The One With the Donut Bribe
How might we help people get up-to-date, credible health news and information?
In the midst of rampant so-called "fake news," Healthcites is a trusted health and science news source that is dedicated to getting you good, reliable information without all the medical jargon.
Figma, Trello, Zoom, Miro,
Whimsical, Google Suite
Two Product Designers
AN OPEN BRIEF
The open brief was intentionally vague, but strangely relevant to the current times as the first Coronavirus cases had just started cropping up stateside. Everybody was still walking around outside with only a few really paranoid people fully stocked and masked up when we first received the brief topic:
Addressing health concerns in
We had laughed at the irony. What we didn't know was that the joke was really on us.
UNDERSTANDING THE PROBLEM SPACE
Influenced by ongoing current events, we decided that public health in the news was too big a topic to avoid and misinformation around health was too big an issue to ignore.
Employing a human-centered design approach, I started off with a visual and competitive analysis to evaluate the current health and news landscape. I also completed some exploratory research for added context in the market domain.
We quickly discovered that
There is no tool on the market today that combines credible data with easy to consume formatting and navigation.
Knowing this, we sought to understand the following:
How greatly the media has impacted public perception regarding viral and bacterial outbreaks.
Existing Public Health Platforms
Frustrations and gaps in existing platforms around the topic of public health information.
Bearing this in mind, we spoke with two subject matter experts (SME), a doctor and a cancer researcher, to help shape our hypothesis and verify if there was actually a problem in this space.
We found that both our SMEs
Use secondary sources to validate articles
Believes that the media’s purpose is to generate big headlines to stir interest
Mentioned that the news creates mass anxiety and public alarm.
We formed our working hypothesis:
Due to the reputation of sensationalist news and a lack of reliable sources, there is a lot of panic and hysteria surrounding “trending” topics regarding outbreaks and health issues.
This gave us a direction to pursue, so we employed guerrilla research tactics to talk to people off the street in order to try and validate our hypothesis.
Now remember, at this time, much was still unknown about the novel Coronavirus. There were only a handful of cases in the US and there was still a stigma around wearing a mask, but even so, people were starting to become wary around strangers - even around two very approachable, well-meaning product designers who diligently wash their hands.
In order to get people to talk to us,
we had to sweeten the deal -
We made signs: Free pastries in exchange for an interview (~15 mins).
We set up shop in a typically high-traffic area with our homemade signs, classic pink pastry box, and a bottle of hand sanitizer in prominent view.
Was it a little desperate? Maybe, but in the end, we were able to speak to four user participants with a soft spot for donuts.
Here are some of our key takeaways:
All participants use more than one news source to verify information.
Concern for Others
All participants expressed being more worried about family members and older people than for themselves.
Half of our participants explicitly expressed distrust of the news and mainstream media.
In addition to our user interviews, we created and sent out a survey regarding perceptions of health in the news. Survey submissions were collected from March 8, 2020 until March 14, 2020. We believe that the 45 responses we received accurately reflect the beliefs and feelings of our participants given the information available at that time.
These are some of our findings:
Of respondents without a medical background stated that they were not well-informed on public health issues.
Of respondents look for information about the disease/virus/condition itself when researching on their own.
Responded with 3 or below when asked how much they trusted the news, with 1 being “not at all” and 5 being “I trust it completely.”
I don’t trust it at all
I trust it completely
This concluded our research sprint. Post-its in hand, I was ready to start affinity diagraming to define our personas and problem statement.
ADAPTING TO UNPRECEDENTED TIMES
...But then the world descended into chaos.
In addition to having to fight over toilet paper and stocking up on canned goods and instant ramen, all our operations had to go full-remote due to a shelter-in-place order. As we could no longer meet in person, we utilized digital tools like Zoom in order to collaborate and Miro to create our affinity diagram.
From our data synthesis, we were able to craft our persona.
This is Skeptical Sally.
With Sally as our heroine paired with all our user research, we were able to form our problem statement:
People who have loved ones that are at a higher risk for health issues need a way to access credible, snackable information on public health concerns because they want to avoid “fake news” regarding trending diseases.
We were now ready to move into ideation.
PROTOTYPING AND BRAND EXPLORATION
We started with individual 6-8-5 sketching and came together to compare and look for overlaps.
Early candidates from my sketching included:
Self-assessment quiz for COVID-19
Quick facts and stats for outbreak and symptom information
Heat map for affected areas
Cross-reference with credible sources, like the CDC & WHO
We created quick low-fi wires in Figma and then turned them into mid-fis in order to thread together a prototype for formative testing.
Here are some findings from our 3 participants:
Users were unsure if the site was for COVID only or health in general
All participants looked for symptom information
No one even looked at the heat map
At this time, we also began to do some visual exploration, creating mood boards and a style tile (which was modeled after an insurance card) to capture the overall brand identity.
The teal and coral colors conveys professionalism and trustworthiness, while still maintaining an approachable and user-friendly presentation.
The serif headers fonts are reminiscent of traditional newspapers, which adheres to the usability heuristic of matching the system and the real world, but kept the body copy in a sans serif font for better legibility.
Using our new design system, we converted our mid-fi wires into hi-fi and incorporated the feedback we received from formative testing.
Here are a couple before and after screens:
Streamlined header design
Made into a card to show that it is clickable
Wider format for better visibility
Changed Verified symbol to make it appear clickable
Made the cards more uniform
Added a button for
Added Share function
REAL-WORLD REACTIONS & RESULTS
Testing & Iteration
Utilizing our hi-fi prototype, we moved into usability testing with five individuals and observed how they would find and share information about an outbreak. We also wanted to evaluate our visual design to see if the format and color choices conveyed trustworthiness.
Users reacted well to our visual design and felt that it lent well to the site credibility. Additional findings lead to the following iterations:
Added mission statement to convey website purpose
Removed carousel due to difficult side scroll
Made icons smaller to reduce confusion as they are not clickable
Added related links
Added card tiles to replace the carousal
Users expressed a desire for more detailed information.
(Helpful hint: Take the self-assessment quiz, but don't worry we've already put in all the answers for you!)
LEARNINGS IN THE TIME OF COVID
Be adaptable and resourceful: When COVID hit and I was relegated to remote constraints, I was able to turn to different tools and processes in order to complete my work without impacting the timeline.
People Love Donuts: Okay, I already knew this, but the true takeaway is that sometimes you have to think outside the box to come up with creative solutions in order to drive success.
A huge shout out goes to my talented partner, Martha Magsombol,
who created all the Healthcite animations.
Yay, you got to the end!
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Or drop a line, I would love to connect!