UI Designer + UX Researcher
How Might We Statement
How might we assist women (and men) aged 19-27 in finding patterns in their body that may affect their acne as they journey towards clearer skin?
I have been an acne sufferer for nearly a decade and it wasn’t until I went on birth control as a young adult that I realized that my acne is hormonal and typically follows the patterns of my cycle. Looking back on those years where I was wondering why I had acne and more importantly, how to treat it, I realized that tracking acne is not as easy as it is to track your cycle. Because of this, I decided to tackle this problem and create a meaningful application for women and men like me who don’t quite understand their body and wish to do so.
Backtrack a couple years ago, my friend Rachel and I worked on created this same app as our very first user experience project.
People who suffer from acne sometimes do not know or understand the origins of their acne. So, they try multiple products and or medications that may not effect their specific kind of acne that they may not realize they have. This leads to wasting money and time, as well as creates a feeling of hopefulness that the person will ever achieve clear skin.
This application allows the user to learn new information about their body, skincare, and medications to then easily articulate findings to their dermatologist to be put on medication that does effect their particular acne, and empowers acne sufferers to feel confident in taking another step towards understanding and clearing their acne.
In order to understand who I would be designing for and their needs, I took a step back to see who mainly suffers from acne today. I also looked into how these people interact with each other, interact on the internet, and their goals and motivations.
I learned that:
“85% of people ages 12-24 experience at least minor acne.” -American Academy of Dermatology
"Acne affects primarily women that are post-adolescent aged (19-25)." - Science Daily.
"It's important to show [Gen Z] that their work creates an impact for your organization or a mission in general,” -Cristina Hermida, co-founder of InsideCrowd
Current Social Research
I joined 2 pre-existing FB acne groups to monitor conversations. I also joined acne.org forums to participate in conversations.
OBSERVATIONS: Multiple levels of different conversations on acne varying from forums only on prescriptions, non-prescriptions, etc. Lots of people commenting on the state of their acne, but don’t see too many success stories or stories showcasing people who have achieved clear skin. Maybe they stopped using the site after achieving clear skin? For some reason, I get a depressed feeling being on the forums. People seem so desperate for something or someone to give them something to actually work.
Users can make their own blogs to showcase their journey in a more streamlined way. (acne.org)
Most users mark out their faces for confidentiality reasons. (acne.org)
I then came up with questions to ask and answer by myself which included:
QUESTION: If users are marking out their faces, why would they want to join a social media platform where they would feel pressured to show and share their identity?
ANSWER: Maybe the solution would be to show a character in basic shapes of the user’s face to make them anonymous. Shows face shape, whats happening with their skin, where the blemish is located, inputs on diet and medication, etc.
After finding out my target audience, I then created a Google questionnaire to ask for people’s experiences with acne. I promoted it primarily on my Facebook page. Here are some answers I received:
I learned that the people I want to support are (primarily) women and men aged 12-24, post-adolescent Generation Z and Millennials. I wanted to give them a tool that would move them from feeling shy and afraid of their acne and what is going on inside their body to empowered and encouraged to at least do something. That something can be as big as going to a dermatologist appointment for the first time or as small as trying a new product.
I deduced that the solution I should aim to create should be easily accessible (an app) and have a branding personality that makes the user feel like they are a part of something greater (social justice).
Interviews & Pain points
I conducted an interview with a dermatologist to try and understand the world of medicine and it’s impact with my solution. I spoke to Calvin Williams, M.D., a resident at UT Southwestern here in Dallas.
Indutry Professional Interview
Some of the questions I asked included what the first step towards clearing acne should be, how many different medications does the average patient try, thoughts and opinions on misinformation online, and the future of personal tracking in conjunction with visiting a doctor for acne.
"Although a doctor's visit can be helpful, if the first part isn't done, the doctor's visit may be a moot point as primary care doctors will likely be the first visit and they don't always approach acne treatment like dermatologist."
"The typical acne patient tries 2-3 medications in my experience, of which, some of them may not be continued long term."
"(There are) tons of misinformation and marketing gimmicks. There are some really good acne products that are available without prescription, (and) products like Proactive have done really well in this department. ...There are cheaper options available that would like give a similar effect."
From speaking with Dr. Williams, I learned that the acne community hasn’t evolved much in the last 20 years in terms of treatment. It has, however, evolved in the last 40 years and some people’s issues can be resolved using over-the-counter or drug store remedies. Dr. Williams felt that tracking acne daily could lead to some patients feeling distress since acne takes several months to resolve (if it does at all), but I felt the need to challenge that in my user research and studies.
Rapid ideation, Storyboards & Concept Map
Next, I decided to take my findings and see how they would translate as a solution. I wasn’t set on what platform I would create this on even though research seemed to gear towards an app. So, I first did some rapid ideation to get my brain thinking of the possible solution:
And after reviewing some of my ideas, I decided to write storyboards for my top 3 possible solutions:
I then conducted interviews with 2 individuals who matched my target audience profile and either have suffered from acne or currently suffer. I wanted to get their opinions on the narrative of each storyboard and talk about which one fit them the most.
Mahsa M., 21 current acne sufferer
Felt that the tracking app is the best fit for her because of how personalized it is compared to a social media app where you might continuously keep trying different things which may not work. Thought it was interesting to be able to jot down info (for example: writing down what the product actually did for you).
Armin S., 21 previously had acne
Felt that the website would be more informative, but felt like an app that you can log in would be easier to use. Website is a better place to house specific information compared to an app, but maybe people don't need such specific informaiton on a daily basis.
After doing research, I decided that a social media platform would not be the best choice to implement at this time because I felt that people would be more reluctant to share their actual face. They may feel pressured or begin to compare themselves to others which could make the platform competitive or depressing. After sharing my top 3 ideas with a couple of college students/recent grads who might benefit from this platform, they seemed to gravitate more toward the general tracking app that also featured scientific education from doctors as well as recommendations on other products they can try based on other user’s feedback on the products the user inputted.
My app has 3 main criteria:
Easy to track daily
The user can simply take a picture of their face and an AI will figure out what and which parts of their face contain blemishes, cysts, scarring, etc. It will then note that information down in the user’s journal for the user, but still allow the user to make changes to the notes if the AI made a mistake or the user wanted to add more notes later.
Easy to add routine
The user can scan the barcode of any product they are using and through an internet search, the app will display the main ingredients as well as the usage. Therefore, the user is not adding their skincare and it’s usage by hand thus wasting time.
Offer information on acne and specific acne ingredients based on scientific/medical input
In the dictionary, the user can learn what certain ingredients are as well as how they should be used based on information gathered from dermatologists or a scientific community.
low-fi prototypes & field testing
I created a cardboard iPhone X prototype and hand-drew some of the key screens the user would most likely interact with daily. I then tested it with 5 different individuals separately that were both male and female with ages ranging from 20-27. I took notes as they were acting out enactments.
Top Feedback Notes:
“If you have the same face for a while, this could become repetitive, but it’s more interesting to be able to choose that your face is oily or dry today to see the patterns.” - Armin S.
“Adding a “what I already know about my skin” section in onboarding would help tailor the app more towards me.” - Eddie M.
“I would like to see a timeline of the progression of your face.” - Amanda B.
What about saving a real picture of your face and being able to toggle back and forth from a character and your actual face?” - Mahsa M.
“I would like to be able to see product reviews of what other people are saying about products.” - Michelle V.
From the feedback given, I realized that my hand-drawn UI seemed a bit bland and wasn’t very comprehensive. I wanted to fix that in my first digital version, while also giving more features related to the apps purpose to test out such as:
Create "adding medications"
Creating the dictionary
Add common side effects
Flush out onboarding that asks specific questions to better get to know the user
High-Fi Prototype testing
From here, I created my digital version of the app for testing. Here, I was focusing on getting key elements such as the "Face Reading" completely flushed out to test it's usability. Unfortunately, testing was not as I hoped. Below are some of the screens tested.
I met again with Armin, Michelle, and Mahsa. I got so much feedback it would be impossible to write it all here, but here are some highlights:
Felt like onboarding threw you in and immediately demanded a picture and felt that some people may not know what to expect. Wanted to go to home and get tips to show them how to take a picture because they may not trust the app just yet.
Instead of hashtag they could choose from a list of feelings. More specific questions to make you think and remember more.
Calendar: maybe show different products and color code them and show how much you liked them overall with percentages or show different types of pimples.
On-boarding did not feel intuitive. You should also be able to write in another skin condition that isn’t listed like wrinkles.
Needs to have some sort of user feedback after submitting something saying it was added successfully.
Having trouble finding the home page from other pages (menu bar problem).
Remove edit word because user clicked the empty space to edit.
Ability to write in a problem you want to work towards. Not sure what individual problem would be based on what was given.
Wants to scroll for more information on today’s skin (could want more information).
Add people’s reviews to under the skincare under the additional notes.
Missing back buttons.
Wants to scroll for more information for calendar (looking for more information).
Final System Concept & UI
After going through my second user testing round, I had a lot to think about. Thankfully, my faculty advisor for this capstone, Cassini Nazir, helped me create an interactive graph in place of much of the text in the Face Reading Pages. He also helped me with simple, yet obvious UX mistakes such as not listing page names on different pages, describing what pages are for for the user's knowledge, and making my menu icons more relatable/recongizable.
I was very inpsired by brands like Glossier that use minimal, modern, friendly maketing and branding to draw their consumer in. Therefore, I wanted to keep my color choices minimal, make my icons simple, and place emphasis on the user and their needs.
I focused on three main colors: red, black, and pink. The red symbolized new acne and themillenial pink color is a nod to my userbase.
I used complimentary colors to create my icons. I decided to make them flat and simple as to not place emphasis on them. As for the people, I wanted them to be faceless because how they looked didn’t matter as much as they represented the amount of people who are suffering from acne and feel alone.
LOGO AND APP ICON
When creating the logo, I wanted the typeface to be clean and simple. I felt that I needed to make the word “clear” a statement so I added the period. Naturally, the period had to be red!
The app icon represents time. It also moves clockwise to simulate the time it takes for someone to clear their acne.
Overall, I am so proud of this project. It was the first time I really put emphasis on user research as a means to find my solution, meaning, I wanted my solution to be born because research tells me so.
In the future, I'd like to keep experimenting with creating a version of the app that can help a user track and understand their acne without having to scan their face since I do not believe technology is quite there yet for an accurate reading.
The means I would have to re-think the Face Reading areas to probably prompt users more about their skin and possibly just take a picture daily to track.