hyper-personalized mobile app to enhance users' health habits.
Project type: Mobile application redesign
My role: UX designer and researcher as part of Pitangoux team
Project scope: 4 research sub-projects | Focus Groups | comparative research | Wireframes | Prototype
Sweetch is a hyper-personalized app that aims to improve the lives of people suffering from chronic conditions, improve their health habits and manage their disease (tracking meds, BG, BP, etc.)
What is a hyper-personalized Mhealth app?
A hyper-personalized health management app tailors its experience to each patient's specific needs, conditions, and preferences using data and advanced algorithms.
Based on a patient's vitals, symptoms, medication, and habits, the app suggests personalized care plans, medication reminders, lifestyle suggestions and personal support.
As a result, it can improve patient engagement, self-management, and overall outcomes for chronic patients.
A PROBLEM TO SOLVE
The healthcare industry is investing heavily in remote services to empower patients to take control of their health. However, the success of these efforts depends on patients being willing to take the necessary steps to improve their health.
How can we help patients put in the hard work to improve their health?
User interviews and questionnaire
Set design challenges
Defining the problem
Personas and mindset
Implement a design approach
High fidelity prototype
User testing iteration
re-evaluate our existing platform in order to understand if it meets the needs and addresses the pain points of our users.
Expand our knowledge about users and gain a general understanding of our users’ behaviors.
We carried out 4 main sub-projects in our research, each focusing on a different important aspect of the experience:
Can we use gaming to increase engagement and motivation to enter the app, complete tasks and maintain long-term relationships?
For this study, we conducted a literature review on the uses of gaming to achieve goals like ours, outside or within the healthcare world.
We will continue by analyzing gaming on competing / similar platforms.
Based on this research and after data cross-referencing, we will create satisfactory gaming concepts for the focus group.
Gamification Research Conclusions
By combining user feedback and researching the application of gamification in health management, we confirmed that gamification can effectively motivate engagement. Based on this, we developed a gaming strategy centred on the idea of "gamifying internal motivation."
External motivation VS. Intrinsic motivation
Merely using rewards, budgets, and points will not be sufficient to achieve our long term engagement goals.
Studies have shown that unless rewards are connected to something meaningful and relevant to the user, they will not be effective in the long term. To be effective, we must focus on what the user values and create symbols, rewards, and an environment that empower and highlight these values and taps into the user's deep desires.
״if someone finds meaningful connections between his or her own interests or their background and the desired behavior, then the chances are much greater that the person will integrate that behavior into his or her sense of self in a positive way.״
Source: Nicholson, S. (Forthcoming). A RECIPE for Meaningful Gamification. To be published in Wood, L & Reiners, T., eds. Gamification in Education and Business, New York: Springer. (2015)
The focus group participants were mostly unfamiliar with the Journey map feature, but they recognized its benefit of providing a long-term perspective on their progress.
Through the focus groups, we gained insights on the balance between the need for a long-term perspective and the need for a short-term perspective in the context of tracking progress over time.
Journey map from Samsung Health app
Strikes: "Don't break the chain"
The concept leverages the psychological principle of consistency, where people tend to feel a strong urge to maintain consistency in their actions and decisions once they have committed to a certain behavior.
Simply put, By visualizing the streak, users can see their progress in a clear way, which motivates them to keep doing what they're doing to keep the progress going.
Strikes from Duolingo app
CHARACTER CONCEPT RESEARCH
Characters or mascots are an effective means of conveying a brand's tone of voice and key messages to the user.
Our question is: how to design a virtual assistant character that can enhance communication and support the objectives of the user experience?
We conducted internal research to grasp the company's view on the character's role and purpose as a brand ambassador. Through interviews with stakeholders, we gathered information about the character's personality, values, and messaging that aligns with the brand.
This study began with a literature review to gather information on the utilization of characters or virtual assistants. Then, we analyzed the use of characters on different platforms to discover best practices. Using the gathered information and cross-referenced data from A/B testing feedback, we developed character concepts which were evaluated in a focus group.
Character Research Conclusions
The digital character experience research was the most surprising and intriguing. Investigating other experiences using this technique resulted in a complete shift in strategy, delivering a solution that fully aligns with Sweetch's goals and vision.
Mascots as digital assistants are uncommon and there may be reasons for it.
The study found that it is uncommon to find virtual assistant mascots in digital products, despite success stories from companies such as Duolingo, Mailchimp, and Headspace. The question being raised is if using a mascot is a good idea.
That clippy mistake
Clippy, Microsoft Word's assistant, was unpopular because it provided irrelevant information and was considered intrusive. To be successful, notifications or assistance should be tailored to the specific needs of the user at that moment, and data and algorithms can be used to understand the user's context and provide appropriate assistance.
A Stanford study found that it broke the basic rules of human social interaction, that “it ignores social conventions of when to disturb someone, it does not learn from its mistakes…”
The application of a mascot, or character, is mostly common in marketing.
There have been numerous studies on the effectiveness of using characters, particularly in the food industry and for children. However, when it comes to using characters as virtual assistants in digital products, it is a more complicated field that many companies choose not to enter into.
Long-term exposure is dangerous
Currently, it is not common to use virtual assistants that have a physical appearance. Research and case studies have shown that users may become less interested or less engaged with a mascot if they are overexposed to it.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The importance of character in humanizing and building a sense of friendship among users was emphasized by Sweetch.
It was a significant vision in the organization. Research recommendations were clear:
Several characters instead of one!
In this way, each character is part of a larger whole, and a user does not have to connect and produce feelings for one significant character.
This conclusion has led to the production of several characters each symbolizes one health area in the life of the user.
Headspace does not have an official mascot. While users may encounter various characters, they are not meant to create a specific connection but to be a temporary component of a positive experience.
HOME PAGE RESEARCH
How can we design a homepage that guides users effortlessly through the app without overwhelming them with an abundance of functionality?
The goal of this study is to understand the workflows and priorities of users, and to use this information to simplify and arrange information and tasks for them. We're conduced competitive research, user testing, and A/B testing to create an intuitive and user-friendly design.
Home Page Research Conclusions
Make a long story short
Sweetch covers all aspects of health and has a lot of information to offer users.
The home page will showcase personalized KPIs based on user behavior, and serves as a hub for accessing detailed information through simple navigation to internal pages
Focusing on health goal
This research revealed that users prioritize tracking progress towards their health goals above all else. Therefore, the "Goal" component will be prominently featured on the home page.
Motiviation to complete "Tasks"
Our aim is to encourage users to report meals, take medication, and measure blood sugar to enhance the app's performance and better serve the user. To avoid overwhelming the user, we focused on designing clean and aesthetically pleasing task reporting features on the home screen.
The study aims to find a way to balance the need for detailed information about a user's health data and habits in order to provide personalized recommendations, with the need for a quick and straightforward onboarding process.
This study reviewed the literature on onboarding questionnaire strategies, analyze successful cases in and out of healthcare, create a prototype for testing, and surveyed users for satisfaction.
Onboarding Research Conclusions
Positive reinforcements and affirmative messages can go a long way when the user is on the onboarding stage.
Proper combination of these messages between the questions and steps can give a sense of purpose to the process and keep our user fresh along the way
Give them value
The user enters the onboarding process with anticipation, hoping that the app will provide value. Providing a preview of the app's personalized features, support, and insights during onboarding can motivate the user.
Divided Onboarding Strategy
Dividing the onboarding into two separate experiences - one outside the app (landing page) and one within the app (onboarding) - can make the process easier by giving the impression of two distinct and shorter experiences.
FOCUS GROUPS AND USABILITY TESTS
Our users are patients with chronic disease (blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and more). They come from diverse populations, ages, ethnicities and genders.
The most important segments for us in the target population were:
Past experience with health apps
Past experience with health change processes
The source of motivation
During our user research, we conducted focus groups and usability tests in which we were able to get direct and authentic feedback directly from our target audience.
HERE ARE SOME OF THEIR QUOTES
"I would like to see a weekly average for the score of my meals״
"I would like the app to tell me when I do something wrong, so I can get better,
I see it as guidance and instruction"
"It is very important for me to see my health metrics From the beginning and what I have done until today"
"I would like the app to know what I will do and the goals I have chosen for myself and then the app will offer me new challenges based on that history"
"I want to choose challenges that are on a scale, i.e. to choose it for me but from a selection of scale of difficulty"
"Seeing my results over a period of time, allows me to see that it was not as difficult as it felt at the time״
USERS JOURNEY MAP
USERS PAIN PONT
Exhaustion from excessive reporting
Users are required to report meals (everything they eat during the day), report drinking water, report physical activity, taking medications, weight, blood sugar measurements and the list goes on...It's exhausting to work for the app over time.
The value is not equal to the effort
Insights and benefits provided by an app may lose their value over time, leading to user disengagement if the app is perceived as no longer providing innovative insights while still requiring the same level of effort from the user.
Our experienced users already know when there is the option of automatic reporting, such as counting steps or measuring heart rate. They want us to harness that data automatically or synchronized with a click, instead reporting manually.
Some users found that the "prizes" and "points" features were "annoying noise".
Once gamification disconnected from the source of their intrinsic motivation (being healthier) it became a burden and a distraction.
THE BIG CHALLENGES
These are the BIG challenges we have encountered along the way,
and the solutions we have created for them.
How we managed to tie the main feature to the user's inner motivation
It was clear that the focus of our hyper-personal product - is customization.
For customization, we need information from the user and a lot!
Before the user research, we knew that the key feature of the app, like many similar ones, would be tasks. Report what you do - and we can give you value.
The more we hear from our users the clearer it becomes - they will need us to help them extract intrinsic motivation, and a lot of it, so that they can complete tasks over time.
The big challenge is understanding users' intrinsic motivation and how to inspire them over time.
At the end of the user research, brainstorming and workshops, we realized that we were missing the key feature - the real goal of the user. To live better, to lose weight, to be able to be here for their families.
That is how the "Goal" feature was born and became the heart of the app.
Yes, the tasks are still there but always next and according to a customized goal, that will function as the "why I do all this" reminder and to continue to ignite the user inner motivation.
How did we effectively provide the user with all the necessary perspectives on their journey
What do I mean when I say perspective?
The user can look at his journey toward the goal and how much he has left - from start to finish.
that is a long-term perspective. It is important, but can also be dangerous for motivation.
When a user reviews their progress and goals on a weekly basis, they are taking a short-term perspective.
We knew that both perspectives have a critical, positive and negative impact on the user's motivation.
The realization that there is no black or white, and the combination of them is the right solution, made us re-examine each screen, and ask the question:
what should the user see at ״that moment״ to preserve the positive experience?
This balance between short and long-term perspectives will allow the user to focus on what is most motivating while also providing the option to switch to other perspectives as needed.
ONBOARDING USER FLOW
The virtual assistant component
Tasks list and report tasks
A journey of progress in key domains
Based on our research, we have made the user's goals a central aspect of the experience. These goals hold significant personal value for the user and link the application's value to the user's internal motivation. The goals page allows the user to have an overview of their goals and gain various insights into their progress
We all want to have the freedom of choice.
That is why the key purpose of gamification is to give the users control and let them decide which goals or milestones they are going to complete next.
The application's various domains, such as physical activity, weight, eating habits, medication intake, blood glucose, blood pressure, and more, allow users to enter relevant health-related metrics, enabling them to track and monitor their health effectively.
This project was a true testament to the power of research in driving success.
With an open mind and an "I am not the user" approach, my team and I were able to challenge our assumptions and uncover unexpected insights. The result was a balance between the organization's needs and user satisfaction that exceeded all expectations. This project reminded me of the importance of constantly questioning the status quo and the impact it can have on creating mutually beneficial solutions for all parties involved. It was truly a fascinating journey that proved the value of user research and its ability to drive innovation and success.
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