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How can we help people overcome their addiction to cigarettes?

Platform: Mobile Website

Role: UX Research, UX Design, UI Design

Tools: Miro, G-Suite, Figma

The brief
When we received a project brief about public health, we started browsing ideas, and explored trends around different issues, including tobacco addiction. As a person who struggled to quit smoking myself, this public health issue felt relatable to me. In our culture, smoking cigarettes seems to be seen as a normal thing to do which creates major long-term health problems and even death. My teammate and I talked about our options and decided to go with this topic because it was relatable to both of us. What can we create to help other people who are struggling with this addiction?
First, let me introduce you to Sam
Sam is a long time smoker who was influenced by his family members from a young age. He first started smoking as a teenager when one of his friends peer pressured him to have a cigarette.  Soon he was addicted.
He is currently not feeling great about his health and finances due to his addiction. He’s thinking “now is the time to quit.”
However, it’s not as easy as he imagined. He has tried to quit several times but keeps relapsing. Being surrounded by alcoholic drinks, stress at work and his unconscious habits make it hard to quit.
So, what does Sam have to do with this?
Sam is a representative of a large group of smokers, or a primary persona. We found out who our persona was through multiple forms of research.
What did we find out?
Our first step was to read up on the subject. Through this research, we discovered a few facts.
Empathizing with the user
No one knows more about the struggle to quit than smokers themselves. However, we wanted to make sure that we were asking the right questions. So, we decided to talk to Subject Matter Experts. We gained valuable insights from them to incorporate into our user specifications.
Subject Matter Experts
Our SMEs are medical professionals. We interviewed one doctor and one nurse.
Our users are male/female (25-60 years old) who smoke or used to smoke more than 5 cigarettes per day for more than a year.
Interview findings
I created this affinity map to show commonalities between our users, based on things they said in the interviews. This is what they had to say about quitting.
Validating the qualitative data
To validate our interview findings and to get quantified data, we sent out a survey to a larger group of smokers. From 53 responses, we found that:
Defining the Problem
We encapsulated our participants' goals, motivations, and frustrations into a problem statement and persona--Sam.
Problem Statement
What's the solution?

We learned that society/social factors play a huge role in helping people quit, so the fact that only 1 out of 6 competitors provided social support didn’t seem right. We can provide smokers with a like-minded community who can help them stay accountable. Based on the survey finding that people search for resources both at home and on the go, we decided on mobile web. Our ideation process focused on providing the social support that the users need.
We started to ideate solutions by mapping Sam’s current journey to quit cigarettes to find out where we could help him.

How might we improve his experience of finding social support?

To answer this question, my teammate and I took time on our own to sketch out our ideas then regrouped to share.

We brainstormed how each idea would be helpful for Sam and eliminated the ones that were out of scope or not feasible. Once we had our features set we split up again. My partner worked on a site map while I did a visual competitive analysis.

Analyzing our competitors

Here are a couple of competitors that I found for our future product. No visual hierarchy, over the top colors, obvious dark patterns, and little to no white space all played a role in making these products both visually unappealing and hard to use.

Our visual direction

I made three style tiles but ended up choosing this one for the website because it reflects harmony, balance, and calm. The colors are cool and neutral. The user could look at this for long periods of time without experiencing fatigue. Our primary persona’s main goal is to feel supported and connected, he is searching for balance and harmony in his journey to quit smoking. 4/5 users picked this style tile after preference testing.

Defining the MVP

While I worked on the visuals, my partner created a site map to help us determine our minimum viable product. We looked back at Sam’s journey and thought about our user flows. What does Sam want to accomplish with our product?

Testing and feedback

Before I spent time making mock-ups, we needed to get feedback on our approach. In order to do that, we created a medium-fidelity prototype to conduct formative testing. Feedback from the formative testing helped us understand the flaws in our product, and showed us where we could improve.

Measuring the usability

After we iterated our design based on the formative testing results, I implemented the visual part of our design and built the mock-ups. I did this so that we could have the real look and feel of our product and could measure the usability through usability testing.

We wanted to see if users would be able to join a community and join a live stream event using our product. From this usability testing, we identified our 3 biggest problems.

1. Inconsistent wording on the “join group” button resulted in confusion about the communities.

2. Not enough information on the community list made users indecisive to choose a community.

3. Video and chat size on the live stream event page is not balanced and not adjustable.


We iterated based on our three high priority problems.

Iteration 1- Change the word ‘group’ on the buttons to ‘community’ to keep the wording consistent.

Iteration 2- Add a ‘Read more’ drop-down icon to enable users to get more information about the community or event without leaving the current page.

Iteration 3- Adjust the video and chat ratio on the event page and enable the full-screen video mode by hiding the chat.

Final product

Hopefully, we can help people really make a lasting change in their behavior with the help of the community. This project was a team effort and I enjoyed the collaborative aspect. It was a challenge to work fully remotely due to the Covid-19 lockdown, but I am glad to have practiced these skills. Hope you enjoyed reading!

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