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Do you know what PMS means?
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) refers to physical and emotional symptoms that occur in the one to two weeks before a woman's period. Symptoms often vary between women and resolve around the start of bleeding. Common symptoms include acne, tender breasts, bloating, feeling tired, irritability, and mood changes. Often symptoms are present for around six days. A woman's pattern of symptoms may change over time.
Sounds painful, no?
Do you know what a period tracker application have?
Periods usually arrive once each month, but the exact date, flow, cramp severity, and accompanying symptoms are not consistent. For this very reason, the app market is submerged with period trackers that aim to offer insight into your monthly cycle. The common features of a period tracker app provide are:
- A Calendar
- Send notifications warning about the moves of the cycle
- Keep track of cycles, humor, sex activity, birth control, etc.
Period tracking can help to identify any changes to your menstrual cycle that may be an indicator of potential health issues. Also, using period tracking apps can tell you when you are likely to be most fertile if you are avoiding pregnancy or trying to become pregnant.
The surveys helped me understand women's behavior and what are the common habits they have when experiencing their symptoms. Those are the result of the surveys.
To get a better understanding of the problem, I conducted 10 user interviews. Through the interviews, I wanted to discover their habits and expectations. What do they do to solve the problem?
- Do you experience PMS symptoms?
- How was the last time you experience PMS symptoms?
- How did you solve the situation?
- Was it effective?
- How it makes you feel? Why?
- What usually helps you deal with PMS? Why?
- Do you use birth control?
- Do you have a digital tool where you keep track of your cycle? Why?
- If you could improve something about your digital tool to keep track of your cycles, what it be?
Analysis discovery phase
During the discovery phase of my project, I realized how important it is for women to communicate when they most need it. Experiencing Premenstrual Symptoms (PMS) doesn't count as an emergency at the hospital, even when they get very bad. None of the most popular period tracker applications provide a service where the patient gets in touch with a specialist of her trust in an emergency case.
"Once warned, twice armed"
- 25 years old
- Kindergarten teacher
- She keeps track of her cycles through a period tracker application because her period is irregular
- She experiences PMS symptoms frequently
Hannah gets very frustrated when she is in pain and she can't get a doctor’s appointment quickly enough.
She would like to have assistance with her gynecologist ASAP to have a professional advice without leaving her house.
How might we help Hannah to have immediate assistance with a specialist when she is experiencing the pain?
I usually start the design process with low fidelity sketches. This is the way I explore more technical aspects of the design.
- I started with a brainstorming session following the "crazy 8" method. With women between 23 and 38, I asked them about their experience with PMS and their usage of a period tracker apps.
- Through the sketches, I could test different features, building from ideas generated in the brainstorming.
- I realized around 4 different paper prototypes, tested them all, and identified my MVP (Minimum Valuable Product).
LUNAR is a mobile app designed to help the user have immediate assistance in an emergency case through video chat.
- The visual style is feminine, flat, clean and minimalistic.
- The platforms to design this app were Sketch app, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Marvel. LUNAR was developed under iOS Styleguide.
- The symbol and the name of LUNAR are inspired by the moon. During the Lo-Fi sketch test, I asked my users 'what do you think about the name?': most of them associated the name with wolfs, changes, cycles and craziness explaining the reason for mood swings.
Once I got an interactive prototype of LUNAR ready, I gave users the following task: 'Attach the statistics of your past cycles through chat with your doctor and get a video call.'
To test LUNAR I implemented the usability testing method, where I could observe how the users interact with the different features and measure how many of them could accomplish successfully the task.
- Users found the tool intuitive, efficient, clean and fun.
- Users found iconography fun and easy to interact with.
- Users find innovative the idea of women chatting with a personal doctor through the phone in an emergency without changing your location.
Going through the usability testing, users helped me to identify where in the user flow they were struggling.Problem: The warning text is not very visible. A better call to action is needed. Solution: Generate a pop-up with a warning; different color coding and more urgent wording.
The users' task is: 'Attach the graphics of your past cycles through chat with your doctor and get a video call.'
Problem: The user gets confused by the words 'attach' and 'graphics'. Instead of attaching the document through the clip icon, the user goes to the 'Graphics' button to send the stats.
Solution: Better terminology, give the option of attaching the document from 'Graphics' content as a 'send to...' button.
What did I learn from this project?
- Creating this wellness application was very interesting. Today talking about menstruation is not a taboo anymore, and I thought: if you are able to pay through your phone or talk with your friend on the other side of the world, why not have a medical appointment through video chat?
- There is no such thing as a bad idea or a stupid question. Everything starts from 'What if ....?'. I knew I wanted to improve a period tracker app, I just didn't know how; and by asking the right questions, I could define what I think is a great idea and produced a convincing prototype.
- By making prototypes, including failed ones, I learned how to separate my own perspective from the real needs of users.
- What I enjoy the most is talking with the users. I think empathizing is harder than it sounds; I enjoy the moment when the person lets me understand through their perspective what they want, what they need, what they are struggling with. That's what makes me love being a UX/UI designer.