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Patients feel overwhelmed when researching birth control methods because they don't know which information is relevant to them.





White Space Design Challenge


Sep 2018 - Present


Team Lead


Design Research

Design Strategy





 Ideation Facilitation

Patients often feel overwhelmed when researching birth control methods because it is difficult to determine what information is relevant or applicable to them. It can be frustrating to go through a "trial-and-error" process, which might take months and involve side effects, in order to find a suitable birth control method. How might we utilize users' needs and their health conditions to provide more personalized birth control information?

* This project started in a design research course taught by instructors from IDEO. My team decides to continue the project beyond class.





Meet Cathy - Birth Control User

Cathy is a 35-year old women working as a hairstylist in Chicago. She has gone through 4 different kinds of birth control (BC) methods since the age of 22. The most recent switch is due to high blood pressure that can be related to her BC. She is annoyed about the irregular period due to the new BC. Thus, she is now thinking to switch BC again. She is active on social media looking for suggestions.


Meet Tanya - Gynecologist

Tanya is a gynecologist serving in a city college in Rochester. She has a set of physical models of different BC to explain to her patients during BC appointments. She is aware of her own bias and thus she makes sure she is not deciding for her patients. She is also aware that there is little medical research in minimizing the trail and error process. She says, "you can literally throw a dart to decide."


Insight 1: Impersonal Information

Patients research BC methods through a variety of sources,but few of them are both personal & reliable. Information from family can be more personal but less reliable than information from doctor. In doctor appointments, patients expect a more thorough screening process to select a BC method based on personal needs and health conditions.


Insight 2: Trial & Error

Patients become frustrated with the slow speed of the trial-and-error that goes into finding the best BC because they must wait for the body to adjust to a new method before evaluating its effectiveness.


Opportunity Area 1:
What if BC info is personalized?

1. How might we (HMW) filter out unreliable or irrelevant BC info?

2. HMW intake info from users and present personalized BC info?

3. HMW (& doctors) utilize users' needs & health conditions to provide more personal BC info?


Opportunity Area 2:
What if there is a clinical screening?

1. HMW leverage data science to turn millions of personal BC stories into useful info?

2. HMW leverage existing technology, such as hormone test, to reduce the trail & error process?

3. HM scientists/doctors better understand the possibilities of having certain BC side effects in order to prevent the trail & error process for users? 



1. First Round Ethnography

We conducted user interviews with college women, immersion in clinic, blog research and secondary research.


3. Ongoing Second Round Ethnography

Currently, we are interviewing extreme users and experts such as healthcare providers and scientists working on birth control. We are also doing secondary research around existing science and technology.


2. Synthesis

We mapped out user journey map and identified important tensions and emotions. We grouped these tensions into themes and generate insights from them. Lastly, we played with frameworks to to discover opportunity areas.


4. Future Steps: Synthesis, Ideation, Prototyping, Testing

We will be synthesizing and coming up with refined opportunity areas that takes into account of more important stakeholders. Afterward, we will go through iterations of ideation, prototyping and testing.



Use Card Sort

Starting with card-sorting exercise can lead interviewees to only focus on the themes presented in the cards. We learned to let users lead us to their stories by starting with easy/recent experiences of themselves. Sorting exercise can be useful in the middle or end of the interviews to help them visualize and organize their thoughts.

Discover Hidden Stakeholder

As we talk to more people, we came across many interesting stakeholders that we didn't think about before. We learned to make connections between our research findings and other disciplines, such as data science and fertility testing. This way, we are able to expand our research capacity and help the ideation process.

Don't Oversimplified

Framework is a tool to think about and present research. We learned not to force a complex issue into simple frameworks. It can cause audience to generalize the story. As we continue the project, we will keep playing with different frameworks while making sure we show the variations in users' stories.



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