PROJECT

Gorgeous Within is an app and community dedicated to providing women with the tools to become the best version of themselves. My team designed a product to empower women by giving them a safe place to nurture their self-care and support their growth with a community.

ROLE

User research
Content strategy
Product design

TOOLS

Sketch
Axure

TIMEFRAME

3 week-long sprints

Challenge

Gorgeous Within had been in business for five years and offered many services including workshops, thought leadership, events and coaching one-on-one and in group settings.

There’s only so many women you can reach in-person, so they saw an opportunity to create an app that gives women the resources and tools to empower them to take action with their lives. They came to my team to help them design a new product that would be a content creator, resource hub and communication tool for women.

Understanding
the problem

At the kickoff meeting, I asked the women of Gorgeous Within their expectations and goals for the end of the 3 week project. They had done prior user research but wanted validation for the features they implemented. They also wanted my team to explore the underlying root cause behind why women don’t feel empowered.

Once we had an idea of that, we could target the features to help those issues. Since this project was so conceptual, we knew we had a lot of work ahead of us. We needed to keep an open mind and think broadly about our early research objectives:

01

How do women interpret mind, body and spirit?

02

Why do women not
feel empowered. What is the underlying cause?

03

For the women who
do feel empowered, how did they get here?

04

How do women want
to be a part of the community?

Diving into
research

Now that we had a clearer understanding of the challenge at hand,
it was time to start digging into the domain to find out more about
women and empowerment.

This initial look into the domain was itself empowering. We found there are so many reasons why women don’t feel
empowered. There are also many reasons why they can’t or don’t have the means to start making a change in their lives. I felt motivated and passionate to continue the research.

Getting to know
our users and experts

At this point, we were ready to start talking to women. Before we began the interviewing process, I set a few research goals for ourselves.

BEHAVIORS + RELATIONSHIPS

Who is their support system and how do they interact with them. Are they the supporter or do people support them?

MOTIVATION

What are the reasons why they connected with Gorgeous Within initially? If we could uncover those motivations, we could discover insights into what they really needed.

PERSPECTIVE

How do women define mind, body and spirit?
Specifically, we wanted to unpack the idea of “spirit.”

To get a more well-rounded view on the subject matter, we interviewed a diverse pool of users and subject matter experts:

AGE

22-47

WHO

single mothers
single women
married women

PROFESSION

all types

AGE

35-60

WHO

2 therapists
1 life coach

EXPERIENCE

10-15 years

After we finished our research, we wrote down all of the data points and mapped them to find overlapping patterns and themes. Our research revealed new insights into why women don’t feel empowered and validated a few of our client’s initial assumptions.

Discovering
insights

Women want to be surrounded
by a positive support system.

They want to know they’re not alone and
they have the support from others to help
move them forward.

"Learning the same thing as 10 other women encourages you to be in touch with yourself and work together with the other girls through levels and classes."

Roxanne | 35 | Business Strategist

Women seek knowledge from
others through various outlets.

They look to their role models for advice
and guidance; they want to be able to relate
to others and see how they deal with
certain situations.

“I look up to people like the president of our parent company, follow people I admire on LinkedIn, and listen to inspirational role models on their podcasts.”

Chelsea | 45 | CEO

Women can be selfless
and put their needs second.

We talked to single mothers in relationships
who mentioned in the past they’ve put their
husband's needs first or children first.

“The Innateness of women is to share and take care of people; women don’t want to come across as selfish. It’s hard for women to take care of the self.
”

Erin | 37 | Counselor

Women want to be heard.

We tend to suppress our feelings and
thoughts for a number of reasons. Women
carry a lot of shame with them and are
self-conscious about past experiences.
They feel like people won’t believe them
or will judge them.

“Let them talk. People just need to be heard, need to hear it and can figure it out on their own. Problems seem so big until you talk about them.”

Kristia | 42 | Life coach

Women are making an
effort to find ways to
help themselves.

There’s a new movement of women actively
making an effort to find ways to help
themselves. Ways that work for them.

“I’ve become more self-aware and I like to practice self-care. So I get massages, take a nice salt bath, go to different types of dance fitness classes, and try new things.”

Sabrina | 22 | Student

Apart from these insights, we also found a pattern starting to form around how women defined mind, body and spirit. The way users defined these concepts fell into two main categories.

Mind

INTUITION

The mind is more about thoughts, emotions and mental health.

ANALYTICAL

The mind is used for knowledge,
learning and intellect.

Body

internal

Body is connected to beliefs, feelings and gut reactions.

external

Body is used for exercise, nutrition and physical health.

Spirit

the self

The spirit equates to the soul. They believed that the spirit is the inner person and the conscious.

faith

Spirit is connected to religious beliefs and faith.

Interviews and insights from our users turned out to be an incredible source of data. They were able to openly speak about their personal journeys and the relationships in their lives. We also discovered how difficult the healing process can be for a woman if she is lacking the support and resources she needs.

Defining our product

target audience

After noting all of the major insights from our research, we felt confident who we should design the product for. Using our interview research, we created two types of women to serve as our target audience. By doing so, we were able to define current and future users of the product.

Current

Strong driven women who found a way to overcome traumatic events in their past. They are now on the path to self-healing. They want to share and empower others.

They will be the foundation of the product, the content creators and the initial coaches. 

Future

Vulnerable women who haven't found a safe place to heal and be heard yet. They currently don't have the support system they need and want.

They will be main target audience for the future of the product.

Framing the problem

I was ready to articulate the problem as we had come to understand it through research. Women have a hard time making themselves a priority because they are busy building careers and families so they, in turn, don’t get the support they need. They need a community of
like-minded women and a safe place to communicate so they can be empowered to put themselves first.

Strong, driven women need an app that empowers them to take control of their lives, work toward life goals, and connect with a community by making small incremental changes.

design guidelines

Next, we needed guidelines to help us through our decision-making process for the rest of the project.

Knowledge
is power
Provide tools and resources to inspire growth.
Incremental
change
Challenge the self with small goals to build self confidence.
Grow
together
Give women a safe place to share and motivate each other.
Engagement
through interaction
Reflect on the self from engaging with others.

Ideas to solutions

diverging concepts

When we sat down to brainstorm how to diverge our concepts, we realized there were so many different directions we could take. I knew if we were in doubt, we needed to return to our research. So we went back to the drawing board and found two major trends: therapy and community

With this insight, I wanted to dig a little deeper to make sure we were on the right track. We went back to our interview transcripts and started reading them again. We discovered a lot of the therapists mentioned needing a balance between self-motivation and support from others to successfully start the journey process. Instead of diverging separately on therapy and community, we realized community was a form of therapy. With this insight, we decided to diverge on the main idea of therapy in both directions: internal and external.

concept 1

Support from
the Community

concept 2

Support from
the Self

Since the project was so conceptual in the beginning, we used paper prototypes for quick iteration and change.

concept 1

This concept explored the onboarding process, language and matching women with peers to discuss and share their stories and experiences. During testing, we wanted to know if women wanted to talk and connect with other women like them. We also wanted
to know if they would feel comfortable doing so and what the commitment looked like.

concept 2

Since there needed to be a balance between self-reflection and support from the community, I created this concept for women to reflect. I knew women are so busy we sometimes forget to check-in with ourselves; there are always many factors at play.

Putting our concepts to test

Once we sketched our concepts on paper, we were ready to put them in front of users to see what worked and what didn't. Over the course of a week, we interviewed a mix of repeat interviewees and new users to gain a new perspective.

Support from the Community

successes

Users liked the personalization of the app. They thought it would be successful to be matched up with another woman for support.

challenges

Across the board, women expressed they were worried about their safety and privacy; they wanted to know who will protect them from bullies and trolls.

Users needed to be able to trust this app and see it as a safe place to share their stories.

Support from the
Self

successes

Users liked the option to see data
over time so they could see emerging patterns and trends in their mood. They imagined noticing a trend in seasonal depression and as a result being motivated to take action.

challenges

Users were curious about the logistics behind the discussion room. They wanted to understand roles, expectations, and guidelines.

Getting to the finish line

Once we had our testing insights, we worked to take the successful features from both concepts and combine them into one product. We decided to merge the concepts together to create a more engaging interaction by looking into self-awareness within community. Since we had a lot of features to work with, we needed to prioritize what women needed first; the resources to learn and grow from and having a safe place for communication.

home page

A clear and personalized homepage that offers features based on mind, body or spirit.

choose activity

Users have the option to choose from a variety of features such as discussions and activities.

discussion room

Women can select discussions to be a part of based on categories and search options.

self-reflect

After participating in a discussion, users are encouraged to participate in an activity to self-reflect.

Refining the hierarchy

We tested the prototype on 5 users to get final feedback on the concept and usability. While they found the concept very successful, the usability was problematic. After we collected all feedback from our usability tests, we took some time to reflect on what we heard.

There were still many limitations separating mind, body and spirit into different categories from the beginning of the flow. Throughout the project, we kept hearing that these three concepts were very connected and intertwined, and meant different things to different types of women. As a result, it was hard for users to navigate through the app with mind, body and spirit as the starting point. I knew we needed to change the hierarchy to improve the usability and alleviate the confusion. Since I was very passionate and invested in this project, I decided we needed to pivot at this point.

The next step was the re-design. I changed the hierarchy and re-designed the prototype the night before we presented so our client could walk away with a solid solution driven by research. Instead of starting the flow with mind, body and spirit, we began with the most important activities on the app. From all of the feedback we heard from users, we decided the discussions and activities should be the most important in the hierarchy.

Before

After

Final design

After we presented the new prototype to the client, she was excited and thrilled. She really appreciated the dedication and work we put into making sure her app was tested thoroughly with the target audience and was designed with thoughtful research. After the client saw the reasoning behind our pivot, she loved the decision.

Future considerations

After we presented the new prototype to the client, she was excited and thrilled. She really appreciated the dedication and work we put into making sure her app was tested thoroughly with the target audience and was designed with thoughtful research. After the client saw the reasoning behind our pivot, she loved the decision.

Due to the limited amount of time we were able to work on the project, there were some things left to do. We left Gorgeous Within with a prototype to test with the following recommendations:

01

The onboarding needed a second look and further testing. Since the concept of mind, body and spirit were defined differently by women, we felt the onboarding process should be more in-app focused. We also wanted to put emphasis on the copy and voice. It needed to be motivational and supportive as well as sensitive.

02

In the final design, we decided not to include the emotional tracker because it wasn’t a main priority for women. We felt the discussions and articles were the first step for empowering women. But, it was an important feature to include in the second phase of the app.

03

A big insight in our research was that women define mind, body and soul in different ways depending on their backgrounds and experiences. We recommended our client continue to further explore this idea by doing a card sorting activity.

04

Research showed that women achieve better results for when done incrementally with small steps and goals. We recommended our client consider exploring the idea of implementing a guided path program for women to follow. In these programs, women would work together to achieve their goals by participating in short activities each week.

Reflecting on the process

Always circle back
to the research

One of the main reasons we had to pivot at the last minute was because we were trying to please our client’s wishes and lost focus of our research. Women told us something the whole project but it never clicked until the end. I learned to always trust my research and to revisit it as much as possible..

Don’t get comfortable
with a design

One of the main reasons we had to pivot at the last minute was because we were trying to please our client’s wishes and lost focus of our research. Women told us something the whole project but it never clicked until the end. I learned to always trust my research and to revisit it as much as possible. Moving forward, I intend to always check back with my research at every point of the process.

I love working on
meaningful projects

I absolutely loved the interviewing process in this project. Every interview was like a therapy session for the user and myself. I loved being moved and inspired by women who’ve been through so much in their past but rose above to take life by the reigns and own it.

These women brought so much value to my own life. It made me reflect on my own past and motivated me to work toward a better future.

Say hello.

If you are interested in working
together or would like to chat, 
get in touch!

Contact

stephaniegough09@gmail.com