Free or Low-Cost Resources for Health Support
For some interviewees, the cost of treatment and even supplemental treatment was more than they could afford. They were unable to use resources that could effectively help them improve their wellbeing because of this.
Some interviewees were adamant about not wanting to discuss their issues with anybody outside their close family. They cited the conservative nature of the society they grew up in to be a reason for their reluctance. They would not like to disclose to friends or strangers that they were going through tough times and preferred to keep it that way, even when mingling with people.
Maintaining Anonymity about Mental Health Issues
Inclusion of Individual Activities along with Community Activities
Individuals had different proclivities towards individual and group activities. While some participants' introverted nature made them gravitate toward hobbies that required less socialization and more introspection, others preferred the company of friends and family.
I conducted user interviews with 15 people of various ages, cultures, and economic backgrounds, and then analyzed the data using affinity mapping. Common themes and sentiments were identified and used to drive the design process. Some key insights derived were:
Indulging in artistic activities or an activity that encourage self-expression and creativity were preferred modes of relaxation. Providing an outlet for expressing one’s thoughts and feelings in ways that are not necessarily verbal is crucial.
Inclusion of Creative Self-Expression
Based off my findings, I developed 3 user personas to represent the primary and secondary stakeholders. Each persona illustrated particular pain points and frustrations that I discovered through my research.
The Design Process
To decide on a problem statement, I took note of societal issues and causes that I wanted to address and work towards. I wanted the solution to respond to the CHI 2023 Student Design Competition in a meaningful way. Ultimately, I decided to focus on Good Health and Wellbeing, one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals identified by the United Nations.
Here's a more extensive Final Project Report if you'd like to know more.
Bloop is a free-to-use app that addresses the lack of awareness and accessibility surrounding social prescribing in the United States by providing a collective space for individuals who want to improve their own health through community interaction and engage in beneficial health practices.
Activities offered by Bloop are meant to foster community, build connections, and engage users with their hobbies while also providing a space space for underrepresented groups. Bloop's events are open to everyone and can be utilized as a resource by health professionals when offering social prescribing choices to their patients.
The prototype was tested with 5 users to understand where the design succeeded or fell short. I observed users while they completed 2 tasks:
1. Create a profile (or become a member) on the app
2. Register for an event on the app
Key findings from the usability testing:
The CTA for the "Add Interests" page needed to be more salient since it was being unintentionally ignored by users.
Users needed visual cues on the "Welcome" page and "Registration Confirmation" page that gave them feedback for their actions and hinted to towards the next steps
With the flow ready, I created some low fidelity prototypes, followed by high fidelity versions of the same.
Hover over the box to check out the high fidelity prototype!
Aug 2022 -Dec 2022
Social Prescribing is used in healthcare to connect patients who experience mental and/or physical disabilities, loneliness, or are struggling with their general health and well-being to non-clinical services in their communities (World Health Organization Regional Office for the Western Pacific 2022). These non-clinical services are often forms of creative activities which generate community engagement / social interaction, health and wellness, and life fulfillment.
While social prescribing is a great option for patients who seek to improve their health as an alternative to, or alongside, medicated options, there is still a lack of awareness and accessibility for it in the United States, and although there is evidence supporting that societal and health inequities directly contribute to lowered health and well-being, social prescriptions themselves can be inaccessible to certain communities: particularly individuals without access to healthcare or those who can not pay out of pocket for the non-clinical treatment options.
Sketching and Storyboarding
Rapid brainstorming led to ideas that could potentially address and ameliorate the users' needs. I sketched out these ideas and narrowed down on the approach to move forward with.
From these sketches, I finalized my approach, which was a wellness app that allows users to browse and participate in local social events that help support their mental and physical health.
I created scenarios using the personas to visualize a set of goals that would be accomplished by a user with the system.
I mapped out some of the key user flows: User onboarding and event registration.
Hover over the box to check out the final prototype!
Users can browse for events, use filters, see past events, search for, and register for community activities and events. To strengthen community involvement, events are allowed to be posted by any organization. To provide credibility, events hosted by verified organizations are displayed with a green checkmark.
Upon downloading the app, the user will undergo the onboarding process. The app provides a walkthrough and allows users to create an account and profile.
Because Bloop caters to a diverse audience in terms of age and personality, preferences and interests are asked of the users for event recommendations during profile creation. This ensures that the activities supplement the users' journey to better health in the most optimal and personal way.
The user can browse resources in the resources tab which consists of videos and articles. Helpful articles and resources that users might want to revisit can be bookmarked and viewed later in the "Saved" icon on the toolbar.
After participating in an activity, the user can reflect on the event to keep track of their journey to improved wellbeing. This step is added to enable the user to track what works for them and also revisit their feelings after participating in the event.
The feedback obtained from usability tests was extremely insightful as user perspective, however seemingly obvious, may provide crucial information. I learned the value of performing iterative usability testing to improve the design.
Taking an accessible-first approach with the design proved to be a very good decision as it improved the functionality and usability of the app universally.