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Helping patients to process

+ USER RESEARCH + UX/UI DESIGN

This project began with a series of interviews with people who identify as female and as chronically ill. I hung snippets of these conversations on Post-Its in my apartment. After card sorting them, I saw that none of the women I spoke to were concerned with the problems that digital health products typically address such as symptom tracking. Instead, they expressed how emotionally challenging and socially alienating it is to have a chronic illness that will never go away. They all spoke about their experience in terms of grief in its various stages. 

"I wanted the doctor to give me mental health support."

— INTERVIEWEE DESCRIBES DIAGNOSIS DAY

My interviewees had common pain points, such as the appearance of symptoms or the day of diagnosis, so I charted them in a common journey map. I wanted to create something that could be an emotional resource for chronically ill women at times when doctors and friends cannot support them. This took the form of a journaling app. At key pain points, the app checks in and offers writing prompts to help the patient to process. 

An app that was essentially meant to act as a friend required a color scheme and typography that didn't feel clinical. I first tried blues and teals in order to reference hospital colors, but they felt too cool and uninviting. The app needed to show personality in both color and typography. 

I tried a variation of Bodoni for the logo, but the modern typeface had too much contrast for the web. Although I liked the fluidity of Cheltenham Italic, which picked up on the forward motion of the logo, I ultimately chose Knockout. This typeface has a broad range of extended and condensed type that mimicked moments of the patient taking up space (extended) or feeling alone (condensed). The indent on the third line of the logo is a metaphorical rest or "wait" that the patient experiences in dealing with their chronic symptoms and diagnoses. 

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The app is warm and friendly in the context of more stale digital medical products. It functions to affirm the user's symptoms, to get them in touch with their emotions around chronic illness through journaling, and to help them connect to support they can find outside the doctor's office. This app is part of a larger thesis project called "The Waiting Room."