Better

Feel empowered to realize your health, well-being, and dignity with Better by Bumble. Better provides information, tools, and resources to support and enhance your Sexual and Reproductive Health. Better was my undergraduate thesis and received awards from OCAD University and ACIDO.

Project Context

For my undergraduate thesis project, I sought to improve sexual and reproductive health outcomes for young adults in Canada. I care about this topic a lot because I suffer from a reproductive disorder called endometriosis. It took 5 years from when I started showing symptoms for me to be diagnosed with the condition and given appropriate treatment – I was lucky, the average diagnosis timeline in Canada for conditions like this is 8 years! I wanted to uncover why treatment timelines were so long compared to other conditions in order to design solutions that could help reduce the years of pain and suffering so many people needlessly endure.
Client
Student Project at OCAD University
Type
Education, mobile, UI/UX
My Role
Entire product design from research to conception, visualization and testing
Duration
8 months

The Challenge

Young adults, aged 18 to 30, are suffering from sexual and reproductive health problems more than any other age group in Canada, with incidences continuing to rise over the last 30 years. How might we shorten treatment and diagnosis timelines for sexual and reproductive conditions and, when possible, prevent them from occurring?

The Solution

Better by Bumble is a digital learning platform that provides information, tools, and resources to support and enhance your Sexual and Reproductive Health. Users can realize their sexual health and wellbeing through Better's variety of personalized learning modules, quizzes, and articles, backed by medical professionals and experts in the field. Go beyond your device with easy access to a comprehensive, interactive map of Sexual Health services in your area, or go the extra mile and set yourself apart by earning a Sex Ed. Micro Cred for your Bumble Date profile.

Awards & Recognition

ACIDO Rocket
Award of Specialty: SHEPPiD Health & Wellness Award
OCAD University GradEx 106
Award in Industrial Design for excellence in program of study
OCAD University GradEx 106
Program Medal Winner Runner-Up

Process

Rainbow banner reads "because you deserve better."

Discover

Secondary
Research

Why did I do secondary research?

I completed preliminary research on my problem space in order to understand what kinds of problems people were experiencing in the area of reproductive health as well as who was experiencing these problems to determine a specific and relevant user group.
Pink and red graphical image showing statistics. Over 60,000 cases of STIs were reported in Canada in 2018. 1 in 10 Canadian women suffer from a reproductive disorder. 12% of all new cancers in women are reproductive system cancers. 1 in 5 new diagnoses of cancer in men is prostate cancer. Young Canadians have the highest reported rates of STIs. Reported rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis have been steadily rising since the late 1990s. Over 60% of Canadians have never been screened for STI. The median diagnosis time for diagnosing a reproductive disorder in Canada is 8 years. 10% of all male cancer deaths are from prostate cancer. Screening for reproductive system cancers and STIs decreased between 2018 and 2017.
Secondary Research Graphic: Reproductive disorders, cancers of the reproductive system, and STIs are incredibly common among Canadians, and they all suffer from a lack of resources and long treatment timelines, causing pain and suffering from individuals experiencing the conditions. Young adults report the highest rates of STIs, with reported rates steadily rising since the 1990s.

How did this impact the final design?

After searching on Stats Canada, I quickly realized that reproductive health conditions (like what I have!) and sexual health conditions (like STIs and STDs) are often grouped together, likely because they both impact our reproductive organs. It is from here that I widened my project scope to address all conditions under the umbrella of sexual and reproductive health, as it became clear that both groups suffered from similarly long treatment and diagnosis timelines. I also determined my target audience would be young adults as I realized the problems they were experiencing, unlike reproductive disorders and cancer, could be entirely prevented.

Horizon Scan

Why did I complete a horizon scan?

I completed a horizon scan, specifically a STEEPV analysis, in order to determine factors that have or may have an impact on sexual and reproductive health outcomes. Through secondary research, I pulled out specific keywords from articles that turned up when asking questions like “why are STDs on the rise?” and “why are diagnosis timelines so long for reproductive disorders?” These keywords were analyzed to determine if they were recurring themes and, if so, sorted into different buckets.
Yellow horizon scan describing different factors impacting sexual and reproductive health outcomes. The graphic is categorized into Social, Technological, Environmental, Economic, and Political factors, with major issues highlighted in white. Social issues include cultural barriers and socioeconomic status, environmental issues include physician shortages, economic issues include lack of medical coverage and increased cost of care and treatment, and political issues include a lack of sex education in school and a lack of funding to sexual and reproductive healthcare services.
STEEPV/Horizon Scan Graphic: A variety of factors contributed to long wait times and the lack of treatment and diagnosis, such as: cultural barriers, socioeconomic barriers, or the lack of sex education in schools that leaves citizens unable to articulate symptoms or without knowledge of possible diseases or conditions they could have.

How did this impact the final design?

I determined cultural barriers, socioeconomic barriers, and lack of sex education as the most major barriers to diagnosing, treating, and preventing sexual and reproductive health problems. This information would guide my primary research and design criteria.

Primary Research

Why did I complete primary research?

I began to conduct primary research to determine which barriers slowed diagnosis and treatment the most and to better empathize with my audience. This information would guide my design criteria.

How did this impact the final design?

My primary research further verified my secondary research; cultural barriers, socioeconomic barriers, and lack of sex education are the most major barriers to diagnosing, treating, and preventing sexual and reproductive health problems. Specifically, lack of accurate, timely, and accessible sex education came up frequently.

Insights

What are the root problems contributing to the issue?

Lack of Information

Young adults and experts in the field feel people do not have enough knowledge to articulate or recognize symptoms of a sexual and reproductive health problem.

Stigma

Cultural norms surrounding sex have permeated attitudes of individuals facing sexual and reproductive health problems and, at times, service providers.

Lack of Funding

Stigma surrounding sexual and reproductive health has even permeated the attitudes of our politicians and lawmakers, so sexual and reproductive health support as well as education suffers from a lack of funding as it is not seen as important.

Lack of Time

Young adults feel they do not have the time to prioritize their health.

How are these problems connected?

From my primary and secondary research, I identified that a lack of information as the key problem to solve as it perpetuates stigma, thus contributing to a lack of funding to sexual and reproductive health education and support, as well as encouraging young adults to not see a value in the prioritization of their sexual and reproductive health and wellbeing.
A blue causal loop diagram showing the cause and effect relationship key issues relating to sexual and reproductive health treatment timelines have on one another. The graphic shows that a decrease in sex education leads to an increase in stigma, cost of treatment, and health problems, as well as a decrease to funding of sexual and reproductive health services, which implies that an increase of sex education would reduce stigma, cost of treatment, and health problems while increasing funding to SRH services.
Causal Loop Diagram: by visualizing how different variables in sexual and reproductive healthcare are causally interrelated, it is clear that an increase in sex education is the strongest solution to improving sexual and reproductive healthcare in young adults, as a decrease in sex education has caused problems.

How did this impact the final design?

I determined my design strategy in order to solve my user group’s key issues; designing solutions that provided sex education.

Summary

In the Discover stage I determined...

Define

How might we obtain a lifetime of better sexual health and wellbeing for young adults and future generations?

Opportunity

Thus far, sexual and reproductive health education in Canadian schools is lacking, misinformed, or entirely absent. Sex education is a key intervention to improve diagnosis and treatment timelines in reproductive and sexual health issues, and can prevent the issues from happening altogether.

Value

By creating a solution that provides timely, affordable, accessible, and accurate sex education to young adults in Canada, health outcomes will drastically improve, stigma towards these issues will be reduced (which could contribute to a reduction in gender- and sexuality-based discrimination and violence) and time and money will be saved for individuals and their governments.

Market
Research

Why did I complete market research?

I researched existing solutions on the market to understand why these problems still exist and determine where current solutions are failing. This information would inform my design criteria.
Blue market research table graph showing current solutions on the market and if they address issues outlined by primary and secondary research as important to diagnosing reproductive and sexual health problems. Action Canada does adequately address and engage with my user group, individuals aged 18 to 30, whereas Flo, Tabu, and Women's college hospital do not because they focus on women specifically. Women's College Hospital can diagnose and treat SRH problems, whereas Action Canada, Flo, and Tabu cannot. Finally, all of these resources provide help to prevent sexual and reproductive health problems, but are unlikely to be accessed unless a problem has already occurred because they are not mainstream enough services.
Market Research Feature Mapping: Existing solutions don’t address all stakeholders, do not directly assist in the diagnosis or treatment of conditions beyond education, and are unlikely to be accessed unless a problem has already occurred.

Design Criteria

A Must Should Could diagram describing design criteria. The proposed solution must provide medically accurate info that is applicable to individuals seeking medical assistance and education, and it must be easily accessible, private, and trustworthy. The design solution should be tailored to what the user is experiencing, provide info on nearby services, suggest options for treatment, be applicable to all genders and sexualities, and leverage an existing platform to attract and connect with users. The proposed design solution could be a telehealth service to connect with doctors, generate a report for a doctor, and connect users with other users. Constraints of this design solution include the cost and time associated with populating the design with information, building a user base could be difficult, the product will have to consider the users location because health differs from place to place, the product will have to be affordable because young adults often have financial constraints, and a product this robust may be expensive to maintain.

Summary

In the Define stage I determined...

Ideate

User Review #1

Why did I do a user review at this stage?

I virtually met with the individuals I interviewed in my Discover stage in small groups in order to develop ideas and determine which solutions were most desirable based on my design criteria.

How did this impact my final design?

I determined that a digital sex education platform was the most attractive design solution to my user group whilst meeting the design criteria and being a doable output for me given my resources and time constraints on the project.

Personas & Mapping

Why did I create personas and maps of their current experiences?

In order to determine the features of the digital sex education platform, I created personas and experience maps to better empathize with my user group’s current experiences in order to design a solution that addresses their main concerns. The personas are largely based on individuals I interviewed, with name and personal identifiers changed to protect their privacy.

How did this impact my final design?

Personas, empathy mapping, and experience mapping allowed me to empathize deeper with the people I am designing for and consider specific features in the product beyond my design criteria.

Wireframes

Why did I create wireframes?

Low-fidelity wireframes helped me to visualize the contents and interactivity of my final design in a fluid and experience focused lens rather than a purely visual one.
Low fidelity wireframes displaying various proposed screens such as determining user needs, preliminary questions, user goals, and functionality.

User Review #2

Why did I have a review session at this stage?

Despite my best efforts, due to Covid-19 restrictions, limited resources, and ethical constraints set out by my Research Ethics Board approval, I was unable to collaborate with medical professionals for the duration of my project from here onward. As the sole designer on this project, where medical information is a large part of the value in my solution, it was hard to simulate the full experience without medical expertise to fill my app with valuable, informative content. As a result, I wanted to get as much input on the experience and features as possible from my users perspective.

How did this impact my final design?

It was expressed by my user group that, while my proposed design solution did tackle some issues identified with existing services such as addressing a diverse range of stakeholders and offering a diagnostic tool, my solution was unlikely to be accessed unless a problem had occurred. From here, I began brainstorming possible solutions to remedy this issue.

Proposed Partner

Why did I situate my design within Bumble?

Sex education is most useful when it is preventative, so I wanted to position my design in a space where users are already thinking about the topic of sex. Compared to other dating apps, Bumble really emphasizes empowerment, equality, confidence, and personal growth, so I felt my design idea aligned with their values. An added bonus is that Bumble is not just an app for dating, many folks also use Bumble for business or friend making opportunities, so I wouldn’t be alienating folks not using a dating app.

How did this impact my final design?

My final design solution was branded to be a Bumble companion app, which influenced the visual design and interactivity of the application.

Summary

In the Ideate stage I determined...

Prototype

Style Guide

Why did I create a style guide?

In order to make my design solution a great experience for my users while still being a recognizable companion to the original Bumble app, I created a style guide that borrowed from and emulated Bumble’s existing branding, complete with new components that fulfilled the needs of the design solution.
Style guide displaying typeface and typography choices, colour palette, buttons, branding, and badges.

How did this impact my final design?

The final design is familiar and enjoyable to current users of Bumble’s existing services, while providing components that distinguish the companion app’s features and encouraging learning and self development.

Alpha Prototype Screens

The Alpha Prototype above shows general app feel and was used to evaluate usability and interactivity. The name of the product at the time was Blossom, later changed to Better as a response to user testing.

User Testing & Simulation Narratives

Why did I conduct user testing & simulation narratives?

Through this process I evaluated usability and interactivity. I was able to implement my findings and feedback into the final design which enabled me to build a product my users would love and find value in.

How did this impact my final design?

I reviewed my previous success criteria and personas in order to appropriately contextualize my product to my users. My user testing group encouraged me to add new, secondary features in order to fulfill more of my success criteria and meet the wants and needs of my users and the proposed parent company, Bumble.

Summary

In the Prototype stage I determined...

Solution

Tailored to You: Get the Info You're Looking For
Different screens in the app with description of their function in a story-like manner. Screen one: onboarding. Sasha has connected her Bumble Date account to the Better app and is ready to get started. Some of her preferences will be auto-filled for her from Bumble's database, such as her sexuality, to streamline the onboarding process. Screen two: health history. Sasha is asked if she has ever been diagnosed with a reproductive disorder and she says yes. Now Sasha will receive more content related to reproductive disorders when using Better. Screen three: preferences set. Sasha's preferences are set and she's ready to start. Better will now prioritize content relevant to Sasha and people like Sasha, tailoring her in app experience to her preferences.
Improve Your Health: Medically Accurate Info at Your Fingertips
Different screens in the app with description of their function in a story-like manner. Screen one: home screen. Leo has connected his Bumble account to Better to learn more about safe sex practices. Leo narrows his search down to courses that talk about contraceptive. Screen two: course selected. Leo sees a course about STIs and STDs and figures this is a good place to start. He goes through each mini module. Screen three: course overview. Leo finished the modules and is ready to take the quiz. He has learned a lot from the course and sees how easy it is to practice safe sex. Screen four: quiz. Leo passed the quiz! This means he has completed a course towards his Sex Ed. Micro Credential, which will set him apart on Bumble. Screen five: Lessons learned. Leo learned a lot from the course, specifically that chlamydia, and STI he has had a few times, can only be treated so many times. He is confident about practicing safe sex.
Find Help in Your Area: Improving Diagnosis & Treatment Access
Different screens in the app with description of their function in a story-like manner. Screen one: home screen. Bianca has created a Better account to search for answers to her reproductive issue. She has entered all of her preferences and has arrived at the Home Screen with courses. Screen two: Information. Bianca knows from onboarding that the information button has lists of services in her area. She limits her search to sexual health clinics. Screen three: Map view. Bianca views the nearby services on a map to ensure she is choosing a location that is far enough away to feel private so she can receive the help she needs.
Set Yourself Apart: Encouraging Healthy Relationships & Personal Growth
Different screens in the app with description of their function in a story-like manner. Screen one: home screen. Mark has connected his Bumble account to Better with the hope of setting himself apart and getting more matches on Bumble date. Screen two: course selected. Mark has selected a course on endometriosis to get started because he's seen and heard some women talk about it. Screen three: course overview. Mark reads the course overview description before getting started to understand more about the course. Screen four: quiz. Mark has completed each section of the course and is ready to be quizzed on the subject. Screen five: information. Mark passed the quiz! This means he has completed a course towards his Sex Education micro credential, which will set him apart on Bumble. Screen six: map view. Mark has completed 5 courses and will earn his Sex Ed. Micro Credential when he has completed 10 courses in total. He has also earned a badge for being STI screens, which he can show on his Bumble profile as well.

Evaluation

Presentation

Who did I present my project to?

Graduate Show and Webinar Student Panel: As the manager of First, I spoke on our student panel. We discussed our thesis projects, what it was like to complete thesis virtually, and the future of the design industry.

From left to right, top to bottom: Vermont Urbanovich, Terra Pham, Sydney Cooling-Sturges (that's me!), Shabad Singh, Aryeh Bookbinder, and David Barter.

Judging Criteria

Example Judging Criteria: GradEx 106

  • Visual Impact/Communication: Work shows articulate and knowledgeable use of visual language, including evidence of a high level of contextual understanding and conceptual rigor.
  • Research/Process: Work shows depth/breadth/quality of research and process in support of conceptualization, personal exploration and development of work
  • Imagination/Creativity: Work is a distinctive and self-motivated project with innovative explorations or solutions that strive to contribute to or challenge current developments or limits in the field.
  • Concept: Work shows clarity and strength of concept, including quality/depth/interest in intellectual and visual exploration. Conceptual thinking shows awareness of relevant contemporary and/or historical art/design, as well as relevant societal/theoretical issues and ideas.
  • Execution/presentation/craftsmanship: Shows innovative use or exploration of chosen media combined with technical command of chosen materials, quality of execution, and attention to detail. Achieves a high level of presentation.

Results

ACIDO Rocket

  • At the ACIDO Rocket Competition, I virtually presented to two judges. Judges names and professions were not revealed prior to presenting. As it happened, both my judges were male and worked as traditional industrial designers, so I was quite nervous to bare my reproductive health history on the line to them and present them with a UX design. I received valuable feedback from the judges regarding my design process, and won the award of specialty for Health & Wellness.

GradEx 106

  • Each year there is a jurying process for GradEx to recognize achievement in each program major. Due to Covid-19, GradEx was pivoted to a virtual model and work was evaluated remotely. From this process, I was able to practice presenting my work in a way that is clear in a context where I cannot speak for my work. While the jury’s feedback was not released, I received kind words and congratulations from many former professors and won the award in Industrial Design and was recognized as the runner-up medal winner.

First & Thesis Class

  • Feedback from GradEx 106 and ACIDO was largely obscured from me as a participant, so I largely measured the success of my design through the awards and recognition I received, for which I am eternally grateful. However, these presentations assured me that my design was valuable, albeit indirectly. Prior to my thesis, I rarely spoke about my reproductive disorder due to shame and stigma. By talking about my reproductive health issues, and imparting some relevant knowledge when discussing my project, I opened up a conversation about sexual and reproductive health. My goal was to improve diagnosis and treatment timelines, and in the 8 months of my project I helped 4 people receive a diagnosis for their reproductive disorder. However indirect, I consider my project to be a success.

Next Steps

Subject Matter Expert Collaboration

Approach Stakeholders

Measure Success

Want to see more? View other work below!

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