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.
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.
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.
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.
“Instagram knows so much about me, but I don’t know that much about it.”
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”
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.”
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.”
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.”
Click to read reminders about social media on mental health and to find resources.
This project utilized the 4D Design Process, a converging and diverging approach that asks the following, guiding questions:
We started the project by making a project charter to document the brief with our sponsors.
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.
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.
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.
Social media companies only take action when their reputation is at stake––which means large scale user awareness prompts change.
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.
There’s a fine line between intrusion and intervention. Content that maybe triggering to one person, may be content another person is seeking out
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.
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.
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.
The visual design aims to evoke the brand personality of being dependable, hopeful and inclusive
We created a storyboard to demonstrate the problem, use cases and key features of Balance.
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.
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.