A Period Tracking App for Young Folks
September - December 2018
Researcher, UX Designer, Visual Designer
Two period app designs created for a Children Centered Design Class. These two designs focus on how pre-teens and teens learn about and track their periods and symptoms.
Current period tracking apps are designed for heterosexual, cis-gendered, adult woman with a focus on pregnancy, sex, and fertility. Children are getting their periods around the ages of 10-12, and tend to ignore issues of pregnancy and fertility.
Because of the focus on pregnancy, sex, and fertility, current period tracking apps tend to alienate non cis-gendered and non heterosexual women. Additionally, current period tracking apps are often overtly feminine which makes many users feel uncomfortable.
Each team member individually sketched ideas based on the research findings. When we regrouped, we separated the ideas into four categories; games, information, tracking, and aesthetics.
Because our ideas were not complete app ideas, we combined multiple ideas to create three different complete app ideas. To create low fidelity prototypes, we used marvel to link sketches together, and figma to create wireframes.
These low fidelity prototypes were presented to other designers and researchers. Their feedback included questions about push notifications and incorporating information throughout the apps. Opinions about what app design to pursue was split between the plant app and the mystery app. Thus, our team decided to pursue both designs and discard the simple design.
We decided to split our team into two groups. I worked on the plant app design with one other team member, while the other two team members worked on the mystery app design. Because I focused on the plant app design, I will not be writing about the mystery app design.
We used figma to build our high fidelity prototypes because of the ability to collaborate online.
We wanted to be sure that we didn’t repeat the mistakes that other period apps have. We conducted competitive analysis’ of five different apps.
We wanted to involve as many stakeholders as possible. We conducted a design focus group with pre-teens and teens, a survey with parents, and interviews with adult trans men.
Pre-teens and teens believe that teachers and male peers lack an understanding of periods and symptoms, their periods seem to come at unexpected and inconvenient times, they want digestible and relevant information, games to help them vent their frustrations or calm down, and they don’t use tracking apps when they are not on their periods.
Our team conducted three usability tests with two pre-teen girls, and a teen girl. We were interested in their preferences between the two different designs, as well as their thoughts on various features we included throughout.
While the app is designed, to the best of our ability, to be gender neutral, both designers hold inherent bias as cis women. Additionally, we were unable to receive feedback from trans men and non binary folks.
We started with a cartoon like aesthetic. The assets were vector art, created in adobe illustrator. After completing our initial hi fi prototype, we reflected and thought that the cartoon style didn’t help the app look polished and completed. We decided to look at some more modern designs and work on some home screen mockups of a more sleek, simple, modern version of our plant app.
We ultimately decided that the cartoon design was more approachable for young folks and went back to our initial design, and worked to make it more cohesive.
From feedback, we incorporated mood and symptom tracking. We decided to not incorporate notifications, as these may put users in uncomfortable situations. Personalized information was incorporated via the action of watering the plant on the home screen. When a user waters their plant, a factoid pops up that is related to recent entries or lack of entries. For example, if a recent symptom entered was cramps, the factoid may be related to mitigation of cramps.
Both designs have an element of gamification to interest users and encourage continual reporting during their period. The plant app used this gamification as a way to calm users down by creating a quiet natural environment with many details that the user is able to notice and interact with.
When the app knows that the user is on their period, the first screen they encounter when opening the app is the period logging page. This was implemented to expedite the logging process and focus on period and symptom tracking - the main function of this app.
Information is available within the app in small, digestible chunks and is available offline. On the information page, users are shown popular topics amongst other users and are able to search the information. The lack of searchable content was noted during our competitive analysis’.
Overall I loved working on this project. It was something that my team and I were all really passionate about because it was something we could all relate to. It was fun to be able to talk openly about periods with each other (sometimes we’d walk into class and just complain about blood and cramps since this project spanned three months). And it was enjoyable to talk with peers during critique sessions, and with young girls.
The Co-Design session was very productive and enjoyable. The participants were a bit awkward initially, but started to open up a lot more as the session went on. At the end they were all laughing at the concept of throwing tampons at an evil blood monster and using a pad as a shield.
One challenge was recruitment. Because talking about periods can be somewhat taboo, and the folks we wanted to talk with were young, many felt uncomfortable agreeing to participate in a Co-Design session. This made finding a lot of participants challenging. We completed one session with four participants, but one had not had their period as of that session. Overall, I would have preferred having more participants and more sessions, however time and resources constricted how much research we were able to conduct.