Human by Design — Revamping the Saathealth Experience
Every product tells a story, and as product designers, this is how we communicate with our end users — but can we get our users to communicate back to us? Can we craft an enriching mobile experience for the rapidly evolving emerging internet user? In short, how do we design a product for the future? The answer is simple: empathy.
Our mobile app, Saathealth, was designed for young parents living in urban slum communities in India. When launched in August 2018, the goal was to engage the emerging internet user with content and a user experience that was tailored to their digital naive and local language preferring status.
Through Saathealth, we empower young families with credible health and nutrition information, and provide them with behavior-change driven nudges to raise healthy kids. Our idea is simple — we believe that every family should have the knowledge and resources to secure a better future for their children. We currently have over 95,000 downloads and our users have spent more than 230 million seconds engaging with our content, which includes videos and quizzes.
A year later, we found the need to reimagine the user experience for these populations because of their rapid adoption of sophisticated mobile apps with more complex interfaces. We mined through data from our dashboard and consulted with gamification experts, and understood that there were aspects of our intervention that we needed to strengthen.
Our users needed a greater sense of autonomy when using our app, they had to be in charge of their journey and own their progress. But product design is more than just numbers and data, we needed an empathetic approach to enable us to predict a users’ journey. We began by revisiting communities that we operate in to understand how their app preferences had evolved. The goal was to gain insights into how users think and feel, and why they behave in certain ways.
Through these conversations, we discovered that most people in our communities used social media or games that required advanced gestures such as TikTok and CandyCrush.
They were familiar with online shopping platforms such as Amazon and Flipkart, and many of them either had an immediate family member that made online purchases, or had done so themselves. Some of the people we interviewed used e-wallets and banking apps. Here are some of our key take-away points from the conversations that shaped the design of our new app.
Intuitive design is dependent on our understanding of why our users interact with our app in a certain way, and their objective in engaging with it. As individuals, our choices are not always based on logic, but often on how they make us feel. Since people often do not know or cannot articulate these things explicitly, we instead observed our users and their behaviors in context and conducted unstructured interviews.
With our new design, we have given Saathealth a more fun, colorful look and feel. Our users have a greater sense of autonomy because they can browse and select particular content themes. We wanted them to feel empowered and uplifted when they use our app, and for them to develop a positive outlook towards their children’s future. These are the emotions that form the foundation of the new product design.
Personalization takes the foundation of empathy one step further. We sought to create a digital experience that was a combination of functionality and finesse. By incorporating artificial intelligence, we can now tailor experiences based on user preferences, and filter out elements that may be irrelevant to users. This personalized digital experience is enabled by a system that curates the content based on the users’ needs and expectations. For example, when you use an entertainment streaming platform, it would typically categorize the content and personalize it based on your interests. We aim to do just that with our upgraded app.
Standard quantitative analytics can give us the numbers behind our users, but we rely on empathy and observation to tell us the stories behind the numbers. It is not the same when you hear what the users want from the field team, it is not the same when you talk to them on the phone. There is so much that is said without words. You have to sit in front of them, look them in the eye and read their body language — the shy smiles, the fidgeting with the bangles; to really hear and observe the things that they are not saying. They are conditioned to agree or to give a positive opinion. They are not used to someone asking them what they want, articulating their preferences, and often your attention itself is overwhelming them. The process of really understanding them requires time, it needs to be a leisurely conversation about them, their family, their routines, so they slowly open up and start talking about their feedback.
Through a greater appreciation of our user’s needs, we are now able to develop more meaningful solutions to the challenges they face. This is how we build mobile solutions — with the end-user at the center of our design thinking process.