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APR 2020 - AUG 2020
Adobe XD, AfterEffects, Illustrator, Photoshop

Regarding the worsening body image due to Social Media, the goal is to playfully improve the self-esteem, body image and social media habits of young adults. A fictional App concept and prototype was created as Graduation Project in Interaction Design and Illustration.

PROBLEM

Studies show: Social Media is causing body image to worsen

The ideal of beauty often reproduced in the media is internalized and seen as one’s own ideal. The consequences are increased self-objectification, self-harming behavior, discrimination against overweight people, and the normalization of extreme content.

 

How might me sensitise young people to the issue and motivate them to take action on their social media habits?

RESEARCH FINDINGS

Young people, especially young girls, are affected the most

To understand and empathise, I did an internet and literature user research as well as talking with young people between the ages of 13-17 and creating User Personas.

The findings were:

  • Adolescents are heavily influenced by their peer group and parent​

  • They are strongly guided by the subconscious, show more impulsive behavior and have a short attention span​

  • They have different levels of knowledge about the subject​​

  • Lack of alternatives and media literacy as well as the addictive design of Social Media Platforms lead to demotivation and inaction

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How to improve a bad body image?

To understand how to improve body image, I did an extensive literature and internet research in the fields of psychology, educational theory and sociology. The insights of the exact methods to strengthen these were later used in the Ideation process.

The two key aspects I found were:

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COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS

Gamification attracts and motivates young people

Looking at the market, I couldn’t find apps with the same user demographics and subject. So I analyzed Gaming Apps (like Animal Crossing and Minecraft), popular Social Media Apps (like Tik Tok) and Mental Health Apps (like Headspace), as well as initiatives from health care insurers and NGO’sThe most important takeaways were:

  • Use of vibrant illustrations and animations, immersive worlds and a playful approach work well to attract young people

  • Challenges and short, easy-to-understand contents are popular

EXPERT INTERVIEW

After interviewing a pedagogical expert, I redefined my concept

Added after interview

While a playful approach was considered very suitable for the target group, a supervision while using the app was suggested. The new concept was:

Motivation through a playful approach and appealing interface

Using short, informative and illustrated articles and fun Games, users are educated about beauty standards and social media effects. With regular Challenges and a creative reward system, a continuous usage is encouraged.

Collaboration with experts to ensure user’s safety

Next to strengthening the self-confidence on the basis of psychological approaches, it is also intended that the application will be developed together with experts and used under supervision, e.g. in a workshop.

GOALS

1.

Educate: Enable easy and attractive introduction to the topic

2.

Encourage healthy Social Media habits

3.

Ensure a continuous usage of the app to gradually improve self-esteem and implement healthier habits through Gamification

4.

Involve parents/peer group to help influence as many as possible

5.

Personalise the experience to meet different levels of knowledge

Create more acceptance for one’s own and other bodies to be a contribution to social change

6.

IDEATION

Using the insights from research, I started with the Feature Ideation

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wireframe2.png

Getting early feedback on the Wireframes from my professors and target audience, I did multiple variations and chose the features that worked best and that could be visually elaborated within the time constraint I had. I also consistently checked them against my goals. 

Defining and sketching the most important Use Cases, writing down the specific actions of users and the reactions of the interface, helped to refine the final features. They were based on the insights of the research and the user personas.

usecases.png
userjourney.png

Through a User Testing, I got insights on usability problems

Due to the time constraint, I could test the design with one 15 year old user to deduct any usability problems and make iterations. The most important findings were:

  • The user didn’t read all the instructions properly

  • The user wanted to use the app very intuitively (e.g. trying to tap on illustrations instead of buttons)

  • On some screens, the user didn’t know how to move on (where to tap)

​​

I adjusted the design with micro-animations and little explanatory images as well as short explanation bubbles that appear when the user stays on one screen for a longer amount of time/uses the app for the first time.

DESIGN

I prototyped 13 different use cases, with new and existing users. These are the key features:

MARKETING

DESIGN

I created a design system including UI elements, icons and illustrations

The design plays an important role in how the app is perceived by the user.

 

  • Meditative sound

  • Motivating + uplifting wording

  • Customizable colours

  • Inviting + fun visuals

  • Slow + immersive animations

 

were part of the design system to make the app a safe, fun place that does not feel overwhelming.

Research showed that everyone has their own feel-good colours, that can also change according to different moods
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The design is based on 11 shapes (fitting to the topic) that were used for the illustrations, the UI elements, the logo and the avatars. 

There are 10 building elements and 6 plants, which can be customised, mirrored, rotated and resized, creating a huge number of different building possibilities. The items can be unlocked by playing games.

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NEXT STEPS

  • Additional user interface for parents/pedagogics who would supervise the experience (more research required, interviews and testing to get more insight on their needs)

  • Developing the articles/games/challenges and game order together with experts

  • Design expansions (3D house; day/night change; badges as rewards for the challenges; short animated videos in addition the the articles)

  • Scale to more devices

  • User testing with more users

REFLECTION

This being the first time creating a game-like experience, I learned what the key aspects are of an immersive experience that's fun and keeps the user on the app:

  • Importance of sound, animation and illustration 

  • Easy and appealing onboarding to not loose users in the first seconds 

I learned what's important  when designing for a young audience:

  • Young people are familiar with intuitive interfaces and aren’t likely to read longer text instructions, so explanatory images and/or animations work better

  • Instant rewards and content that's visually interesting, not overwhelming and easy to understand speak to young people, because they like to create and are curious, but also loose interest fast

  • Especially when working with young users, psychological topics might require a supervision by an adult and/or expert

  • It’s important to design ethically, e.g. thinking through how certain features could lead to harmful outcomes and how to minimise or avoid them

 

I also had a few learnings in the process:

  • Sketching out a lot of variations and getting early and frequent feedback helps to move on quicker

  • Planning the research when working on big topics with a huge amount of books, studies and information (setting a deadline and defining general conditions beforehand)

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