Rachel Regina of frog design describes the initial challenge that the designers faced in creating the concept of the test kit. (YouTube version for slow connections)
The Design Concept for the Self Test
Once the Project M team had decided to put together a HIV/AIDs self-test kit, designers at frog began to examine their data to define the parameters of the design. The designers reviewed the observations from Africa and brainstormed with PopTech and iTEACH to capture a wide range of ideas. From that, they developed a "territory map" that grouped large concepts and observations into categories (see below).
As they gained familiarity with the territory, the designers began to chart some of the challenges facing a self-test kit and outline possible solutions. A few of the concepts began to emerge:
- The test was a medical intervention, but should the packaging have a spare “clinical” look or be more consumer-friendly? The team leaned toward making the packaging warm and inviting, but the precise look and feel was still open.
- While the test wasn’t complicated, the target population had limited literacy skills. Therefore, the package had to somehow communicate the test directions graphically. The package also had to encourage and promote access to mobile support at every stage of the process.
- The medical experts coordinated by iTEACH strongly recommended each package contain two test kits. The kits were individually packaged in mylar foil and somewhat bulky.
- The team could not assume any changes would be made by the pharmaceutical companies that supplied the test in its original packaging. So one of the goals was to create an additional layer of packaging that would make up for the deficiencies in the original packaging, which was set up for trained professionals. And the design would need to be adaptable to tests from more than one supplier.
- Many users of the kit might find it difficult to have a private space or even a flat surface to spread out the materials. The medical test kit package that would be included in the consumer test kit included a vial and a swab. In running the test, the swab had to remain in the vial for twenty minutes, so the team believed that the exterior packaging should help hold the tubes upright.
- The packaging materials needed to be inexpensive. The kits should be able to be packed efficiently and then assembled locally.
- The packaging material should be able to be recycled or otherwise used after the test was complete.
One of the overarching challenges that emerged from the brainstorming was the question of how the packaging would deal with the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDs in South Africa. A goal of Project M was to destigmatize HIV and make knowing one’s status an acceptable part of every day life. Packaging that reaffirmed this message would be welcoming and bright. And yet, medical interventions that forced users to somehow publicly acknowledge that they wanted to know their status were avoided. This suggested discrete packaging that could be hidden in a pocket or a drawer. Designers wrestled with these opposing tendencies and tried to come up with ideas that would both stand out and fade away. Some designers suggested disguising packages as gifts. Others suggested that the packaging contain materials that users might want to keep, like posters.
Notes: brainstorming in New York
The frog design team in New York gathered to see the images, and hear descriptions from participants on the trip from frog, PopTech, and iTeach. They looked at mood boards and examined multiple packaging alternatives already on the market. They captured their observations on sticky notes, and grouped them into categories. Brainstorming was organized into testing stages: Awareness, Setup, Test, Results. Ideas were generated under each of these categories.
Notes: mood boards
Early in the
design process, the frog designers looked at multiple images from South
Africa - photographs, magazine ads, commercial publications. They
grouped the images into "mood boards," large collections of color
palates and image look and feel that were familiar to the potential
users of the test kits. A sample of the mood boards items is shown here.
Notes: Project M territory map
The observations from KwaZulu-Natal and the ideas generated in brainstorming were grouped into categories, in this case technology, social and health. The items that overlapped, i.e., that fit into two or three categories, were highlighted by this process and suggested directions that could be developed further. (Click image for larger view.)