Going into the user experience design class I had already had an idea to work on in mind that I had been considering for a while. I thought this course would be the perfect place to learn how to engage in the preliminary steps of both product design and user interaction. As someone with a business background and not a lot of design experience the course was able to offer me a chance to see the other side of how products come to the market. However, much of my time in class was spent wrestling with the business model and understanding customers in general. In week 2 we were given a chance to pitch our ideas. Prior to pitching ideas we made a web chart with all the possible features that could have been included in our products. Below is a picture of the product web.Essentially, what I want to create was a feminine hygiene e-commerce platform that would be built off of data driven health tracking of the menstrual cycle. Included in the platform would be the ability for women to subscribe to menstrual hygiene products and various other add-ons that would be relevant during the menstrual cycle. This would make peoples lives easier because they would no longer have to go to the store to buy products, while at the same time generate data and keep track of their own health. The potential market size is quite large as there’re many people that do go through the menstrual process each month. Below is an image of the product brainstorming web.
However, after pitching the idea I decided not to work on that project. I felt risky working in a team, especially when I felt this would be a legitimate start up moving forward. Questions like, what would happen when equity would have to be split was something I didn’t want to deal with. It was my idea, and I had already started working on it prior to the beginning of class, so partnering with people that added the right type of value was important. As a male, about to start a company focused on women, in a country where I do not speak the language fluently, I needed someone who was female and could articulate in Chinese. In the end, I would spend the next 2 1/2 weeks working on project with another team. With them I conducted user research, helped build persona’s, brainstorm narrative stories, etc. Of course, I was not overly enthusiastic about the project and Professor Azure ended up pulling me aside to convince me to work on my original project.
It was now week 3-4 and I was starting from scratch. I had not built up any personas, conducted interviews or sent out any questionnaires. This would end up being the hardest and most uncomfortable part of my project. As a male who could not directly benefit from my start up, in China, a country where discussing personal menstrual information is even more private than in the United States, this was hard. Lucky enough I was able to conduct some interviews with some of the professors colleagues. Some of the questions that I asked my interviewees were as follows.
- How do you currently use e-commerce? What types of products do you buy? What kinds of personal products do you buy at the store?
- Do you use a Computer or Phone to buy and order products?
- Do you have any experience with health applications, and what are they like for you?
- How do you feel about the concept of health tracking overlapping with e-commerce?
- What is the general experience for buying feminine hygiene and menstrual health products like for you?
- What is the most difficult part about the period? Could it be something to be looked forward to?
- Are there things that make the experience more comfortable or better?
- What makes you feel happy?
- Are there any inconveniences that could make the process better?
- How does Chinese modern society act towards woman and periods?
- Do you believe there need to be improvements in menstrual hygiene education in china?
- What are the trends of the menstrual hygiene industry in china that you are aware of?
- Do you currently subscribe to any reoccurring shipments?
- Do you talk about menstrual health with your female friends?
- What do you look for in buying feminine hygiene products?
- Are you aware of the WeChat mini programs platform? How do you expect to use it?
- Are there any woman’s groups of non-profits that you are supportive of?
The interviews ended up being more of discussions that were guided by the questions. Through these conversations I was provided with some guidance moving forward. Here are a few things that I learned:
- one of the woman was a current user of a pre-existing period tracking app. She mentioned her concern for switching to a new platform because she did not know how her data would transfer.
- both of the woman mentioned that in Chinese culture, the consumption of ginger tea while on one’s period to be common. This was helpful in deciding add-ons for the service. I was also told that for some more traditional woman in china, consuming chocolate is actually a bad thing. This is different from in North America.
- One woman mentioned that a lot of teenaged girls struggle to both buy products, and receive proper health information and advice.
- One woman said that it would be nice for her husband or boyfriend to be able to send her a gift in the box every month. (this was something i thought to be very practical and easily implementable, but for the scope of the project I chose to exclude it in the UX).
- Both woman were supportive of an area in which users could form a community to help discuss and learn about common problems for woman.
At the same time, I was able to have many informal conversations with women that I was familiar with an comfortable talking to. Later on in the project (week 6), I finally had the confidence to send out a survey. It was through this that I tried to target potential users from outside of the NYU Shanghai community. This was important to help avoid strong western influence. Knowing that these woman may not use a VPN, I used SurveyMonkey as the survey service instead of google. The questions were as follows:
- What is you occupation?/你的职业是什么？
- How often do you buy menstrual hygiene products?/你多久买一次经期卫生用品？
- How much money do you spend on Menstrual hygiene products ever month?/你每个月在经期卫生用品上花多少钱（人民币）？
- Do you currently use any period tracking applications or software?/你是否使用任何用来跟踪经期的应用或软件？
- Where do you buy your menstrual hygiene products?/你一般在哪里购买经期卫生用品？
- Which menstrual hygiene product brands do you use? please list/请列举你使用的经期卫生用品的品牌. Are there any products that you consume during your period that are not pads, tampons, etc? please list/请列举除卫生巾、卫生棉之外你使用的经期卫生用品
- What factors do you consider when choosing a menstrual hygiene product?/在选择经期卫生用品的时候，哪些是你的主要考虑因素
- If you are feeling stressed or uncomfortable during your period, what do you do to help yourself?/如果你在经期压力大或者不舒服，你会做些什么解压或者放松？
- Where do you go to seek advice and guidance regarding woman’s body health and wellness?/一般你会通过什么途径咨询关于女性身体健康的建议
- Do you have a regular and predictable cycle?/你的经期一般规律吗
The answers to these questions were really helpful in understanding the validity behind my product design. Although only 24 people did respond to the survey, below were some of the highlights
- I found out that 70% of the population bought products every month or two months. This is really important to know as consumers who buy in bulk (more than 3 months worth) would have a hard time transitioning into a monthly service
- On average woman spent 46rmb a month on products. I had expected this number to be a bit lower. But this is good moving forward, especially when having to subsidize shipping with the amount of profit made from the mark up of goods.
- only 30% of woman bought products online. This is useful in knowing that there is room to enter the online ecosystem
- 56% of woman used a current period tracking app, while 44% didn’t. This was helpful in gaining a bit of an understanding of the current popularity of such apps. At the same time it showed me that there is definitely the potential to be someone’s first tracking app
- 70% of woman had regular or predictable cycles. This was a huge piece of information as those with regular cycles would be the optimum consumers for my service.
Of course moving forward, the sample size is not large enough to be fully predictive. Data may change based on the city in China. Many more surveys will have to be sent out.
The personas for my project are naturally very very broad. If the project we’re to be successful almost all woman between menstruating ages could benefit from using the service. However there are certain types of women that would be most optimal to engage as customers. A few of the characteristics that are helpful to look for in consumers:
- woman with predictable or consistent menstrual cycles
- woman who currently are not using a period tracking app. These are the easiest to obtain because there are fewer switching costs
- woman who already buy products online. These are people who naturally do not go to the store as of now to obtain their products. I do think in general those who do buy products at stores, once converted, will be much more loyal customers.
- woman who have an interest in obtaining health advice and tracking health data
In combining my interview responses, Informal conversations, and my latest survey I came up with three potential persona’s.
- A busy working student or professional before the age of 30. Someone who either buys their menstrual hygiene products online or in stores. Someone who actually does go to the super market of convenience store. This persona would have the most inconvenience, and is often distracted by work, School, or other activities, causing them to forget to buy products. The person who currently buy’s their products online will benefit from a more convenient service as well.
- A Young woman who is just beginning to enter menstruating age. This is someone who is typically nervous to go to the store on their own to buy products due to the awkwardness of facing a cashier. This type of persona often relies on their mother to buy the products. Additionally, these individuals are not often educated about or don’t fully understand their menstrual cycle. Knowing this, this persona can benefit from the discrete packaging in which the products comes to them, while at the same time familiarizing themselves with there own health data by having the ability to track their cycle’s.
- A mother who buys products for her daughter. This persona is someone who would be gifting the service to their daughter in order to provide the daughter with more freedom. At the same time, the educational features imbedded in the app is something the mother can be confident in.
Because I started working on my project later than others, and before having a full understanding of the customers and potential market, from beginning, I was already working on the mock up. My mock up was originally based heavily on a e-commerce centric model. The goal to get paid subscribers as fast as possible. This was difficult because it was in conflict with the personability needed for such an app. There was no community to receive and give advice, and clicking on the product subscription category was very centric. Below are my original pop drawings:
From here, I made some improvements. Following my one-on-one interviews, it became apparent that I must add a community feature. I wanted it to seem more personal and thats what my customers wanted too. So I added the community feature and included: A question board that I envision to follow a similar protocol to Quora. The content will be User generated. I also added a “consult a doctor function.” In this case the customer would be able to go directly to a doctor and book an appointment. Additionally, I added an “Invite a friend function,” where users could invite friends to the app.
The largest change I had was a “health tip of the day.” Here users would get notifications of relevant health tips. This would add to the user experience and show users that our company cared about their knowledge.
Part of the User Experience is “giving the app your health data.” This is something that I didn’t think would be as contested as it was amongst some users. Originally, upon the first time logging into the app (start Journey picture below), the user would enter their menstrual information. This would enable immediate calibration of the menstrual cycle prediction.
After talking to potential users, although many period tracking apps asked for this information right from the beginning, this was something that people didn’t like. From here my design included a tutorial. Users would be walked through a step by step program to adding their data. What was important was to obtain user data first before even guaranteeing a purchase. We needed to know the cycle in order to suggest when a package would be sent out. Based on this, I chose to exclude the “fill basket” icon until the user walked through the data input. This personalized the app and drew the attention away from the goal of obtaining subscribers.
Originally, when designing the app, there was a lot of unnecessary clutter that would otherwise be required: Login/password, and credit card information. I was able to remove this, and thus streamline the user experience by basing the product within WeChat.
After coming to terms with the general design, I switched the product from Pop to Balsamiq. Here the prototype came to life and began to look more professional. At this point in time I had still not done a mood board. The color scheme of the App was not great.
After presenting in class I made a mood board. I wanted to include both Blue and Pink. Blue being a color that is not super feminine, and pink being a color thought to be as more feminine. This i believe will off a nice balance for users who may identify with the product differently. It is aesthetically nice, but also quite neutral. Moving forward I will update the color scheme of the timeline for the period tracker to be a bit more simple.
Below is the mood board I chose. Please note, pintrest has not been working very well for me. Additionally my project is much more based on the functioning of the app, and less on the graphic design behind the UX.
This brought me to the final mock-up version of my app. Its been a really impactful and humbling semester in UX Design. As a man who has hypothesized a potential to create a platform for woman and those who menstruate, it has taken me a lot of confidence, and encouragement from my peers and professor to go through with the UX behind the project. I learned a lot. Listening to consumers is really important, especially if your conceived notions may be incorrect. After finishing the class, I know moving forward that I have a solid prototype to work off of. There is still more work ahead to validate certain assumptions for the business model. I do think the right step is to find myself a female partner who is as passionate about the opportunity as I am. Below is a video walking through the final version of my App.
All-in-all it has been an amazing semester getting an understanding of what a UX designer would have to go through. Although I am heavily business minded and understand things at a more high level, knowing the basics of UX will benefit me moving forward.