As a family caregiver for my Korean-immigrant mother who was diagnosed with vascular dementia and Alzheimer's two year ago, I began participating in caregiving-related learning opportunities to learn more about her condition and ways to help her live in the fullest ways possible. Each time, I've been struck by how such valuable, practical, and inspiring learning moments oftentimes came from fellow caregivers.
Upon recently interviewing and surveying caregivers for loved ones with dementia, I've continued to feel humbled by the incredible resourcefulness, resilience, & creativity of this particular community. As an educator-turned-UX designer, I’m exploring ways to help bridge the gap between more-experienced caregivers and their newer counterparts who may feel especially overwhelmed, as well as ways to offer cultural validation for this sharing of historical, first-hand knowledge.
While designing Herd, the following questions were considered:
- How can we enhance the user experience to spur more access, collaboration, & evolving conversations around common concerns?
- Can we build a sharing economy sparked by gratitude that involves seasoned caregivers sharing insights with the newer caregiver community & building a searchable living legacy of conversations?
Based on the secondary research, surveys, and interviews, we created a persona to reflect the main user group. Ruth, “the self-reliant and self-sacrificing caregiver,” has handled much of the caregiving for her father for the past three years. During that time, Ruth has needed caregiving advice or emotional support—oftentimes late at night—but feels she can’t reach out to anyone during that time for help. Because caregiving demands and her full-time job take up most of her time, Ruth is prone to feeling isolated and alone.
She wishes there was an easy-to-use resource where she can find out needed information about a specific situation she’s dealing with at a given moment, allowing her to connect with other caregivers in a non-intrusive way, and to gain valuable caregiving tips and insights when she needs it.
We generated an empathy map and two customer journey maps—“as is” and “future”—to gain deeper insights about user pain points and possible solutions. In particular, enhancing the user experience by increasing ease of access and fostering dialogue around common caregiving concerns became central. While focusing on the user needs, we aimed to design a solution that would allow Ruth to reach out to a network of fellow, responsive caregivers, regardless of whether she was at work or at home, and regardless of what hour.
Additional opportunities included bridging the gap between more-experienced caregivers and their newer counterparts who may feel especially overwhelmed, as well as ways to offer cultural validation for sharing historical, first-hand knowledge.
Based on these insights, a user flow was created to illustrate the process of the user composing and posting a question.
Next, wireframes and low-fidelity prototypes were created using Marvel and Sketch. The main emphasis was placed on composing and posting a question.
Based on this feedback from user testing, high-fidelity prototypes were created and more usability testing was conducted, which prompted additional improvements. Users illuminated the ambiguous language on the home screen, desire for more emphasis on question titles and topic type (and less emphasis on who posted), a more prominently displayed search field, and a dashboard to help guide the user.
After additional research and iteration, brainstorming sketches were created about a logo and brand name that represents reliablity, connection, wisdom, and community.
Ultimately, the logo and name were inspired by elephants because of their experience-based memories and abililty to pass on valuable knowledge and survival skills to future generations. They are also incredibly smart, gentle, and community-oriented—all characteristics that embody the best of caregivers.
Because the user group may include caregivers who are 50 and older along with users with possible tech onboarding challenges, accessibility standards were emphasized, which greatly informed the color palette, text size, and typeface selection (Helvetica).
After more user testing, additional improvements were made based on gathered feedback and with using the style guide as a reference for final designs. In particular, we adjusted the information architecture of the screen for users’ questions so that titles were most prominent, added a dropdown menu so users can tag relevant topics for their questions, and finessed the top and bottom navigation menus.
Ultimately, we hope that Herd can contribute to the solution by streamlining the user experience for receiving advice and support, thereby, alleviating caregiver stress and saving time. In the future, continued enhancements will focus on, for instance, the UI design of the dashboard and further streamlining of the user flow for asking and responding to caregiver questions.
Additional features may include: a way for users to view and easily connect with fellow caregivers in their local area; a way to share reviews about relevant products and services related to caregiving tasks and self-care; and ways to follow and recognize outstanding Herd users noted as most helpful amongst their peers.