bitter and sweet
Working with initial direction from the Utah Aids Foundation, I created Honey, a concept app, which helps newly diagnosed HIV+ individuals better understand their diagnosis. In creating Honey, I wanted to design something that would not only provide information on HIV but help people to feel heard and supported during an emotionally draining time.
As a designer, it is my goal to create experiences that not only inform and guide users but to establish an emotional connection beyond what is displayed before them. With Honey, I wanted to better understand how to design using emotion and empathy to influence a person’s experience both within and outside of a product.
defining a need
When I decided I wanted to work with HIV+ individuals and the emotion behind a positive diagnosis, I discussed procedures and needs with clinic volunteers at the Utah Aids Foundation (UAF) to gain a better understanding of how newly diagnosed individuals are treated and the information they are given. From there I was able to able to define a need statement and focus question as a way to precisely frame the design challenge and focus my future solution.
By creating a digital product which provides information in a supportive, emotionally aware way, how could perceptions change regarding an HIV diagnosis?
statement of need
Newly diagnosed persons with HIV (PWH) are in search of support, information, and connection. Often, they turn to digital platforms to meet these needs directly after receiving a diagnosis.
Don Norman is my design hero in many ways but his work on creating products that speak to people on a higher level than just accomplishing a task or relaying information (ie: emotional design) really interested me. Norman describes 3 levels of design that influence how people think and feel about a product. These 3 aspects ultimately acted as a guide for my design decisions and further research. You can learn more about Don Norman and emotional design here.
the qualities and appearance of an object and how they make a user think or feel
the analysis of a product on a personal level, "what does this product say about me?"
the functional aspects of a product and its overall usability
UX design strategy
I chose to focus on 3 elements of design while creating Honey which reflected Norman's levels of emotional design, and I believedcould truly affect the overall experience of HIV+ users and their feelings surrounding their diagnosis.
I created a 'journey' of information that would take users from HIV basics to community support and staying healthy.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
color + type
Honey is full of warm, inviting colors and easy to read type that's been proven to influence perception and understanding.
I purposely included an array of pop ups, animations, and links to keep users engaged and to aid information retention.
testing + iteration
Although I was unable to interview actual HIV+ individuals, I created a test plan with qualitative and quantitative questions to get a better sense of how Honey made people feel in comparison to the UAF website.
I tested six people with my initial prototype, giving them an overview of the project and explaining why Honey was created. As expected, testers preferred Honey to UAF and felt more at ease trying to find and understand information. I made a few small changes to wording and navigation to reflect the comments made during testing to make Honey as easy to use as possible. I also presented my research and solution to other design students in my program and created a discussion around the importance of emotional design.
118 vs 32
Average task completion time for UAF site vs completion time for Honey (in seconds)
frustrated + confused (UAF)
vs content + calm (Honey)
Most used descriptor words for tester emotions after task test
Percentage of testers who responded positively to Honey’s visuals, notes, and interactions
6 out of 6
Number of users who felt Honey’s tone made the subject matter easier to digest
a warm welcome
I created a set of onboarding screens to set the tone for how users can interact with Honey and quickly familiarize themselves with the basic format. The use of animation and encouraging button text helps provide a supportive, calm atmoshere for users.
I wanted to make the content users would be consuming to be as immersive and engaging as possible -- both educating and distracting a newly diagnosed user from negative emotions is one of the Honey's goals.
easy to handle info
The amount of information available on UAF's website was tremendous but also very intimidating. I chose to break Honey down into three basic sections ('my diagnosis', 'resources', and 'staying safe') that users could easily navigate through. Within each section subjects are swipeable so users can quickly find information they need without feeling frustrated or overwhelmed in a time of stress and uncertainty.
a sweet ending
Although Honey is only a concept idea, bringing attention to the unique needs of a vulnerable population is the first step towards greater change. I learned a lot about not only the theory behind emotional design but also how to purposefully include elements in my own work that affect a user’s perception positively.
When I revisit the focus question I defined at the beginning of this project, I believe that perceptions towards HIV, from an individual and community level, could change for the better if more attention is paid to the emotional needs of users