Designing to foster knowledge of well being through essential oils

Roles    //    UX/UI Designer, Researcher & UX Writer    
Tools    //    Paper/Pen, Keynote & Adobe Creative Suite 

Timeline: 3 months     

The goal of Embrace is to provide an intuitive guide to help users find the right oil blends for their personal and home needs. My desired tool is a design system that combines helpful information about essential oils, and a personalized e-commerce experience.

Competitive Analysis

The first part of my research was comparing other essential oil and holistic remedy products on the market. I researched 5 competitors who were either direct or indirect. Some had features I was considering for my design, but more were not personalized or educational for new users. In doing this, I learned what the strengths and weaknesses were in these apps, and what I could do to differentiate my design from the rest.
Ideation & Brainstorming

My design solution needed to cater to users well versed in essential oils, as well as complete beginners new to natural remedies. Compassion and empathy towards users of all experiences was critical for my solution. Using pen and paper to sketch and brainstorm allowed me to think outside the box when it came to potential solutions to the problem. I then chose 8 solutions to sketch out. These 8 unique solutions included an in-store kiosk, essential oil monthly subscription box, and an in-home wall fragrance plugin. For the eight solutions, I sketched out workflows for how the potential solution solved the overall problem. 

Personas are critical for understanding who your users are, and presenting their needs and pain-points to business users in a visual format. I defined primary, secondary and served personas for people who are looking for ways to research and use essential oils to benefit their physical health, mood and home. These users are also looking to connect with people who have goals similar to their own. 

The personas I created helped me focus on the needs of my major user group - young professionals looking to embrace natural, earth friendly remedies. 
Using my personas I was able to create 4 different user story maps based on their goals and expected outcomes. Upon completing 4 different flows, I then created a common path story map combining common tasks and outcomes related to my ideal solution. 

I also created a digital user flow of the every step that a user takes from logging in, searching and completing a purchase through Embrace.
Design Synthesis & Defense

I used the QOC (Questions, Options, Criteria) method to identify which feature to implement. It helped me understand the pros and cons of features and what the trade-offs amongst them were. I identified critical features of the project and defined three different approaches with rationales behind them. 

In all of my personas and story maps, there is one critical feature in Embrace; a robust search feature to find oil blends based on needs. This feature allows people of all experience levels to search recommended oils and blends based on health condition, desired mood and benefits for their home. 
Paper Prototype

I sketched out ten mobile screens in my notebook. I sketched them quickly but spent my time thinking about how the interactions would help or confuse users. After user testing these screens I made verbiage and layout changes before starting to create my medium fidelity design. 
Wireframe/ Mid Fidelity Prototype

Conducting user testing, I received feedback that my design was a bit distracting and my call to action verbiage was confusing at times. From this feedback I desaturated some of my color choices and changed some of the wording on the Login and Homepage based on research findings online from successful case studies.
Final Prototype

I made changes based off the feedback from my initial prototype and have a video walkthrough of the finished prototype, as well as a map of the interactions.

Lessons Learned

Understand your users - put yourself in their shows and do the research

Brainstorm and sketch as much as possible - no ideas are bad

Find a good balance of mid and high fidelity when designing digitally to show key features and interactions

E-commerce products are extensive - focus on building critical features and don't overwhelm users

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