Balance

Providing young adults the tools and resources to foster a healthier social media experience
Project Summary

Overview

In collaboration with Deloitte Digital (Doblin), my fellow team member and I at School of Visual Arts MFA Interaction Design program created a solution to aid in making social media more socially responsible. Guided by our exploratory research into a wide array of problems, we reimagined what [a small corner of] social media might look like through a health-conscious lens.

My Role

  • Stakeholder Communication
  • Conducted user interviews
  • Insight synthesis to design
  • Storyboarding solution
  • Low & high-fidelity wireframes
  • Solution video editing

The Problem

In light of the recent Facebook exposé, as well as other whistleblower reports, the harmful mental health impacts of social media on teenagers and young adults have become undeniably troubling. The companies responsible have not done enough (and not quickly enough) in reaction to the issues they openly acknowledge.

of 18 to 29 year olds use at least one social media platform
18 to 29 year olds report mental illness. These groups report high social media usage.
That 25% accounts for
4.99M people
How might we help social media companies be socially responsible for the wellbeing of their users?

The Solution

A set of plugins that can be integrated into multiple social media platforms – granting users the option to opt in and take control in counteracting the harmful mental health effects without altering the original user experience of the platform.

Vision vs Scope

Through our research, we learned about many problems and concerns which we funneled into the following categories. Our approach is to provide features that address these problems all of which are relevant across platforms. They would fit seamlessly into the platform that users are already familiar with.

Because the scope of this issue is so vast, we decided to zero in on 'Mental Health', specifically Body Image, on Instagram in order to showcase our solution.
43%
Women
24%
Men
negatively compare their bodies to images they consume on social and traditional media
Solution - Body Image Plugins

“Instagram knows so much about me, but I don’t know that much about it.”

01. Know your usage

View your breakdown of categories to better understand who you are following.

“Social media teaches us to be social and anti-social at the same time. There are just so many ways it affects our lives”

02. See your plugins

This new icon houses all of your wellbeing plugins.

“I don't want to unfollow my friends but I also don't want to see certain parts of their lives.”

03. Curate your newsfeed

Personalize your plugin's settings to best fit your desired viewing experience on your newsfeed.

“These Instagram influencers always look so good, but it’s not necessarily always true. Sometimes they photo edit their pictures.”

04. Filter transparency

On your newsfeed, click on the Filter Icon to learn what enhancements were made to the photo.

“It’s so easy to forget that people only show the highlights of their lives on social media.”

05. Find support

Click to read reminders about social media on mental health and to find resources.

Design process

The Approach

This project utilized the 4D Design Process, a converging and diverging approach that asks the following, guiding questions:

Define
Goal
Discover
Need
Design
Solution
Deploy for Impact

Project Charter

We started the project by making a project charter to document the brief with our sponsors.

Primary Research

To gain insight into the companies, we interviewed 4 Experts in the field of social media and big tech. We also interviewed 7 end users to understand people’s usage patterns and inflicted problems. We then created an affinity map to synthesize our research into insights.

End Users (18 to 24 year old)
Research Goals:
Gain a better understanding of
Experts (in social media and big tech)
Research Goals:
Gain a better understanding of
User Personas

Based on our bucketed characteristics from interviews, we were able to categorize users into four distinct personas:

*Our solution is based on Content Consumer #1, as much of our research found young women to be exceptionally vulnerable while on social media.

Key Insights
Share the Blame

When it comes to social media’s toxicity, who is to blame? Well, the answer is––it’s twofold: both the algorithm and its users are at fault.

Awareness = Sustenance

Social media companies only take action when their reputation is at stake––which means large scale user awareness prompts change.

Issues are Relative

No two users are the same. Everyone experiences different issues on social media; and because user wellbeing is so nuanced, the solution must be highly customizable.

Intrusion vs Intervention

There’s a fine line between intrusion and intervention. Content that maybe triggering to one person, may be content another person is seeking out

Synthesizing the Issues

Through our research we learned about a multitude of problems and concerns that were prevalent among all major platforms, which we funneled into the following six categories.

Because platforms experience these issues to varying degrees––they will work as the starting points for our high level approach, with the ability to tweak or disregard any content which may not be as relevant based on the platform.

10 types of Innovation

We utilized Doblin's 10 Types of Innovation as a diagnostic tool to understand where the industry's deep-seated problems arise, as well as to discover new opportunities for viable change for the incredibly well established enterprise.​ Through this, we learned that the greatest capacity for altruistic innovation came from the following four areas: Profit Model, Core Process, Product Performance, and Brand.

Defining user journey experience

By plotting the intended user experience, we were able to establish a more holistic journey––defining how users learn of our service, use it, and shape the anticipated outcome. Through this, we also gained a stronger sense of personality for our service.

Solution Objectives

Create User Awareness
Help users understand the side effects of sharing their data and using different social media platforms.
Balance Website
Provide information and resources to guide you through the different issues that you face on these platforms
Empower users
Empower users to control and counteract harmful effects of social media based on the problems that they are experiencing at that point in life.
Plugins
A set of plugins that integrate into social media platforms – granting users the option to opt in and counteract the harmful effects without altering the original user experience of the platform.

Visual Identity

The visual design aims to evoke the brand personality of being dependable, hopeful and inclusive

Balance Mockups

Video Narrative

We created a storyboard to demonstrate the problem, use cases and key features of Balance.

Enterprise Business Model

Our service will run as a B2B, enterprise model. We will have an initial 6 month period with Instagram, and after those 6 months, Balance would hold the rights to sell those same features and functions to other platforms. The price per feature would be $2 million with an annual maintenance fee of 20% per feature. In order for this to be possible, we will have to garner permission from social media companies and have to access their APIs.

REFlection

Learnings

Starting this project with the most challenging brief in class and being the only two-person team, efficiency was vital. It helped me realize the value of time management and planning. We spent a reasonable amount of time and effort in the research phase of this project to understand the problem from various perspectives. During this research phase, there were many frustrating points where blocks hit us, and it felt like there was no answer to the problem. It was almost disheartening to see how it’s complicated to change things that are profitable even if they are unhealthy in a capitalist society. Something I learned during this experience was the value of usability testing from the very start of our ideation and wire-framing stage. It helped us realize our assumptions early on, making our design decisions more robust.

Way Forward

  • Build out the rest of the Mental Health features on Instagram
  • Build out the other 5 categories within Instagram
  • Branch out to other social media platforms, tailoring the framework dependent on the their main challenges
  • Intent: Eventually partner with every relevant social media platform to seamlessly integrate our designs
Next Project

Thanks for stopping by!

Find something interesting? Contact me at
awaneemjoshi@gmail.com

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