timeframe. What if the partner is not available at all times?

To accommodate such situation, I designed a timeline feature that the partner can keep track of the past activities and emotional changes. More to it, the local time of each partner is also shown alongside with the weather.


Usability Testing

With 5 potential user who were in LDR, I tested the usability of updating the status and checking the timeline. Each conducted under a moderated remote session through Zoom. The task was to Create an Update, Customize your own activity or emoji update, Check the past timeline of updates.

⭐What went well?

  • 5/5 shows positive feedback on having such an update
  • 4/5 finds it simple and intuitive to create update

👎What can be improved?

  • 2/5 think timeline should be place on the top instead of wellness article.
  • 4/5 is concerned about the timeline becomes exhausted after a whole day updates, which would take a long time to go over the updates.

❗A surprise Outcome

  • 1/5 clicked the profile picture thought it's a story timeline


Making Timeline Simpler

In order to prevent an over-exhausting list of updates, I decided to reinvent the timeline. Some user also finds the wellness article is blocking the timeline. However, our marketing team suggests keeping it, as it serves as our brand awareness, and it would help us build a community.

The surprising outcome from the testing inspired me to reinvent the timeline into stories. The stories would automatically be created into a story card, both emoji and activities. We find the emotion during the activities is also important; therefore, emotion will also be shown.

FInal design

Visual Design

Setting-goals together to foster commitment

The goal feature was designed to promote commitment in LDR couples. With physical distance and limited interaction, it can be difficult for couples to stay motivated and engaged in achieving shared goals.

When ideating, we aim to provide a platform for couples to set and track their goals, offer mutual support, and provide motivation to each other. By promoting a shared sense of purpose and accountability, we wish helps to create a stronger emotional connection and foster a long-lasting commitment.


    We started a design studio to explore ideas on encouraging engagement and commitment in the relationship under the context of setting goals. Considering LDR's struggles, we emphasized on creating shared experiences for the entire user journey to promote engagement. We want to make sure both partners can interact and participate to each other's growth.

    Within team, we discussed on different ideas and narrowed down to the most viable ideas on a whiteboard.

    During the brainstorm session, we list down d the related sub-use cases and concerns to the 5 ideas. As the "Leaderboard" is a separate user flow, considering the scope, we postponed the idea to next cycle; for "Calender View", the similarity to another feature refrained this use case. We postponed 2 ideas and started the user flow crafting for the 3 ideas that are most viable and design goal oriented.

    Creating the shared experience to promote LDR commitment

    Our priority in designing the user flow for joint goal-setting is to create a shared experience for both partners. To achieve this, we've incorporated features that keep both partners engaged, whether the goal is individual or joint.

    We believe that having individual goals that are solely focused on oneself can create distance in the relationship. By promoting joint goal-setting and shared experiences, while also encouraging individual growth within the context of the relationship, we aim to increase user engagement and promote long-term use of the app.

    ⚒️User Flow diagram

    To create a shared experience, we designed the goal completion flow to allow for participation from both partners. Push notifications were deployed to ensure that even if one partner is not currently using the app, they are still aware of progress and can stay engaged.

    Incentive such as rewards can also be set to increase the motivation alongside with the engagement. Also, we as well designed reminder to enhance accountability.

    Increasing The Relationship Engagement


    Based on the user flow and feature requirements, I start by creating low-fidelity wireframes that give a basic idea of the feature's structure and layout

    For the goal that created by user's partner, instead of simply checked off. I proposed that it should allow the "Validation" Process. This was to increase the interaction and also the engagement on the goal completion. The following show the Validation Process.

    Decision Behind Progress tracking

    The biggest challenge I face when designing for Goal Feature is determining how to visualize shared progress. The biggest challenge I face when designing progress tracking is determining how to visualize shared progress.

    Single bar can provide a clear overview of overall progress towards goals; however, it may not provide enough detail for individual progress tracking. On the other hand, separate progress bar could clutter the interface and be overwhelming to users.

    I was reminded that the main goal was to increase engagement of the couple. Instead of separate progress bars, the progress bar will only advance if both partner is checked off. To foster accountability, I design checkboxes for both partners to encourage joint effort.

    The progress bar design could not be tested using A/B testing due to limitations in user recruitment, the team has only small sample size and are lack of access to a diverse pool of potential users.


    Usability Testing

    I conducted usability testing on two key features of our app: creating one-time goals and recurring goals and completing both types of goals.

    ⭐What went well?

    • 5/5 shows positive feedback on the joint-goal system
    • 5/5 finds creating goals easy and simple.

    👎What can be improved?

    • 3/5 find tracking the recurring goal difficult. For example, if the user have to take vitamin 2 times every day. As the recurrence is set 1 day, the progress bar will only move after completing 2 checkboxes.
    • 2/5 is confused on difference between continuous goal & one-time goal.


    Visualize the Recurrence

    To tackle the issue that the user brought up the difficulty on tracking their progress if there is multiple action to complete. The user can't receive a feedback if their check is gone through.

    To address this challenge, I implemented a visual cue to track each checkbox click. Initially, it may seem natural to update the progress bar for each action completed, but this would conflict with our goal. Our progress bar design is intended to advance only when both partners check off an action, which reinforces our objective of promoting shared commitment. As a solution, I incorporated a separate circular bar around each checkbox to indicate individual actions completed, while preserving the original progress bar's intended function.

    FInal design

    Visual Design

    How we Solve the Problem

    effortlessly Enhancing Engagement Through Goal-setting & Life Updates

    Always kept in touch

    Easily Update Emotion & Activity

    Update their current feeling and their activity. The couple can maintain the intimacy and keep each other updated even if they are apart and busy with their schedule.

    grow the commitment

    Shared Goal that Requires Mutal Effort

    Both partners must fulfill the required tasks for the goal process to advance in order to establishing a mutual sense of accountability and commitment towards a shared objective.


    Recap the Past Activities/ Emotion in Ease

    Check the timeline to see partner's activity and uploaded images or videos, even if they missed the last update - just like Instagram stories.


    Creating Goals For Yourself or Partner

    Participate in each other's growth. Create Goal for Yourself, Partner or you both to strive together!

    help holding each other's accountability

    Support Your Partner's Goal

    With the feature to send validation to their partner when checking off a personal goal, users are able to receive the support they need to stay accountable and achieve their objectives, all while their partner plays an active role in their growth and development.

    What happen next

    Future Plans

    ⭐Current Status

    This design is constantly in design iteration to create more features and better experience. I am working with an outsourcing development team to create a MVP to join business competition and gain funding from VC if possible! Please stay tuned for the delivery! We are expecting Q3 for 2023!

    ⭐Future Plans

    Though mainly target for LDR's need but we do not limit to just LDR couples but also wishes to expand to the whole population who are in relationship. We are also gender inclusive; we would like to also include more LGBTQ+ content in our wellness sections and include all possible struggle that they would encounter.

    Moreover, we are looking into expanding into e-commerce with gifting system. However, it's still in not ready until Year. 2-3. If you are interested in joining the team or investing, please contact me!

    What have I learned?


    Win-win is prioritized over Compromising

    Conflicts between departments' decisions can arise in any profitable organization with stable user growth. As product designers, we often have to balance business goals with user experience. During the decision-making process for the Home Page reinvention, I realized that compromising was not the only option. Instead, I aimed to find a win-win design that satisfied both the business goal and user experience, with the belief that "user is our prerequisite to achieve the business goal."

    Micro-productivity is the new Macro

    As this is a start-up project, the scale of the project and the constant understaffing situation makes this project extremely difficult. Breaking each feature into really small task have been really helpful for our team. The tasks are really manageable that can be finished and passed to new or other team members even if we lose one member after a quarter. Micro productivity has allowed us to get more things down.


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