Want a quick overview?

About the project

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that diabetes is one of the significant causes of death in the United States.

This disease has increased in underrepresented communities due to the barriers to access to healthcare, health, and technology literacy, in addition to sociocultural factors.

My contribution

Over the course of the year, I attended weekly sessions at a community center to understand the best way to design for users with limited technology use.

The insights gathered at these sessions allowed for the creation of a high fidelity prototype that was usability tested with the users.

What did I learn?

Recruitment is difficult. We had access to participants and offered compensation however once they learned they needed to sign a consent form they didn’t want to participate.

Here's a brief summary that takes only one minute to read

Phase 1: Exploratory Research

Problem Statement

How can we use technology to facilitate self-management practices in patients with Type 2 Diabetes who live in underserved communities?

Literature findings

Diabetes in underserved communities

Poor self-management practices are a result of low health literacy and barriers to education

Access to technology

Applications on the market and other high-tech devices are normally only accessible to a higher income population

Technology literacy

Current health applications on the market require high-tech literacy which becomes a barrier for adoption with marginalized populations

Field Observations

In August of 2022, we began hosting weekly “technology support” sessions for residents of a local Atlanta affordable housing apartment.

The community center is home to low and moderate income seniors and families.

Over the course of the year we held 28 sessions and analyzed observations from the first 12 weeks.




Site information

Common themes

Differences from past visits

Each session we would note:

Observation findings

Motivation to learn

Lack of trust


Lauren Johnson

65 years old


Atlanta, GA


“ I wish all technology came as easy as playing Candy Crush on my iPad”


Lauren is a retired teacher who enjoys games on her iPad as much as playing bingo with her friends. She has recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Her doctor recommended a mobile app to manage her diabetes, but it is the first time she uses a healthcare app.


Maintain healthy blood glucose levels

Gain knowledge about her diabetes

Improve her physical activity

Get better at using her phone


Improve her overall health

Prevent complications

Manage her diabetes symptoms


Difficulty remember all her medications

Needs to call her kids for help to setup her diabetes management app on her phone

The pamphlet and brochures with diabetes information are difficult to read


An easy way to setup reminders on her phone

An application with an intuitive design that she can use on her own

A way to modify text size and other accessible feautures

Tech behavior

Plays a lot of Candy Crush on her iPad

Uses gmail to receive billing and documents

Uses Facebook to post picture of her family

Uses her phone for calls and messaging

Device usage




Persona creation


Help build empathy for participants that don't have T2 diabetes and with a higher tech literacy


Persona was built based on observations and literature

Phase 2: Prior prototype evaluation

We evaluated the prototype that a prior team completed in order to make improvements and create efficiencies where possible.

We decided to evaluate the prototype in two ways:

Heuristics evaluation

Pilot study

Heuristics evaluation


Used 10 Nielsen Heuristics and knowledge from observations


Validate design requirements and uncover design issues

Pilot Study


Test prototype and gain feedback for future iterations. Observe paths and taps users take to improve navigation.


In-person think-aloud scenario task based testing

Task 1: Complete Onboarding

Gather thoughts on the language and whether it aligns with their anticipated experience of the application

Task 2: Profile and preferences

Assess the user-friendliness of the existing menu's information architecture.

Task 3: Information about diabetes

Gain insights into the discoverability, significance of topics, and readability of the articles.

Task 4: Enter food information on logs

Determine whether the language (UX writing) and form design are simple and effortless to use.

Key insights from heuristics and pilot test

  1. Add notices of why we are asking personal information

  1. Profile section and preferences are not expected to be in settings

  1. UX Writing: The word “logs” does not convey tracking actions, and “information” doesn’t fully convey articles

“Information here. Oh no settings. Here, profile information and reminders? ... setting is more to change colors or I don’t know. I think it is to change color and letter size right?” - P2 (Translated)

My logs? It wasn’t a familiar word, I would name it my routine. Sounds better” - P1 (translated)

Phase 3: Re-design and evaluation

Now that we had some insights on how to make the designs better, it was time to put those insights into action.

Design updates

Updated on-boarding

Give the user more information up front about what the application is and what it does

Gaining trust

Make sure that a user will feel comfortable using the product

Information on home screen

Made the diabetes information more accessible by bringing it to the forefront of the application

Daily check in pop ups

Improved the engagement with users by prompting them to enter daily updates on their diabetes self-management

Additional header menu

Created a main menu with large buttons and text for interaction callouts


Gave users the ability to toggle which types of reminders they want to receive as push notifications

Usability testing


Evaluate iterations made to designs from pilot feedback and gather input from members of the community center to incorporate their feedback into the subsequent iteration


In-person 45 min think-aloud 4 task based session


Three senior residents (all female), age 65+

Task 1: Onboarding

Task 2: Setup reminders

Task 3: Find diabetes information

Task 4: Enter records

All of the users accomplished the task and found it easy and familiar, and some expressed feelings of trust

“I have gone through a similar sign-up with my Libra app (glucose tracker)” - User 1

Task 1


Task 2

Setup reminders

Only one user accomplished the task while the other two were not able to discover reminders on their own

“I really don’t know how to setup those because I don’t never use it” - User 3

Task 3

Find diabetes information

All users were able to accomplish the task and mentioned that they didn’t have difficulty reading, but that speech-to text could be helpful too

“I like the print, it’s large enough for me to see it”

- User 1

Task 4

Enter records

All users were able to complete the task, although it took them some time to explore

“It is difficult for me to type, I’ll prefer a selection or a drop down with options”

- User 1

Expert testing


Speak with UX accessibility and health industry experts to refine the experience.

Draw a comparison between the perceptions of our target audience regarding the application and the opinions of experts.


In-person 30 minute heuristic evaluation focus on 7 of Nielsen’s 10 heuristics

Visibility of system status

Recognition rather than recall

Aesthetic and minimalistic design

User control and freedom

Project takeaways

Giving back to the community

Our weekly visits to the community center made a significant impression on us, and the seeing the residents' smiles after we assisted them was great!

Gained experience designing for underserved communities

By getting to design for a population that has limited access to technology, we were able to understand exactly how to help them best.

Real-life project solution

As we have established a genuine connection with the individuals at the community center, it would be great if the app could be developed to assist them.

Made by Max with Figma and Framer