If you are interested in picking up where I left off, please reach out.
Researching the problem space
As I would approach any design challenge, I started my research. I wanted to understand what the process looks like. I started from the outcome = a person who suffered an attack.
Empathy Mapping Canvas
I refocused my attention with an empathy mapping exercise. By using the empathy mapping canvas I was able to pull insights about my customer’s problem that I wasn’t able to see.
Through the empathy mapping canvas I was able to come up with an idea that might have an opportunity at preventing this issue from becoming an unsolvable problem. The empathy mapping canvas – actually, the process of thinking through the empathy mapping canvas – allowed me to think about the specific events leading up to when the abusive event takes place, and the constraints we have to work within. An example of a constraint would be: the potential solution can’t come from the victim because it would put him or her at risk of increased abuse by the abuser. If two people were in private, and one of those people is going to or is in the middle of abusing the other, how might we prevent that activity from happening?
What if there was a voice-activated location sharing application that could be downloaded onto a smartphone? If a person found themselves alone in a suspicious or threatening situation, they could say a specific phrase that would activate the application on their phone and automatically signal a predefined list of contacts. The signal would tell my contacts where I am, how to get to me, and that I was in urgent need of their assistance.
I decided to call the list of contacts my “wolfpack”. I decided to call the unique phrase that would activate the application my “howl”. Upon downloading the application, a person would invite their friends, family, loved ones to be in their “wolfpack”.
I could envision the value proposition in my mind, “The app that prevents domestic violence.” I wanted to sketch the full idea out on paper so I could show it to a friend or two for some feedback.
After talking through the above screens with a few friends, I was recommended to bring the sketches onto the web. Typically, the next step in the process is to design a single page website that clearly defines the product’s value proposition and displays “how it works”. By including an email signup form that asks visitors to “Sign up for beta” or “Be the first to have access” is a good way of gauging whether or not their is a public interest for using the product.
Keep in mind, this was December of 2014, and the design has evolved. At the time, I hadn’t actually developed an application at this point. Turning my pencil sketches into a higher fidelity design would (ideally) create the perception in the mind of a visitor that the app did exist.
The pencil sketch above includes the actual screens a user would be presented with as they went through using the application. The following screenshot shows the mobile screens that were most important to understanding, and eventually using, getting the value from the application.
The image below is meant to set the stage upon arriving to the site. It’s an introduction to the concept. Here’s the hero image and email sign up form:
Next step, is driving traffic to the above page to see if anyone would drop in their email address. I didn’t think people would be searching the words “app to prevent domestic violence”, and I didn’t think the victim would be the first person to come in contact with the app. I would need to identify a channel that might be able to introduce the application to either the victim or a person who interacts with the victim.
Through my research and personal relationships I knew that friends and family were often aware when one of their loved ones was involved in an abusive relationship. By marketing the application as a gift or something that would be suggested by a friend I was able to cast a wider net.